Tracking the dynamics of the social brain: ERP approaches for social cognitive and affective neuroscience

David M. Amodio, Bruce D. Bartholow, Tiffany A. Ito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Event-related potential (ERP) approaches to social cognitive and affective neuroscience (SCAN) are not as widely used as other neuroimaging techniques, yet they offer several unique advantages. In particular, the high temporal resolution of ERP measures of neural activity make them ideally suited for studying the dynamic interplay of rapidly unfolding cognitive and affective processes. In this article, we highlight the utility of ERP methods for scientists investigating questions of SCAN. We begin with a brief description of the physiological basis of ERPs and discussion of methodological practices. We then discuss how ERPs may be used to address a range of questions concerning social perception, social cognition, attitudes, affect and self-regulation, with examples of research that has used the ERP approach to contribute important theoretical advances in these areas. Whether used alone or in combination with other techniques, the ERP is an indispensable part of the social and affective neuroscientist's methodological toolkit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernst177
Pages (from-to)385-393
Number of pages9
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Brain imaging
  • Event-related potentials
  • Psychophysiology
  • Social cognition
  • Social neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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