College of Fellows

Neuroscience and Society

The Focus Group investigates interdisciplinary issues at the interface between neuroscience and the humanities. It explores the relevance of neuroscientific research for the humanities and social sciences - and vice versa. The fact that human behaviour and actions are being increasingly attributed to neuronal processes poses challenges for the humanities and social sciences, whose areas of expertise have so far included such questions, but also offers the opportunity for interdisciplinary research. Crossing disciplinary boundaries opens up unexpected perspectives here, so that subject-specific questions can be given a new perspective and answers can be found together. The Focus Group aims to promote an exchange between neurosciences and cognitive sciences, psychiatry and the humanities and social sciences such as philosophy and literary studies and thus follows the tradition of the "CIN Dialogues at the Interface of the Neurosciences and the Arts and Humanities" ( / co-organised by the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neurosciences and the College of Fellows. The Focus Group intends to provide a place for interdisciplinary dialogue and cross-disciplinary collaboration at the University of Tübingen, where internationally renowned neuroscience meets strong humanities and social sciences. It is organising its activities in the summer semester 2024 around the stay and research work of Prof. Vittorio Gallese, who will be visiting Tübingen in the summer semester 2024 as a Humboldt Research Award winner.


Professor Andreas Bartels

Neuroscience/Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Vision and Cognition

Professor Vittorio Gallese

Neurophysiology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Social Neuroscience and Philosophy of Mind/University of Parma/Unit of Neuroscience, Dept. of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Italy/Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, Columbia University, New York, USA

Professor Thomas Gasser

Neurosciences/University Hospital, Department of Neurology

Professor Dorothee Kimmich

Literary cultural studies/Department of German Studies

PD Dr Niels Weidtmann

Interkulturelle Philosophie/College of Fellows

Professor Felix Wichmann

Neuroscience, Cognitive Science/Computer Science, Neuronal Information Processing/Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Tübingen

Professor Dirk Wildgruber

Neurowissenschaften/Psychiatrie/Universitätsklinikum, Arbeitsgruppe Affektive Neuropsychiatrie

Professor Hong Yu Wong

Philosophy with a focus on Cognitive Science/Department of Philosophy

Fellow/Guest Professor

Professor Vittorio Gallese

Neurophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, social neuroscience and philosophy of mind­ University of Parma, Division of Neuroscience, Department of Medicine and Surgery | Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, Columbia University, New York, USA ­Prof. Dr Vittorio Gallese will be a guest at the University of Tübingen in the summer semester of 2024 as part of a Humboldt Research Award.


Short CV

Vittorio Gallese, Professor of Psychobiology at the Università degli Studi di Parma since 2006, is recognised as one of the world's leading experts in the field of social neuroscience. He was Professor of Experimental Aesthetics at the University of London (2016-2018), Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain (2016-2020), KOSMOS Fellow at the Humboldt University of Berlin (2013-2014) and Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA (2002). Gallese is an expert in neurophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, social neuroscience, and philosophy of mind and one of the discoverers of mirror neurons. In his research, he seeks to understand the functional organisation of brain mechanisms underlying social cognition, such as empathy and sympathy, language, and aesthetic experience. His interdisciplinary work incorporates findings and approaches from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience.


The Focus Group "Neuroscience and Society" is planning a series of activities with Professor Vittorio Gallese in the summer semester 2024.

In addition, regular meetings of the Focus Group are planned. If you are interested, please contact niels.weidtmannspam

26 April 2024
Semester Opening
Vittorio Gallese: "Embodying neural representations: Neural reuse and embodied simulation"

Semester Opening of the College of Fellows
Fri, 26 April, 4.00 pm
Alte Aula (Münzgasse 9, Tübingen)

With a Lecture by Professor Vittorio Gallese:
"Embodying neural representations: Neural reuse and embodied simulation"


In the last decades technological advancements providing new tools to study the brain in humans and non-human animals boosted the enormous progress of Neuroscience. This progress brought along a diversity of approaches, levels of description and the focusing on different granularities, so that a unified theory of brain function and its relationship to behavior is currently not available. Thus, the notion of neural representation is a topic of ongoing debate and controversy within the field of cognitive neuroscience. The relevant literature includes very diverse theoretical approaches, ranging from the neo-phrenological approach, assigning to specific brain modules specific cognitive functions, to dynamic system theory-inspired approaches, holding that brain neural activity emerges from the interactions among interconnected neurons, rather than being solely determined by fixed neural representations.

In my lecture the notion of neural representation will be addressed from an embodied perspective, discussing embodied simulation theory within the framework of neural reuse. It will be argued that being, feeling, acting, and knowing describe different modalities of our relations to the world, all sharing a constitutive underpinning bodily root that maps into dynamic ways of functioning of the brain-body. Brain architecture does not respect the boundaries of standard mental terms and categories. Mental terms and categories are the loose and imprecise verbal descriptions of a variety of complex cognitive behaviors that we are not yet able to fully explain in terms of their underlying neural and bodily mechanisms.

8 May 2024
„Bodily self and interpersonal relationships in schizophrenia“
Vittorio Gallese

Date and time: 8 May, 3.30 pm.

Venue: To be announced (colloquium of psychiatry)

Lecture at the psychiatry colloquium: "Bodily self and interpersonal relationships in schizophrenia"

9 July 2024
Professor Vittorio Gallese und Professor Andreas Heinz

Date and time: 9 July, 7 pm.

Venue: Audimax


Podium discussion with Professor Vittorio Gallese and Professor Andreas Heinz

Further information will follow shortly.

Vittorio Gallese
Lecture at the Neuroscience Colloquium

Lecture at the Colloquium of Neuroscience (date still open)