Latest News

Please find below a chronological list of latest news from the SoNeAt Lab and beyond. More specific information about the listed items can be found when following the corresponding links.

  • November 18th 2020: Paper Accepted

    Our conceptual analysis paper “A Social Neuroscience Approach to Interpersonal Interaction in the Context of Disruption and Disorganization of Attachment (NAMDA)” has now been accepted in Frontiers in Psychiatry – Social cognition (as part of the Research Topic Social Interaction in Neuropsychiatry. As so far, only the abstract is available, the full paper can be accessed as a preprint here.

  • November 14th 2020: New Preprint available

    A new preprint featuring a study as part of the ReSource Project investigating the influence of contemplative mental training on hair glucocorticoid (cortisol and cortisone) levels is now available via bioRxiv.

  • November 4th 2020: Recorded Keynote now Available

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

  • October 23rd, 2020: Podcast & The Conversation Piece

    Dr Vrticka participated in the University of Essex Department of Psychology podcast series “Understanding our Place in the World” by talking to Dr Philip Cozzolino about his work on the human social brain in association with social connection and attachment. Both of them also wrote a piece in The Conversation about “How to stay socially connected as lockdown returns – according to science” (available on The Conversation website or reprinted in Dr Vrticka’s blog).

  • August 27th 2020: Completed Master Theses

    Congratulations to Ekaterina Yurtaeva, Anna-Lina Rauschenbach, and Miryam Mahroum for successfully handing in their Master Theses. Ekaterina assessed links between cortical thickness and attachment-related dimensions in children. Anna-Lina and Miryam investigated inter-brain coherence in mother-child dyads using fNIRS hyperscanning and attachment-related interindividual difference measures within M-CARE. All the best for your future endeavours – stay in touch!

  • August 12th – 13th 2020: Virtual SoNeAt Workshop 2020

    The virtual SoNeAt Workshop 2020 on attachment and social neuroscience organised by SIRG SoNeAt & SEAS was successfully held over the duration of two days. There were 8 keynotes and 19 (oral and poster) presentations by early career researchers for a total of 150 registered participants from all around the world. More information can be found here.

  • August 5th 2020: Preprint Available

    A new preprint was made available on PsyArXiv – “Conceptual Analysis: A Social Neuroscience Approach to Interpersonal Interaction in the Context of Disruption and Disorganization of Attachment (NAMDA)“. In this paper, we extend our recent functional neuro-anatomical model of human attachment (NAMA) to attachment disruption and dirsorganization. A big thank you to all involved authors! The preprint can be downloaded here:

  • July 17th 2020: Preprint Available

    A new preprint of our second D-CARE paper was made available on PsyArXiv – “Fatherhood and hypothalamus structure: No differences between fathering and non-fathering men but interindividual variation with caregiving style in fathers“. A big thank you to Madison Long and Lara Puhlmann! The preprint can be downloaded here:

  • June 9th 2020: Paper Accepted

    A new research paper with the title Neural synchrony in mother-child conversation: Exploring the role of communicative features was accepted in the journal Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience on June 9th, 2020. In this second project as part of the CARE studies, we investigated inter-brain coherence in mother-preschool child pairs during free verbal conversation. A blog post summary is available here. OPEN ACCESS [link]

  • June 2nd 2020: Virtual Conference Contribution

    An invited talk with the title “Bio-behavioural synchrony and inter-brain coherence: an attachment perspective” was given by Dr Vrticka on June 13, 2020 as part of the Neurosync-2020 online conference with the overall theme “Interpersonal neuroscience in the social world”. The talk is available as a YouTube video.

  • May 28th 2020: Virtual Conference Workshop Announcement

    The Special Interest Research Group (SIRG) on the Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment (SoNeAt) is announcing a virtual conference workshop on “70 Years of Attachment Research: A Multidisciplinary Social Neuroscience Perspective” to be held on August 12 and 13, 2020. Please see here for more information. A summary of the workshop can be found here.

  • May 2nd 2020: Preprint Available

    A new preprint of our first D-CARE paper was made available on PsyArXiv – “Interpersonal neural synchrony during father-child problem solving: A fNIRS hyperscanning study“. A big thank you to fabulous first author Trinh Nguyen! The preprint can be downloaded here:

  • February 17th 2020: Paper Accepted / Published

    A new research paper with the title “Neural Bases of Social Feedback Processing and Self-Other Distinction in Late Childhood: The Role of Attachment and Age” was published in the journal Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience (CABN) on March 5, 2020. In this study, we investigated the neural substrates of social feedback processing and self- and other-representation as a function of inter-individual differences in attachment in children (ages 8-12). OPEN ACCESS.

  • January 20th 2020: Paper Accepted / Published

    A new review paper with the title “A Functional Neuro-Anatomical Model of Human Attachment (NAMA): Insights from First- and Second-Person Social Neuroscience” was accepted by the journal Cortex. In this paper, we suggest a prototypical attachment pathway and elaborate on and extend the social neuroscience account of human attachment we proposed previously. For more information please see here. OPEN ACCESS.

  • December 22nd 2019: New Appointment from March 2020

    I am very happy to announce that I will join the Centre for Brain Sciences, Department of Psychology, University of Essex as a Lecturer / Assistant Professor from March 2020. I will continue my research and teaching on the social neuroscience of human attachment with a special focus on fNIRS hyperscanning, but also use other social neuroscience methods with my international collaboration partners. Happy holidays 🙂

  • December 20th 2019: Paper Accepted / Published

    The first paper of our three interdisciplinary and collaborative CARE studies on attachment and bio-behavioral synchrony in parent-child dyads was published in the journal Cortex: The effects of interaction quality on neural synchrony during mother-child problem solving ACCESS. A summary can be found in my blog post.

  • December 18th 2019: Completed Bachelor & Master’s Theses

    Congratulations to Maria Karpova and Marko Talovic for successfully handing in their Master Theses. Maria looked at the association between attachment in children and their parents. Marko investigated the neural correlates of own versus unknown infant emotional face processing in fathers. It was very nice having you with us and we wish you only all the best for the future!

  • December 18th 2019: Paper Accepted / Published

    Lara Puhlmann‘s second PhD paperOnly vulnerable adults show change in chronic low-grade inflammation after contemplative mental training: evidence from a randomized clinical trial” has just been published in Scientific Reports. It is open access and can be found here. Congratulations to this very important contribution to the literature!

  • September 25th 2019: Paper Accepted / Published

    Huge congratulations to Lara Puhlmann for the publication of her first first-author paper as part of her PhD Thesis, investigating the “Association of Short-term Change in Leukocyte Telomere Length With Cortical Thickness and Outcomes of Mental Training Among Healthy Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial“. The paper is published open access in the journal JAMA Network Open. A press release can be found here.

  • September 15th 2019: Completed Master’s Theses

    Congratulations to Rocio Fernandez and Nele Becker for successfully handing in their Master Theses. Both Rocio and Nele looked at inter-brain coherence in mother-child dyads and their relation to relationship quality / attachment. I wish you all the best of luck for your future endeavours – stay in touch!

  • September 2nd 2019: Accepted Symposium Contribution

    As part of a symposium on: “Crucial elements of social understanding and relationship quality- implications for mental health” at this year’s First official European Congress on Clinical Psychology and Psychological Treatment of (EACLIPT) organized by the DFG Network “Understanding Others“, I will be asking the question: “Inter-brain coherence during parent-child interaction: a new measure for relationship quality?”. The symposium will take place on Friday, November 1st 2019 at 08:30.

  • September 2nd 2019: Organized Symposium & Poster Presentation

    A symposium that I organized at this year’s Joint Conference of the Sections Developmental & Educational Psychology (paEpsy) 2019 within the German Psychological Society (DGPs) featured five talks by Laura Schäfer, Lars White, Margarete Schött, Trinh Nguyen, and myself on the topic of: “Attachment Theory meets Social Neuroscience: The Biological and Brain Basis of Human Attachment”. There also was a poster presentation by PhD student Charlotte Schulz on: “Roles of Threat and Deprivation in Neural Reactivity to Social Exclusion”.

  • September 2nd, 2019: Poster Presentation

    Lara Puhlmann presented data from her PhD work as a poster at this year’s International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (ISPNE) annual conference in Milan (Italy): P 061 – “Different types of mental practice unspecifically reduce cortisol and cortisone exposure in hair”. Hopefully, the corresponding manuscript will be ready soon as well 🙂

  • July 10th 2019: Completed Master’s Thesis

    Congratulations to Madison Long for successfully submitting her Master thesis with the title “Connecting Inter-Individual Differences in Attachment to Hypothalamic Volume in Fathers” as part of a cooperation between Leiden University, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognition and Brain Sciences (Leipzig, Germany). I am very much looking forward to the final paper that will hopefully soon emerge from this work.

  • June 19th 2019: Invited Organized Symposium & New SIRG SoNeAt

    I am pleased to announce an invited symposium on “The Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment” at this year’s International Attachment Conference (IAC) from July 18-20 in Vancouver, Canada. The symposium will be featuring contributions by Nicole Letourneau, David W. Haley, Lane Strathearn, and myself. I am also very happy to announce the launch of a new Special Interest Research Group (SIRG): Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment (SoNeAt) within the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies (SEAS).

  • June 19th 2019: Accepted Symposium Contribution

    I can present our collaborative fNIRS hyperscanning research on parent-child interaction in the form of a symposium contribution (S-64) entitled “Parenting, brain development and developmental psychopathology” at this year’s 18th Congress of the European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (ESCAP). My contribution is entitled: “Does caregiver-child relationship quality predict bio-behavioral synchrony during collaborative problem solving? An fNIRS investigation“.

  • March 13th 2019: Accepted Oral & Poster Presentation

    Congratulations to Lara Puhlmann who had one of her PhD projects on the association between brain structure and telomere length fluctuations over nine months accepted as both a poster presentation and oral presentation at this year’s Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) annual meeting 2019 (June 9-13 in Rome). Awesome!

  • March 4th 2019: Accepted Twitter Conference Contribution

    I can present our recently published fNIRS hyperscanning data in mother-child-dyads in association with attachment acquired at Stanford University (see also my recent blog) at this year’s 3rd Brain Twitter Conference (; #brainTC) with the overarching topic “neuroscience making an impact” on March 14 . The slot for my presentation is 11:15 am UTC. Here is a link to the presentation.

  • February 15th 2019: Completed Master Thesis

    Congratulations to Sonja Sudimac for successfully defending her Master Thesis today (in collaboration with the Technische Universität Kaiserslautern). Sonja worked on fMRI data from our D-CARE study investigating the neural correlates of attachment in fathers. All the best for the future – keep in touch!

  • December 26th 2018: Paper Accepted

    A new Paper entitled “Inter-Brain Synchrony in Mother-Child Dyads During Cooperation: An fNIRS Hyperscanning Study” authored by Jonas Miller, myself,  Xu Cui, Sharon Shrestha, Hadi Hosseini, Joe Baker & Allan Reiss (CIBSR, Stanford University) has just been accepted in the journal Neuropsychologia. More information will follow soon (the paper can be downloaded  from my publications page; see also my blog post about this project).

  • December 20th 2018: Organized Symposium Accepted

    A Conference Sympsium co-organized by myself and Stefanie Hoehl with the title “The Influence of Parent-Child Interaction on Child Development: a Multi-Modal Social Neuroscience Approach” with presentations by Cat Thrasher, Victoria Leong, and Trinh Nguyen has been accepted for next year’s biennial SCRD meeting in Baltimore. My own contribution has the title: “Towards a Social Neuroscience of Parent-Child Interaction: An Attachment Perspective“.

  • December 20th 2018: Symposium Contribution Accepted

    A Conference Sympsium Contribution with the title “The Neural Substrates of Attachment-Derived Internal Working Models (IWMs) across Human Development” by myself, Allan Reiss (Stanford University), and Martin Debbane (University of Geneva) has been accepted for next year’s biennial SCRD meeting in Baltimore as part of the Symposium “Attachment and social cognition – a bio-psychological perspective from infancy to early adulthood” chaired by Anne Tharner and Lars White. More information will follow.

  • December 13th 2018: Two Poster Presentations Accepted

    Two Conference Poster Presentations by my Master students Madison Long and Sonja Sudimac on (f)MRI data being acquired within the context of our collaborative D-CARE study have been accepted for next year’s 7th MindBrainBody Symposium to be held from March 18-19, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Madison and Sonja will be presenting data on associations between attachment and brain structure & activity in fathers.  

News Archive

November 27, 2018:
A Conference Poster Presentation showcasing the first results of our collaborative CARE fNIRS study (by Trinh Nguyen, Ezgi Kayan, Hanna Schleihauf, Daniel Matthes, myself, and Stefanie Hoehl) was accepted at next year’s Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development (BCCCD 2019) from January 3-5, 2019. The title of the presentation will be: “Bio-Behavioural Synchrony during Caregiver-Child Problem-Solving“. 

September 26, 2018:
A new Longitudinal Cohort Study – Project Alpha – has been set up by my collaboration partner Tsachi Ein-Dor in Israel, financed by private funding. 1’500 young couples will be followed, including pregnancy and child development, and several variables related to relationship quality & satisfaction as well as child development will be acquired over a duration of several years, including epigenetics. More news will follow shortly.

September 26, 2018:
A new International Collaboration Research Project with Willem Verbeke, Tsachi Ein-Dor, Michal MokryMarinus van IJzendoorn, and Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg can take place in 2018/2019 at Erasmus University Rotterdam assessing a subset of the data acquired within the longitudinal Dutch Generation R Study. A special focus will be directed towards genetic and longitudinal epigenetic data in over 600 children in combination with their attachment orientation classification at age 14 months using the strange situation paradigm.

September 10, 2018:
A new Research Project financed by the Max Planck Society on mother-child-interaction (M-CARE) can take place during the year 2019 at the MPI CBS in Leipzig, Germany. Methods will comprise behavioral assessment plus fMRI, fNIRS, and ECG in 60 mother-child-pairs with children aged 5 years. 

August 21, 2018:
A new Open Access Paper entitled “Spatio-Temporal Pattern of Appraising Social and Emotional Relevance: Evidence from Event-Related Brain Potentials” authored by Annekathrin Schacht (University of Göttingen, Germany), and myself, has been published online in the  journal Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. It can be downloaded here.

July 07, 2018:
I was invited as a Keynote Speaker to the conference “The Future of Neuroscience, Attachment and Mentalizing: from research to clinical practice” to be held on May 18 and 19, 2019, at University College London. This conference will be one of the first conferences to explicitly focus on the application of neuroscience and neurobiology to clinical issues. Another aim of the conference is further exchange between practitioners and leading experts in affective neuroscience. More information is available here

June 20, 2018: I was invited as a Conference Speaker to the seventh “Visions in Science” annual interdisciplinary scientific event organized by members of the Max Planck PhDnet, the communication network for PhD Students of the Max Planck Society. The conference – held in Berlin from October 5-7, 2018 – is open to all junior scientists of the Max Planck Society, as well as of other university and non-university institutions. This years’ topic is “Science & Society”, and I will be talking about “Social Neuroscience” and how this field of research is shaping society in direct and indirect ways. More information is available here.

June 11, 2018: A Conference Poster entitled “Does a Nine-Month Contemplative Mental Training Intervention in Healthy Adults Influence Leukocyte Telomere Length?” by Lara Puhlmann, myself, and Tania Singer was accepted at this year’s 48th Annual International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology Conference (ISPNE) in Ivrine, California, from September 6-8, 2018.

May 05, 2018: A Conference Symposium I am co-organizing with Melanie Kungl (University of Erlangen-NĂĽrnberg, Germany) entitled “The Quality of Social Interactions within Parent-Child and Adult-Dyads: What are the influencing Factors in the Context of Attachment Theory? [Title in German: Qualität sozialer Interaktionen in Eltern-Kind- und Erwachsenen-Dyaden: Welches sind die beeinflussenden Faktoren im Rahmen der Bindungstheorie?]” with additional contributions by Margund Rohr (University of Leipzig, Germany), Sandra Gabler (University of Erlangen-NĂĽrnberg, Germany), and Sabine Heinisch (University of Erlangen-NĂĽrnberg, Germany),  was accepted at this year’s Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft fĂĽr Psychologie (DGPs – German Society for Psychology) in Frankfurt from September 15-20, 2018. More information here.

May 05, 2018: A Conference Poster entitled “Does Telomere Length Change after a Nine-Month Contemplative Mental Training Intervention in Healthy Adult Participants?” by Lara Puhlmann, myself, and Tania Singer was accepted at this year’s Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft fĂĽr Psychologie (DGPs – German Society for Psychology) in Frankfurt from September 15-20, 2018. More information to follow here.

March 26, 2018: A new Open Access Paper entitled “Neural correlates of socio-emotional perception in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome” authored by Lydia Dubourg, myself, Martin DebbanĂ©, LĂ©a Chambaz, Stephan Eliez & Maude Schneider (University of Geneva, Switzerland) has just been published online in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. It can be downloaded here.

March 13, 2018: A new Open Access Paper entitled “Change in Emotional Self-Concept following Socio-Cognitive Training relates to Structural Plasticity of the Prefrontal Cortex” authored by Anna-Lena Lumma (Department of Psychology, University of Witten, Germany), Sofie Valk (ForschungszentrĂĽm JĂĽlich, Germany), Anne Böckler (University of WĂĽrzburg, Germany), myself, and Tania Singer (MPI CBS, Leipzig, Germany) has just been published online in Brain and Behavior. It can be downloaded here.

March 7, 2018: A new Open Access Paper entitled “Epigenetic Modification of the Oxytocin and Glucocorticoid Receptor Genes is linked to Attachment Avoidance in young Adults” co-authored by Tsachi Ein-Dor (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel), Willem Verbeke ( Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands), and Michal Mokry (University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands) has just been published online in Attachment & Human Development. It can be downloaded here.

March 01, 2018: A Conference Symposium I am organizing entitled “The Social Neuroscience of Human Attachment” with contributions by Madelon Hendricx-Riem (Tilburg University, The Netherlands), Anna Linda Leutritz (Clinical Affective Neuroimaging Laboratory, Magdeburg, Germany), Lars Otto White (Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Germany), Trinh Nguyen (Department of Psychology, University of Vienna), and myself was accepted for this year’s 4th International Conference of the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (ESCAN 2018) in Leiden, The Netherlands, from July 19-22. More information here.

February 20, 2018: A Conference Symposium Contribution entitled “Face-to-face and brain-to-brain: Effects of maternal attachment, caregiving, and sensitivity on mother-child neural synchrony” by Trinh Nguyen (Department of Psychology, University of Vienna), Ezgi Kayan (MPI CBS, Leipzig, Germany), Daniel Matthes (MPI CBS, Leipzig, Germany), myself, and Stefanie Hoehl (Department of Psychology, University of Vienna) as part of the symposium entitled “Building bridges across minds and brains: Using live paradigms to elucidate interpersonal neurocognitive processes in infancy”  was accepted at this year’s International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS) conference 2018 in Philadelphia from June 30 – July 3.

January 29, 2018: A new Research Project financed by the Max Planck Society on father-child-interaction (D-CARE) can take place during the year 2018 at the MPI CBS in Leipzig, Germany. Methods will comprise behavioral assessment plus fMRI, fNIRS, and ECG in 60 father-child-pairs with children aged 5 years.

January 9, 2018: My Open Conference Paper submission entitled “Spatio-Temporal Pattern of Appraising Social and Emotional Relevance: Evidence from Event-Related Brain Potentials” together with Annekathrin Schacht (University of Göttingen, Germany) was accepted for this year’s Consortium of European Research on Emotion (CERE) conference 2018 in Glasgow, UK, from April 4-5. More information here