Skip to Content

College of Arts and Sciences

2023 Conference

The Institute for Mind and Brain at the University of South Carolina will be holding a one-day in person conference on the Social and Emotional Brain, Friday March 17, 2023. It is the fourth in a series of regular forums for highlighting current topics in cognitive neuroscience. The conference will feature three external speakers, as well as invited contributions by local researchers and a poster session.

Held at the USC Conference Center @ Capstone Hall

Address: Campus Room in the Capstone Hall Building, 902 Barnwell Street, Columbia, SC 29208

Free registration 

This symposium is free to trainees, faculty, and staff.  A boxed lunch will be provided for the first 100 registrants. Please register by March 10, 2023: 

Poster session details

Poster abstracts (<250 words) should be submitted via this link by March 13, 2023 @ noon (extended!): 

Posters must fit a 4' x 4' poster board

Tentative agenda for the conference  

Start Agenda Title Speaker
8:30 Coffee & Registration    
9:00 Welcome   Dr. Rutvik Desai, Dean Joel Samuels
9:15 AM Invited speaker What is special about social decision making? Dr. Scott Huetell
10:15 AM Local talk Affect and Decisions from Experience Dr. Doug Wedell
10:45 AM Break    
11:00 AM Invited speaker Neurocomputational insights into emotion representation and dynamics Dr. Kevin LaBar
12:00 PM Lunch break & Poster session    
2:00 PM Local talk Social Networks in Individuals with Chronic Stroke Aphasia Dr. Lisa Johnson 
2:30 PM Invited speaker Social-Communication Biomarkers: Quantification and Qualification for Clinical Trial Improvement Dr. Sara Jane Webb
3:30 PM Break    
3:45 PM Local talk Using hyperscanning to understand dyadic social dynamics  Dr. Caitlin Hudac
4:15 PM Panel discussion   All speakers

Featured speakers

Dr. Sara Jane Webb

Dr. Sara Jane Webb Professor in Psychiatry, University of Washington

Dr. Webb's research focuses on understanding the development of neural circuits that contributing to and underlie social development. Her lab uses a number of different tools: primarily electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs), but also eye tracking, cardiophysiology (EKG), neuroimaging, and behavioral measures to study how infants, children, and adults perceive, attend and learn about their social environment. Her projects also focus on the development and validation of biomarkers that may be used to understand the course of development and treatment response in children with disruption in social and communication function such as autism spectrum disorder, 16p11.2 deletion syndrome, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Kevin LaBar

Dr. Kevin LaBar Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University 

Dr. LaBar's research focuses on understanding how emotional events modulate cognitive processes in the human brain. He aims to identify brain regions that encode the emotional properties of sensory stimuli, and to show how these regions interact with neural systems supporting social cognition, executive control, and learning and memory. To achieve this goal, he uses a variety of cognitive neuroscience techniques in human subject populations. These include psychophysiological monitoring, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), machine learning,  and behavioral studies in healthy adults as well as psychiatric patients. His integrative approach capitalizes on recent advances in the field and may lead to new insights into cognitive-emotional interactions in the brain.

Dr. Scott Huettel

Dr. Scott Huettel Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University 

Dr. Huettel studies the neural basis of decision making and related aspects of cognition. Key techniques include functional neuroimaging, computational modeling, eye tracking and other behavioral measurements, genetic and hormonal analyses, and other behavioral and physiological measures in human participants. Many decisions lead to consequences for others. Dr. Huettel explores several sorts of social decisions: those that involve personal sacrifice for another’s benefit (e.g., choices in a competitive game). He adopts the working hypothesis that, throughout evolutionary time, many of the most critical decisions were social, not economic. Thus, neural systems for the adaptive control of behavior often acted to achieve social goals, in concert with systems for understanding the cognitions and desires of others. He believes that this is an important and understudied area of research — one that will merge with neuroeconomics over the coming years.

USC speakers

Dr. Caitlin Hudac

Dr. Caitlin Hudac Associate Professor, Psychology

Dr. Hudac's research focuses on brain development in infants, children, and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) and with a genetic mutation linked to  NDDs.  She uses multiple techniques (EEG, ERP, eye tracking, fMRI) to target the underlying biology associated with social attention and cognition.  She is the current Steering Director of USC's Carolina Autism and Neurodevelopment (CAN) Research Center. 

Dr. Lisa Johnson

Dr. Lisa Johnson Norris Research Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Lisa Johnson Norris, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor in the Aphasia Lab. Prior to completing her doctoral degree at UofSC, she received her B.S. from Arizona State University in Speech and Hearing Science where she found a passion for studying adult neurogenic disorders. Her primary research interests include investigating the behavioral and neural factors which predict treatment response and aphasia severity, how neural synchrony can impact language ability, and the effects of social support on post-stroke recovery. 

Dr. Doug Wedell

Dr. Douglas Wedell Professor, Psychology


The motivating force behind Dr. Wedell's research has been an attempt to better understand how context affects how we think about, feel, and interact with the world. He has studied context effects by altering the nature of the stimulus or choice set, changing features of the task, such as the mode of presentation or the type or response required, and manipulating the framing of the information being considered. His research is characterized by development of quantitative models that explain judgment, decision, and memory processes. 

Representations and Consequences of Affect: Dr. Wedell has collaborated with Dr. Svetlana Shinkareva on several projects that are aimed at better understanding the neural representation of affect and how this representation links to representations derived from behavioral measures. In addition, in collaboration with Jongwan Kim, Dr. Wedell has examined how inducing affective states related to valence and arousal impact risky choice.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.