o n Monday, May 14th 2018, our first extended laboratory meeting was held in the Clínica Alemana de Santiago. This activity was held in order to strengthen the collaboration between our neuroscience research group and the Clínica Alemana, especially with the Advanced Qualitative Imaging Unit (UNICA), the Department of Neurology and the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unitentó nuestra línea de investigación sobre Negociación Social

In this first meeting, the researcher and director of the neuroCICS, Pablo Billeke, presented the research line that we have developed in Social Negotiation. Social Negotiation can be understood as a type of interaction in which people must agree even when their interests are not necessarily aligned. These interactions have been studied in our laboratory using the repeated version of the ultimatum game. In this version of the game, two people have to agree on how to share a certain amount of money, through repeated proposals that one of the players makes to the other. The player who makes the offer is called proponent, while the player receiving the offer is called receiver. The receiver can accept the offer if it seems convenient, or reject it. By accepting the offer, the money is divided and transferred to each player, but if the offer is rejected, the money from that round is lost.

First, we presented the results of projects where we have used this game to identify certain brain activities associated to the anticipation and evaluation of the other person's behavior. By means of a technique called electroencephalography (EEG) we have been able to determine the oscillatory activity of the brain related to the behavior of the proponent. Thus, when the proponent anticipates the response of the other player, a modulation of an oscillation called alpha occurs in temporal and parietal regions of the brain. This alpha activity correlates with how risky the offer of the proponent was and the offer that the person will make in the next round. Because this activity is specific for a proponent playing with another person and not with a computer, this alpha activity could reflect the fact of attributing intentions to the other player. Indeed, the brain area in which this activity originates, has been related to an ability that helps people to identify the internal world of other people, which is populated by desires and intentions, called Theory of Mind. On this occasion results of this research line related to the Fondecyt Projects 11140535, 1140236 were also presented and discussed. In these projects, we are studying the variation of this oscillatory activity in population of different ages.

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Pablo Billeke during the meeting

Second, we presented results obtained in this research line through a non-invasive brain stimulation method called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) (Equipment awarded to neuroCICS by FONDEQUIP in 2016) that helps to identify causal relationships between brain activity and behavior. Different stimulations can generate an activation or inhibition of the neuronal groups located under the stimulated site, which may or may not generate an impact on the behavior. The causal relationship is established when the stimulation at a specific place and moment has an effect on the behavior. To use this technique in our research we proceeded as follows. First, we identified the region to be stimulated by functional and structural magnetic resonances of the subjects. In this case, we identified the temporo-parietal area as being important for Theory of Mind. This area was later stimulated in the participants by TMS while they were playing the ultimatum game and their brain activity was recorded by EEG. This methodology allows us not only to recognize the skills that people use to interact and communicate with others, but also enables us to intervene their neurobiological mechanisms.

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neuroCICS ans CAS team

During this meeting with the clinical team, we also discussed the possible implications of these findings in rehabilitation therapies for people who suffer from neuropsychiatric diseases that affect social skills, such as schizophrenia and autism.

Papers:

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Functional network dynamics in alpha band correlate with social bargaining.

PLoS One 2014 Billeke P, Zamorano F, Chavez M, Cosmelli D, Aboitiz F. Full text: