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.