Welcome to the
Behavioral and Social Neuroscience Option at Caltech
Behavioral and Social Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary research program and graduate studies option at the California Institute of Technology.
What do we do?
BSN is composed of a diverse mix of faculty members, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students from a number of different disciplines interested in addressing the big overarching question of why humans and other animals behave the way they do in dynamic and rapidly changing real-world environments. The types of problems we study range from determining how is it that people make simple choices, such as when deliberating between food options on a restaurant menu, include questions such as how it is we can learn from past trial and error behavior to make decisions in the future, what are the factors governing how we interact socially with others, up to establishing how financial markets operate and the factors influencing decision making in the political process. A core unifying assumption underlying all of this research in BSN is the idea that only by establishing the nature of the computations being implemented by neural systems deep within our brains will it possible to gain insight into how individuals, groups and societies function. To study these problems, we build on theories, concepts and approaches from a variety of traditional disciplines including Psychology, Economics, Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience, Computer Science and Political Science. We also use a wide array of techniques to study behavior and brain function, including computational modeling, single- and multi-unit neurophysiology, functional brain imaging and EEG, psychophysiology, psychophysics, transcranial magnetic stimulation and lesion approaches. For more details on what we do click here.
Graduate Studies in BSN
The BSN option is a graduate option available at Caltech in which graduate students can gain the basic skills needed to be able to perform research in this interdiscplinary area, including exposure to core constructs in economics, psychology and computational neuroscience, and exerience with basic techniques such as computational modeling, functional neuroimaging and neuropsychological assessment. For more details on the graduate program click here.
In the News
Caltech Neuroscientists Show How Brain Responds to Sensual Caress
A nuzzle of the neck, a stroke of the wrist, a brush of the knee—these caresses often signal a loving touch, but can also feel highly aversive, depending on who is delivering the touch, and to whom. Interested in how the brain makes connections between touch and emotion, neuroscientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered that... Read More 06.04.2012
Why Do People Choke When the Stakes Are High?
In sports, on a game show, or just on the job, what causes people to choke when the stakes are high? A new study by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) suggests that when there are high financial incentives to succeed, people can become so afraid of losing their potentially lucrative reward that their performance suffers. Read More 05.09.2012
Inside the Brains of Jurors
When jurors consider shortening the prison sentences of convicted criminals, they use parts of the brain associated with sympathy and making moral judgments, according to new work by Caltech neuroeconomist Colin Camerer and colleagues. They found that the most lenient jurors show heightened levels of activity in a brain region associated with discomfort, pain, and imagining the pain that others feel. Read More 03.27.2012
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