We examine the basics of disturbed communication in affective disorders and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Our main focus is nonverbal communication, particularly spontaneous movements, gestures, and interpersonal distance. Many patients are misunderstood by their environment due to altered nonverbal behavior. Furthermore, patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders have difficulties interpreting nonverbal information correctly. Jointly, these disturbances impair social interaction, community functioning and cause alienation.
In our studies, we combine modern, descriptive psychopathological methods with objective measurements. Furthermore, we apply behavioral experiments to target gesture behavior, tool use or territorial behaviors. We also try to understand the neural basis of these behavioral alterations. Therefore, we examine patients with EEG, non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (TMS, tDCS) and various MRI techniques. The aim is to develop specific neurostimulation techniques or training programs helping patients to improve everyday functioning.
Another area of research relates to clinical suicide prevention. In contrast to the medical approach to suicidality we have developed a patient-centred treatment model, based on the theory of goal-directed action. Our research is aimed at a better understanding of the psychology of the suicidal mind, including psychological pain, coping strategies, and neuropsychological mechanisms. The ultimate aim is to translate these patient-oriented insights into better and more effective treatments for suicidal patients.