Steve Chang, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychology and of Neuroscience

Research Departments & Organizations

Child Study Center

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Kavli Institute for Neuroscience

Research Interests

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

Research Summary

Our team studies the neural mechanisms responsible for social behavior. 

How do we interact with others, and why?  

Our brains evolved to deal with increasing demands of social interactions. Social behaviors are reward 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 mediates prosocial and antisocial decisions can offer an ecologically valid and efficient way to understand the brain. In particular, studying how the brain computes social information during dynamic and contingent interactions will likely reveal novel insights into the neural mechanisms underlying social behavior. Elucidating these neural mechanisms will ultimately help treat social deficits in numerous psychiatric disorders. In addressing these issues, our laboratory focuses on how the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala signal social decisions and mediate social gaze dynamics. We apply both neurophysiological and neuropharmacological approaches during real-life social interactions as well as functional neuroimaging techniques in humans while they make value-based social decisions.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Specialized Terms:

  • Neural mechanisms of social interaction and social decision-making
  • Social Neurophysiology
  • Single-unit recordings from the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala
  • Neurobiology of oxytocin-mediated social cognition
  • Combined neurophysiology and neuropharmacology
  • Neuroethology of social behavior
  • Social reference frames

Selected Publications

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