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Social Cognition in Brain and Behavior

January 6, 2021 - January 6, 2025

We still know too little about the basis of social cognition (emotions, thinking about others, interacting with others) in the brain to explain variations in people’s behavior (e.g., among allistic and autistic people). This study aims at helping us understand mechanisms in the brain better and connect them to relevant social behavior in people. If you are interested you can chose which parts of the study you want to participate in (from computer tasks, to questionnaires to brain scans).

What are the goals of the study?

This study aims at investigating the basis of human social cognition in behavior, brain function, and structure. One population with difficulties navigating our social world is autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Studying atypical processing in populations such as those with ASD, is thus of paramount value to social cognition. By studying both healthy and impaired social functioning, this study aims at advancing a mechanistic understanding of social cognition in behavior, brain function and brain structure.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will be invited to participate in one or more of our ongoing experiments in this study to study social cognition in brain and behavior. The study consists of a research brain scan (MRI) and simple behavioral tasks and questionnaires assessing social behavior. The study will consist of multiple sessions each not exceeding 3 hours, with the time between sessions varying from one day (minimum) to a maximum of one year.

How will this help families?

The research may help in our understanding of how the brain functions to generate and process social behavior, and will provide insights on how mental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, may affect social cognition This information may expand our knowledge of these socio-cognitive processes and may have future implications for diagnosis and treatment of future patients. Participants (and families) do not receive any direct benefits from the study (other than compensation for research participation).

Eligibility Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:
(1) No history of neurological incident or disease
(2) Fluent in English
(3) Able to participate in an MRI (only if taking part in the MRI section)
(4) Normal or corrected vision of 20/40

Exclusion Criteria:
1) Any neurological and/or psychiatric disorder (e.g., schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, epilepsy, substance abuse), aside from potential comorbidities with ASD.
2) History of moderate to severe head injury (e.g. concussion with memory loss and/or residual cognitive changes)
3) History of epilepsy
4) History of non-specific neurodevelopmental disorder (e.g. premature birth < 33 weeks, cerebral palsy)
5) Diagnosis of bipolar disorder – with history of hospitalization and/or Lithium treatment
6) Diagnosis of schizophrenia or other condition with psychotic symptoms
7) History of electroconvulsive treatment
8) Uncorrectable acuity greater than 20/40, or inability or unwillingness to wear eye contacts or MR-compatible plastic glasses provided by MRI facility to correct vision to 20/40 instead of glasses containing metal for MRI part of study
9) Inability to complete at least 1-hour MRI (if participating in MRI part)
10) History of brain surgery; removal of brain tissue; or history of stroke.
11) On medication for mental conditions.
12) Colorblindness
13) Inability to pass MRI safety screening (e.g. metal implant in body; additional eligibility screening) for MRI part of study.
14) Abnormal hearing.

View the study flyer here.

Contact Information

Kliemann Lab for Social Cognitive Neuroscience: pbs-kliemann-lab@uiowa.edu, 319-467-3161

Research Study Website
The Kliemann Lab for Social Cognitive Neuroscience

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