Cognitive Neurogenetics


In the "Cognitive Neurogenetics" group, headed by Dr. Sofie Valk, we study how brain structure and function are shaped by innate and environmental factors. Cortical brain regions are spatially organized across the cortical mantle in a way that reflects both their function and genetic make-up, and the location tells us something about the evolutionary history of that area. The unique layout of the human brain gives rise to complex functions such as social behavior and imagination. Importantly, environmental factors, such as sleep, stress, or social interaction shape the brain as well.

Research Topics

Our research centers around three main themes:

  1. Large-scale brain organization

    Recent advances in system neuroscience have enabled the study of connectome organization through unsupervised manifold learning techniques, which project whole-brain data into a lower dimensional space governed by connectivity. In healthy individuals, these techniques have gained significant traction to study large- scale principles of functional and microstructural neuroimaging data. Here we study such organizational axis, to further uncover the innate architecture of the brain.

  2. Evolution and development

    To understand what factors shape the organization of the human brain we study its evolution and development using both human and non-human primate data. Here we compare patterns of large-scale organization across species and developmental time-windows. In addition, we investigate imbalances in structure and functional organization in neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular by studying individuals with autism spectrum disorder in cooperation with the mica lab in Montreal.

  3. Behavior-brain-body interactions
    This theme evaluated the relationship between brain and behavior. On the one hand we study how effects of health-related (bodily) measures shape brain structure and function and what underlies these effects (neuronal vs. non-neuronal contributions). On the other hand, we study the association between mind and brain, such as the relationship between personality and brain structure and function, as well as the interrelation between mind, brain and body.

To examine such complex interactions, we build multivariate approaches to interlink and dissociate various marker of brain, body, and behavior. Longitudinal designs help to further uncover the causal factors modulating such relationships.

Dr. Sofie Valk heads this group both in the Otto Hahn Group at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and at INM-7.


Sofie Valk


Building 15.2v / Room 208

+49 2461/61-2975


Group Members

Sofie ValkBuilding 15.2v / Room 208+49 2461/61-2975
M.Sc. Şeyma BayrakBuilding 14.6y +49 2461/61-9004
Benjamin HaenischNoneBuilding 14.6y / Room 2039+49 2461/61-2975
Meike HettwerBuilding 15.2 / Room 208+49 2461/61-8785
Neville MagielseBuilding 15.2v / Room 234+49 2461/61-8785
Lina SchaareBuilding 15.2v / Room 234+49 2461/61-8785
Bin WanBuilding 15.2v / Room 234+49 2461/61-8785
Amin SaberiPhD StudentBuilding 14.6y / Room 3038+49 2461/61-96091
Important Publications

Currently there are no publications listed.

Last Modified: 17.05.2023