25 years of devotion to research

Psychologist and Social Neuroscientist

Tania has been actively involved in research for more than two decades by now. She started out as psychologist in the field of developmental and life-span psychology. After her PhD, she became a social neuroscientist and later added neuro- and behavioural economic approaches to her multi-disciplinary research program. Her focus is on the topic of human social behavior and social emotions such as empathy and compassion. She is not only interested in understanding the neuronal and hormonal basis of these social capacities, but also their malleability through mental training as well as their development during childhood.

How do we understand one another?

Foundations of Human Sociality

Her special interests are in the investigation of the mechanisms allowing humans to understand one another. How does our brain know what another person is feeling, thinking or intending to do? What are the neural bases for empathy, compassion and perspective taking? How can we improve our social skills and move into global cooperation? How does the social brain develop and what goes wrong with our social capacities in diverse pathologies such as autism, depression or narcissism? And how does training our social brain influence decision-making and social interactions?

Building Bridges between Disciplines

Fields of Expertise

In Tania’s scientific exploration, she builds bridges between fields that typically seldom interact, such as linking neuroscience with economics, science with arts or science with contemplative traditions from the East. The latter interest motivated her to develop the ReSource project, a large-scale mental training study on compassion.

Combining Fields and Perspectives

A Multi-Disciplinary Approach

During her scientific career in different high-ranking research institutions across the globe, Tania has gathered expertise in many diverse fields ranging from cognitive, social and developmental psychology, through social neuroscience to micro- and macroeconomics. This broad education has allowed her to use a unique multi-disciplinary research approach in her understanding of the neuronal, hormonal and developmental mechanisms sub-serving human social intelligence and human sociality.

A Holistic Approach to Measuring Human Sociality

A Multi-Method Approach

To answer her interdisciplinary research questions, Tania uses a holistic multi-method approach in which she combines measurements from different disciplines. The main methods and markers that she uses are:

  • Brain Imaging Methods (sMRI, fMRI, TMS, EEG)
  • Autonomic Nervous System Measurements
  • Bio- and Hormonal Markers (Cortisol, Oxytocin)
  • Psychological Computer Tasks (Attention, Emotion Regulation, Social Cognition, Empathy, Compassion, Executive Functions)
  • Trait and State Questionnaires (Personality and Health)
  • Event Sampling Methods (Daily Mood, Behaviours, Sleep)
  • Game Theoretical Paradigms (Pro-Social Behaviour and Cooperation)
  • Virtual Reality Worlds (Complex Real-Life Behaviours)

Research Insights

Favourite Topics

  • Neurobiology of Empathy and Compassion
  • Loneliness, Social Cohesion and Cooperation
  • Training of the Social Brain, Mindfulness, Compassion
  • Narcissism, Autism, Depression
  • Resilience and Stress Reduction
  • Caring Economics and Economic Decision-Making

Click here to see the full publication list