Prof Montague

Computational Psychiatry & the Neuroscience of Social Behaviour

Professor Read Montague

This research program seeks to uncover the computational and neural mechanisms supporting social cognition in humans for the purpose of understanding and treating psychopathologies. This goal is being pursued through three separate but interacting lines of inquiry that will 1) develop computational models of human social exchange, 2) test and adjust these models based on neuroimaging and behavioural data, and 3) apply the results to actual psychopathology groups.

Social exchange occurs in species ranging from insects to humans and breaks down to varying degrees in a range of mental disorders. We and others have been developing models of the computational components of simple social exchange. One value of this approach is its capacity to produce quantitative descriptions of social gestures, identify their neural correlates, connect these components to neural quantities, and relate both to pathologies of social exchange.

In conditions ranging from psychosis to developmental and personality disorders, afflicted individuals can display a dramatically perturbed capacity to model others and to sense and respond appropriately to the social signals they emit. As an example, our most recent work has used an iterated social exchange game, adaptive computer agents, and functional MRI to provide parametric neural and behavioral signatures of a personality disorder (King-Casas et al., 2008). We view this as a first step toward identifying computations associated with mental problems resulting from a range of diseases, injury, or developmental disorders. This approach, which we have called Computational Psychiatry, seeks to connect underlying (measurable) changes in neurobiological function to observable changes in behavioral endpoints, but in computational terms.

Example publications:

King-Casas B, Sharp C, Lomax L, Lohrenz T, Fonagy P, Montague PR (2008) The rupture and repair of cooperation in borderline personality disorder.Science. 321:806-810. PDF, SOM, PODCAST, Perspective.

Kishida KT, King-Casas B, Montague PR (2010) Neuroeconomic approaches to mental disorders. Neuron, 67(4):543-54

Montague PR, Dolan RJ, Friston KJ, Dayan P (2012) Computational Psychiatry. Trends Cogn Sci:Epub 2011 Dec 14(1):72-80

Kishida KT, Montague PR (2012) Imaging Models of Valuation During Social Interaction in Humans Biological Psychiatry, 72(2):93-100


  • Andreas Hula
  • Tobias Nolte
  • Hinal Patel
  • Natasha Smyth
  • Iris Vilares


PublicationsLink to Computational Psychiatry & the Neuroscience of Social Behaviour Group Publications