Neurocomputational approaches to understanding other people

Our ability to understand other people (often referred to as Theory of Mind) is essential to successful social interaction. However, the term Theory of Mind is open to interpretation, and as such there are many different ways to investigate Theory of Mind, each of which recruits different cognitive, emotional, and neural mechanisms. Rather than investigating Theory of Mind in Autistic individuals using traditional paradigms, we have been investigating a specific brain signal that tracks unexpected outcomes in other people (a Social Prediction Error). Recent work suggests that Social Prediction Error signals are highly variable in Autistic individuals, and that variability in Social Prediction Error signals index clinical measurements of social difficulties. Research here at RHAR is continuing to investigate Social Prediction Errors, and whether understanding this simple brain mechanism in more detail could help lead to novel therapies for improved social interactions.

Publications

  • Bolis, D., Balsters, J.H., Wenderoth, N., Becchio, C., Schilbach, L. (2017): Beyond Autism: Introducing the Dialectical Misattunement Hypothesis and a Bayesian Account of Intersubjectivity. Psychopathology 50:355–372. https://doi.org/10.1159/000484353
  • Balsters, J., Apps, M. A. J., Bolis, D., Lehner, R., Gallagher, L., & Wenderoth, N. (2017). Disrupted prediction errors index social deficits in autism spectrum disorder. Brain, 140(Pt 1), 235–246. http://doi.org/10.1093/brain/aww287
  • Apps, M. A. J., Lockwood, P. L., & Balsters, J. (2013). The role of the midcingulate cortex in monitoring others’ decisions. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7, 251. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2013.00251