A multimodal approach to social cooperation

We are investigating three aspects of social cooperation within the framework of the Emmy-Noether research group. We are particularly interested in how these processes go awry in individuals with personality disorders. We aim at developing comprehensive neuro-computational models.


Before cooperating, humans usually learn about each others’ personality by generalizing across similar traits.

We have devised novel reinforcement learning (RL) models that capture how people generalize with different levels of granularity and references points (Frolichs, Rosenblau & Korn, 2023).


The basic problems of cooperation itself are encapsulated in the prisoner’s dilemma. Mutual cooperation yields the best joint payoff but unilateral defection is tempting.

Ongoing studies aim at modelling cooperative decisions in stylized as well as ecologically valid games (e.g., Kuper-Smith & Korn, preprint1, preprint2).


Once cooperation is established, partners have to decide how to share the benefits.

Initial studies model social value orientation in such allocation decisions and show the involvement of the amygdala (Doppelhofer et al., 2021).

These projects combine the topics listed below. All projects benefit from close interactions within the Department of General Adult Psychiatry and in particular with Sabine Herpertz and her lab. We closely collaborate with the lab of Jan Gläscher at the Institute of Systems Neuroscience (University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, UKE). Gabriela Rosenblau at George Washington University (Washington, DC) collaborates on projects involving social learning.