Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Catherine L. Reed
© 2012 Danielle Tucci
Social cognition is a fundamental aspect of human experience that enables us to have relationships with and understanding of other people. Social relationships have been shown to mitigate cognitive decline in old age and benefit cognitive functioning, and the social interaction on which these relationships rely requires an extensive network of cognitive processes, and by extension neural systems, that have not, as of yet, been widely studied in older adults. Nor has the function of these systems been tied to social relationships in the real world. Here, I will compare self-reports of real-world quality and extent of social networks with behavioral and neural measures of other-regard in the laboratory. It is hoped that by so doing we will be able to link social neuroscientific measures in the laboratory with persons’ perceptions of the quality and extent of their social relationships. In this study, other-regard in older adults was operationalized with a reaction-time measure in an implicit turn-taking task, neural measures were provided by dense array EEG, and all participants also completed self-report measures of empathy subscales and of the quality and extent of their social networks. I found that measures of empathic personal distress decreased with increased other-regard (r = -0.36, p = 0.01, beta = 0.47), while increased quality and extent of social networks associated marginally with increased other-regard (r = 0.20, p = 0.11, beta = 0.39). Neural analyses are ongoing and are expected to show differential activation consistent with cognitive processes such as theory of mind, empathy, joint attention, and executive control.
Tucci, Danielle, "Measures of Social Cognition in the Laboratory and Real World: Towards Temporal Dynamics of Implicit Other-Regard" (2012). Scripps Senior Theses. 47.