I am a social- and cognitive neuroscientist from Germany but spent most of my scientific career in Belgium. I am Einstein Professor for ‘Social Intelligence’ at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and the Department of Psychology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Furthermore, I am PI in the excellence cluster ‘Science of Intelligence’. After my PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Munich, I worked six years at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig where I was also awarded a Heisenberg fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG). In 2006, I received a research professorship at Ghent University where I worked until I was awarded an Einstein Strategic Professorship in 2020. I am interested in the neuro-cognitive mechanisms underlying our social behaviour and group influence. Furthermore, I want to understand how people intentionally control their thoughts and actions. Finally, I am investigating the influence of high-level beliefs on basic cognitive processes.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
My name is Silvia Formica and I come from Italy. I am currently a Post-Doc in the lab. Before moving to Berlin, I studied Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology in Milano and Padova (Italy) and I did my PhD at Gent University (Belgium) under the supervision of Prof. Marcel Brass. My thesis concerned instructions following and I investigated this process using behavioral and electrophysiological measures.I am interested in the neuro-cognitive mechanisms involved in adapting to novel and challenging situations, and I am curious about how such mechanisms are used in social contexts.
I am Carl Michael Galang (just call me Mike!) from Toronto, Canada. I am currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Humboldt University of Berlin under the supervision of Prof. Marcel Brass. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto with a double major in Cognitive Science and Philosophy. My PhD training is in the emerging field of Social Cognitive Neuroscience and was completed at McMaster University under the supervision of Prof. Sukhvinder Obhi. My Post-Doctoral research focuses on the Sense of Agency; although my research interests span a number of topics including: empathy, social power, and various human mirror neuron system indices (e.g., automatic imitation, motor resonance).
My name is Matilde Rocca, and I am a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Social Intelligence Lab. I did my PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Turin, within the Cognition, Motion and Neuroscience Lab led by Prof. Cristina Becchio, under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Cavallo. I performed all my research activity at the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, based in Genoa, Italy. My PhD project focused on studying how we represent other people's actions when we actively engage in a social interaction with them. To do this, I studied detailed aspects of upper-limb movement kinematics during real-time dyadic joint actions. Within the Social Intelligence Lab, I aim to investigate how we represent the actions performed by multiple agents simultaneously, and how these representations affect our own motor behaviour, in order to address issues related to social group conformity from a motor perspective.
I am a developmental cognitive neuroscientist at the Freie Universität Berlin working as a guest researcher at the Social Intelligence Lab. I did my PhD at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, and then worked as a DAAD scholar at the Brain and Development Lab at the Leiden University before I started my postdoc at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin. I am interested in social learning and decision making from a developmental cognitive neuroscience perspective using EEG, fMRI and computational modeling.
My name is Asieh Daneshi and I come from Iran. I am currently a Post-Doc researcher in Marcel’s lab. My bachelor and master studies were on electrical engineering and my PhD was on biomedical engineering (bioelectric). For my PhD, I worked on computational models of decision-making during driving (based on attention). I conducted my experiments in virtual reality environment. I have also experience in recording and analyzing eye motion, EEG, and fMRI data. I am interested to study how does the decision-making process take place in our brains, especially in dynamic environments. The title of my current project in Marcel’s lab is “Experimental investigation of behavioral contagion in VR”. We are studying how decisions of each person can affect the decisions of other persons around him/her.
I’m an FWO postdoctoral fellow and I come from Belgium, where I studied philosophy (‘14) and psychology (‘16) in Antwerp and Ghent. For my PhD (’16-‘20), supervised by Prof. Gilles Pourtois, I investigated how people switch attention between external (sensory) and internal (mental) input. I worked with Prof. Tobias Egner at Duke University (’21-’22) on the balance between external and internal attention in general, drawing inspiration from literatures on visual search, working memory, mind wandering, sustained attention, mental effort, and meditation. Here in Berlin, together with Prof. Marcel Brass and Dr. Michael Gaebler, I will investigate interoceptive attention (access to the internal body) and how it relates to exteroceptive attention, especially when learning to control visceromotor responses (“interoaction”). In addition, I’m interested in comparing 1st and 3rd person perspectives on cognition. Novel methods have been developed recently to directly access what’s in someone’s mind’s eye from a 3rd person perspective, but contemplative traditions, such as meditation and yoga, draw their insights purely from a 1st person perspective. My aim is to see how both approaches can complement each other.
My name is Mathias Van der Biest, and I am a PhD student from Belgium. During my master thesis (Ghent University), I investigated how making a choice affects our preference for arbitrary tasks (promotor: Prof. Dr. Marcel Brass and Dr. David Wisniewski). Moreover, I joined the Sampendu lab (University of Auckland, Prof. Dr. Sam Schwarzkopf) for a six-month research internship, where I investigated the interplay between cognition and visual perception in virtual reality environments. Following my masters, I started with a PhD in the lab of Prof. Marcel Brass and in 2021 I was awarded the FWO aspirant fundamental research grant. In my PhD project, I investigate how key social attributes (e.g. trustworthiness, social status) of the instructor modulate how we process novel instructions (e.g. sensory processing, encoding, preparation, implementation).
My name is Manisha, I work on a DAAD-funded doctoral project at the Social Intelligence lab. My project examines how social influence operates in the context of ritualistic behaviour. I attempt to recreate aspects of the social world in VR environments as I am intrigued by the confluence between cognitive neuroscience and anthropology. I completed my postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford and previously received training in cognitive science from Indian Institute of Technology (IITGN) at the Control and Learning of Action Lab. I have a keen interest in embodied cognition, two-person neuroscience and group conformity.
I am Yu Hei SHUM from Hong Kong. I am currently a Ph.D student in the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin funded by DAAD. I am supervised by Prof. Marcel Brass. My research is about the neural mechanism behind volition. I test the validity of different decision models that attempt to explain the generation of volition and voluntary behavior.
I am Nel Tavernier from Belgium. I am currently a Ph.D student at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marcel Brass and Prof. Dr. Michael Pauen. My research topic is about manipulating laypeople’s subjective belief in free will through immersive Virtual Reality experiences. I investigate whether adding an experience to the method of manipulation could have an impact on down-stream processes (e.g. behavior, cognitive process), which was not the case for previous methods in literature. Further, my research interests include various topics such as: social facilitation, Theory of Mind, and cultural differences in beliefs.
My name is Maria Woitow and I am from Germany. I am currently a Ph.D. student at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and the Humboldt University of Berlin supervised by Prof. Marcel Brass and Dr. Myriam Sander. I completed my master's degree in Neural and Behavioral Biology at the Georg August University of Göttingen. My Ph.D. research project focuses on the neural and computational mechanisms underlying experiential and observational learning and how both learning strategies affect memory formation. To investigate whether experiential and observational learning differ in their effect on memory encoding, I am taking a neurocomputational approach combining neural (EEG) and behavioral data with computational modeling.
I am a doctoral student under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marcel Braß, collaborating with Prof. Dr. Obhi from McMaster University in Canada. I earned my Bachelor's degree in Psychology with minors in Gender Studies and Creative Writing at the American University of Beirut. I also completed my Master’s in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. My current research project focuses on gender and agency, aiming to investigate the intricate nature of gender perception as a social construct. My aim is to enhance our understanding of how individuals perceive and interpret the intentional actions of others within the context of a complex social environment.
Visiting PhD Student
I am a visiting PhD student from Central European University (Vienna), where I work under the supervision of Günther Knoblich and Natalie Sebanz. My PhD work centers around the question of how acting together with others in the service of shared goals influence people’s action planning processes and their underlying mental representations. As part of my PhD, I am currently visiting the Social Intelligence Lab for a collaboration with Silvia Formica and Marcel Brass in which we investigate the neural signatures of joint action representations and their modulating effects on automatic imitation effects.
I am a master's student at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. I did my undergraduate in psychology with a minor in cognitive science at the American University of Beirut. I am currently working as a research assistant at the Social Intelligence Lab, investigating the contribution of auditory and visual cues to group contagion in a Virtual Reality environment. Previously, I have investigated the tonotopy and periodotopy of the primary auditory cortex using fMRI. My research interests tend to center around social cognition and evolutionary psychology/neuroscience, with a special interest in group-related processes and the role of attention and memory in social cognition.
Student Research Assistant
I am a master's student at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. I did my Bachelor's in philosophy at the University of Bologna. I am currently working as a research assistant at the Social Intelligence Lab,approach avoidance biases, the effect of groups' configurations in a Virtual Reality environment. My research interests center around theory of consciousness, free will, cognition and evolutionary psychology/neuroscience, with a special interest in metacognition as a feature of consciousness and in global workspace theories of consciousness.
Student Research Assistant/Lab Rotation Student
My name is Jurena Wille, I am from Germany and I have a graduate degree in psychology with a focus on cognitive neuroscience and legal psychology. In my master's thesis I investigated the influence of conceptual and visual features on memory performance for visual scenes. Currently I am a student in the master's program of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and work a lab rotation in the Social Intelligence lab under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marcel Brass and Dr. Davis Wiesniewski. My main research interests lie in conformity behavior, perceptions of morality and responsibility attributions.
Lab Rotation Student
My name is Moritz and I am a Master’s student at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain at Humboldt University. I completed my undergraduate studies in cognitive science at the University of Osnabrueck in Germany, and I am highly interested in applying the theoretical principles of 4E-cognition to empirical research in cognitive neuroscience and psychology. In my Bachelor’s thesis, I studied spontaneous thought using EEG, and I was involved in a project looking at lay people’s susceptibility to neuroreductionism in psychiatry. In my Master’s thesis, I am investigating the embodied dynamics of reading comprehension by applying nonlinear methods to eye-tracking data. My thesis is co-supervised by Prof. Marcel Brass and Dr. Guilherme Sanches de Oliveira (TU Berlin).