My research areas of interest are social neuroscience and psychiatry. More specifically, I am interested in how human beings understand and make sense of each other. Here, my research is based on the assumption that social cognition is fundamentally different when we are engaged with others, in real-time social interaction with them (‘online‘ social cognition), rather than merely observing them (‘offline‘ social cognition; e.g. Schilbach et al. 2006, 2011, 2013; Schilbach 2015). In particular, I am interested in exploring the ways in which social interaction and interpersonal coordination can be motivating and rewarding and how this interacts with other aspects of cognition and processes of self-regulation (Schilbach et al. 2010, 2013).
Adopting this second-person approach to other minds (Schilbach 2010; Schilbach et al. 2013) and exploring it empirically by using functional neuroimaging and interactive eyetracking (Wilms, Schilbach et al. 2010; Pfeiffer et al. 2011; Pfeiffer, Vogeley & Schilbach 2013) holds promise to allow new insights into the behavioral and neurobiological correlates of real-time social interaction (Pfeiffer et al. 2013; Schilbach 2014, 2015). Here, our works uses quantitative behavioral approaches to study real-life social interactions, but also controlled, yet interactive experimental tasks to investigate the underlying neurobiology. Providing new insights into the mechanisms of real-life social behaviors is highly relevant for our understanding of psychiatric (and other) disorders and related therapeutic options (Schilbach et al. 2013; Timmermans & Schilbach 2014; Schilbach 2015, 2016).
Taking steps towards a second-person neuroscience and neuropsychiatry constitutes an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort. As part of a network of and in interaction with a group of collaborators from the Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiaty and other institutions, I am investigating different facets of the experimental landscape of a truly social neuroscience (Schilbach et al. 2013). Taking these steps may be crucial for realizing social neuroscience‘s translational potential and to advance the transdiagnostic investigation of the behavioral and neural mechanisms of psychiatric disorders (Schilbach et al. 2015; Schilbach 2015, 2016; Redcay & Schilbach 2019).
My research has been awarded with several prizes due to its relevance for psychiatry.