Philipp Kanske

Philipp Kanske

Member since 2015
born 1980
subject: Psychology/Neuroscience

Technische Universität Dresden
Institut für Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie
Chemnitzer Str. 46
01187 Dresden

Tel.: (0351) 463 42225

Research Areas

  • Neural underpinnings of emotion regulation and emotion understanding

  • Emotional processing in mental disorders

  • Plasticity of emotional experiencing


Curriculum Vitae

  • since 2017

    Professor for Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at Technische Universität Dresden

  • 2017

    Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize of the German Research Foundation

  • 2014

    Habilitation at Heidelberg University

  • 2013

    Lilly Young Investigator Fellowship in Bipolar Disorder of the International Conference on Bipolar Disorder

  • 2013

    Young Investigator Award of the European Brain and Behaviour Society

  • 2012-2017

    Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig

  • 2011

    License as Psychotherapist

  • 2009-2011

    Post-Doctoral researcher at the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim

  • 2008

    Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society

  • 2008

    PhD at the University of Leipzig (Dr. rer. nat.)

  • 2003-2004

    Study of Cognitive Neuroscience/Psychology at the University of Oregon (M.Sc.) funded by Fulbright

  • 1999-2005

    Study of Psychology at Dresden University of Technology (Dipl.-Psych.) funded by evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst

Featured Publication

Dissecting the Social Brain: Empathy, Compassion and Theory of Mind

Dissecting the Social Brain: Empathy, Compassion and Theory of Mind

Successful social interaction requires that we understand what our conspecifics think and feel. How does the brain accomplish this task that we, effortlessly it seems, perform everyday? In this study we tried to dissect the neural routes that enable the sharing of others’ emotions (empathy) and the reasoning about their thoughts and intentions (Theory of Mind). We presented short video clips to participants in which people talked about emotionally distressing or neutral events from their lives. Brain scans revealed that a specific neural network tracked, how much empathy participants felt, particularly during the distressing stories. Some of these stories were told in a way, that our participants had to infer what the other actually meant. Here, a separate neural network is activated and stronger activation in this network leads to better performance in questions about what the others were thinking. Interestingly, a third set of regions was activated, when participants reported to feel compassion, that is, a caring, warm feeling of loving-kindness, for the suffering of the other, in German maybe ‘Nächstenliebe’. These results show that related social functions are nevertheless separable on a brain level and, possibly need to be trained specifically. Kanske P*, Böckler A*, Trautwein F-M*, Singer T (2015) Dissecting the social brain: Introducing the EmpaToM to reveal distinct neural networks and brain-behavior relations for empathy and Theory of Mind. NeuroImage 122:6-19. *contributed equally


  • Impaired regulation of emotion: Neural correlates of reappraisal and distraction in bipolar disorder and unaffected relatives

    Kanske P, Schönfelder S, Forneck J, Wessa M (2015). Translational Psychiatry 5:e497

  • Neural correlates of emotional distractibility in bipolar disorder, unaffected relatives and individuals with hypomanic personality

    Kanske P, Heissler J, Schönfelder S, Forneck J, Wessa M (2013). American Journal of Psychiatry 170:1487-1496

  • Goal-directed behavior under emotional distraction is preserved by enhanced task-specific activation

    Wessa M, Heissler J, Schönfelder S, Kanske P (2013). Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 8:305-12

  • Neural correlates of emotion regulation deficits in remitted depression: The influence of regulation strategy, habitual regulation use, and emotional valence

    Kanske P, Heissler J, Schönfelder S, Wessa M (2012). NeuroImage 61:686-93

  • How to regulate emotion? Neural networks for reappraisal and distraction

    Kanske P, Heissler J, Schönfelder S, Bongers A, Wessa M (2011). Cerebral Cortex 21:1379-1388

  • Emotion triggers executive attention: anterior cingulate cortex and amygdala responses to emotional words in a conflict task

    Kanske P, Kotz SA (2011). Human Brain Mapping 32:198-208

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