Steve Chang, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychology and of Neuroscience

Research Interests

Amygdala; Neuropharmacology; Neurophysiology; Social Behavior; Prefrontal Cortex; Psychiatry and Psychology

Research Organizations

Child Study Center

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Kavli Institute for Neuroscience

Research Summary

How do we interact with others, and why?  

Our brains evolved to deal with increasing demands of dynamic social interactions.  Social behaviors are heavily reinforcement driven, whether their motivating factors are physical rewards, such as food and sex, or more abstract rewards, such as vicarious experience and interpersonal reputation.  Investigating how the brain computes social preferences and decisions can offer an ecologically valid and efficient way of unlocking the mystery of the mind.  Elucidating the neural basis of social behavior will ultimately help treat social deficits in numerous psychiatric disorders. 
Our research is aimed at understanding the neural mechanisms responsible for social cognition. Our laboratory focuses on how reward-related areas of the brain signal social preferences and generate social decisions.  To answer our questions, we apply both neurophysiological and neuroendocrinological approaches during social interactions.  We investigate neuronal representations as well as neuromodulator actions (e.g., oxytocin, serotonin) in the reward-related brain regions during social behavior.  In a subset of topics, we also investigate similar neural processes using neuroimaging techniques.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Specialized Terms:

  • Neural mechanisms of social interaction and social decision-making
  • single-unit recording from the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala
  • neurobiology of oxytocin-mediated social cognition
  • combined neurophysiology and neuropharmacology
  • neuroethology of social behavior
  • reference frames and sensory-to-motor transformation

Selected Publications

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Contact Info

Steve Chang, PhD
Mailing Address
2 Hillhouse Ave.
Box 208205

New Haven, CT 06520

Chang lab