Prof. Dr. Erhardt Barth received the Ph.D. degree in electrical and communications engineering from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. He is a Professor at the Institute for Neuro- and Bioinformatics, University of Lübeck, Germany, where he leads the research on human and machine vision. He has conducted research at the Universities of Melbourne and Munich, the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, and the NASA Vision Science and Technology Group in California.
Prof. Dr. Valeria Gazzola studied Biology in Parma and started her scientific career in Rizzolatti’s lab. She then moved to Groningen where she completed her PhD. She now is interested in the investigation of ‘shared circuits’. Such shared circuits reflect an automatic transformation of what other people do and feel into the neural representation of our own actions, emotions and sensations. Using fMRI she investigates the role of brain regions involved in the execution of actions during the perception of the actions of others; the role of the somatosensory cortices during the perception of other people being touched; and the role of emotional structures during the observation of the emotional stimuli. The emphasis of the work is to investigate the idea that a single mechanism – shared circuits – could give valuable insights into all three domains.
Dr. Sarah Jessen, a cognitive neuroscientist by training, is working in a number of different subfields of human social neuroscience. She did her PhD at the MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, studying multisensory emotion perception and its neural bases in adults. After that, she continued to work at the MPI, now as a postdoc in the “Early Social Development” lab, where she conducted a number of studies investigating socioemotional development in infancy. Currently, she is running a project at the University of Lübeck, in which she is investigates how maternal odor influences social processing in human infants.
Prof. Dr. Tobias Kalenscher holds a diploma in psychology. He received a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the Ruhr-University Bochum in 2005 followed by a post-doc and independent researcher position in systems biology at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He was appointed professor of comparative psychology in Düsseldorf in 2011. He works on the interface of psychology, neuroscience and economics. His main interest is to understand the psychology and neurobiology of decision-making in general, and deviations from optimal decision-making in particular. Combining in-vivo electrophysiology, psychopharmacology, microdialysis and neuroimaging techniques with conceptual tools borrowed from psychology, economics, and biology, he employs a truly multidisciplinary, comparative approach to tackle these issues.
Prof. Dr. Inge Kamp-Becker is heading the “Autism Spectrum Disorders” research group at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Marburg University. Since 2001, Kamp-Becker examines, among others, diagnostic and differential diagnosis research questions, gender aspects, genetic risk factors, neural foundations and quality of life in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Moreover, she has set up a specialized outpatient clinic focusing on standardized, comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and the provision of support during and after diagnosis. Kamp-Becker is coordinator of the BMBF-funded (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) “ASD-Net” (BMBF 01EE1409A), a German-wide research network to investigate ASD with the aim of devising and developing better diagnostic and therapeutic measures and strategies for this population through basic and translational clinical research.
PD Dr. Philipp Kanske is research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. His main research interest is in emotion, emotion regulation and emotion sharing and understanding. He studies alterations in these processes in psychopathology and plasticity through training, including meditation-based approaches. After studying psychology in Dresden and Oregon, Philipp Kanske did his Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, then moved to the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, for a Postdoc and for clinical training in cognitive behavioral therapy. His work has been acknowledged with several awards, including the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society, Young Investigator Awards of the European Brain and Behavior Society and the German Society for Psychophysiology and the Lilly Young Fellowship in Bipolar Disorder. In 2015 he was elected as member of the Junge Akademie at the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
Prof. Dr. Christian Keysers studied psychology and biology at the University of Konstanz, the Ruhr University Bochum, University of Massachusetts Boston, the Shepens eye research Institute of the Harvard Medical School as well as with Marvin Minsky at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then started his research career at the University of St Andrews by investigating cells in the temporal cortex with David Perrett, and described cells that respond when the monkey views particular faces in a way that correlates with conscious perception. After that, he moved to the University of Parma where he was part of the team that discovered auditory mirror neurons in the frontal cortex of the macaque monkey. He expanded the notion of mirror neurons to emotions and sensations, by showing that your somatosensory cortex is active not only when you are being touched, but also if you see someone else being touched, and that your insular cortex is active not only if you feel disgusted, but also if you see someone else being disgusted. Currently, Keysers is head of the Social Brain Lab of the Netherlands Institute for Neurosciences of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Prof. Dr. Peter Kirsch is head of the Department of Clinical Psychology at the ZI Mannheim. He has studied psychology at the University of Wuppertal and obtained his venia legend at the University of Giessen. His main research focus is on neural risk mechanisms for severe psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder, and neural systems related to social (dys-)function. He uses a combination of techniques, with a focus on combining neuroimaging and genetic information. He has worked extensively on the characterization of executive processes in prefrontal cortex and prefrontally-linked circuits in healthy humans and psychiatric patients using a combination of multimodal neuroimaging and genetics. In particular, he has investigated the impact of dopaminergic neurotransmission, global changes in connectivity and studied a broad range of candidate and genome-wide significant variants. Peter Kirsch heads a mainly experimental group with theoretical interests in characterizing brain connectivity and complex brain-gene networks.
Michael Lukas is a Zoologist by training. He did his PhD and early Post-doc years in behavioral pharmacology and endocrinology. Due to their high translational impact Lukas was mainly interested in the modulatory role of neuropeptides like oxytocin, vasopressin and neuropeptide S in social interactions and social cognition of laboratory rodents. These neuropeptides are ideal targets for preclinical research on social disorders, as they are evolutionary highly conserved in both structure and function throughout most vertebrate species. As most rodent social interactions are highly dependent on olfactory processing of social cues, Lukas currently is investigating modulatory effects of vasopressin on cellular neurotransmission in the olfactory bulb. Thereby he gains insights into the cellular underpinning of the bulbar vasopressin system in odor-guided social behavior and aims to shed light onto the cellular mechanisms of neuropeptide control of cortical and limbic brain structures during social cognition in general.
Cade McCall, PhD. is a lecturer in the Psychology Department at the University of York, UK. McCall studies human affect and social interaction using immersive virtual environments. McCall’s work focuses on ways in which motivation and emotion implicitly influence nonverbal behavior in naturalistic settings.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Münte studied medicine (Göttingen) and neuroscience (San Diego). He did his residency in Neurology in Hannover (Hannover Medical School) and – after 10 years as a professor for neuropsychology in Magdeburg – is heading the Department of Neurology in Lübeck since 2010. His research interests comprise cognitive electrophysiology and neuroimaging of cognitive processes in normal subjects and neuropsychiatric diseases.
Prof. Dr. Soyoung Q Park is professor of Social psychology and Decision Neuroscience since 2014 at the University of Lübeck, Germany. She investigates the interplay of brain, body and behavior during human decision making processes. Her specific interest lies in the neural, metabolic and physiological mechanisms underlying reward-based decision making and decision making in social contexts. She studied Psychology at the Institute of Technology Berlin, during which she investigated the neural processes of reinforcement learning. During her PhD at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, she investigated the neural mechanisms underlying reward-based decision making processes in healthy humans. During her postdoctoral training at the Economics Department, University of Zurich in Switzerland, her research focused on neural processes of prosocial decisions.
Dr. Frieder Paulus is a Postdoc at the Social Neuroscience Lab at the Department of Psychiatriy and Psychotherapy at Lübeck University. He studied Psychology at Bielefeld University and he obtained his PhD at the Department of Psychiatry at Marburg University. He has a broad research interest and uses various methods to examine the social context dependent modulations of neural circuits. In the Social Neuroscience Lab he develops novel paradigms to model social interactions and interpersonal emotions to apply these in research on autism and social anxiety.
Özge Sungur is doing her PhD in the Social Neuroscience group at Marburg University (supervisor: Markus Wöhr). Her project tackles the question of how genetic mechanisms affect social behavior and communication, as well as cognitive abilities in mice lacking the post-synaptic scaffolding protein SHANK1, a mouse model which is well associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In addition, she is examining changes that occur in molecular levels which are relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders. In her studies she is using various behavioral assays for an elaborate understanding of the candidate models for autism.
PD Dr. Markus Wöhr has a broad background in animal behavior and translational research models for neuropsychiatric dysfunctions, with specific training and expertise in behavioral neuroscience of affective and neurodevelopmental disorders. His main research interests include neurobiological mechanisms underlying social behavior, acoustic communication through ultrasonic vocalizations, and socio-affective information processing in rodents. Specifically, he is studying genetic risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, including genes encoding for transsynaptic and scaffolding proteins (e.g. Nlgn2 and Shank1), calcium signaling components (e.g. Pvalb and Cacna1c), and proteins involved in proper neurotransmitter functioning, particularly serotonin (e.g. Slc6a4 and Tph2).