Nathan Insel, Ph.D.
Office: Skaggs Building Room 362
We are a laboratory in the University of Montana Department of Psychology investigating how the brain makes expectations about others. Social expectations include everything from moment-to-moment predictions about others' actions to more general notions about personality and threat. They include the initial perception that something might have intentional behavior, inferences one may make about another's emotional state, and whether or not someone should be trusted. Our research focuses on the degu, a small rodent from Chile with a rich repertoire of vocal and physical interactions. By applying techniques to monitor, manipulate, and simulate the nervous system, we can develop and test theories of how social expectations arise from neural interactions. Recent projects have been looking at communication between forebrain regions during social approach and interactions (such as face-to-face greetings), a first step toward understanding the brain circuit computations taking place during social coordination. The ultimate goal of these studies is to gain better insight into how the brain supports social behavior in a way that is not only adaptive for the individual, but, ideally, constructive for groups of individuals. This has the poential to offer directions to treat those who experience handicaps in the social domain, and perhaps even offer biological and technological strategies toward improving the lives of all people living in an increasingly crowded world.
Students interested in joining the lab should contact Nathan Insel for more information.
We are honored and happy that the University Research and Creativity Committee (URCC), along with superlative VPR Scott Whittenberg, has awarded us our first grant: a Research Seed Award to build automated tools for tracking and classifying rodent social behavior. We expect these tools will be...
Our lab's first University of Montana Conference on Undergraduate Research (UMCUR). Dani Crandell presents her finding that degus will spend more time with a 3D-printed objected that has a rabbit-like shape, and less time with a lion shape, as compared with scrambled versions of those same...
Society for Social Neuroscience in San Diego! Our poster presented exciting findings on interactions between reuniting females.
Photo taken from the balcony of the rental, where we managed to lure some big-shot scientists/family members.