domingo, 6 de diciembre de 2009

How our brains build social worlds

How our brains build social worlds
02 December 2009
New Scientist:

YOU know how it works. A student volunteer sits alone in a soundproof booth, watching a computer screen and waiting for moving dots to appear. When they do, he or she has to decide whether there is a walking man hidden somewhere in those dots. If there is, and he is walking left, the volunteer has to press the left button. It's a tricky task, and most of the time people end up guessing.
In our view, this kind of traditional experiment has a serious limitation: it does not take into account the influence of social interaction. On the surface, of course, no social communication is involved, as the volunteer is alone in a room. But dig deeper, and you'll find plenty. For one thing, the man hidden in the dots is a social stimulus, although not one that can interact. Such experiments involve social communication at another level, too. Any participant brings his or her baggage about what psychologists are like and how volunteers should behave.
The problem is that these hidden social interactions remain out of focus in the experiment. Our aim at the Interacting Minds project at the Danish Neuroscience Centre in Aarhus is to develop a new kind of experiment that is focused on such interactions.


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