Fake news are shared widely among humans, particularly in modern social media. Although mechanisms such as novelty seeking, alert for potential dangers or the need to belong have been suggested as potential target points to trigger news propagation, the underlying psychological and neurocognitive processes are not yet fully understood. In this project, we aim at combining the knowledge of the experienced researcher in neuroscience, brain imaging and neuropsychology with the host’s expertise in cognitive psychology and learning science to study social group interactions of information sharing. Using neurocognitive methods of brain imaging as well as behavioural measures supported by digital group awareness tools, we will investigate how news are evaluated by the brain, how news evaluation is influenced by the group and which measures could be taken to prevent fake news from spreading. Findings of the experimental studies will be transferred to classroom teaching, with developing a teaching concept to increase students’ knowledge on verifying information, recognizing fake news and developing strategies to stop them. Providing the unique combination of neuroscience, psychology, computer science and education the project will contribute to deepening and diversifying the candidate’s cognitive neuroscience expertise, gaining new competencies and strengthening networking of the involved scientists in order to catalyze the candidate’s scientific career as an independent researcher. The project makes a significant novel contribution in combining sciences and humanities in an interdisciplinary manner to help understand the neural mechanisms of naturalistic social group interaction on information sharing. Furthermore, this project will show a societal impact in 1) revealing neuronal and behavioural correlates of information sharing, 2) develop strategies to make knowledge exchange more efficient 3) prevent fake news from spreading and 4) educate students on critical thinking.
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