kinship lab

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Evolutionary theory and behavioral biology suggest that kinship is an organising principle of social behavior. The ability to recognise kin and the adjustment of behavior based on kin preference is key to altruism, attachment theory and mate selection. Despite the fundamental importance of kinship, the underlying neural mechanisms are not understood. Our goal is to determine how the brain mediates kinship and attachment behavior using tools of systems and cellular neuroscience.


The lab will be starting up soon and opening doors in the fall of 2020 at the University of Edinburgh with support from the Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain. Interested applicants should inquire, see positions.

We are now taking applications and inquiries for a fully funded PhD position with a flexible start date. See more info about the position here.


Our work is focused on understanding the sensory and circuit mechanisms at play in social interactions from an ethological perspective. We focus on the stages of social-sensory processing beginning with recognition and ending with social attachment. In between, we hope to disentangle both innate and learned aspects of kinship social behavior by probing and observing the dynamics of the underlying neural circuits.

We use a variety of techniques to achieve these goals: in vivo and in vitro extracellular and whole-cell patch clamp recordings; large-scale multi-area electrophysiology and imaging with freely-moving behavior; viral mediated connectivity and functional analyses; anatomical and histochemical analysis of functionally characterised neurons. We also have an interest in cross-disciplinary collaborations in the fields of evolutionary biology and psychology.


Ann Clemens
principal investigator
Gamze Güney
student assistant
Lorena Jiménez Sánchez
PhD student


Feel free to get in touch if you have an interest in applying quantitative methods to study the neural mechanisms of natural social behaviors. We are recruiting highly motivated, curious and collegial candidates for postdoc and student* positions, potentially starting from fall of 2020 and on. Interested individuals with interdisciplinary backgrounds ranging from, but not limited to: mathematics, physics, computer science to biology, psychology, neuroscience are all encouraged to inquire. 

*see information for students


Ann Clemens, PhD: aclemens AT

© 2020 Ann Clemens