On May 1, 2014, Dr. Ralph Adolphs, Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, California Institute of Technology, presented his popular talk ‘The Social Brain’. Dr. Adolphs’ lecture video, photos, full abstract and biography is below.

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The Social Brain | Abstract
Humans are an intensely social species, so much so that virtually all aspects of our daily lives feature a socially constructed environment. This striking aspect of our human nature must be reflected in our psychology and in our brains: presumably the evolution of culture depended on particular psychological processes, and on particular brain functions. What are these processes and brain functions? My laboratory uses cognitive neuroscience approaches to investigate this question.Our work spans a broad range of techniques, including brain imaging, eyetracking, and direct brain recordings; and it makes comparisons between several different patient populations, as well as comparisons between humans, apes, and monkeys. One focus has been to understand the unusual social cognition of people with autism. Another focus has been to record activity from single cells in the brains of patients who have implanted depth electrodes. Together, these varied approaches are revealing to us how the brain processes social information, what aspects of this may be unique to humans, and how it can break down in diseases like autism.

Ralph Adolphs | Biography
Ralph Adolphs was born in Germany in 1963, moved to Canada in 1972, and is a Canadian citizen. He obtained his Ph.D. from Caltech, Pasadena in 1992 with Mark Konishi (working on the auditory system of owls), and subsequently worked with Antonio Damasio at the University of Iowa to study neurological patients with focal brain lesions. He came back as faculty to Caltech in 2004 and is now the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. From 2008-2013 he was director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, and he currently directs a Conte Center on Social Decision-Making funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. Ralph Adolphs lives in Pasadena with his wife and two cats and enjoys hiking in the mountains and eating spicy food.