About the Social Rodent Lab

Welcome to the Social Rodent Lab!
Though “being a rat” has a negative meaning in everyday conversation, rats are actually a highly social species. At the Social Rodent Lab, we study the (pro-) social behavior of rodents to understand how these animals make decisions that affects their social interaction partners. The Social Rodent Lab is hosted at the Heinrich-Heine University in Duesseldorf, Germany.

The Social Rodent Lab studies social valuation in rodents using a range of behavioral paradigms. The lab combines neuroeconomic analysis of choice behavior with neurobiological or pharmacological manipulations and the recording of ultrasonic vocalizations. Furthermore, the Social Rodent Lab specializes in recording the electrophysiological signals at the single unit and network level from behaving rodents.

We believe that studying animals can tell us a lot about the evolutionary origins of social behavior and the way individuals interact. If we want to understand how typically 'human' tendencies such as trust, fairness and altruism came to be, and what brain activity and networks are responsible for these behaviors, developing good animal models is essential to ultimately understand the why and how of social interactions.

Collaborations

HHU Duesseldorf - Prof. Tobias Kalenscher

Dr. Kalenscher is kindly hosting the Social Rodent Lab in his lab facilities. His research interest are in the mechanics and neural substrates of decision making, in humans and animals (link)

Utrecht University Medical Center Brain Center Rudolf Magnus - Prof. Louk Vanderschuren & Dr. Geoffrey van der Plasse

Prof. Vanderschuren is studying the neurobiology of social behavior, impulsive behavior and  addiction. We are collaborating on a project relating social play behaviour with social preferences (link)

Michigan State University - Prof. Alexa Veenema 

Prof. Veenema focuses on understanding the roles of the neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin in regulating social behavior and how this is modulated by age, sex, and early life stress. We are collaborating on a project involving social novelty seeking (link)

Cardiff University - Dr. Christoph Teufel and Dr. Job van der Schalk

Drs. Teufel and van der Schalk from the Cardiff School of Psychology are current collaborators on a research  project involving dyadic synchronization and its influence on decision making

MPI for Human Development, Berlin - Dr. Wouter van den Bos

Dr. van den Bos is an expert on the developmental changes in decision making, both on a behavioral and a neural level. Formerly with Dr. Eveline Crone in Leiden and Dr. Sam McClure at Stanford, he is currently a research scientist at the MPI for Human Development (link)

Ernst Strüngmann Institut in Cooperation with Max Planck Society - Dr. Martin Vinck

Dr. Vinck has a strong computational background in the analysis of electrophysiological data. Formerly with Dr. Pascal Fries and Dr. Cyriel Pennartz and a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Jessica Cardin (link) he now is Research Group Leader at the Ernst Strüngmann Institut in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, in Frankfurt (link).

 

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