Former Max Planck Fellow Group Cognitive and Affective Control of Behavioural Adaptation

The flexible adaptation of our behaviour to a constantly changing environment is a core faculty of human existence. But what happens if we lose control?

The loss of control over the execution of certain actions is characteristic for a variety of neuropsychiatric diseases like addiction, eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Investigating mechanisms of such maladaptive behaviours from different perspectives like memory, attention and motivation dysfunction is therefore crucial. It is supposed that disease specific stimuli can acquire excessive salience and may prompt disadvantageous behaviours. Further contributions can come from basal learning mechanisms with altered neuronal value representation, failure of behavioural adaptation despite negative consequences and a shift from goal-directed to habitual behavioural control. Emerging technologies like deep brain stimulation emphasize the need to better describe and understand the neuro-circuitries mediating these maladaptive behaviours. Our research group investigates underlying neuronal mechanisms in healthy controls and various neuropsychiatric patient groups using multimodal imaging methods and computational reinforcement learning models. The influence of neuromodulatory e.g. dopaminergic systems is explored using neurochemical imaging methods and pharmacological challenges. The long term goal of this clinical founded research is the description of common and differential paths of different diseases with impaired cognitive and affective control of behavioural adaptation.


Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charite - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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