Infant studies


Self-Regulation and Emotional Intelligence in Adolescents and Young Adults in Prison, a Crosscultural Study


This study examines the association between anxiety disorders in children and genetic factors as well as the genetic influence on the effects of a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in cooperation with the King’s College in London (Dr. Thalia Eley).


ESS-KIMO "ESS-Kimo-an internet-based program for women with eating disorder"
ESS-KIMO is an internet-based program for women with bulimia or anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders from this spectrum in cooperation with the University of Osnabrück (Prof. Dr. Silja Vocks), which supports to clarify the eating disorder and by that helps to increase motivation to change.


Exploring gene-environment interactions in psychotherapy: Are genetically coded differences in children's response to therapy mediated by environmental sensitivity?

At the crossroads of psychology and genetics, a wealth of gene-environment interaction (G x E) and correlation (rGE) studies have been conducted over the past decade. We aim to take this line of research one step further
by conducting a G x E experiment.

In a two-center RCT study, 150 children with the diagnosis of specific phobia will be recruited in the United States (Virginia) and Germany (Bochum), will be genotyped, and will undergo cognitive-behavioral treatment for specific phobia.

Primary question is whether genetically coded differences in response to cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) are mediated by differences in environmental sensitivity. Fear extinction, a key mechanism in CBT, requires the capacity to detect and react to changes in environmental contingencies. Thus, high environmental sensitivity should promote extinction learning in CBT and, consequently, resilience to relapse. We aim to explore the potential of 'therapygenetics' (Eley et al. 2011) to reduce relapse in anxiety-disordered children and to move CBT toward individually tailored treatments.


The role of depressive rumination for early mother-infant interactions (supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)

Depressive rumination is considered an important vulnerability factor for the development and maintenance of depressive disorders. Yet, there is very limited knowledge about the role of rumination for postpartal depression and early mother-infant interactions. In a prospective longitudinal study including four assessments (two pre- and two postnatal), the influence of rumination on maternal well-being as well as on interaction behaviors of mothers and infants will be examined. Using self-reports of (expectant) mothers (all four assessments) it will be assessed to what extent ruminative thinking is associated with the maintenance and aggravation of peri- and postnatal depression as well as self-reported impairments in the mother-infant relationship. Using observational measures (last assessment) it will be tested to what extent habitual rumination predicts maternal contingency in mother-infant interactions as well as emotional reactions of infants to an interruption of a face-to-face interaction with their mothers. It is expected that pre- and postnatal rumination predicts self-reported maternal depression and impacts both on maternal as well as infant interactive behaviours.

The influence of sleep on declarative memory in the first year of life (supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)

In adults, it is well established that sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation. Benefits of sleep for memory processing include, for example, the strengthening of existing memories, facilitation of new insights into previously encountered problems, and promotion of knowledge transfer. However, due to the lack of conclusive experimental evidence, it is currently unknown at what point during ontogeny sleep starts to benefit specific memory processes. In two deferred imitation experiments with 6- and 12-month-old infants, the influence of sleep on three fundamental aspects of declarative memory will be investigated: retention of a learning event, flexibility of memory retrieval, and abstraction of knowledge. To assess the effect of sleep on memory, a learning event and a test session will be scheduled around infants’ natural sleep patterns such that some infants will sleep shortly after learning and some infants will not sleep within four hours after the learning event. It is expected that sleep will facilitate all three aspects of declarative memory. Furthermore, we expect
the effect of sleep on memory to be stronger in 12-month-old infants in comparison to 6-month-old infants due to the rapidly maturing sleep architecture during early infancy.