Exploring How Social Settings Affect Decision Making Processes

The Caltech Conte Center for Social Decision Making aims to understand how we make decisions in a social setting, an ability that is as ubiquitous in everyday life as its dysfunction is devastating in diseases such as autism, schizophrenia or addiction. This center aims to ask questions motivated by past decision making research: given what we now know about the neural systems for social decision-making in general, how does variability arise? 

We will focus on the human ability for social inference (inferring people’s values, beliefs, goals), and ask how this is engaged depending on the context. Our multimodal approach features a unique combination of behavioral studies, neuroimaging, lesion studies, and intracranial electrophysiology in human subjects. We also conduct fMRI in lesion patients and in the same patients from whom we record electrophysiologically, and have single-unit recordings from very rare patients with brain-machine interfaces that permit recordings for over a year in the same subject. 

This Conte Center consists of five Projects and three supporting Cores: