Project Overview +

Ultimately, the goal of CECCR2 aims to understand why and how communication affects health-related behavior and decision making. Specifically, we want to know how tailoring communication by specific individual characteristics influences subsequent health behaviors.

For example:

  • How does tailoring a message about smoking influence smokers’ subsequent decisions about quitting?
  • How does tailoring a message about colorectal cancer affect people’s willingness to get screened?
  • How does tailoring information about prostate cancer affect patients’ subsequent conversations with their physicians about their treatment preference?
A significant obstacle to answering these kinds of questions is that health-related decisions can have many different causes; and these causes can be difficult to disentangle using purely behavioral measures. We therefore want to incorporate measures that begin to address the underlying neural and cognitive mechanisms that give rise to the observed behaviors.

Aims +

The Primary Aim of the Social and Cognitive Neuroscience Core is to provide the capability to use functional neuroimaging and eye tracking to explore biological and cognitive mechanisms underlying behavioral change and decision making. Eventually this work could lead to more precise "neural pretesting" that maximizes the effectiveness of intervention messages.

We want to provide expertise, train new people so that the expertise is expanded within the research community, and provide the facilities necessary to perform state-of-the-art studies. In the marketing field, this area is termed “neuromarketing,” and is increasingly being employed in the private sector by major advertising companies.

Participants +

See individual CECCR2 projects.

Intervention +

Based on recent CECCR1-funded fMRI and eye tracking results led by Dr. Hannah Faye Chua, we expect that deeply-tailored health communication, central to all three research projects, will engage different neural and cognitive mechanisms than less tailored or untailored communication (Chua, H. F., I. Liberzon, et al. (2009)). If so, then it opens up the possibility of predicting which health-related messages will be most effective for a given individual before the intervention has started.

See individual CECCR2 projects.

Findings +

See individual CECCR2 projects.

Conclusion +

See individual CECCR2 projects.

Social & Cognitive Neuroscience Core (CECCR2)

09/01/2008 - 08/31/2013

Core Director:

Thad A. Polk, PhD


Julie E. Boland, PhD
Hannah Faye C. Chua, PhD
Emily B. Falk, PhD
Agnes J. Jasinska, PhD