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Neural mechanisms underlying the development and the psychopathology of social emotions, egocentricity bias, and social decision-making.


Singer,  Tania
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Singer, T. (2016). Neural mechanisms underlying the development and the psychopathology of social emotions, egocentricity bias, and social decision-making. Talk presented at Opening event of the Leipziger Forschungszentrum für frühkindliche Entwicklung. Leipzig, Germany. 2016-09-22 - 2016-09-22.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-FACD-D
Emerging fields such as the social, affective, and cognitive neurosciences have focused on the questions of how people relate to and understand each other. Hereby, the ability for cognitive perspective taking is differentiated from concepts of emotion contagion, empathy, and compassion; the former represents a cognitive route to the understanding of others, the latter a motivational and affective route. Humans often judge the states of other people egocentrically, assuming that others will feel or think similar to them. Such an emotional egocentricity bias (EEB) occurs frequently in situations when others feel differently to oneself. In my talk I will present data regarding the neural development underlying social emotions and economic decision-making in children and adults. I will introduce several newly designed paradigms suited to study several domain specific types of emotional egocentricity such as taste, touch, and reward. These paradigms have been successfully tested in children, adult, and patient populations. The data of these studies suggest a unique role of the right supramarginal gyrus in overcoming emotional egocentricity during development. This region is known to be connected to many regions involved in empathic judgments. Its reduced activation explains the increased egocentricity bias as well in children and patient populations. I will also present data on the development of social emotions such as envy and Schadenfreude. The development of this cognitive ability depends critically on the improvement of more general emotion regulation abilities. Finally, by means of economic-game theoretical paradigms, I will show that the development of prosocial behavior and the ability to delay gratification depends on the increased ability to exert behavioral control in the moment of making a decision and the concurrent maturation of associated neural pathways such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC).