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Deficits in social interaction are common problems across many mental disorders. This talk will explore the underlying emotional and cognitive processes and their interaction, such as emotion regulation, empathy and mentalizing. A thorough understanding of these mechanisms and their neural implementation allows characterizing the specific deficit profiles of different disorders and the refinement of etiological models. In the long run, this could help us to diagnose earlier and more specifically - and then intervene preventively.  I will conclude with data demonstrating that we can indeed boost very specific socio-affective and -cognitive functions by targeted mental training.