IMPACT - IMproving PAtterns of Social InterACTion
The project, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, is a cooperation of the Department of Neuropsychology and Prof. Dr. Stefan Scherbaum of the TU Dresden.
A central aspect that distinguishes us as human beings is our social interactions. These play an important role, for example, when important decisions are made by several people together. In order to decide well, one's own intentions have to be reconciled with the expected or unexpected behavior of other decision makers. For some people, such social interactions are seemingly effortless, whereas for others they are insurmountable hurdles.
This project addresses the question of which cognitive and neuronal processes underlie successful social interaction, and how people can improve that ability. As great as the social relevance of this question is, so is the associated scientific challenge: how to explore the connection between social interaction, individual behavior and the underlying neural processes in their diverse dynamics?
The project takes on this challenge through a novel combination of the strengths of three disciplines: the performing arts, psychology and neuroscience. It uses a play format of improvisational theater that requires freely selectable but clearly defined social interactions between two actors. We combine this format with methods of psychology and neuroscience. We capture free behavior by means of behavioral observation, explain it on the basis of computational modeling, and record the neural processes of social-interactive behavior by means of mobile electroencephalography (EEG).
The aim of the project is to grasp the processes that underlie social interactions in order to understand the changes through interventions by improvisational theater. The interdisciplinary approach provides insights into the individual mechanisms and neural processes of successful social interaction and effective interventions to improve them. The project thus offers a novel approach to the study of complex social interactions in ecologically valid but scientifically controlled form.