Human sociality and the brain
Despite the impressive amount of results generated since the “decade of the brain”, neuroscience has until lately treated people as isolated units. Clearly, such an approach does not account for the fact that humans are inherently social beings. Doing justice to this observation, a new interdisciplinary field, social cognitive neuroscience, has emerged in the last decade and has now become one of the most productive fields in understanding the interaction between mind and brain.
Within the Berlin School of Mind and Brain this topic fits very well with “decision-making”, “language”, and “lifespan ontogeny”. Moreover, the study of sociality calls for interdisciplinary research that spans almost the entire gamut of the humanities and the social, cognitive, and neurosciences
In her Berlin lab, Tania Singer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig hosts a pharmacology lab and a state-of-the-art interactive multi-computer laboratory allowing the investigation of real-life and simultaneous interaction between groups of people. Her research group investigates the neuronal, hormonal, developmental, and psychopathological mechanisms underlying human social behavior. Among the main foci of Michael Pauen’s group are the philosophical aspects of sociality and social cognition as well as the problems of social cognition, particularly relating to self-consciousness and the second-person perspective. Isabel Dziobek and her group investigate the biological and psychological foundations of social cognition. They are interested in autism spectrum disorders, empathy, theory of mind, emotion and face recognition. In recent years, Henrik Walter’s group has worked extensively on the topics of theory of mind and emotion regulation, as well as on neuroethics, moral emotion, and moral decision-making. He is speaker of two international research groups on “Neuroscience and Norms” and “The Social Dimensions of Emotion Regulation”. Martin Fischer’s chair of cognitive science at Potsdam University explores embodied cognition in the domains of reading and arithmetic. Using dedicated motion registration and TMS facilities, this group will also work on various aspects of social motor control.
Contact persons for this topic
The following faculty members may be addressed to give advice on research project proposals in “Human sociality and the brain”:
Contact details of the Mind & Brain faculty
Special Newsletter issue on Social Cognition