Principal Investigator

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Christoph W. Korn

In December 2020, I have started an Assistant Professorship (tenure-track) of Social Neuroscience at Heidelberg University (Section Social Neuroscience, Department of General Adult Psychiatry).

In December 2018, I have been awarded an Emmy-Noether research group on the topic “Human cooperation: A multimodal approach” by the German Research Foundation (DFG), which has given my the wonderful opportunity to establish a group at the Institute of Systems Neuroscience (University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, UKE, Hamburg).

Before I worked as a postdoc at the same institution in the group of Jan Gläscher within the Transregional Collaborative Research Center on Crossmodal Learning (TRR 169). Additionally, I could embark on several research stays at Harvard University thanks to co-funding by the German Academic Exchange Service.

I did a postdoc at the University of Zurich in the group of Dominik Bach. I completed my PhD at the Freie Universität Berlin in the group of Hauke Heekeren with funding from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. During a joint Master’s program by University College London, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris. I worked in the group of Ray Dolan under the supervision of Tali Sharot. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine from the University of Würzburg.

PhD Students

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Koen Frolichs

Before joining the DNHI-lab, I received a BSc in Psychology and a Research MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from Maastricht University. For my Master’s Thesis, I worked with Mario Senden and Rainer Goebel attempting to reconstruct complex visual shapes from activity in early visual cortex.

In the DNHI-lab I am working on understanding how humans learn about others’ personalities. We approach this from multiple angles, where on the one hand we use computational models to understand what social knowledge structures humans use during learning about others, and on the other, test if and how these structures are represented in the cortex using neuroimaging.

My bigger aim would be to find generalized coding principles that are employed throughout the cortex. I am convinced that well designed computational models combined with a solid theoretical background can have a big impact in the future on aims such as these!


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Benjamin Kuper-Smith

Before joining the DNHI-lab, I received a BSc in Psychology from Goldsmiths College and an MSc in Brain and Mind Sciences, hosted in the first year at University College London, and at Université Pierre et Marie Curie and Ecole Normale Supérieure during the second year. I completed two MSc projects, one in Karl Friston‘s lab, looking at the neural implementation of different kinds of expectation in the context of predictive coding, and the other in Aaron Schurger‘s lab, comparing planned and spontaneous actions, using M/EEG. Between my BSc and MSc, I worked as a research assistant, first in Nottingham studying social dilemmas in a public goods game under the supervision of Anya Skatova, and then researching full-body illusions in Stockholm with Catherine Preston and Henrik Ehrsson.

In the DNHI-lab I will be working on cooperative decision-making in a new variant of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, using a combination of behavioural testing, computational modelling, and fMRI.

I have also recently started a podcast, in which I interview (mainly) neuroscientists and psychologists about their work. You can find the BJKS Podcast on its website, and on all the main podcasting platforms (e.g., Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.).


Lisa Doppelhofer

I am interested in social preferences and how they relate to social decision-making. Specifically, I aim to understand how humans approximate optimal decisions in social tasks and how they share payoffs between themselves and others. As part of my PhD project, I will also investigate why borderline personality disorder patients often fail to establish and maintain cooperation. To address these questions I combine game-theoretic paradigms, computational modeling, and fMRI.  

Before joining the DNHI-lab, I received an MSc in Psychology (Mind and Brain Track) at the University of Vienna. For my Master’s Thesis, I worked at the SCAN-Unit on a project on placebo and nocebo effects on reinforcement learning under the supervision of Isabella Wagner and Claus Lamm.


Sihui Zhang

Before joining the DNHI-lab, I received a MSc in Psychology at State Key Laboratory of
Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning at the Beijing Normal University. For my Master’s Thesis, I
worked under the supervision of Chao Liu on the effect of emotions on prosocial behavior.

In the DHNI-lab, I will combine behavioral testing, computational modeling, and fMRI analyses
to investigate the behavioral patterns and neural mechanisms of how people make allocation
decisions when cooperating with others. I also want to specify how and why
people with adverse childhood experiences make different allocation decisions and show
distinct social preferences compared to healthy individuals.


Sergej Golowin

I am an enthusiast for understanding the pragmatic reasons of the evolved human mind and its logic in its evolutionary context. I want to understand the circumstances which have led to the functional characteristics of the human brain. Specifically, I aim to investigate the trade-off between robust and flexible applications of decision strategies. During my PhD, my goal is to characterize the processes underlying this trade-off and potentially use this knowledge to expand the understanding of psychiatric conditions such as borderline personality disorder. In order to do so, I use foraging decision games with competing decision rules to induce cognitive processes involving meta decision-making, which will be analyzed behaviorally (with computational models) and neurally (with fMRI).

Before joining the DNHI-lab, I received an MSc in the International Graduate Program in Medicine at the Taipei Medical University (TMU). For my Master’s Thesis, I worked under the supervision of Niall Duncan from the Graduate Institute of Mind, Brain and Consciousness at TMU. We aimed to explore people’s foraging decision making under predation risk.


Heike Hager

All-round talent

Student assistants and interns

Marilyn Mintah

Student in Medicine at the UKE.
Research assistant helping with behavioural testing.

Antonia Wesseloh

Student in Psychology at the Medical School Hamburg. In the DNHI-lab, I worked as a research assistant and and completed my Bachelor’s thesis. Currently, I work on my Master’s thesis.

Clara Beitz

Student in Psychology at Heidelberg University.
Research assistant helping with behavioural testing.

Former student assistants

Cristian Ioan

Student in Psychology at the Medical School Hamburg. In the DNHI-lab, I worked as a research assistant and and completed my Bachelor’s thesis.

Jannis Petalas

Student in Psychology at the Universität Hamburg.
Research assistant helping with behavioural testing.

Catalina Sansó

Student in PsychologyPsychology at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
In the DNHI-lab, I worked as an Erasmus+ intern on experiments using pupillometry.