What we do

Research in the SaxeLab is motivated by big questions: How does the human brain — an electrical and biological machine — construct abstract thoughts? What aspects of our brains and minds are universal, shared by all humans, and how much is specific to a culture, or unique to an individual? How do children’s brains change as they grow up? How do developmental disorders, like autism, affect brain development?

We often ask these questions about social cognition: how people think about people. We ask: how do people figure out what someone else knows, wants, or feels? How do they use that information to communicate or teach, to make moral judgements, or to exacerbate or repair conflicts? What brain regions are involved, and what specifically are they doing? How does this system work in adults, in children, and even in infants? How can computational models capture human observers’ sophisticated inferences about other people?


One of our core values is improving transparency and reproducibility of scientific research. We participate in the Open Science Reproducibility Project: Psychology, and in Many Babies. We share the stimuli from all of our studies on this website, along with results from our widely used Theory of Mind Localizer task; and we are increasingly sharing protocols through OSF, and fMRI data through OpenNeuro.

To read our lab's diversity statement, please visit this page

For people interested in participating

Our research is only possible because people help us out by letting us study their minds and brains. Here is where to learn more about:

You can also email the lab manager, Emily, directly to learn more.

To get to know us better, you can: