Improving self-awareness: Manipulating the neural substrates of self-belief (360G-Wellcome-206648_Z_17_Z)
Beliefs about our skills and abilities (known as "self-beliefs") may become divorced from reality, particularly in psychiatric and neurological disorders. For instance, someone with depression may think they are unable to succeed in new pursuits, making them unlikely to try in the first place. My goal is to identify core brain processes supporting self-beliefs, and in turn leverage this knowledge to develop interventions for restoring aberrant self-belief. I will focus on a network of brain regions in medial and lateral prefrontal cortex that is theorized to support estimates of self-ability. I will address three interlocking questions: 1) How are self-beliefs constructed? 2) Which factors permit the modification of self-belief? 3) How are self-beliefs used in the control of future behaviour? I will conduct fMRI and MEG experiments using novel decision paradigms to dissect elements of self-belief computation such as prior experience and task difficulty, and reveal how mental health is linked to these computations through large-scale online data collection. This work will inform behavioural and neurofeedback interventions to modify self-belief. The overarching goal of my research agenda is to produce a comprehensive, mechanistic account of self-belief construction, thereby informing efforts to restore appropriate self-awareness in disorders of mental health.
£844,232 31 May 2017