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Third-party-funded project

Modulation of the startle reflex by facial expressions of emotion and cognitive priming in patients with social phobia

Project management at the University of Würzburg:

Participating scientists:

The goal of the research project is to examine the interdependence of cognitive processes and automatic processing of emotional stimuli in patients with social phobia with objective biopsychological methods (e.g. modulation of the startle-reflex). Pilot studies analyzed the modulation of the startle-reflex in healthy controls when they viewed pictures of emotional facial expressions. The first study with patients deals with the modulation of the startle-reflex as a specific indicator for social phobia. Study 2 examines the momentary activation (priming) of cognitive schemata with this indicator. The third study uses this paradigm to analyze the interaction of momentary activated cognitive schemata and the automatic processing of emotional facial expressions. The fourth study is going to test if it is possible to improve approved therapeutic interventions by transferring the results into a practical approach.

Key words:
    Social phobia
    Facial expression

Projekt period: from 04.2004 to 12.2007

Funding institution:
Wirtschaftsunternehmen ( Stipendium der Gottlieb Daimler- und Karl Benz-Stiftung und Eigenmittel )