The Laboratory

The objectives of the Neuroscience and Society Lab (iNSuLa) are to explore social and cognitive processes by using an integrative approach that brings together neurological, psychological and physiological models of the human brain within neuroscience.

More specifically, we are interested in investigating issues of interest to social psychologists (such as intergroup cognition and emotion, stereotyping, self-other distinction, decision making) and cognitive scientists (such as imitation, action simulation, action understanding, body representations) using methods traditionally employed by cognitive neuroscientists (such as human neuropsychology, functional brain imaging, and transcranial magnetic stimulation).

In the iNSuLa Lab we have been investigating the involvement of the motor system in higher cognitive functions (for a review, see Rumiati et at., 2010). While it has traditionally been seen as a movement output device, recent research, including that from this lab, has clearly demonstrated that the motor system is involved in many relevant cognitive functions such as motor imagery, object and action recognition, and language understanding. Thus, the key question now is not so much whether the motor system is involved in cognition, but the conditions under which its involvement occurs. 

Beyond detailed experience in the motor system, iNSuLa Lab has begun to study more complex behaviors that only recently have attracted the attention of neuroscientists, namely food processing and social group information. These new research programs include projects concerning moral and risk decision making, ingroup and outgroup categorization in patients with brain damage and in healthy individual using fMRI and structural imaging, the neuropsychology of aging, multimodal processing of emotional expressions, food characterization and choice, as well as semantic processing.