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The overarching goal of EVOSOCBRAIN is to pinpoint the brain activities (with fMRI) underpinning how dogs think and feel, and how this fosters their elaborate social skills and strong bonds to humans. Furthermore, we are particularly interested in mechanisms of convergent evolution that lead to complex social cognition and abilities in both dogs and humans (e.g. Theory of Mind). See also: Comparative Canine Neuroimaging Unit

PIs: Claus Lamm (UniVie), Ludwig Huber (Messerli), Christian Windischberger (MUW)

Funding agency: Vienna Science and Technology Funds (WWTF)

This PhD programme aims at training the next generation of young scientists in cognitive biology, giving them the broad foundation in evolutionary theory, comparative thinking, experimental design, and behavioural analysis. One project, conducted in the CDL (in cooperation with developmental psychologists), will investigate the phenomenon of overimitation in a comparative manner (dogs vs children). [401]

PI at Vetmed: Ludwig Huber

Funding agency: FWF – Austrian Science Fund

ARED aims to explore the origins of human rational thought by comparing how dogs, pigs and human infants form and revise their beliefs. ARED is an interdisciplinary research project between philosophy, cognitive developmental psychology and cognitive ethology, conducted by the University of Stirling and us. 

PI at the Vetmeduni: Zsófia Virányi

Funding organisation: UK Research and Innovation


Looking for offers for Master's or diploma thesis topics? Click here for the currently available theses.


The Latest Publications (2020–)

Lonardo, L., Völter, C. J., Lamm, C., & Huber, L. (2021). Dogs follow human misleading suggestions more often when the informant has a false belief. Proc Roy Soc B 288(1955), 20210906.  

Völter, C. J., & Huber, L. (2021). Expectancy violations about physical properties of animated objects in dogs. PsyArXiv. 

Cimarelli, G; Marshall-Pescini, S; Range, F; Berghänel, A; Virányi, Z (2021): Relationship quality affects social stress buffering in dogs and wolves. Anim Behav 178: 127-140 

Wetzels, S.U., Strachan, C.R., Conrady, B. et al. (2021) Wolves, dogs and humans in regular contact can mutually impact each other’s skin microbiota. Sci Rep 11, 17106. 

Cimarelli, G., Schoesswender, J., Vitiello, R., Huber, L., & Virányi, Z. (2021). Partial rewarding during clicker training does not improve naïve dogs’ learning speed and induces a pessimistic-like affective state. Anim Cogn 24(1), 107–119. 

Karl, S., Sladky, R., Lamm, C., & Huber, L. (2021). Neural Responses of Pet Dogs Witnessing Their Caregiver’s Positive Interactions with a Conspecific: An fMRI Study. Cerebral Cortex Comm 2(3), tgab047. 

Boch, M., Karl, S., Sladky, R., Huber, L., Lamm, C., & Wagner, I. C. (2021). Tailored haemodynamic response function increases detection power of fMRI in awake dogs (Canis familiaris). Neuroimage 224, 117414.  

Boch, M; Wagner, IC; Karl, S; Huber, L; Lamm, C (2021): Similarities and differences of face and body perception in the dog (Canis familiaris) and human brain. biorxiv 

Völter, C. J., Karl, S., & Huber, L. (2020). Dogs accurately track a moving object on a screen and anticipate its destination. Sci Rep 10(1), 1–10.  

Benz-Schwarzburg, J., Monso, S., & Huber, L. (2020). How dogs perceive humans and how humans treat dogs: Linking cognition research with ethical discussions. Front Psychol 11, 584037.  

Huber, L., Salobir, K., Mundry, R., & Cimarelli, G. (2020). Selective overimitation in dogs. Learning & Behavior, 48(1), 113–123.  

Völter, C., Karl, S., & Huber, L. (2020). Dogs accurately track a moving object on a screen and anticipate its destination. Sci Rep 10(1), 19832.  

Völter, C., Lambert, M., & Huber, L. (2020). Do nonhuman animals seek explanations? Anim Behav Cogn 7(3), 446–451.  

Karl, S; Boch, M; Virányi, Z; Lamm, C; Huber, L (2020): Training pet dogs for eye-tracking and awake fMRI. Behav Res Methods 52(2):838-856 

Chapagain, D; Wallis, LJ; Range, F; Affenzeller, N; Serra, J; Virányi, Z (2020): Behavioural and cognitive changes in aged pet dogs: No effects of an enriched diet and lifelong training. PLoS One 15(9):e0238517 

Range, F; Brucks, D; Virányi, Z (2020): Dogs wait longer for better rewards than wolves in a delay of gratification task: but why? Anim Cogn 23 (3) 443-453. 

Turcsán, B; Wallis, L; Berczik, J; Range, F; Kubinyi, E; Virányi, Z (2020): Individual and group level personality change across the lifespan in dogs. Sci Rep 10(1):17276 

Ujfalussy, DJ; Virányi, Z; et al. (2020): Comparing the tractability of young hand-raised wolves (Canis lupus) and dogs (Canis familiaris). Sci Rep 10(1):14678