Prof. Dr. med. Martin Brüne
Prof. Dr. med. Martin Brüne
LWL University Hospital
Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Preventative Medicine
Division of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry and Psychiatric Preventive Medicine
Faculty of Medicine
Ruhr-University Bochum

My main research interest concerns Social Cognition in patients with psychiatric disorders, and how Social Cognition impacts on social interaction and interpersonal behaviour. Social cognition involves, among other abilities, the recognition and interpretation of emotions from facial cues, body posture or prosody (intonation), perception of social relationships such as kinship, and the ability to cognitively represent one’s own and other people’s mental states (“theory of mind”) in terms of beliefs, knowledge, intentions, desires or feelings. In the past, my collaborators and I have tested theory of mind abilities using quite simple cartoon stories. More recently, we have started to use neuroeconomic approaches to examine patients’ understanding of situations involving conditional cooperation, trust and reciprocity in (virtual) social exchange situations. We seek to explore the association of Social Cognition with variation in attachment style, neuropeptide activity and how this is reflected in brain activity using electroencephalography and functional brain imaging.

Another area of research comprises the neuroanatomical examination of von Economo neurons in post-mortem brains of patients with psychosis. The von Economo neurons represent a phylogenetically younger population of nerve cells, which have increased in size and density over evolutionary time, particularly in the anterior cingulate cortex, and the anterior insula. It is assumed that the von Economo neurons play a role in complex cognitive and emotional processes.
Furthermore, we explore interpersonal processes in psychiatric populations using ethological methodology to analyse patients’ (and therapists’) nonverbal behaviour in clinical settings. We have also started to study the influence of Mentalisation-Based Therapy (MBT) on clinical improvement of patients with personality disorders.

The research of my group is theoretically embedded in a broader interdisciplinary context focusing on the understanding of psychopathological conditions from an evolutionary perspective. At first sight, this approach does not seem straightforward, because psychopathological conditions – by definition – are maladaptive. However, if one views psychiatric disorders as extremes of variations rather than categorically distinct from a normative mean, it becomes plausible why addressing the adaptive equivalents of individual symptoms, syndromes or disorders matters. The evolutionary perspective also includes the study of psychopathological symptoms and syndromes in nonhuman primates, specifically great apes in captivity, who often have a long-standing history of traumatisation and early separation from their mothers and other con-specifics. The mental life of these close relative of ours is similar in complexity. Some individuals need psychiatric-psychotherapeutic treatment, which allows drawing conclusions that are potentially relevant for the understanding of our own socialization and needs to improve mental health.

Curriculum Vitae

Ggw. Stellung

Seit Juni 2009 Professor für Psychiatrie an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (W2-äquivalent)


1982 – 1988      Studium der Medizin an der Westfälischen-Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Promotion [Tanninsäure zur Fixierung und Kontrastierung der normalen Dickdarmschleimhaut des Menschen].

1989 – 1992      Facharztausbildung in Neurologie
1992 – 1997      Facharztausbildung in Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie

Dez. 2000         Habilitation & Venia legendi [Evolutionsbiologische Aspekte                                                      psychotischer Störungen am Beispiel der Erotomanie].


1998 – heute     Oberarzt an der LWL Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie Bochum

Nov. 2002 – Okt. 2003
Research Fellow am Centre for the Mind, Australian National University und University of Sydney, Australien

2007                 APL Professur für Psychiatrie an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Mai 2008          Fellow am Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Delmenhorst

März 2009         Ruf auf die CORE Professur für Cognitive Neuropsychiatry am Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science (MACCS), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australien (abgelehnt).

Seit Juni 2009   W2-Professur für Kognitive Neuropsychiatrie und Psychiatrische Präventivmedizin an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum und Leiter der gleichnamigen Forschungsabteilung am LWL Universitätsklinikum Bochum, Klinik für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Präventivmedizin.


Reviews for Journals: Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, Acta Neuropsychiatrica, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, American Journal of Primatology, American Journal of Psychiatry, Archives of General Psychiatry (IF 11.207), Behavioral and Brain Functions (IF 2.55), Behavioral and Brain Sciences (IF 7.125), Biological Psychiatry, BMC Psychiatry, Brain Structure and Function, Brain Imaging and Behavior, British Journal of Clinical Psychology, Cerebral Cortex, Clinical Schizophrenia and Related Psychoses, CNS Drugs (IF 4.180), Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, Consciousness and Cognition, Current Anthropology, Current Psychiatry Reviews, Depression and Anxiety, Early Intervention Psychiatry, European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, European Journal of Developmental Psychology, European Journal of Personality, European Journal of Psychiatry, European Psychiatry, Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, Evolutionary Psychology, Frontiers in Psychopathology, Human Brain Mapping, Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, Journal of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, Journal of Mental Health, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Nervenarzt, NeuroImage, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Neuropsychologia, Neuropsychology, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (IF 6.3), Neuroscience Letters, PeerJ, Personality and Individual Differences, Personality and Mental Health, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, Psychiatry Research (IF 1.989), Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging (IF 2.151), Psychologica Belgica, Psychological Medicine (IF 2.943), Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Psychopathology, Psychosis, Public Library of Science One, Schizophrenia Bulletin (IF 2.592), Schizophrenia Research (IF 3.889), Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience , Social Neuroscience, WIREs,

Editorial Board Membership: Psychiatry Research, BMC Medicine, Clinical Neuropsychiatry, BMC Psychiatry, Frontiers in Psychopathology, Open Behavioral Science Journal, Open Behavioral Science Letters, Open Behavioral Science Reviews, Düsünen Adam. The Journal of Psychiatry and Neurological Sciences, International Journal of Psychological Research, Human Ethology Bulletin, Neurology, Psychiatry & Brain Research, Evolution, Medicine and Public Health

Memberships in Scientific Organisations: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Nervenheilkunde (DGPPN) , Deutsche Gesellschaft für Biologische Psychiatrie (DGBP), International Society for Human Ethology (ISHE), Society of Anthropology (Gesellschaft für Anthropologie; GfA), Tourette Society Germany (Tourette-Gesellschaft Deutschland), Task Force “Evolutionary Psychiatry” of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (Co-Chair), International Graduate School of Neuroscience (IGSN), Ruhr-University Bochum, Research Department of Neuroscience (RDN), Ruhr-University Bochum, Center for Mind, Brain and Cognitive Evolution (CMBCE), Ruhr-University Bochum

Awards and Honours: Lieselotte and Rolf Bayer Award 2008, Call on a CORE position as Associate Professor for Cognitive Neuropsychiatry in the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Sciences (MACCS), Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia (declined).

nach oben