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Social neuroscience aims to describe the neural systems that underpin social cognition and behaviour. Over the past decade, researchers have begun to combine computational models with neuroimaging to link social computations to the brain. Inspired by approaches from reinforcement learning theory, which describes how decisions are driven by the unexpectedness of outcomes, accounts of the neural basis of prosocial learning, observational learning, mentalizing and impression formation have been developed. Here we provide an introduction for researchers who wish to use these models in their studies. We consider both theoretical and practical issues related to their implementation, with a focus on specific examples from the field.

Original publication




Journal article


Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci

Publication Date





761 - 771


computational modelling, model fitting, model selection, reinforcement learning, reward, social, Brain, Cognition, Humans, Learning, Reinforcement, Psychology, Social Behavior, Social Cognition