Dr. Read is accepting students for the 2019 academic year through both the Social Psychology area and the Brain and Cognitive Sciences area.

The Social Affective Neuroscience of Decision-making (SAND) Lab is primarily focused on understanding the neurobiological and psychological bases of human social decision-making, with a particular focus on the motivational and self-regulatory systems.  Our lab uses a variety of different techniques for studying decision-making, including neuro-imaging, behavioral studies, both in the field and the lab, and computational modeling.  One fairly unique aspect of our lab is the integration of behavioral and neuro-imaging data with neural network models, in order to construct computational models of the neural circuitry involved in judgment and decision-making. 

One major project in the lab is analyzing the data from a NIDA funded grant investigating the neural bases of risky sexual decision-making in men who have sex with men.  We have 2 hours of imaging data, while participants perform a number of different cognitive tasks as well as playing a risky dating game.  We also have 2 hours of personality and individual information. We have a sample of around 200 men from multiple ethnicities who vary in their risk taking and their recreational use of methamphetamine. 

Another major project is an NIGMS funded grant that is focused on creating a neural network model of human motivation, personality and motivated decision-making. We are attempting to capture the psychological and neurobiological bases of motivation that underlie individual differences in motivation and human behavior.  One goal of the project is to integrate our earlier work on the neurobiology of risky decision-making in men who have sex with men, with the growing literature on the neurobiology of motivation and decision-making.

The lab is also starting to examine the neurobiological bases of substance abuse and depression.  Recent research suggests that both problems may be partially based in dysfunction of the dopamine-based, reward system.  We are currently focusing on computational models of these problems, but hope to move to imaging research on the underlying neurobiological systems.  

Members of the lab are also involved in various other projects such as adolescent risky decision-making, the impact of mindfulness meditation on self-regulation, motivation and human reward and punishment learning, the role of social emotions, such as shame and guilt, in decision-making, and various aspects of self-regulation and control.

  • Stephen J. Read
  • Mendel B. Silberberg Professor of Social Psychology
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South McClintock Ave., SGM 501
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061