Monkey See, Monkey Do: New Research in Social Cognition

It was an excellent keynote talk at the third Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society (ESCoNS) summit. Andrew Meltzoff, a pioneer in the field of child neurodevelopmental research, specifically in the area of “social cognition,” presented findings from some of his most recent projects. Social cognition is a theory of learning that proposes that humans learn primarily by observing and imitating the behavior of others, particularly parental figures. It is thought that applying the principles of social cognition to educational and other real-world learning environments can improve learning outcomes.

Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), a brand new form of MRI designed exclusively for children, Dr. Meltzoff and his team have taken the first ever pictures of brain functioning and development in the earliest years of life. Combining this with some elegant experimental design, with and without MEG, they have been able to gain insight into the roots of social learning and social cognition. This research has the potential to strongly impact the development of neurogames and eMental Health products, which currently only rarely interweave the principles of social cognition. It will be exciting to see if new games are able to utilize these findings to make them more effective and powerful. We at PsyberGuide look forward to future developments.

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