Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment

Social Neuroscience
of Human Attachment

The principal line of investigation in Dr Pascal Vrticka’s research at the SoNeAt Lab is devoted to examining the psychological, behavioural, biological, physiological, and neural basis of human attachment. In doing so, he is referring to attachment by means of interindividual differences in (“organised”) secure versus insecure, anxious and avoidant attachment orientations / classifications. More recently, Dr Vrticka also started to consider disorganised attachment and its putative biological and neural substrates. In addition, he is interested in interindividual differences in attachment-related constructs in the context of caregiving and parent-child interaction, such as parental sensitivity, reflective functioning, behavioural reciprocity, etc. Last but not least, Dr Vrticka’s research also considers social interaction and relationship quality more broadly.

To get an idea why Dr Vrticka thinks such research is important and timely, please refer to his blogs on the Evolution of the “social brain” in humans: what are the benefits and costs of belonging to a social species? as well as 21st Century Attachment Theory and Research: Embracing a Social Neuroscience Approach.

If you are interested, you can now also re-watch a keynote on the Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment delivered by Dr Vrticka online as part of the SoNeAt Workshop 2020 in August 2020 (duration approx. 45 minutes).

Some of the articles and book chapters in association with Dr Vrticka’s attachment research are described in more detail in the sections outlined below. All of them can be found on the publications page of his website, and/or under his ResearchGate project “Human Attachment: Elucidating the underlying Psychological, Behavioral, Biological, Physiological, and Neural Basis“.

In addition to the above, the section CARE studies contains a dedicated description (and discussion of results) of our most recent series of three collaborative interdisciplinary studies on the social neuroscience of attachment and caregiving in parent-child dyads.

Topic Content

CARE Studies

Series of 3 studies on parent-child interaction

Attachment Theory

A social neuroscientist’s perspective of attachment theory


Functional neuro-anatomical models of human attachment

Attachment in Adolescence

SoNeAt Lab’s research on the neural substrates of attachment in adolescence

Attachment in Children and Parents

SoNeAt Lab’s research on the neural substrates of attachment in children and parents

Bio-Behavioural Synchrony & Inter-Brain Coherence

SoNeAt Lab’s research on bio-behavioural synchrony & inter-brain coherence

Genetics & Epigenetics of Attachment

SoNeAt Lab’s research on the genetics and epigenetics of attachment

Longitudinal Attachment Research

SoNeAt Lab’s involvement in longitudinal attachment research

Attachment Disruption and Disorganisation

SoNeAt Lab’s research on abuse, neglect, and emotional maltreatment as well as disorganised attachment

Special Features

Mini-Conference “Attachment from a Social Neuroscience Perspective” on September 23rd and 24th, 2021

A Series of 3 mini-conferences organised by the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies (SEAS) is taking place in 2021. SIRG SoNeAt was hosting the second event in September. The format was be similar to the very successful virtual conference workshop held in August 2020 (see here and here).

2021 Mini-Conference Features:
►Two half-days of talks and discussions
►2 Invited keynote speakers per half-day
►3 expert talks per half-day
►5 parallel symposia for early career researchers selected from abstract submissions
►Virtual socialising

Please check this dedicated mini-conference page for a summary.

Special Issue on “The Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment”

As one activity of the Special Interest Research Group (SIRG) on the Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment (SoNeAt) within the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies (SEAS), Dr Pascal Vrticka is guest-editing a special issue on “The Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment” in the journal Attachment and Human Development. To be published in 2020/21, this special issue will comprise a selection of state-of-the-art social neuroscience work in association with attachment theory. More information can be found here.

Contact Form

Please use the contact form below to get in touch with Dr Vrticka if you have any questions about the Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment.