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 forms 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 about someone's emotional state, and whether or not other individuals 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. Our goal 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 could offer directions to help those with social handicaps, and may point to strategies for improving lives in an increasingly crowded world.
Students interested in joining the lab should contact Nathan Insel for more information.
Graduate student Amber Thatcher and Undergraduate student Stephen Cook traveled to Chicago to present our preliminary behavioral results on how degu strangers change their interactions over repeated exposures. While there were some nice simple results, we haven't yet found specific interaction...
The lab was awarded an R15 AREA award to study behavioral and neural expressions of social memory in degus. We are asking: how do rodents change their behavior as they get to know another individual? And does the frontal cortex code learn to differentiate between other individuals as a way of...
Big symposium at Canadian Association for Neuroscience on the value of using non-traditional animal models to study the social brain. Speakers included Annaliese Beery (voles), Melissa Holmes (naked mole rats), Nathan Insel (degus), and Michael Yartsev (bats).
The University has received funding from the W. M. Keck Foundation to use neuroscience as topic to integrate STEM and Liberal Arts education. What does this mean for us? Along with new courses across university departments, and more momentum behind neuroscience, we will also have new...