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Professor Jack van Honk PhD (Utrecht) FISN

Social and Clinical Neuroscience

Jack van Honk

Professor of Clinical Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry and Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine  (IDM), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Professor of Social Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Utrecht University (UU), The Netherlands.

Jack van Honk’s research is in the fields of Social and Affective Neuroscience (Human Neuroscience), focusing on the psychobiology of human social-emotional behaviour, with the aim of developing new biological treatments for the psychopathologies of fear and aggression. During his career, he has developed a multidisciplinary set of methodologies which have applied in psychological, psychiatric and neuroscientific research. He was the first researcher worldwide to use both hormonal manipulation and brain stimulation techniques to get direct insight into the psychobiological mechanisms underlying human fear and aggression.

In South Africa, he is project leader on the research into Urbach-Wiethe disease, a rare genetic syndrome (knock-out-of-function mutation of the ECM1 gene), which causes bilateral calcification of the basolateral amygdala, a brain hub in fear and aggression behaviours. He mostly publishes in high-impact international journals such as PNAS, Nature, Neuroimage, Human Brain Mapping, Psychological Science, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Archives of General Psychiatry and Biological Psychiatry.


Selected publications:

van Honk J, Schutter DJ, Bos PA, Kruijt AW, Lentjes EG, Baron-Cohen S. Testosterone administration impairs cognitive empathy in women depending on second-to-fourth digit ratio. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Feb 22;108(8):3448-52.

Bos PA, Terburg D, van Honk J. Testosterone decreases trust in socially naive humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 1;107(22):9991-5

van Honk J, Montoya ER, Bos PA, van Vugt M, Terburg D. New evidence on testosterone and cooperation. Nature. 2012 May 23;485(7399):E4-5; discussion E5-6.

van Honk J, Eisenegger C, Terburg D, Stein DJ, Morgan B. Generous economic investments after basolateral amygdala damage. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Feb 12;110(7):2506-10.

Terburg D, Syal S, Rosenberger LA, Heany S, Phillips N, Gericke N, Stein DJ, van Honk J. Acute effects of Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin), a dual 5-HT reuptake  and PDE4 inhibitor, in the human amygdala and its connection to the hypothalamus. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Dec;38(13):2708-16.


Contact details:

Dept of Psychiatry and Mental Health
University of Cape Town
Groote Schuur Hospital (J-2), Anzio Rd
Observatory 7925
Cape Town, South Africa

Tel: +27 21 404 2174

Heidelberglaan 1
Room 16.18
The Netherlands

Tel: +31 30 253 4281


Alternate sites: http://www.psychiatry.uct.ac.za/psych/staff/overview


Group members/PhD supervision:

UCT Psychiatry:

Sarah Heaney, PhD student

Jorique Fourie, MSc student


UCT Psychology:

Donne van de Westhuizen, PhD student


Utrecht University, Psychology:

David Terburg, Assistant Professor (Honorary Associate Professor, UCT Psychiatry) 

Peter Bos, Assistant Professor 

Estrella Montoya, Assistant Professor 

Ronald Reinders, PhD student (Forensic Psychiatrist)

Isabell Meyer, PhD student



Prof Dan J Stein, UCT Psychiatry

Prof Mark Solms, UCT Psychology

Prof Ron Stroop, University of Lausanne

Prof Christoph Eisenegger, University of Vienna

Prof Simon Baron Cohen, Cambridge University