Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences GSN-LMU

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Leonhard Schilbach

PD Dr. Leonhard Schilbach

GSN associate faculty


Managing consultant psychiatrist
Max Planck Research Group Leader "Social Neuroscience"


Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry
Kraepelinstr. 2-10
D-80804 München

Phone: +49 (0) 89-30622-348


Further Information

Research focus: 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 neurobiological correlates of real-time social interaction (Pfeiffer et al. 2013; Schilbach 2014) which may also be relevant for our understanding of psychiatric (and other) disorders and related therapeutic options (Schilbach et al. 2013; Timmermans & Schilbach 2014).

Key words: Psychiatry, social interaction, functional magnetic resonance imaging, eyetracking

GSN Students: Lara Henco

Selected publications:

Schilbach, L, Timmermans, B, Reddy, V, Costall, A, Bente, G, Schlicht, T, Vogeley, K (2013). Toward a second-person neuroscience. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Pfeiffer, UJ, Vogeley, K, Schilbach, L (2013). From gaze cueing to dual eyetracking: Novel methods to study the neural correlates of gaze in social interaction. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.
Preller, K, Herdener, M, Schilbach, L, Stämpfli, P, Hulka, LM, Vonmoos, M, Ingold, N, Vogeley, K, Tobler, P, Seifritz, E, Quednow, B (2014). Altered response to social gaze is associated with blunted activation of the brain‘s reward system in cocaine users. PNAS.
Schilbach, L (2014). On the relationship of online and offline social cognition. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Schilbach, L (2015). Eye to eye, face to face and brain to brain: Novel approaches to study the behavioral dynamics and neural mechanisms of social interactions. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.

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