Visual and social neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscience has the objective of scientifically studying the functional neural mechanisms engaged in human cognition. Accordingly, cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology share overlapping research domains.

Visual neuroscience is part of the scientific framework that concerns the study of neural mechanisms associated with low and high-level visual perception. Low-level visual processing in our brain allows us to perceive orientation, contour, colour, movement and contrast of objects and scenes in our visual world. High-level visual processing allows us to recognise visual objects that convey conceptual meaning, such as faces, objects, words and visual scenes.

Social neuroscience is part of the scientific framework relating to the study of neural mechanisms that underlie social behaviour and processes. Humans are social beings and possess cerebral circuits that are dedicated to social behaviour. For example, the transmission and decoding of emotions, empathy, morality, social biases, stereotypes, culture or belonging to a group; all use distinct processes and cerebral regions.

The methodologies used in visual and social neuroscience are varied and interdisciplinary. The principal ones are the study of behaviour and eye movements, neuropsychology (patients with brain lesions), computational modelling as well as different types of functional cerebral imaging such as electrophysiology (EEG/ERP), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).

Although there have been many discoveries in the last decades, neuroscience remains one of the foremost frontiers of scientific discovery, shedding light on who we are both as a species and as individuals. The functional understanding of human cognition remains one of the great scientific challenges of our time.

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Prof. Roberto Caldara
University of Fribourg
Department of Psychology
Eye and Brain Mapping Laboratory (iBMLab)
Rue Faucigny 2
CH-1700 Fribourg

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