Anxiety Disorders, Affective Disorders, Dementias; Genetics, Epigenetics and Gene-Environment Interactions; Prevention, Early diagnosis, Innovative and Individualized Therapies.
We study the effect of social interactions and social motives (e.g., empathy) on neural decision circuitries, learning and clinically relevant processes such as fear and pain. Ultimately, our research aims to inspire methods for the diagnosis and therapy of psychological disorders, e.g., from the anxiety disorder spectrum. We use a range of methods including brain imaging, computational modeling (learning models, drift diffusion modeling (DDM)), ecological momentary assessments (EMA) and behavioral experiments.
The department of molecular psychiatry concentrates on disorders of brain development, cognitive and emotional disorders. As a consequence, psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases may develop. We also study molecular translational aspects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome and autism spectrum disorders.
One area of our research is the investigation of the neurobiological basis of anxiety disorders. For this, we use functional imaging and psychophysiological approaches. Another area of research is the development of dementia from a neuropsychological perspective. Here we also use near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). A third area uses non-invasive brain stimulation to modulate psychotherapeutic processes and thus increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Molecular mechanisms of emotionality, e.g. epigenetic programming, gene x environment interactions; Neural plasticity with focus on the role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis and neuromorphology in various limbic brain regions in animal models of anxiety, depression and neurodegenerative disorders; Etiopathogenetic mechanisms of neurodegenerative disorders such as the sporadic Alzheimer`s diseas.
PD Dr. biol. hum. Heike Weber
Molecular genetics of anxiety disorders, ADHD and bipolar disorder. Identification of new genetic risk factors and their impact on a psychiatric phenotype, with the aim of gaining new perspectives in the development of more effective therapeutic approaches.