Former Department of Social Neuroscience

The Department of Social Neuroscience investigated human social behaviour. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the studies contained the neuronal, hormonal, and developmental foundations of human social cognition, social and moral emotions such as empathy and compassion, envy, revenge, fairness as well as emotion regulation capacities and their role in social decision making and communication.

As such, the Department brang together scientists from a variety of social and natural sciences (including neuroscience, psychology, bio-psychology, biology, economics, and anthropology) to investigate the influence of the environment on social behavior, the underlying cognitive processes sub-served by neuronal circuits and ultimately by neurotransmitters, hormones, and genes. To achieve these goals, different methods were used, i.e. brain imaging methods (e.g., functional and structural MRI, rt-fMRI, TMS, EEG), autonomic measures (e.g., heart rate, pupillary response), neuro-pharmacological interventions (e.g. oxytocin), hormonal measurements (e.g. cortisol), genetic techniques, behavioral paradigms (including virtual reality paradigms, game theoretical paradigms adopted from economics, and experimental paradigms adopted from psychology research), and subjective methods (e.g., event-sampling, questionnaires).


Research foci

Foundations of Human Sociality and Neuroeconomics

One important part of the Department's research programme was  to identify the various routes underlying social cognition and emotions, i.e. our ability to understand others. Here, researchers were working towards a unifying model of social cognition.

Developmental Social Neuroscience

Successful social interaction is not something that occurs from birth but develops slowly. Infants and children undergo considerable change in their ability to feel with and understand their fellow human beings and to act on this gained understanding.

Plasticity of the Social Brain

Another important focus of the Department of Social Neuroscience was on the plasticity of the social brain and the investigation of trainability of socio-affective functions.

Psychopathology of the Social Brain

One of the four major areas of research of the Department was studying the psychopathology of the social brain. This focus of the department was headed by Prof. Dr Philipp Kanske.

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