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Social Neuroscience

Group Leader: Prof. Markus Heinrichs, PhD

Over the past decade, one of the most exciting areas on the frontier of social neuroscience has been the opportunity to bridge insights emerging from social behavior in animals to preclinical human research, through the integration of brain imaging, neuroendocrinology, behavioral genetics, and social interaction experiments. The perspective for the next decade is to further span this translational bridge from a better knowledge of the social human brain to potential novel therapeutic approaches, particularly for mental disorders characterized by social dysfunction, such as autism, social anxiety disorder, and borderline personality disorder

The "Social Neuroscience" group investigates the role of hormonal systems (e.g., oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, glucocorticoids) in the human brain with regard to social behavior, systems-level neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, genetics, and clinical studies. In particular, the group has developed and extensively tested methods for conducting controlled experiments using intranasal neuropeptides such as oxytocin or vasopressin. The approaches used include behavioral testing, endocrinological assessment and administration, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electrophysiological recording, and molecular genetics. The Laboratory for Biological and Personality Psychology is equipped with a biochemistry laboratory, a psychophysiology laboratory, and a behavioral laboratory, including dedicated facilities for conducting standardized stress tasks and social interaction experiments (e.g., custom-designed experimental laboratory for simultaneous assessment of up to 16 participants) (see overview of laboratories). The infrastructure of the laboratory also includes a specialized Outpatient Clinic and Research Unit for Stress-Related Disorders

The research group "Social Neuroscience” is affiliated with the Laboratory for Biological and Personality Psychology at the Department of Psychology.

FBI Contacts


  • Neurozentrum
    Breisacher Straße 64
    79106 Freiburg
  • Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
    Hauptstraße 5
    79104 Freiburg