Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Affective Brain Lab Seminar: Elinor Amit

15 March 2018, 5:15 pm–6:15 pm

This week's Affective Brain Lab talk on distinct roles of visual and verbal processing in social cognition will be given by Elinor Amit.

Event Information

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Affective Brain Lab


Seminar Room 313, UCL Experimental Psychology Department, 26 Bedford Way

TITLE: The Medium is (Part) of the Message: The distinct roles of visual and verbal processing in social cognition

SPEAKER: Elinor Amit (Brown University)*


Thinking about the social world is complicated. We need to translate endless data points from our experiences into a coherent narrative, in order to make sense of the world around us and react efficiently. Notably, research shows that there is no dedicated “social cognition faculty” in the brain that processes all social information. Rather, our thinking about the social world relies on the functional integration of multiple domain-general core systems. What are the distinct characteristics of those core systems, and how do they affect our social cognition? In this talk I will focus on two systems: the visual system and the language system. Using a combination of laboratory experiments, Internet surveys and neuroimaging, I will provide evidence that the visual system was designed to address psychologically immediate challenges. In contrast, the verbal system was designed to address psychologically remote challenges. Critically, the mapping of modality on egocentric distance has implications to the way people perceive, judge, feel, and react towards the social world. This research shows that in order to understand what people think about, social psychology must consider how they think about it.

* speaker will be presenting via Skype