The brain is a window to understanding behavior change at the individual, group, and population levels.

Communication Neuroscience uses tools of neuroscience including neuroimaging (e.g. fMRI) and physiological response measures to understand how we process social communication (e.g. from other people, from the mass media) and how we behave in response to these messages. For example, persuasive messages surround us, primarily with the goal of convincing us to alter or maintain certain behaviors (e.g. quit smoking, wear sunscreen, buy products, vote in the next election).

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Our lab links neural activity (in response to these messages) to behaviors at the individual, group and population levels. We are particularly interested in predicting behavior change following exposure to persuasive messages and in understanding what makes successful ideas spread (e.g. through social networks, through cultures). We are also interested in the development of “neural focus groups” to predict the efficacy of persuasive communication at the population level. At present, much of our research focuses on health communication, and topics relevant to the design of better interventions, programs and policies.

Recent work includes exploration of neural predictors of increased sunscreen use, neural predictors of tobacco cessation, and linking neural responses to health messages to population level behavioral outcomes; other areas of interest include political communication, cross-cultural communication, and the spread of culture, social norms and sticky ideas.