Otto Hahn Group Cognitive Neurogenetics
Humans have the ability to generate and experience thoughts and feelings that can be independent of instantaneous input from the environment. These integrative mental processes, such as social cognition and emotion, support adaptation to changing environmental demands, well-being, and, ultimately, survival. Integrative mental processes are likely enabled by the unique structural and functional network organization of the human brain. Indeed, contemporary accounts suggest that mammalian neural processing is organized along multiple hierarchies that define how information from nearby and distant neural populations is integrated and segregated across the cortex. These hierarchies are expressed in fundamental anatomical, topological, and genetic patterns, which vary as a function of processing complexity. The goal of the Otto Hahn group is to investigate how heritable and environmental factors shape brain structure and function. We are particularly interested in studying the neurogenetic basis of integrative cognitive and affective processes, such as social cognition, as these functions are especially developed humans and have great environmental relevance.