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.
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.
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.