Externado Research Group pioneer in Social neuroscience issues

It is our House of Studies "Health, Medical Knowledge, and Society" group of the Social and Human Sciences Faculty.

Our University has been consolidated as a pioneer in the field of Social Neuroscience thanks to the research carried out by the sub-group “Social Brain, Ecology, and Coexistence,” which is part of the Social and Human Sciences Center for Research on Social Dynamics.

Since 2011, the Group has sought to be a work platform, from biology, to observe and consider behavior problems relating to Social and Human Sciences. Thus, for their research development, they have formed a convergence of life sciences, health sciences, and social sciences.

The interdisciplinary “Health, Medical Knowledge, and Society group is formed by philosopher Juan Pablo Bermúdez; physician Juan Carlos Caicedo; biologist Jorge Martínez; neurologist Roberto Suárez; philosopher and psychiatrist Mauricio Aponte, and psychologists Pablo Muñoz and Marco Antonio Muñoz.

For Mauricio Aponte, philosopher and psychiatrist, Social Neuroscience is a Neuroscience sub-group that tries to learn about correlations and what happens within the nervous system, understood as a complex network that organizes the conduct and behavior of human perception. And, likewise, to see what happens to the system, as a whole, when social interaction occurs.

Part of the research group’s recognition and positioning is the result of two factors. First, the publication of the book “El cerebro social: expresiones desde la cooperación y la agresión en niños y jóvenes” (The social brain: expressions from cooperation and aggression in children and young people). Secondly, the fact that over the years the Group has worked closely with the Colombian College of Neurosciences (COLNE); both were the first to hold a symposium on Social Neuroscience, in 2012. Since then, they have actively participated in symposia and conferences. So much so, that this year the Externado hosted the XI National Congress and the XII International Neuroscience Seminar.

Why does the Externado work on Social Neuroscience?

Our House of Studies is dedicated to teaching and research on Social and Human Sciences; therefore, the research group was not interested in performing basic neuroscience research.

According to biologist and researcher Jorge Martínez, the group has been interested in “applying neuroscience to problems or discussions on social and cultural dynamics, and this, precisely, is why we anchor there.” Thus, we can say we are pioneers in the study of Social Neuroscience based on the research problems arising from neuroscience.”


One of the major investigations carried out by the “Health, Medical Knowledge, and Society” group concentrated on studying children and young people’s expressions of cooperation and aggression in different contexts. The research was carried out in nine cities throughout the country with about 9,000 children and adolescents.

The researchers wanted to see how the children interacted and how the elements of cooperation, moral development, altruism, aggression, or agonistic behavior were evidenced.

Currently, we are working on other projects such as:

  • Research on judicial officials’ moral judgment. The project, being carried out together with the Universidad de los Andes Psychology Department, seeks to analyze how language affects moral judgment and decisions by judges or criminal attorneys.
  • Neuroeconomics research project
  • Research on the altruistic behavior of university students where hormonal factors and stress were analyzed.

The Externado has financially and logistically supported research development. A significant contribution by our House of Studies is the creation of the Science and Human Processes Interdisciplinary Laboratory (LINCIPH), equipped with instruments, testing materials, technological equipment, and a great team for the development of the various research projects.