Guest Speaker: Dr. Jim Coan, University of Virginia

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Jim Coan from the University of Virginia for an intriguing guest talk.

Title: The Social Regulation of Emotion: Neural Effects and Potential Mechanisms

Abstract: High quality social relationships help us live longer, happier, and healthier lives–facts that hold true, as far as anyone knows, regardless of geography or culture. Although links between relationships and health have been observed for decades (if not millennia), the mechanisms responsible for them remain speculative. For this talk, I’ll first describe our work on one of these potential mechanisms: social regulation of the brain’s response to perceived threat. Next, I’ll offer a perspective–derived initially from our social regulation results–that integrates the study of social relationships with principles of behavioral ecology and cognitive psychology to propose that social relationships are construed by the brain as bioenergetic resources available to the self. Because of this, proximity to social resources economizes both current and predicted cognitive and bodily effort, a process that can diminish subjective stress, improve health, and prolong life.

Dr. Coan will also be speaking the following day at Psychfest.