°Ma Ning

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Psychology
Pleinlaan 2
B - 1050 Brussel
phone : + 32-2-629 23 32
email :     



MSc in Psychology (Sports Psychology) - University of Leuven, 2006


  • none


My research is on the brain localisation (with fMRI) of spontaneous and intentional person inferences.

Recent research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques has made important progress in the understanding of how the brain is involved in social cognition processes, such as judgments about a person's goals and traits. There is robust evidence showing that some areas in the brain are preferentially involved in social inferences about the self and other persons. His analysis showed that temporary goals and beliefs are subtended mainly by the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), whereas stable traits and scripts are predominantly represented in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Although this research has increased our knowledge on the neural underpinnings of social inferences for the self and other persons, past results are sometimes difficult to interpret because neuroscience researchers have seldom investigated automatic or spontaneous processes and focused mainly on explicit task instructions that may have interfered with these spontaneous social processes. Moreover, to date little progress has been made in the understanding of the specific neurological and mental processes underlying these inferences, including inferences about (hidden) goals, (false or true) beliefs and traits of the self and other people.

The aim of my research is to address these two concerns. I analyze the potential differences in activated brain areas between spontaneous versus intentional inferences I also explore the similarities and differences between specific inferences about individual persons, such as goals, traits and beliefs.


List of Publications

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