Perceiving Other People's Effort

Throughout our lives, we interpret other people’s behavior by inferring their mental states, such as their desires, beliefs, and motivations. One particularly interesting mental state is the amount of effort someone exerts. Effort is interesting because it often manifests very physically – you can tell at a glance whether a runner is working hard. In addition, effort lies at the intersection of two domains of knowledge: our social understanding of other people, and our perception of the physical world. Given this hybrid quality, what neural systems help us to perceive effort? For example, do brain regions that support social processing or physical reasoning also represent effort? Further, are physical and mental effort supported by distinct or overlapping brain regions? This research is currently ongoing in collaboration with Shari Liu.

Leyla Tarhan

PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, making a move into industry.