Training socio-emotional competencies: Development and evaluation of a new SOCIAL COGNITION TRAINING TOOL (SCOTT) for adults (216)

The aim of the project is the development of a new test and training software targeting socioemotional competencies.

The ability to understand the emotional and mental states of others plays a key role for the adequate interpretation and reaction to other peoples’ behaviour within our social environment. This ability, as crucial as it is for living in a community, can vary greatly between people and may even be impaired severely, as in individuals on the autism spectrum.

In this project, we are creating a training software aiming at improving the perception and understanding of emotions. For the production of the training material, we are working with actors who display 40 different emotional states (e.g., happiness, envy, anger or enthusiasm) through facial expression, prosody and short films of social interactions. In three training modules participants learn to integrate emotional information of varying complexity from faces, voices, language, and context in a playful manner. Subsequently, we will test whether the different tasks used for the training are sensitive to the impairments in emotion understanding in individuals with autism (validation study).

In a second step, we will document the effectiveness of the new training software in a 12-week intervention program with 50 adults on the autism spectrum (intervention study). We will use various tests to assess the training’s success in a controlled environment as well as in everyday life. In addition to that, we will assess how the training program changes eye movements and the function and structure of the brain systems involved in emotion processing.

Publications

Bahnemann, M., Dziobek, I., Prehn, K., Wolf, I., Heekeren, H. R. (2010). Sociotopy in the temporoparietal cortex: common versus distinct processes. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 5 (1). 48-58. doi:10.1093/scan/nsp045.

Kliemann, D., Dziobek, I., Hatri, A., Steimke, R., Heekeren, H. R. (2010). Atypical reflexive gaze patterns on emotional faces in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Neuroscience 30 (37). 12281-12287. PMID: 20844124

Philiastides, M. G., Biele, G., Heekeren, H. R. (2010). A mechanistic account of value computation in the human brain. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (20). 9430-9435. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1001732107.

Yoshida, W., Dziobek, I., Kliemann, D., Heekeren, H. R., Friston, K. J., Dolan, R. J. (2010). Cooperation and heterogeneity of the autistic mind. The Journal of Neuroscience 30 (26). 8815-8818. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0400-10.2010

Müller, E., Wendt, C., Dziobek, I., Stenneken, P. (2009). Soziale Kognition bei Patienten mit Frontalhirnläsion: Untersuchung mit dem Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC-MC). Eder, A.B., Rothermund, K., Schweinberger, S.R.M., Steffens, C., Wiese, H. (Eds.). 51. Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psycholog/innen: Tagungsband und Abstracts. Jena.