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Overview of projects

Perceptual and action-based decision-making about ambiguous emotional expressions

Social perception and motivation in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Body postures impacts on the appraisal of our social environment

Normative conflict, norm dominance, and cultural variations in epistemic norms

 

PERCEPTUAL AND ACTION-BASED DECISION-MAKING ABOUT AMBIGUOUS EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS

 

Principal investigators: Marwa El Zein, Emma Vilarem, Jorge Armony, Valentin Wyart and Julie Grezes

 

This project aims at exploring the mechanisms underlying decision-making when faced with emotional expressions and how their combination with other co-emitted cues (such as gaze) impacts these decision-making processes. We experimentally test the hypothesis that the amygdala has a role in decision-making beyond valuation. One part of the project consists in investigating how decisions are made about which emotion is being displayed by another agent (perceptual decision making – for more details, see Marwa’s page). The second part of the project explores action based decision-making whereby subjects make a choice between two potential actions without needing to explicitly decode the emotional cues present in the scene (for more details, see Emma’s page). In both projects, we vary contextual knowledge to examine its influence on decision processes.

 

Methods: psychophysics (models), electroencephalography (EEG) and Functional Magnetic Resonance imagery (fMRI)

 

SOCIAL PERCEPTION AND MOTIVATION IN INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

Principal investigators: Christina Ioannou, Julie Grezes, Coralie Chevallier

Collaborators: Richard Delorme (Hopital Debré) and his team.

Funding: Fondation Roger de Spoelberch

 

This project aims at testing the hypothesis that autism-associated social dysfunction may result from a difficulty during social interactions to detect social cues displayed by another as communicative signals, i.e. signals that require the observer to automatically adapt her/his behavior.

 

BODY POSTURES IMPACT ON THE APPRAISAL OF OUR SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

 

Principal investigators: Hannah Metzler, Michele Chadwick and Julie Grèzes

 

 How does the reading of social signals vary as a function of individual characteristics of the observer? Using body postures, which have been shown to modulate behaviour in a manner coherent with the social dominance they embody, we are investigating how the body state of the observer shapes the appraisal of social signals of others. A first part of the project focuses on how body postures change appraisal of threat-related emotional expressions as a function of their relevance to the self. A second part strives to entangle the mechanisms of posture effects investigating their impact on social cognition and behaviour on two levels: an influence on mental representations of faces, and an influence on approach and avoidance tendencies in response to social signals of threat.

 

 

NORMATIVE CONFLICT, NORM DOMINANCE, AND CULTURAL VARIATIONS IN EPISTEMIC NORMS

Principal investigators: Terry Eskenazi, Benoit Montalan, Laurence Conty & Julie Grezes

Collaborator: Joelle Proust


Human beings are social animals that have to interact with their conspecifics and, most often, with members of specific groups (e.g., cultural, national, or ethnic). In this regard, members of one’s reference group can constitute epistemic authorities for each other and contribute -under some conditions- to the emergence (or not) of an epistemic consensus. In turn, group consensus is likely to elicit social pressure and interpersonal influence, i.e., conformity. In this view, the aim of this project is to examine how humans are sensitive to consensus -as an epistemic norm- and its dominance relative to other norms (e.g., truth, fluency, or coherence) - i.e. its higher salience in a given context. This will permit us to specify whether members of different cultures have different epistemic norms, or whether cultural variations in epistemic norms may depend on norm dominance.

 

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