Emily Grossman, UCI associate professor of cognitive sciences, will use MRI technology and computational statistical analysis to model neural signaling from multiple cortical sources.

Cognitive scientist receives grant to study brain’s social awareness neural pathways

Emily Grossman, associate professor of cognitive sciences, has received a $273,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the neural pathways among the areas of the brain involved in how we act and react in social settings. “The skills used for decoding the actions of others and planning responses appropriate to the context are dispersed across four lobes of the brain which are organized as a network and communicate via long-range white-matter connections,” Grossman said. “Beyond that, we don’t really know much about how those connections work.” She will use MRI technology to identify the anatomical pathways among the systems supporting action recognition, as well as computational statistical analysis to characterize the information traveling through those pathways. “Neuroscience increasingly recognizes that the brain regions do not function in isolation but through the integration of neural signaling from multiple cortical sources,” Grossman said. “The work in this study will advance brain science by explicitly modeling these sources.” Her findings may also contribute to the development of new clinical tools for diagnosing and treating neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.