Human Behavior Laboratory

Human Behavior Laboratory

In the Human Behavior Laboratory, we simulate real-world scenarios to improve our understanding of and ability to predict human behavior. We use virtual reality to put people in relevant situations. In these situations, we observe the real-world behavior of our study participants and analyze it using behavior tracking.

What does this look like in practice?

Among other things, our laboratory has developed a version of the Elevated-Plus Maze (EPM) suitable for behavioral testing of humans. The EPM is the most frequently used test to study fear behavior in rodents. It represents a classic approach-avoidance conflict requiring a choice between a safe and an unsafe/fearful area. While curiosity and sensation-seeking favor exploration of the unsafe area, feelings of anxiety lead to remaining in the safe area.


Grafik 1: a. Bird's-eye view of the human EPM with data on subjective anxiety of subjects on a scale of 0 (none) and 9 (maximum imaginable anxiety). b. Schematic representation of the EPM in humans compared to the EPM in mice (c.).

What other studies are conducted?

Besides, we develop and validate other behavioral tests and conduct experimental studies to investigate, for example, the effect of sex hormones or certain behaviors (such as doing endurance sports) on human behavior.

Since our methods and our used devices are mobile, we also apply them in prisons and study the behavior of offenders there.

Selected publications

  • Biedermann, S. V., Biedermann, D. G., Wenzlaff, F., Kurjak, T., Nouri, S., Auer, M. K., ... & Fuss, J. (2017). An elevated plus-maze in mixed reality for studying human anxiety-related behavior. BMC biology, 15(1), 1-13.
  • Siebers, M., Biedermann, S. V., Bindila, L., Lutz, B., & Fuss, J. (2021). Exercise-induced euphoria and anxiolysis do not depend on endogenous opioids in humans. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 126, 105173.
  • Nouri, S., Biedermann, S. V., Joue, G., Auer, M. K., Sommer, T., & Fuss, J. (2022). Effects of circulating estradiol on physiological, behavioural, and subjective correlates of anxiety: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 138, 105682.


Prof. Dr. med. Johannes Fuß