HCEO recently met with IP network leader Joseph Kable to learn more about his research studying brain structure and impulsivity. 

Kable is interested in how people make decisions, particularly in regards to impulsivity or decisions that affect self control. At the Kable Lab where he works, his team studies these areas using both a psychological and a biological level of analysis. 

A recent investigation has looked at identifying brain markers that help predict whether a person is more future-oriented or more present-oriented. There are aspects of brain function, Kable says, that can predict a person's level of impulsivity. 

"That tells us something about the psychology behind impulsivity," Kable says, noting that these brain markers can then signal who is more at risk of impulsive decision-making.

Recently he has also been investigating whether brain structure can be studied in a similar way to social networks and how those networks are mapped.

"One of the questions that I have become interested in is the extent to which we could think about brain structure in the same way, and whether it will also lead to a revolution in how we think about brain function," Kable says. "I think it has a potential to do something interesting, which is provide a principled way to link structure with function."

For Kable, studying these questions requires an interdisciplinary approach. His lab has been conducting this research on networks alongside physicists, engineers, and computer scientists.

"I think that network theory provides one potential link between those different levels of analyses," he says.

Kable is the Baird Term Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.