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Social Neuroscience and Public Health

Foundations for the Science of Chronic Disease Prevention


The field of public health is primarily concerned with understanding and improving physical health from a large group perspective (i.e., communities and whole populations). The field of social neuroscience, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with examining brain-behavior relationships that unfold in a social context. Both of these are rapidly developing fields of inquiry, and their boundaries have only recently begun to overlap. This book discusses collaborative research findings at the intersection of social neuroscience and public health that promise to fundamentally change the way scientists, public health practitioners, and the general public view physical health within the larger social context. Eighteen chapters are organized under the following major sections: cognition and health outcomes; neuroscientific aspects of health communication; health behavior and the neurobiology of self-regulation; neurobiological processes in health decision making; ecological and social context; neuroscience methods; and future directions.

Peter Hall, PhD, CPsych, is an associate professor of applied health sciences at the University of Waterloo (UW), where he is jointly appointed to the School of Public Health and Health Systems and to the Department of Kinesiology (Neuroscience research group). Dr. Hall is a past recipient of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award, and an Early Career Award from the Canadian Psychological Association (Health Psychology section). He is founding director of the UW Social Neuroscience and Health Laboratory. His research examines the joint contributions of social-cognitive and neurocognitive factors to the production of health behavior trajectories in everyday life. Dr. Hall serves on the editorial boards of Health Psychology and Journal of Behavioral Medicine, and he is associate editor for the Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine, as well as the forthcoming Springer volume, Behavioral and Social Science in Medicine. He is a licensed clinical psychologist andhas more than a decade of experience providing clinical services to chronic illness populations in multidisciplinary healthcare settings.