University Research Priority Programm URPP

The URPP Foundations of Human Social Behavior, Altruism and Egoism

Linked with Tania Singer – Germany.

The Univesity of Zurich founded the Research Priority Program on the Foundation of Human Social Behavior in 2005.

This interdisciplinary program focuses on the investigation of human social behavior from the perspectives of neuroscience, economics, psychology, philosophy, and evolutionary anthropology (on wikipedia, on WILEY InterScience, on Max Planck Institute).

The main goal is to understand the factors which determine prosocial and antisocial behavior in humans. The program concentrates not only on the social and biological bases of altruistic and egoistic behavior, but also on the economic and ethical consequences of people displaying this behavior … (Homepage).

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About / Resources: The Research Priority Program Foundations of Human Social Behavior is an interdisciplinary research program that investigates social behavior adopting a multi-method approach.

It benefits from a platform of complementary brain imaging facilities including PET, fMRI and TMS as well as a state-of-the-art behavioral experimental lab consisting of 40 interconnected computers.

PET and fMRI research is done in collaboration with the Biophysics group of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Peter Boesinger at the Universitaetsspital of the University of Zuerich – a world-leading group in the development of new magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy procedures.

In addition to the access to three Philips 1.5-, 3- and 7-Tesla MR-scanner the program makes also use of a 1.5 and a 3 Tesla MR-scanner from General Electric located at the MR Center of the Kinderspital under the supervision of Prof. Dr. E. Martin. This Center is specialized in imaging children and adolescents.

For the simultaneous recording of electrophysiological signals and evoked potentials during functional imaging in fMRI experiments, we use a 64-channel EEG recorder (BrainAmp MR).

The auditory, visual, and cognitive tasks are developed using MS Windows-based workstations. They are presented by means of either a video projector (InFocus 720) or MRI-compatible video glasses combined with an audio system (Resonance Technology, Inc.) and a response box (Cedrus Lumina).

A TMS-system and facilities optimized for the administration of hormones and drugs as well as the extractions of blood samples are located in the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics. We use the Magstim Rapid² magnetic stimulator. We presently have a 70-mm sham coil and two 70-mm real coils.

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