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Associate Professor / Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Essex

Dr Pascal Vrticka is a social neuroscientist with strong ties to developmental & social psychology. His research focuses on the psychological, behavioural, biological, and brain basis of human social interaction, attachment and caregiving.

Besides measuring neurobiological responses to different kinds of social versus non-social information in individual participants using (functional) magnetic resonance imaging ([f]MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), Dr Vrticka most recently started assessing bio-behavioural synchrony in interacting dyads using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) hyperscanning. The main question thereby is how romantic partners and parents with their children get “in sync” when they solve problems together or talk to each other.

Dr Vrticka furthermore relates the obtained individual and dyadic behavioural, biological, and brain measures to interindividual differences in relationship quality – particularly attachment and caregiving. In doing so, he refers to attachment theory that provides a suitable theoretical framework on how we initiate and maintain social relationships across the life span. With his research, Dr Vrticka is promoting a new area of investigation: the social neuroscience of human attachment (SoNeAt).


  • 2020–present
    Assistant Professor / Lecturer in Psychology, University of Essex
  • 2012–2020
    Research Scientist, Group Leader, and Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
  • 2012–2014
    Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • 2010–2012
    Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Geneva


  • 2009 
    University of Geneva, Switzerland, PhD in Social Neuroscience
  • 2005 
    Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland, BA & MA in Science - Biology

Professional Memberships

  • Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies
  • British Association of Cognitive Neuroscience (BACN)