Dr Pascal Vrticka (PhD, FHEA)

Dr Pascal Vrticka (PhD, FHEA)

Lecturer / Assistant Professor
Centre for Brain Science, Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom

Dr Pascal Vrticka is a social neuroscientist with strong ties to developmental & social psychology. His research focuses on the psychological, behavioural, biological, and brain basis of human social interaction, attachment, and caregiving.

One area of Dr Vrticka’s research is dedicated to measuring neurobiological responses to different kinds of social versus non-social information in individual participants. This 1st person social neuroscience approach relies on (functional) magnetic resonance imaging – (f)MRI – and electroencephalography – EEG.

More recently, Dr Vrticka started to assess bio-behavioural synchrony in interacting dyads. The main question of this 2nd person social neuroscience approach is how romantic partners and parents with their children get “in sync” when they solve problems together or talk to each other.

In his bio-behavioural synchrony research, Dr Vrticka is particularly interested in interpersonal neural synchrony. His method of choice to assess interpersonal neural synchrony is functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) hyperscanning. Dr Vrticka combines fNIRS hyperscanning with behavioural observations, interviews, and self-reports (i.e., questionnaires).

The principal theoretical framework underlying Dr Vrticka’s research is attachment theory, which describes how we initiate and maintain social relationships across the life span. By adding a systematic 1st and 2nd person social neuroscience perspective to attachment theory and research – also in the form of new functional neuro-anatomical models of organised and disorganised human attachment (NAMA and NAMDA) -, Dr Vrticka is promoting a new area of investigation: the social neuroscience of human attachment.

Recent Highlights

TEDx University of Essex 2022 Talk
Caring Dads: The Making of Involved and Confident Fathers

Dr Pascal Vrticka is excited and honoured to have been selected as one of the speakers for the 2022 TEDx University of Essex event “Are you paying attention?” on May 14th.

In his talk, Dr Vrticka explained why we should be paying more attention to dads and the important role they play for their children, their families and society as a whole. Dr Vrticka’s arguments were supported by state-of-the-art social neuroscience data revealing the many biological and brain changes that men undergo when they become fathers. Dr Vrticka furthermore illustrated why it is so important to give dads as much time and space as possible to interact and bond with their children.

More information is available here.

New Caring Dads Website Section
The Social Neuroscience of Attachment & Caregiving in Fathers

A new website section is now available specifically dedicated to the social neuroscience of attachment and caregiving in fathers. Hopefully, the provided content can serve as an important resource for dads, mums, families, teachers, practitioners and many more.

Nowadays, dads are spending more time involved in caregiving activities than ever before. Emerging social neuroscience evidence shows that dads (like mums) are biologically wired to become parents – important changes happen in men’s body and brain when they become fathers. At the same time, dads (like mums) are made, not born – the neurobiological machinery needs to be put into action, fine-tuned and constantly updated. We thus must ensure that dads have as much time as possible to interact and bond with their kids and that dads feel rewarded by and confident about their new role as parents.

More information is available here.

Contact & Further Information

Twitter: PV / Lab
Mastodon: PV / Lab
PV / Lab

►First and last name pronunciation: pas.kal vr – cɪ t͡ʃ – ka
FHEA = Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (now AdvanceHE, UK)
►PhD in Neuroscience (01 December 2009, University of Geneva, Switzerland)

Additional Academic Roles

PI of the Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment Lab (SoNeAt Lab) at the Centre for Brain Science, Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Coordinating board president of the Special Interest Research Group (SIRG) Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment (SoNeAt) within the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies (SEAS)

Associate Member of the Executive Board, Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies (SEAS)

Website Menu

Please click on the icons below to access more information on Dr Pascal Vrticka’s website:

TEDx 2022

Dr Pascal Vrticka’s 2022 TEDx University of Essex Talk

SoNeAt Lab

The Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment Lab (SoNeAt Lab): How to become involved (prospective students), current students & research topics, and student alumni & research topics


Description of the Special Interest Research Group (SIRG) on the Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment (SoNeAt) within SEAS


Dr Pascal Vrticka’s current and past teaching

The Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment

Description of SoNeAt Lab’s main field of research

Caring Dads

Special focus on fathers and the father-child relationship from a combined social neuroscience and attachment perspective

Research Methods

Experimental methods used within the SoNeAt Lab

Collaboration Partners

International collaboration partners of the SoNeAt Lab


List of Dr Pascal Vrticka’s publications

Talks & Presentations

List of Dr Pascal Vrticka’s talks and other presentations check out the recordings & posters available online

Grants & Awards

List of grants and Aawards Dr Pascal Vrticka has received

Curriculum Vitae

Dr Pascal Vrticka’s short biography & curriculum vitae


Dr Pascal Vrticka’s blog posts


Press reports about SoNeAt Lab’s research

Babygro Book for Parents

Free book for parents – including dads – based on Dr Vrticka’s functional neuro-anatomical model of human attachment (NAMA)

Latest Tweets

Latest Blog Posts

Why Attachment Matters in Social Neuroscience

Dr Pascal Vrticka has written a new blog post for Scottish Attachment in Action, a UK registered charity since 2015 with a Board of Trustees consisting of practitioners, parents and carers that represent their mission that ‘Attachment Matters for All’. In his blog post, Dr Vrticka explains the growing interest in better understanding the neurobiological…

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Auf der gleichen Wellenlänge – verstehen sich Eltern und Kinder besser durch Gleichklang im Gehirn?

Wir lassen uns oft vom Verhalten anderer „anstecken“ – klassische Beispiele dafür sind Gähnen oder Lachen. Neue Forschungsergebnisse zeigen auf, dass eine solche „Ansteckung“ sogar im Gehirn beobachtet werden kann. Modernste bildgebende Verfahren offenbaren, dass Gleichklang im Gehirn für das Verstehen anderer wichtig ist, und das bereits im Kindesalter. In diesem Artikel beschreiben wir, wie…

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Is your brain securely attached? A social neuroscience perspective on attachment

Attachment theory was developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth here in the UK about seventy years ago. Since then, it has become one of the most comprehensive psychology frameworks describing how we initiate and maintain social relationships across the life span. Attachment theory nowadays is omnipresent – in popular books, social media posts, magazines…

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Attachment Style and Brain Structure in Adolescence & Early Adulthood

Adolescence is a time of significant change. Amongst the many physical maturation processes that kick off when children become teenagers is a boost in brain development. Scientific evidence documents an increased rate of cortical thinning and associated loss of brain volume particularly during early adolescence. Such regressive processes appear to be linked to, amongst others,…

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