Postdoctoral Research Associate
Member of the Metacognition Lab [link]
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, UCL
Our journey through life consists of a series of decisions, and the better the decisions, the better that journey will be. To make good decisions, we require a mental model of the world that adequately describes all its structures and contingencies. I study how humans construct such models of the world and in particular the social world. Human interaction is remarkably complex. We must learn that an action may be rewarded in one social context, but punished in another, depending on who is present. When we want to predict what someone else will do, we must remember that they are trying to predict what we will do, and update our model of them accordingly. In my research, I seek to understand how humans perform these tasks – that is, navigate the social world – by combining behavioural experiments, computational modelling and neuroimaging. Computational modelling allows us to formalise theories about human cognition, to derive predictions for behaviour and to compare these against empirical data. Neuroimaging allows us to relate behaviour and hypothesised underlying computations to human brain function and to identify biological constraints. An accurate description of how humans learn to navigate the social world is important for advancing our understanding of disorders of mental health. Many mental disorders are ‘social disorders’ (e.g., social anxiety or psychopathy) – that is, they manifest themselves in interactions between people – but we lack a mechanistic account of what has gone awry.
email: danbang.db [at] gmail.com | twitter: @DanBang_