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.

►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 Sciences, 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)

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Latest News and Announcements from the SoNeAt Lab and beyond

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)


Dr Pascal Vrticka’s current and past teaching

The Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment

Description of SoNeAt Lab’s main field of research

Other Research

Summary of other research topics that are also part of the SoNeAt Lab

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

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

Grants & Awards

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Curriculum Vitae

Dr Pascal Vrticka’s short biography & curriculum vitae


Dr Pascal Vrticka’s blog posts


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Latest Blog Posts

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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Securely Connected – How Mums and Dads Get “In Sync” With Their Kids

‘Recent technical advances now allow us to test two (or more) participants simultaneously – using so-called “hyperscanning” – during naturally unfolding social interactions. These new developments are particularly important for the social neuroscience of human attachment. After all, attachment is an interpersonal process from the very beginning. What is even more exciting is that by…

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The Social Neuroscience of Attachment

“During the last two decades, interest in better understanding the biological and particularly brain basis of human attachment has steadily grown. This process led to the emergence of a new area of research at the interface of neuroscience and psychology, the social neuroscience of human attachment. Over the years, there have been many claims reflecting…

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What is Attachment? A Social Neuroscience Perspective

“From a social neuroscience perspective, there are two key principles associated with human attachment behaviours: i) conserving energy resources and ii) making predictions about available support and how costly it is to obtain it. These two key principles are intrinsically linked with one another.” A blog post with the title “What is Attachment? A Social…

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