Social, Affective, and Health Neuroscience


Social and cultural factors shape health in important ways. Yet, the brain mechanisms that mediate the effects of social and conceptual processes on behavior and mental and bodily health are still poorly understood. The SOCIALHEALTH team (directed by Dr. Leonie Koban) aims at understanding the brain mechanisms of mind-body interactions and of social-contextual influences on cognition, emotion, and decision-making.

Methods and Techniques

We use brain imaging (especially fMRI), psychophysiological, and behavioral measures to characterize interactions between social context, brain, and bodily responses, and to link them to behavioral and health outcomes. We combine these measures with machine-learning techniques in order to identify generalizable and replicable patterns that predict mental processes and behavioral outcomes, across individuals and specific experiments.

Research Project

The ERC-Starting Grant funded project SOCIALCRAVING will investigate how social context factors such as social norms and relationships influence health-related decision-making, with a specific focus on food- and alcohol-related decision-making. To characterize the brain mechanisms underlying social context effects, we will use brain imaging (fMRI) in combination with recently established brain signatures of food and drug craving.