Image: Anna Powers

Social thinking Planning a future, knowing your limitations, following moral rules--these and other uniquely human capacities will be the focus of a research project at California Institute of Technology funded by a million dollar grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Associate Professor of philosophy Steven Quartz will lead an interdisciplinary team of social scientists and neurobiologists who will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques in their quest to define the neurological underpinnings of economic and moral decision making. This study will be among the first to investigate brain activity while subjects are engaged in complex social interactions, according to Quartz. "Given the explosion of knowledge in brain science, we are now in a position where we can expand neuroscience into social science avenues," he says. The study will look at how the brain uses what Quartz calls a symbolic self to engage in...

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