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Luke J. Chang, PhD
Deconstructing the role of expectations in cooperative behavior with decision neuroscience
University of Arizona and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles
2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, VA 24016
The success of human civilization can largely be attributed to our remarkable ability to cooperate with others. At its most basic level, cooperation can only occur if two agents share a similar belief—namely, that there will be a mutually beneficial outcome if agents can both trust and reciprocate. For example, trust is conditional on the belief that a partner will reciprocate, and reciprocation is dependent on the belief that the partner trusts them to reciprocate. In this talk, Luke Chang will present work that integrates psychological manipulations and game theoretic paradigms with computational models and functional magnetic resonance imaging to explore the neurally constrained computational processes underlying cooperative behavior. The results of this work suggest that people use context-specific shared expectations of normative behavior when making social decisions. These beliefs appear to be malleable and are updated after receiving feedback from an interaction. Emotions processed by a specific neural system involving the anterior insula, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the supplementary motor area appear to motivate people not only to behave consistent with these expectations, but also to help others update their beliefs when these expectations are violated. This work demonstrates how the decision neuroscience framework can be used to better understand the neurocomputational mechanisms underlying amorphous and complex phenomena such as cooperation.