Dr Jess Taubert
Laboratory of Brain & Cognition
National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, USA

Title: "The neural basis of social intelligence in primates"


The overarching goal of my research is to understand the neural mechanisms that give particular visual stimuli social value, allowing us to infer the internal state of the people around us. Our remarkable ability to “read the room” is a form of social intelligence that emerges in infancy and contributes to our social wellbeing. Yet its biological basis is only partially understood. How do we find social agents in the visual environment and attend to them? How do we track changes in someone’s mood during a conversation? How do we know the difference between an angry face and a happy face, and how plastic are those representations? To begin to address these questions, and others, I have been combining psychophysics with state-of-the-art neuroscientific methods (including whole brain functional imaging, single-cell recordings and inactivation techniques) in a highly translatable animal model, the rhesus macaque.
In this talk I will describe some of my recent discoveries including (1) that the primate amygdala builds unique representations of socially-relevant stimuli, (2) that macaque inferior temporal cortex contains regions that track changes in a face’s expression during a social exchange and (3) that the cortical face processing system is not necessary for the prioritization of faces during free-viewing. These experiments set the stage for future studies that will characterize and chart the neural circuits responsible for interpreting visual signals and guiding social behavior in both human and nonhuman primates.

About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

Seminars in the QBI Auditorium on Level 7 are held on Wednesdays at 12-1pm, which are sometimes simulcast on Zoom (with approval from the speaker). We also occassionally hold seminars from international speakers via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018