Symposium on the Social Brain
at the Royal Academy of Belgium


A Symposium on the Social Brain hosted by the Royal Academy took place on 14 November 2011 in Brussels, Belgium.

This symposium was sponsored by the FWO, FNRS and the ESF, in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Belgium.


Program and Speakers

Quotes from the speakers (click on the links to download their presentations):

“Can you tell from a looking at a face if a person is open to short-term sexual relationships; whether they want many or few children; whether they eat a healthy diet and rarely get sick; whether or not they are trustworthy and are a good leader? I say you can do better than chance on each judgment – so you might wonder how this is possible.”

"It takes one to know one: our own actions, sensations and emotions are necessary for understanding those of others."

"The human brain is only collection of neurons that has invented the idea of a mind. A decade of neuroimaging evidence suggests that this idea depends on a small group of neurons clustered in a few parts of the brain: the "Theory of Mind" network. How?"

“Prejudice is usually described as a cultural phenomenon, but it is also rooted in our biology. I will describe how racial prejudices, and our ability to control them, reflect functions of the brain.”

"Corvids (members of the crow family) demonstrate cognitive abilities on a par with the great apes, especially in terms of their social and physical intelligence. However, an open question remains as to whether crows and jays are just exceptionally gifted at predicting others' behaviour or whether, like humans, they make inferences about others' mental states?"


09:00 - 10:00



10:00 - 10:50

David Perret

Social signals make a face look healthy and attractive to others

10:50 - 11:40

Christian Keysers

The empathic brain - How brains share actions, sensations and emotions with other brains

11:40 - 12:10

Coffee break


12:10 - 13:00

Rebecca Saxe

How brains think about minds

13:00 - 14:00

Lunch & Posters


14:00 - 14:50

David Amodio

The egalitarian brain: Neural mechanisms for the self-regulation of prejudice

14:50 - 15:40

Nathan Emery

Are birds folk ethologists or folk psychologists?

15:40 - 16:10

Coffee break


16:10 - 17:00

Jens Krause

Collective behavior and swarm intelligence

17:00 - 18:00



Poster session

Posters are presented on research in the domain of social or affective neuroscience, and related (behavioral or neuroscientific) fields. Click here for the poster abstracts.


How to get there?

  • From the airport: Take the train to Brussels Central Station
  • With the train: Brussels Central Station & then take a walk (10 minutes) or Metro (see next item)
    • Take the underground walk way on your right (while staying in front of the main announcement panel and ticketing offices - not left which is the exit to the city center)
    • Go straight through the shopping mall "Ravenstein", take the steps at the end
    • Cross the small street with "Palais des Beaux Arts" at your right, and take the steps at the end
    • Cross the street and cross the Park
    • The academy is opposite the right exit

  • With the metro ( MIVB ) : Metro station Troon
    • From Central Station : line 1 or 5 till Kunst-Wet, then line 2 of 6.
    • From Nord station : metro Rogier, lin 2 of 6 direction Koning Boudewijn or Simonis (Leopold II).
    • From station Midi: line 2 of 6 direction Simonis (Elisabeth)
  • With the car: At your own risk.

Organizing committee

Van Overwalle, Frank (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Brass, Marcell (Universiteit Gent)
Samson, Dana (Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve)
Arnaud D'Argembeau (University of Liège)


Frank Van Overwalle
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Psychology
Pleinlaan 2
B - 1050 Brussel
phone : + 32-2-629 25 18
fax : + 32-2-629 24 89