Robert Chavez

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Research Interests and Publications

Among the most defining characteristics of our species is our capacity for a rich sense of self and depth of our social cognition. How does the human brain build models of ourselves and other people, and how do we use this information to guide our behavior in the real world? My research aims to better understand the biological mechanisms and individual differences in these domains of psychology. Specifically, I am interested in both the shared and dissociable psychological processes that underlie self-representation and social cognition and their representation in the brain. Employing methods such as multimodal neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI and DTI) and machine learning, my work investigates how these processes are reflected in the structure and function of distributed networks of the brain and how they predict individual differences in each domain. As such, research in my lab broadly draws on theoretical and methodological approaches from personality and social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary theory, and data science.

Dr. Chavez will be accepting new students for Fall 2022.

Selected publications:

Chavez, R.S. (2021). Tangled representations of self and others in the medial prefrontal cortext. In Ochsner, K., & Gilead, M. (Eds.), The Neural Basis of Mentalizing. Springer Press

Broom, T.W., Chavez, R.S., & Wagner, D.D. (2021). Becoming the king in the north: Identification with fictional characters is associated with greater self-other neural overlap. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 16(6), 541-551.

Tovar, D.T., & Chavez, R.S. (2021). Large-scale functional coactivation patterns reflect the structural connectivity of the medial prefrontal cortex. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 16(8), 875-882.

Chavez, R.S., & Wagner, D.D. (2020). The neural representation of self is recapitulated in the brains of friends: A round-robin fMRI study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 118(3), 407-416.

Wagner, D.D., Chavez, R.S., & Broom, T.W. (2019). Decoding the neural representation of self and person knowledge with multivariate pattern analysis and data-driven approaches. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 10(1), e1482.

Chavez, R.S., Heatherton, T.H., & Wagner, D.D. (2017). Neural population decoding reveals the intrinsic positivity of the self. Cerebral Cortex, 11(1), 5222-5229.