4th Annual Lecture | Tania Singer

28.04.2015 19:00 - 21:30

"Plasticity of the Social Brain: From Training the Mind and Heart to a Caring Society"


Tania Singer

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig

"Plasticity of the Social Brain: From Training the Mind and Heart to a Caring Society"

We cordially invite you to the 4th Annual Lecture of the Cognitive Science Research Platform.

We are proud to announce the internationally renowned researcher Prof. Dr. Tania Singer as our keynote speaker.

Afterwards there will be a reception combined with a poster session at the Kleiner Festsaal presenting last years projects and activities at the Cognitive Science Research Platform.

About the talk

In the last decades our society has faced many global and economic problems that call for new solutions and change. Emerging fields such as affective-social and contemplative neurosciences have produced promising findings that may help inform such necessary changes. For example, plasticity research has suggested that training of mental capacities such as mindfulness and compassion is indeed effective and leads to changes in brain functions associated with increases in positive affect, pro-social behavior, and better health. I will introduce the ReSource Project, a large-scale multi-methodological one-year secular mental training program that aims at the cultivation of attention, interoceptive awareness, perspective taking, meta-cognition, compassion, and prosocial motivation. This study also includes new ways of training the mind and socio-cognitive abilities through intersubjective dyads with another person. This study is divided in three modules allowing us to distinguish effects based on a) attention/mindfulness, b) socio-affective, and c) socio-cognitive training. We assessed, in more than 200 subjects, over 90 measures, such as phenomenological reports, questionnaires, event-sampling data, as well as behavioral, brain, physiological and biological data. I will present first training-module specific findings of brain plasticity, stress-reduction, and prosocial behavior. Moreover, I will discuss challenges related to the appropriate integration of measures of first-person subjective experience and third-person measurements and discuss these in the context of plasticity research in the field of social neuroscience. I will conclude by suggesting ways of how the cultivation of mental faculties and compassion could help formulate new economic models aiming at reintroducing secular ethics in society emphasizing the need to step into a global responsibility through personal change.

About the speaker

Tania Singer is the Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig since 2010. After receiving her PhD in Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, she became a Post-doctoral Fellow at the same institution, at the Welcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, and at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London. In 2006, she went to the University of Zurich as Assistant Professor and became later Inaugural Chair of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research. Her research focus is on the foundations of human social behavior and the neuronal, developmental, and hormonal mechanisms underlying social cognition and emotions. Moreover, she investigates the psychological and neuroscientific effects of compassion and mental training on brain, mind, health, and cooperation. Prof. Singer is the Principal Investigator of the ReSource Project, a large-scale one year longitudinal mental training study, co-funded by the European Research Council. She holds a cooperation with Prof. Snower from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy on the topic of Caring Economics, funded by the Institute of New Economic Thinking. They investigate how biology and psychology can inform new economic models and decision-making. Tania has published her findings in many high-impact peer-reviewed journals.

Location:

Großer Festsaal (Main Building)

University of Vienna
Universitätsring 1
A-1010 Vienna