Clinical Research

We study the behavioral and physiological manifestations of social emotions and their implications for applied clinical research. This offers us the opportunity to achieve new insights how the social context impacts cognitions and emotions and their consequences for psychiatric and neurological conditions.  

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

As part of the BMBF-funded, multi-center project (PI: Prof. Kamp-Becker; Philipps-University Marburg) we will examine the acute modulatory effects of oxytocin treatment on higher-order social cognition in adolescents and young adults with high-functioning autism (see http://www.asd-net.de; subproject Leipzig/Lübeck starting in June 2015). The ASD-Net is one out of nine consortia in Germany that has been selected to increase the understanding of psychiatric conditions. In a period of four years the ASD-Net will focus on the establishment of a large clinical and research network focusing on the key challenges in ASD diagnostics, therapy and health economics.

Publications on this topic

Krach S, Kamp-Becker I, Einhäuser W, Sommer J, Frässle S, Jansen A, Rademacher L, Müller-Pinzler L, Gazzola V, Paulus FM (2015): Evidence from pupillometry and fMRI indicates reduced neural response during vicarious social pain but not physical pain in autism. Hum Brain Mapp.

Social Anxiety

Excessive and persistent concerns about the evaluations of others are a hallmark of social anxiety. While many people experience mild forms of social anxiety occasionally, in severe cases the fear of being embarrassed can lead to social withdrawal and depression.

We use social psychology paradigms to investigate genuine experiences of embarrassment, pride, or guilt in healthy participants as well as in (sub-)clinical groups of people with social anxiety or social phobia [“Neural basics, plasticity and regulation of embarrassment in social anxiety”, project funded by the von Behring-Roentgen Stiftung] (Müller-Pinzler et al., 2015).

Publications on this topic

Müller-Pinzler L, Gazzola V, Keysers C, Frässle S, Einhäuser W, Sommer J, Jansen A, Paulus FM & Krach S (2015): Neural pathways of embarrassment and their modulation by social anxiety.  Neuroimage, 119, 252-261

Schizophrenia

The ability to regulate emotions has been shown to be disturbed in schizophrenia. In collaboration with Prof. Lincoln (Department of Clinical Psychology, Hamburg University) we examine the effectiveness of various emotions regulation strategies (e.g. distraction, reappraisal) and their neural correlates in schizophrenia [“Emotion regulation and its neural correlates in the process of transition to psychosis” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)].