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Jean Decety

Jean Decety

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Dr. Jean Decety is Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago and the College. He is the co-director of the Brain Research Imaging Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Jean Decety is the Editor of Social Neuroscience.

I was born and raised in France and attended the University Claude Bernard in Lyon as an undergraduate. Then I went to graduate school in the neuroscience program at the same University. I received my Ph.D. in 1989 (neuroscience). After that I completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in Sweden, at Lund University Hospital in clinical neurophysiology, and at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm in the Department of clinical neurophysiology and neuroradiology. In 1991, I got a research position at the Institute for Medical Research (INSERM) in Lyon where worked in the domains of cognitive neuroscience of action perception and understanding, mental imagery, imitation, perspective taking and theory of mind using positron emission tomography, functional magnetic resonance imaging, as well as measurements of the autonomic nervous system.

In 2001, I was offered by Pat Kuhl and Andrew Meltzoff the opportunity to become the head of a new social and cognitive neuroscience Lab at he University of Washington Institute for Brain and Learning in Seattle. In 2006, I joined the University of Chicago.

My research investigates the cognitive and neural mechanisms underpinning affective and emotional processing, moral reasoning, empathy, and more generally interpersonal processes in both healthy individuals and atypical populations such as children with aggressive conduct disorder and psychopaths. This area of research combines neuroimaging methods such as functional MRI (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), structural MRI (sMRI), high-density ERPs, autonomic nervous system (ANS) and hormones. I am also developing an animal model to investigate the neural and neuroendocrine mechanisms of empathy and prosocial behavior in rats.

Primary Interests:

  • Aggression, Conflict, Peace
  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Ethics and Morality
  • Helping, Prosocial Behavior
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Neuroscience, Psychophysiology
  • Nonverbal Behavior
  • Person Perception
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

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Courses Taught:

  • Altruism and Prosocial Behavior
  • Brain Mapping Workshop
  • Developmental Human Neuroscience
  • The Empathic Brain
  • Topics in Developmental Psychology: Empathy and Moral Reasoning
  • Windows to the Social Brain

Jean Decety
Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory
University of Chicago
5848 S. University Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637
United States of America

  • Phone: (773) 834-3711

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