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					The University of Zurich



                        A Brief
                        Introduction
Hans Weder, President (2000–31 July 2008)
• Neuroscience Center Zurich

• Foundations of Human Social Behaviour –
  Altruism and Egoism
Background Information
Background Information




1525   A theological college is founded in Zurich by Ulrich Zwingli.

1833   The University of Zurich is the first university in Europe to
       be founded by a democratic state.
Campus Zurich Nord


        Campus
        Irchel




       Main building
Background Information


 • Largest university in Switzerland: 24,000 students
 • Comprehensive university
 • Research university
 • Member of League of European Research
   Universities (LERU)
Background Information


LERU is an association of 20 of the best research
universities in Europe

Examples:

 • University of Amsterdam
 • University of Cambridge
 • University of Oxford
Background Information


Nobel prize winners
 • Rolf M. Zinkernagel (Medicine, 1996)
 • Karl Alex Müller (Physics, 1987)
 • Walter Rudolf Hess (Medicine, 1949)
 • Paul Karrer (Chemistry, 1937)
 • Alfred Werner (Chemistry, 1913)
Neuroscience
Center Zurich
Neuroscience Center Zurich


 • Basic research
 • Clinical research
 • Neurotechnology
Neuroscience Center Zurich


Martin Schwab, scientific director:
“The medical need in this field is tremendous. Our
understanding of the diseases of the brain is still very
limited. This applies to neurological and even more to
psychiatric diseases. What happens when the brain is
attacked by Alzheimer or MS? With an aging
population, the need increases considerably to better
understand these diseases. Neurological diseases
often destroy the human being at his or her core; they
can alter your personality. There is an absolute urgency
to find better therapies. This is the motivation that
drives many of us.”
Neuroscience Center Zurich


 • circa 100 research groups
 • circa 450 scientists
 • International reputation in e.g.
    • Spinal cord repair
    • Alzheimer’s
 • 2001: Official National Center of Competence in
   Research for Neuroscience in Switzerland
Neuroscience Center Zurich


Basic (or experimental) research in neurobiology
Some topics:
 • Genesis, development and regeneration of the
   nervous system
 • Origin and transduction of signals in the nervous
   system, in particular at the connections between the
   nerve cells
Neuroscience Center Zurich


Example: spinal cord injury
 • After spinal cord injury damaged nerve fibres do not
   regenerate
 • Isolation of proteins in central nervous system which
   inhibit the regeneration of nerve fibres
 • Potent inhibitor: “Nogo-A”
 • Antibodies that neutralise the inhibitory action of
   Nogo-A
 • Tested in cell culture experiments and animal
   models
 • Restoration of functions can be observed
Neuroscience Center Zurich


Clinical research
 • Diagnostic methods
 • Therapies
 • Rehabilitation
Examples:
 • Diagnosis and therapy for Alzheimer’s
 • Treatments for stroke
 • Rehabilitation for patients with spinal cord injury
Neuroscience Center Zurich


Neurotechnology




Robotic hand with biologically-inspired learning mechanism
Foundations of Human Social Behaviour –
Altruism and Egoism
Altruism and Egoism
Projekte
                      Perspective of
                       Philosophy



Perspective of                         Perspective of
                         Altruism
Psychobiology                           Economics
                         Egoism




                      Perspective of
                      neuroscience
Altruism and Egoism


From philosophy:
 • What is genuinely altruistic behaviour?
 • Important: a person’s motives for his or her behaviour
      (Peacock, Schefczyk & Schaber, 2005, Analyse & Kritik)



From economics:
 • To what extent is checking and controlling people
   counterproductive?
 • “The Hidden Costs of Control”
 • Strict control  atmosphere of mistrust at work
      (Falk and Kosfeld, 2006, American Economic Review)
Altruism and Egoism


From psychobiology:
 • Kosfeld et al., 2006, Nature
 • Biological basis of trust in humans
 • In non-human mammals oxytocin (neuropeptide) 
   key role in social attachment and affiliation
 • Hypothesis: Oxytocin may promote prosocial
   behaviours such as trust in humans
Altruism and Egoism


 • Study design:

 Trusting behaviour of group that received intranasal
                  dose of oxytocin
                        versus
  Trusting behaviour of control group that received
                       placebo

 • Subjects: 194 healthy male students
 Altruism and Egoism

                          Trust Experiment
„Oxytocin und Vetrauen“
       Investor                                     Trustee
                                     x3

        Transfer
                                                    Back transfer
   (0,4, 8 or 12 units)                          (between 0 and max.)




Example: Investor transfers 12 units  Trustee has 36 + 12 = 48 units
Trustee transfers back 24 units  Both players double their income
 Altruism and Egoism
„Oxytocin und Vertrauen“
                                                    Placebo group       Oxytocin group

                               0.50
                               0.45
                               0.40
          Relative frequency




                               0.35
                               0.30
                               0.25
                               0.20
                               0.15
                               0.10
                               0.05
                               0.00
                                      0   1   2     3    4    5     6    7    8    9     10   11   12
                                              Individual investor's average transfer (MUs)
                                                            Trust experiment


Kosfeld, Heinrichs, Zak, Fischbacher & Fehr, 2005, Nature
Altruism and Egoism


 Applications:
 • Patients with certain mental disorders e.g.
   • Social phobia
   • Autism
 •  Major public health significance
Life Science Center Zurich




Finance and Financial Markets
Thank you.

				
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