The Society for NeuroEconomics honored Oriel FeldmanHall, Manning Assistant Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences at Brown University, with their Early Career Award at the society’s virtual annual meeting in October.
For FeldmanHall, this award was especially meaningful since it captures her lab’s multidisciplinary focus, she said.
“I'm not really a social psychologist, I'm not purely a cognitive neuroscientist, and I'm not an economist. But when you merge those three things together, it's a much better description of my work,” said FeldmanHall, who is affiliated with the Carney Institute for Brain Science. “The Society for NeuroEconomics basically encapsulates the intersection of those different fields. It feels really nice to have accolades from a place that sits at the very same spot that you do.”
According to Todd Hare, president of the Society for Neuroeconomics and associate professor of neuroeconomics and social development at the University of Zurich, FeldmanHall was selected for the society’s Early Career Award based on her important and highly influential work on socio-emotional decision making.
“This work has had a broad impact across many of the component disciplines that make up neuroeconomics, including economics, psychology and neuroscience,” Hare said of FeldmanHall’s research.
The FeldmanHall Lab at Brown studies the neural basis of human social behavior, with a focus on morality, altruism and socio-emotional decision-making. Specifically, her team of researchers investigate how emotions and other social factors influence decisions, such as the decisions one makes “to trust, to punish, to cooperate, (or) to be altruistic,” FeldmanHall said.
FeldmanHall’s research involves measuring the cognitive and physiological responses in scenarios relating to economic game theory. Researchers in FeldmanHall’s lab, for example, use an fMRI scanner — functional magnetic resonance imaging that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow — to identify neural activity patterns and which parts of the brain are activated during a trust exercise.
With more than 20 projects ongoing or upcoming in the lab, FeldmanHall said, “there are always projects on the horizon, but some of the things that we're most excited to do are stalled at the moment because of the pandemic.”
FeldmanHall emphasized that the Society for NeuroEconomics Early Career Award was an acknowledgement of the work of her entire lab.
“It's not just about me, but it's about all the people that I work with in my lab who have brilliant minds and do incredible research as a team” she said.