As a PhD student in the Social Brain Lab, I combine behavioral tasks with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural basis of empathy for pain and social decision-making. In one line of research I am focusing on the neural mechanisms and individual differences in helping others when this comes at a cost to self. In order to further explore this question I am additionally studying a highly empathic group of individuals, mirror touch synesthetes, who literally feel on their body the pain and touch they observe in others. In a parallel line of research, I examine through a series of experiments how hierarchy, coercion, and reduction of responsibility modulate empathic behavior and underlying neural circuitry. These studies aim to deepen our understanding of the willingness to perform immoral acts when receiving orders.
I started my scientific journey with a BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Democritus university of Thrace in Greece. My growing fascination for human behavior and the brain led me to pursue a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at Donders Institute in Nijmegen, Netherlands. During my thesis there, I focused on the empathy, prosocial behavior and physiological responses in mirror touch synesthesia. Discovering that empathy and social decision-making are the research areas I am interested the most, brought me to the social brain lab.