Team of the SCAN-Unit

Head

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Claus Lamm

I am Full Professor of Biological Psychology, with a specialization in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. I have spent several formative years abroad, and founded the SCAN-Unit when I moved back to Vienna in 2010. Apart from advancing our insights into the neural and psychological foundations of social cognition and behavior, my goal is to establish a thriving interdisciplinary research environment that will foster innovative and cutting-edge research in the domain of Social Cognitive Neuroscience. I have thus engaged in a number of initiatives, such as the establishment of a research-dedicated MRI Centre, the Cognitive Science Research Platform, as well as a Multimodal Neuroimaging cluster. 

My scientific interests focus on the neural underpinnings of empathy and prosocial behavior. I have made pioneering contributions in this domain, and never get bored in pursuing ever-more complex research approaches to unravel these multifaceted phenomena. This includes recent multi-modal investigations combining neuroimaging with psychopharmacology and psychoneuroendocrinology, as well as comparative approaches to test empathy and its precursors in ravens and dogs.

For more information, please visit my personal website.

Email: claus.lamm@univie.ac.at


Scientific Staff

Jessie Adriaense, MSc - PhD student

My PhD is a full-time collaboration between the SCAN-Unit and the Cognitive Biology dept. at the Life Sciences faculty (supervision: Prof. Dr. Thomas Bugnyar). In my research I focus on the proximate mechanisms of empathy and emotions, by means of non-invasive behavioural and cognitive studies, in both humans and non-human animals (social primate and bird species). Overall I am greatly interested in fundamental questions such as: What defines an animal emotion? How do we measure animal emotions? And how do we measure emotional transfer between two subjects, such as emotional contagion? My theoretical background is in affective neuroscience, and experimental and cognitive psychology, and in my current work I employ concepts from the fields of cognitive biology and ethology. I also enjoy consolidating this knowledge within the applied animal sciences such as animal welfare.

Email: jessie.adriaense@univie.ac.at

 

 

Magdalena Boch, MSc - PhD student

For my interdisciplinary PhD project I am interested in the evolutionary roots of the social brain by comparing the neural underpinnings of social skills in dogs and humans. To address my research aims I am using fMRI with fully awake and unrestrained dogs (and humans), eye tracking and behavioral measurements. I am especially interested in the potentially similar neuro-cognitive functions during tasks such as empathy, imitation, emotional contagion and perspective taking. My project is funded by the Doctoral Program Cognition and Communication.

Email: magdalena.boch@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

 

 

Paul Forbes, PhD - Post doc

When we encounter potentially dangerous or threatening situations this results in stress which is characterised by a cascade of biological changes in our brains and bodies. Using a range of behavioural and physiological methods, I explore how these changes impact people's social behaviour. For example, how do we respond to and interact with others when stressed? My research is funded by The Austrian Science Fund.

Email: paul.forbes@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

 

 

Helena Hartmann, MSc - PhD student

My PhD research is based on investigating the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying shared representations, empathy for pain and its modulation through placebos. Specifically, I aim for a deeper understanding of these processes by combining functional magnetic resonance imaging, psychopharmacology and behavioral measures. My PhD project at the SCAN-Unit is funded by a three-year Uni:docs fellowship

Email: helena.hartmann@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

Mag. Lukas Lengersdorff - PhD student

 

My PhD project is focusing on the relationships between empathy, prosocial behavior and aggression, and how these processes are modulated by factors such as ingroup/outgroup biases and exposure to media. To also understand the neural bases of these phenomena, I am conducting experiments using EEG, fMRI and psychophysiological messures. Moreover, I am the lab manager of the Neuroimaging Center of the University of Vienna.

Email: lukas.lengersdorff@univie.ac.at

 

 

 

Mag. Alexa Müllner-Huber, PhD PhD - Post doc

I am interested in the neural and psychological mechanisms underlying pain, empathy and hypnosis, and the relationships between these three types of experiences. My current project aims to implement hypnosis as a tool to study the neural mechanisms of empathy for pain. I am funded by a grant from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research.

Email: alexa.huber@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

Dr. Igor Riečanský, PhD - Post doc

My current research focuses on the sensorimotor processes and their role in social cognition. I am deeply interested in how differences at the level of brain physiology translate into differences in mental functions and behavior in both normal and pathological conditions.

Email: igor.riecansky@univie.ac.at

 

 

Dr. Federica Riva - Post doc

My current research is focused on the age-related changes of the neural mechanisms underlying socio-cognitive and socio-affective processes. I am specifically interested in how the neural foundations of  empathy, affective touch, and interoception develop from adolescence to older age. My research approach combines functional magnetic resonance imaging with behavioral and physiological measures. I am funded by the FWF project "Emotional Egocentricity Bias across the lifespan".

Email: federica.riva@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

 

 

Dr. Markus Rütgen - Post doc

In my experimental research, I focus on the neural mechanisms underlying social cognition, with a thematic priority on empathy and prosocial behavior. By applying a variety of different methods, such as functional magnetic resonance tomography, electroencephalography or psychopharmacological manipulations, I try to shed light on these phenomena from various different perspectives. I am partially funded by a grant from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research

Email: markus.ruetgen@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

 

 

Ronald Sladky, Bakk. MSc PhD

My research focusses on the amygdala and emotion processing in the human brain. In addition, I am always working on new neuroimaging, data processing, and modeling methods. One of these new methods is real-time functional MRI, where people can learn to regulate their own brain states while they are inside the MR scanner. This method is not only a promising therapeutical tool, it will also allow for completely new ways of discovering how our brains work.

Email: ronald.sladky@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

Dr. Isabella Wagner - Post doc

I am interested in memory formation and retrieval, and how memory representations might influence social cognition. In my research, I am using fMRI in combination with multivariate decoding techniques and brain connectivity measures, as well as psycho-/pharmacological manipulations.

Email: isabella.wagner@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

Maga. Anna Wucherer - PhD student

My research aims to understand how social interaction, in my case being imitated by another person, modulates empathic responses. Specifically, I am interested in the psychological and neural mechanisms that underpin the effects of being imitated on empathic responses. Moreover, I am investigating how personality traits, in particular psychopathic personality traits, modulate empathic responses and the effects of being imitated on empathy. My PhD project at the SCAN-Unit is funded by a three-year Uni:docs fellowship.

Email: anna.wucherer@univie.ac.at

 

 

 

Dr. rer. biol. hum. Lei Zhang, MSc - Post doc

I am interested in whether the brain carries out a predictive computation when processing self-pain and other's pain, and how this process might influence social communication and/or prosocial behaviors. To tackle these questions, I am using physiological measurements, fMRI, together with hierarchical Bayesian modeling. 

Email: lei.zhang@univie.ac.at

link to Google Scholar profile

 

 

Yili Zhao, MSc - PhD student

I study the role of emotion identification in empathy and affect sharing, and how the opioidergic system modulates these processes. To address these questions, I will fMRI and pharmacological manipulations to understand the brain networks and neurochemical mechanism of these phenomena. My PhD position is funded by a scholarship of the China Scholarship Council (CSC).

Email: yilixiaoyutou@foxmail.com

 

 

 


Administration

Maga. Sigrid Hager

I assist the scientific staff in all administrative inquiries, help administrating the departments staff and budget and I am also involved in externally funded projects. Furthermore I am the contact person for all students, researchers and colleagues from the University of Vienna, as well as external.

Email: sigrid.hager@univie.ac.at

 

 


Technical support

Dr. Andreas Gartus

 

Email: andreas.gartus@univie.ac.at

Mahmoud Trabelsi

 

Email: mahmoud.trabelsi@univie.ac.at


Student Research Assistants

Morris Krainz, BSc

Ekaterina Pronizius,BSc

Boryana Todorova, BSc


Tel: +43 1 4277 47134

Mail: studmit.scan@univie.ac.at


Alumni