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Past and Current Projects

How does human brain represent safety through self-oriented and other-oriented computation? How are our safety computation biased during integration of multiple self/other features? In this fMRI study, we explore how human brain represent internal and external information separately and the metacognitive processes involved to compute one's safety level.

We developed and evaluated a photo captioning intervention aimed at increasing cognitive empathy and improving mental health and reducing inflammation in dementia caregivers, and to examine the neural and psychological mechanisms by which the intervention works. Caregivers experienced pre- to post-intervention increases in cognitive empathy (i.e., Perspective-Taking) and decreases in both burden and anxiety. These changes were paralleled by an increased neural response to photographs of their PLWD within brain regions implicated in cognitive empathy.

What neural network do adult caregivers recruit when providing care for their dementia patients? In this fMRI study, we found that adult caregivers recruit brain regions involved in emotional empathy (anterior insula, dmPFC) when viewing photos of their patients. The pattern of neural activation parallels with observations from parental and grandparental care, suggesting that there might be an universal caregiving neural network in humans that relies on neural network evolved for childcare.

How do humans take risk for altruistic or self-motivated causes? Do people amplify altruistic risk-taking under threat? Are there physiological mechanisms undertaking altruistic risk-taking?

Can curiosity down regulate human fear during explorative behaviors? What are the underlying physiological mechanism? We are designing a novel foraging paradigm with ecologically-valid threat induction to test the interplay between human curiosity and fear. Stay tuned!

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