Social Cognitive Neuroscience and Leadership: A Podcast with Kevin Ochsner

The Formation of Habit: Report from The NeuroLeadership Summit

Kevin Ochsner, Director of Social Cognitive Neuroscience and an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Columbia UniversityKevin Ochsner

To create change, you need to understand how habits control most of our behavior.

Welcome to a Leadership Channel podcast on TotalPicture Radio. This is Peter Clayton reporting from the 2010 NeuroLeadership Summit in Boston, MA. Joining me is Kevin Ochsner, Ph.D., one of the leaders in the field of Social Cognitive Neuroscience. Kevin is the director of Social Cognitive Neuroscience and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Columbia University.

Kevin's research interests include the psychological and neural processes involved in emotion, pain, self-regulation, self perception, and person perception. All of his work employs a social cognitive neuroscience approach that seeks to integrate the theories and methods of social psychology on the one hand, and cognitive neuroscience on the other.

Today, we discuss his brain research on how automatic and controlled processes interact in producing emotion and emotion regulation, self-knowledge, feelings of social exclusion, attributions about other individuals, placebo effects and automatic behavior and how we can use this information in leadership development. Kevin's presentation at the NeuroLeadership Summit focused on the steps we need to take to change behavior, and why negative feedback triggers counterproductive results.

Social cognitive neuroscience (SCN) is an interdisciplinary field that asks questions about topics traditionally of interest to social psychologists (such as emotion regulation, attitude change, or stereotyping) using methods traditionally employed by cognitive neuroscientists (such as functional brain imaging and neuropsychological patient analysis). By integrating the theories and methods of its parent disciplines, SCN seeks to understand socioemotional phenomena in terms of interactions between the social (socioemotional cues, contexts, experiences, and behaviors), cognitive (information processing mechanisms), and neural (brain bases) levels of analysis. By contrast, social psychology emphasizes only the first and second, and cognitive neuroscience emphasizes only the second and third, of these three levels.

Kevin's teaching includes seminars on social cognitive neuroscience and current topics in cognitive neuroscience (that focuses in some years on fMRI methodology and other years on functional neuroanatomy) as well as a lecture course on experimental psychological methods for studying emotion and social cognition. 

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