Research

Our current research is focused on understanding the etiology and maintenance of anxiety, trauma-related and affective disorders. In a second step, after relevant factors were identified and replicated, we investigate their potency for enhancing cognitive-behavioral treatments of these disorders using randomized controlled intervention studies (RCTs).

For example, by using novel experimental methods such as the "conditioned intrusion paradigm" we are investigating the effects of basic emotion learning and regulation processes relevant to anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder, both in nonclinical and clinical populations. We are interested in a broad understanding of clinical symptoms such as intrusive recollection in posttraumatic stress disorder from a basic emotion and neurocognitive perspective. Measurements include assessment of clinical status by structured clincial interviews, assessment of subjective feelings and symptoms by questionnaires and rating scales, assessment of physiological indicators of stress and emotion using psychophysiological measurement, and assessment of neural processes by fMRI.

Current research topics include:

  • Intrusive recollection after trauma
  • Processes of fear learning and unlearning
  • Effects of avoidance on fear maintenance
  • Sex differences in the etiology of anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Neuroendocrinological underpinnings of the etiology of clinical symptoms (e.g., effects of estrogen on intrusion formation after trauma)
  • Sleep, emotion processing and mental health
  • Physiological markers of stress, anxiety and other emotions and their concordance with experiential and behavioral measures
  • Emotion regulation, incl. emotion suppression and cognitive reappraisal