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Research

This website is currently under construction. For complete information regarding our research projects and laboratories, please visist the German version in the meantime (and use online translation services if needed).

Students and visitors interested to participate in studies: please visit the German version of this site for information.

 

Overview of Research Areas

Psychopathology of Eating Disorders

  • Biopsychological and Neurological Foundations
  • Processes of Attention and Information Processing
  • Emotion Regulation

Psychopathology of Social Anxiety Disorder in Children and Adolescents

  • Self-focused Attention: Measurement and Relationship with Psychopathology
  • Cognitive Features and Psychopathological Parameters

Psychotherapy Research

  • Efficacy and Mechanisms of Action of Treatments for Eating Disorders, Obesity and Certain Anxiety Disorders

 

Research Laboratories

A description of our research facilities is coming soon. In the meantime, please consult the German version of this website.

 

Research Projects with Third-Party Funds

Psychopathology of Eating Disorders

Body dissatisfaction in binge eating disorders: On the influence of cognitive and affective maintenance mechanisms (Svaldi, J. & Tuschen-Caffier, B.)

(grant of the German Research Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)

Body dissatisfaction plays an important role in the onset and maintenance of eating disorders, e.g. binge eating disorder (BED). Empirical studies indicate that body dissatisfaction in BED is strongly associated with biased attentional allocation towards self-disliked body parts. The objectives of our research grant are to examine 1) whether these attentional biases can be modified by a body image treatment, and 2) whether a modification of the attentional biases will lead to a reduction of body dissatisfaction in females with BED. To this end, women with BED will randomly be assigned either to a body image training or to a wait-list control group. Severity of body image distortions as well as attentional processing of body pictures will be assessed before and after the training.

Deficits in emotion-regulation skills as a maintaining factor in binge eating disorder (Svaldi, J. & Wyschka T)

(grant of the German Research Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)

Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent binge eating episodes in the absence of compensatory behavior. Negative emotional states are among the most established antecedents of binge episodes in BED. Therefore, the availability of effective emotion regulation skills should help prevent binge episodes in BED. The primary aim of this two-center-study, which is also taking place in Erlangen under the direction of professor Matthias Berking, is to clarify whether deficits in emotion regulation skills are an important maintaining factor and mechanism of change in BED. We will experimentally vary emotion regulation skills by randomly assigning BED participants either to an emotion regulation skills training or to a wait-list control condition, so that we will be able to clarify, whether deficits in emotion regulation are an important maintaining factor, and, as such, a potential target in the treatment of BED.

Psychopathology of Social Anxiety Disorder in Children and Adolescents

Emotion regulation in social phobia during childhood: The influence of attentional processing and cognitive-behavioral regulation (Schmitz, J. & Tuschen-Caffier, B.)

(grant of the German Research Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)

Social phobia is one of the most prevalent mental disorders during childhood. Despite its high relevance, to date little is known about mechanisms leading to the maintenance of social phobia in this age group. Theoretical models of emotion regulation propose that various processes of emotion regulation are involved in the development and regulation of anxiety, in particular attentional processing of emotional stimuli and cognitive-behavioral regulation. The project will broadly assess emotion regulation through both subjective, and physiological methods (e.g. EEG).  Moreover, experimental as well as naturalistic settings will be used to assess automatic as well as controlled cognitive processes of emotion regulation.

 

Research Projects with Internal Funds

Coping with high-stress in potential traumatic events (PTE): Influence of emotional, cognitive and behavioral regulation processes (Schweizer, T.)

Potentially traumatic events can lead to stress associated disorders in healthy people. In particular peritraumatic emotion and stress regulation are key factors for the development of stress associated disorders such as posttraumatic disorders (PTSD). However, most studies investigated PTSD retrospectively thereby suffering from memory bias. To avoid this problem, the aim of our study is to investigate affective-cognitive processing of stressful stimuli as well as behavior in an analogue trauma emergency in real-time during the stress event. This prospective approach is conducted using a script-driven imagery and a simulation in virtual reality. We aim to identify the adaptive coping mechanisms in high-stress situations related to personality traits or current internal or contextual influences (e.g. stress level, situational demands). Therefore, we will collect both subjective and physiological parameters (e.g. SCL) regarding stress response and regulation as well as behavior and subsequent intrusive memories. Our results may contribute to future development of specific intervention programs for prevention and therapy of PTSD.
 

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