Research

Psychoneuroendocrinology & Psychotherapy

The focus this research group is primarily on the desire to transfer the findings of neurobiological and neuroendocrinological research into practice, be it through the promotion of psychotherapy processes or the optimization of the effectiveness of psychotherapy procedures. Of particular interest are psychiatric disorders, in which memory processes such as the retrieval and consolidation of disorder-specific memories play an important role in the maintenance of the disorder and its alteration. Since psychotherapy is a learning process, I am particularly interested in how memory processes can be strengthened and modulated. A central aspect of my research activity therefore investigates the influence of stress hormones (especially cortisol) on memory processes, the emotional experience, the development and course of psychiatric illnesses, and their potential benefits for psychotherapy. The focus is primarily on anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders, which are characterized by an increased stress, a dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis and the associated cortisol secretion. Furthermore, in the context of these disorders, the retrieval and re-consolidation of anxiety - or addiction memories  play a key role in maintaining the disorders.

Summarized, the major research interest of this research group has focused on the identification of the neuroendocrinological, neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders and the development of specific psychobiological approaches combining effective psychotherapy methods with synergizing and innovative substance administration (e.g. cortisol) for the treatment of mental disorders.