Bonn Social Neuroscience Unit


The Bonn Social Neuroscience Unit studies the neural basis of social interactions between humans. Specifically, our interests range from the distinction between living and non-living things (perception of animacy), through aspects of social perception that include face perception, representations of actions, emotions, goals and intentions, to the decision whether to interact with social agents or not, and to social emotions occurring as a consequence of social decisions (see the figure with Stages 1 to 5 below). Recently we have looked at metacognition about some of these processes, too.

We use methods from classical visual psychophysics, behavioural economics and neuroimaging. While we are most interested in social cognition in healthy adult human participants, we collaborate in studies investigating variations of social cognition in psychological or psychiatric disorders, or in pharmacological models of such disorders.

Our main research topics are listed below, together with representative publications. How these topics relate to each other is described in the Research page. You can find out who we are here and find more publications here. Do contact us for more information or to participate in experiments.

Recent representative publications

(more publications here)

Animacy perception

Schultz J, Frith CD. (2022). Animacy and the prediction of behaviour. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 140, 104766. (open access).

Schultz J, Bülthoff HH. (2019). Perceiving animacy purely from visual motion cues involves intraparietal sulcus. NeuroImage, 197, 120–132. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.04.058, PDF

Social perception

Dobs K, Schultz J, Bülthoff I, Gardner JL. (2018). Task-dependent enhancement of facial expression and identity representations in human cortex. NeuroImage, 172, 689–702. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.02.013, PDF

Dobs K, Bülthoff I, Schultz J. (2016). Identity information content depends on the type of facial movement. Scientific Reports, 6, 34301. DOI: 10.1038/srep34301, PDF

Schultz J, Brockhaus M, Bülthoff HH, Pilz KS. (2013). What the human brain likes about moving faces. Cerebral Cortex, 23, 1167-1178. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhs106, PDF


Kim J, Schultz J, Rohe T, Wallraven C, Lee S-W, Bülthoff HH. (2015). Abstract representations of associated emotions in the human brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 35, 5655–63. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4059-14.2015, PDF

Social decisions

Schultz J, Willems T, Gädeke M, Chakkour G, Franke A, Weber B, Hurlemann R. (2019). A human subcortical network underlying social avoidance revealed by risky economic choices. eLife, 8:e45249. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.45249, PDF

variations of social cognition

Muthesius A, Grothey F, Cunningham C, Hölzer S, Vogeley K, Schultz J. (2022). Preserved metacognition despite impaired perception of intentionality cues in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research: Cognition, 100215., PDF

Maier AM, Gieling C, Heinen-Ludwig L, Stefan V, Schultz J, Güntürkün O, Stoffel-Wagner B, Becker B, Hurlemann R, Scheele D. (2019). Association of childhood maltreatment with interpersonal distance and social touch preferences in adulthood. The American Journal of Psychiatry, advance online publication 16 August 2019. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19020212, PDF

Manipulation of social cognition

Lehmann M, Neumann C, Wasserthal S, Delis A, Schultz J, Hurlemann R, Ettinger U. (2022). Ketamine increases fronto-posterior functional connectivity during meta-perceptual confidence ratings. Behavioural Brain Research, 430, 113925., PDF

Coenjaerts M, Pape F, Santoso V, Grau F, Stoffel-Wagner B, Philipsen A, Schultz J, Hurlemann R, Scheele D. (2021). Sex differences in economic decision-making: Exogenous estradiol has opposing effects on fairness framing in women and men. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 50, 46–54., PDF