No Health without Mental Health: European Clinical Psychology Takes Responsibility
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Shortcut: PS-01
Date: Friday, 1 November, 2019, 1:00 p.m.
Room: Foyer
Session type: Poster


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Pathological use of the Internet and video games among primary school children - longitudinal research report. (#131)

A. E. Felinska1, I. A. Grzegorzewska2

1 School complex, primary School with Integration Branches, Zielona Gora, Poland
2 University of Zielona Góra, the Institute of Psychology, Zielona Góra, Poland

Structured Abstract

The paper will be devoted to the pathological use of the Internet and video games by children. It will present a report on longitudinal own research on biological, mental and social determinants of the use of digital games and the Internet by children between 8 and 12 years old in Zielona Góra (Poland).

The research focused on multifactor recognition of the conditions of the problematic use of video games, in line with the developmental psychopathology approach. The basis of the research model is the thesis that the final developmental effect observed in children and adolescents (ie the development of the disorder) is the result of mutual interaction between the distal (subjective) factors of the individual and its social development context in the transaction with the level of past and current development tasks. The research was an attempt to get answers to the questions about the trajectories of using the Internet and video games, the direction of the relationship between video games problematic use and externalization/internalization problems, as well as what factors exacerbate the problematic use of Internet and video games by children, and what protect against him?

Keywords: problematic video games use, children, longitudinal research report, protective/risk factors

The influence of emotional eating on binge eating and high-fat food intake in young adults (#15)

T. Escrivá-Martínez1, M. Rodríguez-Arias2, R. M. Baños3

1 Universitat de València, Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, Valencia, Spain
2 Universitat de València, Psychobiology, Valencia, Spain
3 Universitat de València, Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, Valencia, Spain

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction:There is a high prevalence of high-fat food intake and binge eating in young population. Faced with the undesirable health consequences of these behaviors, an important question is why some people are not able to resist these behaviors. One variable that could influence these patterns is emotional eating. The objective is to explore the differences in emotional eating among four groups of participants, depending on the presence or not of binge eating and the intake or not of high-fat food: 1) binge eating + fatty food (BF); 2) only binge eating (B); 3) only fatty food (F), 4) absence of both (A).

Methods:The sample consisted of 133 participants (age between 18 and 30 years, M = 21.05, SD = 2.82, 70.5% women) who completed the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ), the Binge Eating Scale (BES), and the Scale Fat Questionnaire (SFQ). A one-way ANOVA test was conducted to explore the differences in emotional eating between the four conditions.  

Results:Statistically significant differences were found between the four conditions in emotional eating [F (3,129) = 35.28; p<0.00, h2 = .451]. Post-hoc tests showed statistically significant differences in emotional eating between the BF group (M = 34.63, SD = 9.90, N = 38) and group F (M = 19.75, SD = 6.09, N = 24) (p<0.001); between group F and group B (M = 33.86, SD = 11.69, N = 28) (p<0.001); between group BF and group A (M = 18.49, SD = 5.85, N = 43) (p<0.001); and between group B and group A (M = 18.49, SD = 5.85, N = 43) (p<0.001). A large effect size is obtained in the four comparisons.

Conclusions:Young people with higher scores on binge eating and high-fat diet score higher on emotional eating than those with low scores. This suggests that emotional eating may increase vulnerability to these behaviors. A more detailed evaluation is needed to analyse in real time the relationship between these patterns with emotional eating, and to evaluate the consequences of emotional intake on these behaviors.

Keywords: emotional eating, binge eating, fat food intake, young adults

The power of self-compassion – investigating physical appearance perfectionism as a risk factor for disordered eating and the protective role of self-compassion in female university students. (#27)

L. Bergunde1, B. Dritschel1

1 University of St Andrews, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, St Andrews, United Kingdom

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: Being perfectionistic, both in general and more recently regarding one’s physical appearance, has been implicated as a risk factor for disordered eating. Conversely, self-compassion, the tendency to treat oneself kindly during distress, has been linked to reduced eating pathology. This study aimed to increase understanding of physical-appearance-perfectionism as a risk factor for eating pathology using a modified measure as well as extend previous research on protective factors by investigating self-compassion as a moderator of the relationship between both general and physical-appearance-perfectionism and disordered eating.

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey assessed general perfectionism, physical-appearance-perfectionism, disordered eating symptoms, self-compassion and negative affect in female UK university students (N=436) recruited via opportunity sampling.

Results: Results showed physical-appearance-perfectionism explained variance (15%) in disordered eating symptoms above general perfectionism and negative affect. Both perfectionistic concerns about and striving for appearance perfection were significant unique predictors of disordered eating. Self-compassion moderated the relationship between both perfectionistic concerns and strivings of physical-appearance-perfectionism, but not general perfectionism, and disordered eating.

Conclusions: This study suggests both perfectionistic concerns about and strivings for appearance perfection represent risk factors for disordered eating among university females. Furthermore, findings indicate self-compassion may help protect against the greater disordered eating which coincides with greater physical-appearance-perfectionism. Despite cross-sectional self-reported data restricting ability to draw causal conclusions, findings highlight the potential utility of self-compassion in disordered eating prevention.

Keywords: Perfectionism, Physical appearance perfectionism, Disordered eating, Self-compassion

Intranasal Oxytocin and Neural Activation of Social Affect and Cognition in High-Functioning Autism (#62)

A. V. Mayer1, F. M. Paulus1, A. - K. Wermter2, S. Stroth2, I. Kamp-Becker2, K. Preckel3, P. Kanske4, S. Krach1

1 Lübeck University, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Lübeck, Germany
2 Philipps University of Marburg, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, Marburg, Germany
3 Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
4 Technische Universität Dresden, Institute for Clinical Psychololgy and Psychotherapy, Dresden, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: Evidence suggests that intranasal application of the neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) facilitates empathy, Theory of Mind and emotion recognition, which are often impaired in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). OXT is therefore considered as potentially beneficial in the treatment of ASD, even though the neural mechanisms underlying these effects are still poorly understood. 

Methods: We examined 25 male participants with a diagnosis of high-functioning ASD using a double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled fMRI protocol. We employed 3 experiments that varied in the complexity of included social information: (1) physical pain empathy, (2) basic emotion recognition, showing facial stimuli displaying emotional expressions, and (3) social pain empathy, showing complex social scenarios.

Results: After OXT administration, participants differentiated less between painful and non-painful scenarios and different emotional expressions than after placebo. OXT also increased amygdala responses during the physical pain experiment, regardless of whether the shown scene was painful or not. Notably, OXT did not modulate brain signals during the other tasks.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that OXT administration does not substantially alter brain activity during tasks requiring an understanding of others’ internal states in individuals with ASD, especially in tasks that involve more complex and subtle cues of social information. However, since recent evidence indicates that OXT may have effects on other social-cognitive processes mediated by dopaminergic meso-cortico-limbic pathways, we will investigate OXT effects on social and monetary reward anticipation in an independent sample of adult ASD patients.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorders, social cognition, oxytocin, fMRI

Belief updating about the self and others in a social context (#66)

N. Czekalla1, S. Krach1, F. M. Paulus1, L. Müller-Pinzler1

1 University Clinic Lübeck, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

To navigate in a complex social environment, we constantly need to integrate information we receive about ourselves or other people and update our beliefs accordingly. Many studies showed that self-related belief updating occurs with a self-beneficial bias overweighting the positive prediction errors. In these studies however, feedback was given regarding unchangeable aspects of the self (e.g. personality). In the current study, we assessed how individuals processed self and other–related performance feedback in an online performance context in the MRI (learning of own performance [LOOP] task), eliciting improvement motivation. During the LOOP task the participant and a confederate outside the MRI were able to mutually observe the own and the other person’s performance feedback allowing us to test for specific effects of self- vs other-related belief updating. Participants were repeatedly asked to rate their self- or other-related performance expectation followed by an estimation question. The following feedback was manipulated in a way that it implied a high ability in one and a low ability in the other estimation domain so that participants learned about their own and the other person’s estimation skills over time. Performance expectation ratings were modeled in a Rescorla-Wagner model separately for self vs. other and negative vs. positive prediction. In contrast to classical belief updating studies, our results suggest that self-related belief updating in an active performance context is not positively but rather negatively biased. Decreased activity in the ventral striatum specifically for negative self-related prediction errors underlines the specific feature of negative feedback for performance improvement since it signals where improvement is needed. A relationship between a negative updating bias and a low general self-esteem gives first hints for relevance of belief updating in the context of depression.


Keywords: belief-updating, social learning, Rescorla-Wagner model, low self-esteem

The role of harassment and group cohesion for depressive and anxiety symptoms: A cross sectional study in military personnel (#72)

S. Thomas1, K. V. Hummel1, J. Schäfer1, H. U. Wittchen1, S. Trautmann2, 1

1 Technische Universität Dresden, Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Dresden, Germany
2 Medical School Hamburg, Deparment of Psychology, Hamburg, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction. Group cohesion is seen as a construct with beneficial effects on the mental health of group members. However, this association might vary depending on whether group cohesion is measured as personal relationship to the group or as perception of the group as a whole. In the latter case, the association might be reduced if group members are exposed to negative interpersonal treatment, such as harassment.

Methods. We examined the interaction between perceived group cohesion (in relation to the group as a whole) and perceived harassment (in relation to the individual participant) on depressive and anxiety symptoms. Twelve months following deployment to Afghanistan, 1483 soldiers rated harassment and cohesion within their units during the time of deployment and reported on anxiety and depressive symptoms in the past seven days.

Results. Higher perceived group cohesion was overall negatively related to anxiety (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = [0.36, 0.63]) and depressive symptoms (OR = 0.36, 95% CI = [0.25, 0.52]). However, with increasing reported harassment, the association between higher perceived group cohesion and reduction in anxiety (OR = 1.57, 95% CI = [1.19, 2.06]) and depressive symptoms (OR = 1.37, 95% CI = [1.09, 1.73]) decreased.

Conclusions. The negative association between the degree of internalising symptoms and higher perceived group cohesion is in line with existing findings. However, our results also show that individuals who are exposed to higher levels of harassment benefit less from perceived group cohesion. Unjust interpersonal treatment such as harassment could signal to an individual that he or she is not seen as a full status member of the group. This could limit an individual’s ability to benefit from the potential resources of a group, such as cohesion. Instead of interventions that target group cohesion as a whole, individuals could benefit from approaches that address specific, interactional problems.

Keywords: cohesion, harassment, social identity, interactional justice

Investigating the neural bases of age-related changes in social affect and cognition (#79)

J. Stietz1, M. Kurtz1, S. - C. Li2, A. Reiter2, 3, P. Kanske1, 4

1 Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Saxony, Germany
2 Lifespan Developmental Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Saxony, Germany
3 Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, United Kingdom
4 Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany, Leipzig, Saxony, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction The effects of aging on Theory of Mind (ToM) and empathy have been thoroughly investigated. While the majority of studies indicate a decline in ToM performance in old age, empathy seems to remain stable or even to elevate. However, the neural bases underlying these changes are not well understood yet.


Methods We collected data from 40 young (age: 18-35) and 40 older adults (age: 65-85). Participants performed a video-based social interaction task (EmpaToM) in a 3T-MRI scanner. The task enables measuring empathy as the sharing of a narrators emotions and ToM via responses to questions about the thoughts of the narrator.


Results ToM performance and experienced empathy will be analysed for the two age groups. In a first step, we aim at replicating the previously found behavioural effects of impaired ToM, but intact empathy in older adults in our sample. Secondly, we will examine age-related changes in neural activity and connectivity within the neural networks associated with empathy and ToM, including the temporoparietal junction, superior temporal sulcus and medial prefrontal cortex for ToM and anterior insula as well as dorsal anterior cingulate cortex for empathy.


Conclusion Our results, will add to our understanding of how social affect and cognition change across the lifespan. Specifically, the neural mechanisms underlying these changes will be elucidated, which will enable the study of pathological aging and could help identify ways to intervene therapeutically.

Keywords: Theory of Mind, Empathy, Ageing, fMRI

Speechless after trauma: reduced gray matter volume in left hemispheric regions as predictors for posttraumatic stress disorder (#97)

J. C. Cwik1, 3, N. Vahle2, M. L. Woud3, D. Potthoff4, H. Kessler3, G. Sartory5, R. J. Seitz4

1 University of Cologne, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Köln, Germany
2 University Witten/Herdecke, Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy, Witten/Herdecke, Germany
3 Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Mental Health Research and Treatment Center, Bochum, Germany
4 Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Center for Neurology and Neuropsychiatry, Department of Neurology, Düsseldorf, Germany
5 Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, School of Human and Social Sciences,, Wuppertal, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The concept of acute stress disorder (ASD) was introduced as a diagnostic entity to improve the identification of traumatized people who are likely to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Neuroanatomical models suggest that changes in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus play a role in the development of PTSD.

METHODS: Using voxel-based morphometry, this study aimed to investigate the predictive power of gray matter volume (GMV) alterations for developing PTSD. The GMVs of ASD patients (n= 21) were compared to those of PTSD patients (n= 17) and healthy controls (n= 18) in whole-brain and region-of-interest analyses. The GMV alterations seen in ASD patients shortly after the traumatic event (T1) were also correlated with PTSD symptom severity and symptom clusters four weeks later (T2).

RESULTS: Compared with healthy controls, the ASD patients had significantly reduced GMV in the left visual cortex shortly after the traumatic event (T1) and in the left occipital and prefrontal regions four weeks later (T2); no significant differences in GMV were seen between the ASD and PTSD patients. Furthermore, a significant negative association was found between the GMV reduction in the left lateral temporal regions seen after the traumatic event (T1) and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms four weeks later (T2). Neither amygdala nor hippocampus alterations were predictive for the development of PTSD.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that gray matter deficiencies in the left hemispheric occipital and temporal regions in ASD patients may predict a liability for developing PTSD.

Keywords: Acute stress disorder, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Voxel-based morphometry, Left hemispheric

The impact of interacting strategies of emotion regulation on paranoid thoughts (#98)

M. Wittkamp1, J. Sundag2, L. Ascone Michelis2, T. Lincoln1

1 University of Hamburg, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Department of Psychology, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
2 University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: There is strong evidence that negative affect precedes paranoid thoughts. Whether difficulties in explicit emotion regulation account for this association, however, is still a subject of debate. So far, research has focused solely on correlations between individual regulation strategies and paranoid thoughts. According to the emotion regulation model by Berking (2014), however, only the interplay between various strategies enables adaptive coping with emotions. Specifically, the model postulates that successful modification or acceptance/tolerance of emotional states require an adequate comprehension (awareness, labelling, understanding) of emotions and sufficient self-support. We therefore hypothesized that the association between paranoid thoughts and modification or acceptance/tolerance is moderated by comprehension and self-support.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study-design, we investigated interaction effects via multiple regression analyses. In order to cover the full continuum of paranoid thoughts, we used data from people diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, from a high-risk sample and from healthy control participants (N = 125) who were recruited as part of a larger project. Participants were asked to complete the Paranoia Checklist and the Emotion Specific Regulation Skills Questionnaire.

Results: Results revealed a significant association between modification and paranoid thoughts, but this association was not moderated by comprehension or self-support. However, better comprehension strengthened the negative relationship between acceptance/tolerance and paranoid thoughts and self-support compensated for insufficient acceptance/tolerance.

Conclusions: The results point towards the importance of taking into account the interactive relationships between different aspects of emotion regulation on paranoid thoughts. Their exact mechanisms should further be investigated in longitudinal studies.

Keywords: Emotion Regulation, Paranoia

Relationship between metacognition of reversal learning and interoception, anxiety, and depression (#108)

Y. Kunisato1, 2

1 Senshu University, Kawasaki, Japan
2 University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Structured Poster Abstract


Previous studies have revealed a relationship between interoceptive awareness, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, interoceptive awareness has been characterized as metacognition. Metacognition can be divided into metacognition of the external environment (metacognition measured by cognitive task) and metacognition of the internal environment (interoceptive awareness). The present study examines the relationship between metacognition, interoceptive awareness, anxiety, and depression.


Two hundred twelve participants (102 men, 109 women, and 1 intersex) from Japanese crowdsourcing services completed questionnaires and a metacognitive reversal learning task in exchange for 440 yen. All participants were Japanese and their average age was 39.05 years. The metacognitive reversal learning task was developed by adding a metacognitive component (Fleming et al., 2012) to a reversal learning task (Chamberlain et al., 2006). Participants were required to learn a relation stimulus and outcome, and evaluate their confidence of their decision. Six metacognitive indices and two parameters of the reinforcement learning model were obtained from this task. The following questionnaires were administered: the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9.


The present study found that the six metacognitive indexes did not significantly correlate with depression, anxiety, or interoception. The computational parameters of the Q learning model also did not significantly correlate with depression, anxiety, or interoception. All subscales of interoceptive awareness significantly correlated with anxiety. Excluding emotional awareness and body listening, interoceptive awareness significantly correlated with depression.


Anxiety and depression may relate to metacognition of the internal environment but not the external environment.

Keywords: depression, anxiety, meta-cognition, interoception

Stress exposure, stress vulnerability, and resilience in older adults with a history of childhood trauma (#114)

C. M. Eising1, 2, 3, J. Höltge1, 2, 3, A. Maercker1, 2, 3, M. V. Thoma1, 2, 3

1 University Zürich, Psychopathology and Clinical Intervention, Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
2 University Zürich, University Research Priority Program “Dynamics of Healthy Aging”, , Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
3 University Zürich, International Max Planck Research School on Life Course, Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: Exposure to childhood trauma (CT) is not only linked to an increased likelihood for future stress exposures (cumulative disadvantage hypothesis, CDH), but also to an increased vulnerability to stress. However, not all individuals with a history of CT go on to experience more stressful events, or express heightened stress vulnerability. This might be explained by the steeling effect theory, which states that a certain exposure to adversity may foster the development of beneficial personality attributes, such as trait-resilience. These potential developments in response to CT have rarely been examined from a long-term perspective. Hence, the aim of this study was to examine the long-term consequences of CT on stress exposure and stress vulnerability and to determine the impact of resilience in older adults.

Methods: A total of N = 242 individuals (M age= 67.61 years; 74% female) were assessed twice with the use of an online survey. Childhood adversity, objective and perceived stress markers, and trait-resilience were examined using standardized instruments.

Results: Individuals with more severe CT were generally exposed to more stressful life events in older age (r=.19, p<.005). Polynomial regression analysis revealed a quadratic relationship between CT and stress vulnerability (p<.005, R2= .076). Higher resilience was associated with lower levels of perceived stress irrespective of CT history (p< .005, R2= .119).

Conclusions: Findings are in support of the CDH, suggesting that higher exposure to CT also leads to more objective and perceived stress in later life. In accordance with the steeling effect theory, only moderate as compared to low and high levels of exposure to CT dampens stress vulnerability in later life. Lastly, study results suggest a buffering role of resilience on stress vulnerability in older individuals.

Keywords: stress exposure, stress vulnerability, resilience, older adults

Self-esteem regulation mechanisms in narcissistic personality disorder (#124)

M. Dolczewski1, E. Soroko1

1 Adam Mickiewicz University, Institute of Psychology, Poznań, Poland

Structured Poster Abstract

Self-esteem is considered a factor strongly connected with narcissism and, in some theories, a core feature of narcissistic personality disorder. It is manifested in diagnostic criteria of DSM-5 and ICD-10 with a terms like „grandiose sense of self-importance” or „believes to be special and unique” but also „vulnerability in self-esteem”.

The theoretical model respecting the importance of the role of self-esteem in narcissistic personality type is the „mask model” based on the Kernberg’s object relations theory. In this model narcissistic high explicit self-esteem is just a "mask" which covers implicit, unconscious feeling of worthlessness and low self-esteem. Narcissistic individuals tend to use their grandiosity as a defense against experiencing inner void. This mechanism is also coherent with some clinicists' experiences. The empirical data however does not support this theoretical approach. For instance a few metaanalyses conducted by Bosson et al. (2008) didn’t show any statistically significant correlations between narcissism and low or unstable self-esteem. 

The purpose of our work is to suggest an extended theoretical model of narcissistic personality pathology which focuses on the key role of self-esteem regulation mechanisms. Our model consists of several factors having impact on each other like intrapsychic processes, interpersonal relations and biological predispositions which are integrated into one complex system. The model is also expanding the issue of discrepancy between two types of narcissism - grandiose and vulnerable, which have been described by numerous researchers and clinicians but also often ignored in some theoretical and empirical work.

Keywords: narcissism, psychological assessment, regulatory mechanisms

The functionality of coping strategies: Context matters (#137)

R. Fischer1, J. Scheunemann1, M. Kuehl1, S. Moritz1

1 University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Institute of Psychosocial Medicine, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Coping strategies have thus far been primarily investigated regarding their role in various forms of psychopathology, such as depression, while their impact on the flipside, subjective well-being (SWB), remains elusive. Based on the associations of coping with psychopathology, strategies are often generally categorized into adaptive vs. maladaptive. Yet, recent research has questioned this dichotomy, emphasizing the context in which the strategy occurs as a central factor that determines the functionality of a given strategy.

Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, 836 participants were recruited from the general population in the United States. Participants underwent a current mood check and completed a number of questionnaires, including the Scale of Positive and Negative Experience, the Temporal Satisfaction with Life Scale, the Patient Health Questionnaire and an extended version of the Maladaptive and Adaptive Coping Styles Questionnaire (MAX), which sets different coping strategies into different contexts (e.g., behavior towards close friends vs. strangers).

Exploratory factor analysis of the extended MAX replicated the previously established adaptive, maladaptive and avoidance subscale and a fourth factor was identified and labeled emotional self-seclusion. Some strategies were found to be positively associated with SWB regardless of context; others’ functionality depended on situational context, as well as on current mood. Adaptive coping strategies were associated with elevated SWB, but not with reduced depression, while maladaptive strategies were linked to both, SWB and depression.

Categorizing coping strategies into generally adaptive and generally maladaptive strategies proves too simple. Their functionality appears to be influenced by psychopathology but also by context. Decreased use of maladaptive coping and particularly increased use of adaptive coping emerge as central contributors to increased SWB beyond the impact of depressiveness.

Keywords: coping, subjective well-being, depression

Unpacking the interplay between executive control, attentional bias for threat, rumination, and avoidance: A network approach (#140)

Y. Hoebeke1, C. Coussement1, M. Riesco De Vega1, 2, D. Gamero Del Castillo1, 2, A. Heeren1, 3

1 Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), Psychological Science Research Institute, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
2 Polytechnic University of Madrid, Department of Sport Sciences, Madrid, Spain
3 Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), Institute of Neuroscience, Brussels, Belgium

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: Many cognitive and behavioral processes, such as rumination, executive control, selective attention to threat, and avoidance, are conceptualized as core mechanisms of emotional disorders. Yet, uncertainty still abounds regarding the mutual interactions of these different processes. In this project, we propose reexamining these process-to-process associations as a complex network system of interacting components (“nodes”). Method: A total of 194 participants completed laboratory tasks of executive control, attentional bias for threat, and reported on their level of rumination and avoidance. We computed two different network models, a graphical Gaussian model (GGM) and a directed acyclic graph (DAG); each estimating edges and the importance of nodes in different ways. Results: We finalized the data collection and are currently analyzing the data. Conclusion: This new approach to visualizing the interactions between core processes of psychopathology may offer a more informative view of the complex interplay between those constructs.

Keywords: network approach to psychopathology, attentional processes, rumination, avoidance

Toward a Triadic Approach to Craving in Addictive Disorders: The Metacognitive Hub Model (#153)

V. Flaudias1, 2, A. Heeren3, G. Brousse1, 2, P. Maurage3

1 Université Clermont Auvergne , NPsy-Sydo, Clermont-Ferrand, France
2 Centre hospitalier universitaire Clermont-Ferrand, Pôle Psychiatrie B, Clermont-Ferrand, France
3 Université catholique de Louvain, Clinical Neuroscience Division, Institute of Neuroscience, Laboratory for Experimental Psychopathology, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Structured Poster Abstract

Craving is a key factor in substance-related and behavioral addictions, as illustrated by its recent inclusion as a diagnosis criterion in the most recent, fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It globally refers to the subjective motivational state facilitating the emergence of addiction-related obsessive thoughts and compulsive approach behaviors, despite repeated efforts to stop the addictive behavior. Reduced craving may produce a cascade of downstream benefits, ultimately preventing relapse, but its underlying mechanisms remain uncertain. We present a conceptual, experimental, and clinical approach of craving that aligns it with the triadic model — a recently developed prominent model of addictive disorders. Our central assumption is that craving should not be considered as a unitary process but rather as the emerging consequence of the interplay between three subcomponents, namely (1) cognitive craving (or “obsessive craving”) related to cognitive abilities (e.g., executive functions), (2) automatic craving, linked to cue reactivity and implicit processes (e.g., attentional biases), and (3) physiological craving (or “relief craving”), corresponding to bodily perceptions and related to withdrawal symptoms. We relate these three components to the systems proposed by the triadic model and suggest that metacognitive abilities may constitute a mechanism bridging the three subcomponents. This approach offers an innovative and integrative conceptual framework to explore the interactions between craving and other key processes involved in addictive disorders.

Keywords: addiction, cognitive models, craving, experimental psychopathology

Can artificial intelligence bring out the common mechanisms that affect the Quality of Live of anxiety-depressive patients? (#214)

A. E. Yoris2, 1, J. Perez del Cerro1, L. Traiber1, P. Donnelly Kehoe2, G. O. Pascariello2, F. Torrente1, A. Ibañez2, 1, L. Sedeño2, 1

1 Universidad Favaloro, Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, CABA, Argentina
2 Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience, Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neurosciences, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: A priority issue in current mental health is the high comorbidity between anxiety disorders and depression (currently named 'negative affectivity -NA-')[1]. This complexity is unattainable for most psychological treatments, designed for mutually-excluded diagnostic categories. Robust evidence would confirm the existence of dimensions at different levels (behavioral, cognitive, neuropsychological and neurophysiological) common to these disorders, highlighting their similarities [2, 3]. Additional evidence shows that high comorbidity impacts negatively in the Quality of Life (Q-L) of those patients [4], but few are known about how Q-L interacts with specific symptoms, with core cognitions, and even specific diagnosis. By combining a machine learning approach, we developed nontraditional statistical analysis to understand how Q-L interacts with diagnosis, symptoms and core cognitions between anxiety-depressive patients. Methods: 393 anxiety-depressive outpatients were evaluated in Quality of Life and grouped into 3 subgroups: high, low, and non-impaired Q-L. Additionally, all participants completed a list of 15 clinical questionnaires about symptoms and core cognition. Results: Through-out different machine learning analyzes, we predicted the associations between the three levels of impairment of the Q-L with the symptoms and cognitions reported by the patients, concluding in the existence of a pattern of poor Q-L and high comorbidity in all participants. Conclusions: These interactions could be 'learned' by machine learning to predict treatment outcomes or to guide new transdiagnostic treatments. References: 1. Barlow D. et al., (2016) Behav Ther,. 47(6): p. 838-853./ 2. Hettema, J.M., et al., (2005) Arch Gen Psychiatry. 62(2): p. 182-9./ 3. Conway, C.C., et al., (2016) J Abnorm Psychol. 125(8): p. 1079-1089./ 4. Rapaport, M.H., et al., (2005) Am J Psychiatry, 2005. 162(6): p. 1171-8.

Keywords: anxiety disorders, depression, quality of life, machine learning

The Effects of Disgust Propensity and Repetitive Negative Thinking on Attentional Control in under the influence of Emotional Stimuli: An Examination of Inverse Efficiency Scores (#247)

S. Saatçi1, A. Duyar2, S. Kahraman3, T. N. Ayyıldız1, E. D. Comba1, A. Altan-Atalay1

1 Koç University, Psychology, Istanbul, Turkey
2 Bilkent University, Psychology, Ankara, Turkey
3 Utrecht University, Psychology, Utrecht, Netherlands

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: The present study aimed to test the interactive impact of emotional content, Disgust propensity (DP), and repetitive negative thinking (RNT) on attentional control. Available research indicated DP to be associated with less efficient use of attentional capacity, when exposed to disgust eliciting stimuli. Similarly, tendency to experience negative thoughts in a repetitive and uncontrollable fashion is also likely to interfere with attentional control processes. In the current study, it is hypothesized that elevated levels of both DP and RNT will interfere with the attentional control processes and lead to less efficient processing of especially emotional stimuli. Methods: The participants were 101 university students (77 women) aged between 18 and 42 who were administered measures of DP and RNT besides a modified version of Attentional Network Task (ANT) which involves presentation of either neutral or disgusting images. Results: A series of 2 (congruence) x 2 (emotional valence) x 2 (RNT) x 2 (DP) mixed ANOVA’s with emotional valence and congruence serving as the repeated measures variables were conducted to see interactive effects of these variables on inverse efficiency scores (ies), which is an index of task efficiency. The results indicated a significant 2-way interaction between valence, and RNT, probing of which revealed that performance of high and low RNT individuals did not differ on trials with neutral images. However, on trials that involved presentation of disgusting images, low RNT individuals performed significantly more efficiently than their high RNT counterparts.Conclusion: Findings showed that tendency to experience RNT interfered with attentional control only when individuals are exposed to emotional stimuli. Whereas, disgust propensity did not have a significant effect on attentional control. The findings are discussed under the light of recent and relevant literature.

Keywords: Disgust propensity, repetitive negative thinking, attentional control

Association between difficulties in emotion regulation and prolonged grief disorder symptoms in bereaved adults (#252)

G. Gegieckaite1, E. Kazlauskas1

1 Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction. Previous studies explored which coping or emotion regulation strategies are associated with the risk of prolonged grief disorder. However, there is a growing understanding that no specific emotion regulation strategy is universally beneficial or maladaptive. Recently it was proposed, that not strategies, but flexibility of emotion regulation or difficulties in emotion regulation are associated with prolonged grief disorder. The aim of this study was to analyze associations between emotion regulation difficulties and prolonged grief disorder symptoms.

Method. The total 203 bereaved adults, 175 (85.2%) women, participated in the study. The mean age of participants was 42 years, and ranged from 19 to 92. Time since the loss was 33 months on average, and ranged from 6 to 72 months. The Prolonged Grief Disorder-13 questionnaire (PG-13) was used to assess prolonged grief disorder symptoms. Emotion regulation difficulties were measured by the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), consisting of 6 subscales measuring different regulatory difficulties: awareness, clarity, non-acceptance, goals, impulse and strategies.

Results. We found significant association between prolonged grief disorder symptoms and emotion regulation difficulties. All subscales of the DERS were significantly associated with prolonged grief symptoms, with highest association between strategies subscale and prolonged grief symptoms.

Conclusions. The results of the study showed that prolonged grief symptoms are significantly linked to emotion regulation difficulties. Study informs about the importance of focus on emotion regulation in therapy of patients with prolonged grief disorder symptoms.

Keywords: Prolonged grief disorder, Difficulties in emotion regulation, Emotion regulation

The neurobiology of protective factors - the relationship between social support and hippocampal volume in healthy individuals with previous experience of childhood maltreatment (#394)

K. Förster1, L. Danzer1, U. Dannlowski1

1 University of Münster, Department of Psychiatry, Münster, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract


Childhood maltreatment has frequently been associated with a reduced hippocampal volume in healthy individuals. Since this “limbic scar” is also found in patients with Major Depressive Disorder, a reduced hippocampal volume has been considered as a neurobiological risk factor for the onset of depression. In contrast, the protective factor social support is positively associated with volumes of limbic regions such as the amygdala. In this study, we investigate if and how social support is associated with hippocampal volume in healthy individuals with previous experience of childhood maltreatment compared to individuals without previous experience of childhood maltreatment.


Participants were matched in age, gender, education and social support creating a control-group of N=135 participants vs. a risk-group of N=80 maltreated individuals. We employed a group x social support ANCOVA on hippocampal volumes. Hippocampal volume was examined by the use of two independent methods, automated segmentation (Freesurfer-FS) and voxel-based morphometry (VBM8).


Our analysis revealed significantly lower hippocampal volume in the risk compared to the control group using FS. There was no effect of social support on hippocampal volume across both methods. We observed a significant interaction of social support and childhood maltreatment on hippocampal volume (FS: L: p = .001; R: p = .005; VBM: pFWE = .005). The interaction was driven by a positive association between social support and hippocampal volume in the control group which was absent in the risk group.


Our results confirm the detrimental impact of childhood maltreatment on brain structure and point to a complex dynamic between environmental risk, protective factors and brain structure. We hypothesize that childhood maltreatment leads to neurobiological alterations in childhood that might not be reversible by protective factors.

Keywords: risk factors, psychopathology

The association between error-related brain activity and real-life self-control failures in impulsivity and compulsivity (#395)

R. Overmeyer1, J. Berghäuser1, V. Wüllhorst1, M. Wolff2, T. Goschke2, 3, T. Endrass1, 3

1 TU Dresden, Chair of Addiction Research, Department of Psychology, Dresden, Germany
2 TU Dresden, Chair of General Psychology, Department of Psychology, Dresden, Germany
3 TU Dresden, Neuroimaging Centre, Dresden, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Any goal-directed behavior depends on performance monitoring, cognitive and affective functions which determine if adaptive control is necessary (Ullsperger, Fischer, Nigbur, & Endrass, 2014). Self-control, as an adaptive control process, has been linked to error-related activity inside the performance-monitoring network in a functional magnetic imaging study (Kroenke et al., 2018). Altered cognitive control processes, like performance monitoring, have been proposed as underlying mechanisms for various mental disorders; error-related negativity (ERN) amplitude has been shown to be associated with various psychopathologies, including OCD and substance use disorders (Olvet & Hajcak, 2008). How this relates to behavior outside the lab, however, is unclear. As the aforementioned psychopathologies are characterized by impulsivity and compulsivity (Figee et al., 2016; Berlin & Hollander, 2014), we were interested in the connection between ERN, impulsivity, compulsivity and self-control in daily life.

We assessed real-life self-control using ecological momentary assessment of self-control failures (SCF) during a seven-day period similar to Kroenke et al. (2018). Performance monitoring-related brain activity was assessed using the ERN during a flanker task using electroencephalography in a sample of N=189 subjects. Impulsivity and compulsivity were assessed with factor scores from an exploratory factor analysis of pertinent questionnaires.

We performed a regression analysis, using a generalized linear model (family = poisson), to examine the association between ERN, impulsivity, compulsivity and SCF in daily life. The ERN amplitude of high conflict trials in a flanker task and compulsivity significantly predicted the amount of SCF (both p <.001). ERN amplitude interacted significantly with impulsivity (p <.01). These results suggest an association between lab-based assessment of performance monitoring, impulsivity, compulsivity and real-life self-control.

Keywords: self-control, impulsivity, compulsivity, EEG

Specific neuronal correlates of response inhibition in impulsivity and compulsivity (#400)

V. Wüllhorst1, J. Berghäuser1, R. E. Overmeyer1, R. Dieterich1, T. Endrass1

1 Technische Universität Dresden, Chair of Addiction Research, Dresden, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: The ability to inhibit an impulse, a habitual or predominant behavioral response is known to be altered in individuals with both high expressions of impulsivity and compulsivity. Cognitive control deficits are assumed to contribute to self-controls problems and enhance the risk to develop a mental disorder such as substance use or obsessive-compulsive disorder. The current study addresses the question whether impulsivity and compulsivity are associated with stop-signal performance and whether the event-related potentials N2 and P3 disentangle impulsivity and compulsivity.

Methods: We conducted a study with N= 247 participants, who performed a stop-signal task while EEG was recorded continuously. Participants were recruited based on their expressions of impulsivity and compulsivity.

Results: Stop signal reaction times (SSRT) were negatively associated with impulsivity but not related to compulsivity. With regard to electrophysiological correlates, larger N2 amplitudes were observed in failed stop trials, whereas larger P3 amplitudes indicated successful stopping. P3 amplitudes were enhanced in individuals with high impulsivity in successful and failed inhibition trials. The association for successful inhibition was more pronounced for lower compulsivity. The results indicate that individuals with high impulsivity may need to activate more reactive inhibition to perform the task. However, this alteration is only seen on a neuronal level and not in behavioral deficits.

Conclusion: Future research should address the question whether this enhanced activation is compensatory and may deplete over time. This may result in self-control failures associated with clinical expressions of impulsivity or the combination of impulsivity and compulsivity.  

Keywords: response inhibition, impulsivity, compulsivity, EEG

Deconstructing positive interventions: Differential effects of optimistic, grateful, and self-compassionate writing on positive outcomes (#9)

J. B. Heekerens1, M. Eid1, K. Heinitz1, B. Merkle2

1 Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
2 Universität Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract


How do positive interventions work and for whom? We hypothesized that positive writing interventions affect both specific and common outcome variables as well as that effects depend on person-intervention fit.


We randomized 432 German adults to perform either optimism, gratitude, self-compassion, or control writing interventions in an online setting. Participants reported emotional self-awareness and trait gratitude before and affect, optimism, gratitude, and self-compassion immediately after the intervention. In addition, participants listed spontaneous thoughts and rated their valence and degree of self-relevance.


Results indicate higher optimism after the optimism intervention and higher gratitude after the gratitude intervention even after controlling for positive affect. In addition, participants in the optimism and gratitude interventions reported more positive and self-relevant thoughts than participants in the control condition. The self-compassion condition showed no effects. Multiple group analysis results do not support emotional self-awareness and trait gratitude as moderators of intervention effects.


Results support the notion that positive intervention affect distinct positive outcomes independent of induced positive affect. In addition, results provide evidence that positive interventions fascilitate positive self-relevant thinking that has been theorized to explain how positive interventions operate.

Keywords: well-being, gratitude, self-compassion, optimism

The Meaning of Body Dissatisfaction: A Qualitative Study of Women’s Body Image Perceptions in Germany and Ghana  (#18)

F. Lazaridou1, A. Heinz1, 2, 3, U. Kluge1, 2, T. Brand4, C. Wrigley-Asante5, J. O. Sarfo6, 7

1 Charitè Universitätsmedizin Berlin , Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy , Berlin , Germany
2 Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research , Berlin, Germany
3 Alexian St. Hedwig Hospital, Psychiatric University Hospital Charitè , Berlin, Germany
4 Leibniz-Institut für Präventionsforschung und Epidemiologie, Department Prevention and Evaluation, Bremen , Germany
5 University of Ghana, Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy , Accra, Ghana
6 Eastern Regional Hospital, Department of Clinical Psychology, Koforidua , Ghana
7 All Nations University Ghana, Koforidua , Ghana

Structured Poster Abstract

  • Society socialises women and girls to place a high amount of value on their appearance. The role of body image culture in shaping mental health risks and quality of life amongst females has long since been a controversial topic in gender studies. Many feminist scholars believe that body dissatisfaction plays a central role in the onset and maintenance of eating disorders. Empirical evidence in this area consistently supports their assertions. Intersectionality theory suggests that black and African females are not included in mainstream feminist theory nor in the mainstream sociocultural eating disorders model. This study has one overarching research objective: to systematically explore overlaps and critical junctures in meaning that black and African gender studies students and eating disorder patients attribute to their level of body dissatisfaction. 
  • In a phenomenological, narrative study design and in collaboration with Ghana’s Eastern Regional Hospital and the University of Ghana, 28 women aged 18-40 will be interviewed with a life-histories interview. The interviews will be audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and in applying elements of Grounded Theory, open coding and textual analysis will occur using the QSR NVivo software program.
  • The aims of this study are: (1) enable black and African women to speak for themselves regarding their perceptions of the various meanings of body dissatisfaction for herself and her community and about the care and services they need to regain a sense of autonomy as a means of coping and recovery, and (2) support black and African women to collectively voices their concerns and demands for good practices in diverse and competent mental health care strategies and systemic interventions.
  • Depending on the findings of this study, a consciousness-raising feminist intervention could be developed that targets both the effects of oppressive structures of social control and the imperative to facilitate women’s psychological well-being. 
Keywords: body image, eating disorders, feminist theory, qualitative interveiws

Countering Negative Self-referent Processing (#61)

E. Belmans1, K. Takano2, F. Raes1

2 Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Negative self-referent processing (NSP; e.g., thinking like “I’m useless”) has been implicated in the occurrence and maintenance of depression. A theory proposes that such processing becomes habitual after extended repetition and reinforcement, which is known to be a vulnerability for depression. If NSP is a mental habit, the key will be to replace it by a more adaptive response through training a new ‘counter-habit’ response. A possible strategy to counter NSP is to enhance positive self-referent processing, which is incompatible with NSP. Therefore, in the current study, we will use the Positive self-referent Memory Specificity Training (PMST), in which participant are trained to increase the specificity with which they retrieve positive self-referent memories. PMST is a variant of the Memory Specificity Training, which has been found to significantly decrease depression (Serrano, Latorre, Gatz, & Montanes, 2004). The main aim of the study is to examine whether PMST can counteract persistent NSP measured by the Emotional Reversal Learning Task (ERLT), which is a behavioral task to assess difficulty disengaging from NSP. In this study, we will randomly allocate participants to two condition; (a) active training condition with PMST, in which participants are asked to generate specific memories in response to positively valenced cue words; (b) control condition, in which participants are asked to make creative writing exercises about non self-referent topics. We will examine whether the PMST is associated with lower levels of persistent NSP measured by the ERLT after the training. The results of this ongoing study will be presented at the conference.

Keywords: Negative self-referent processing, depression, Positive Memory Specificity Training

Why does early childhood deprivation increase adult risk for depression and anxiety? A developmental cascade model (#83)

D. Golm1, B. Maughan2, E. Barker3, J. Hill4, M. Kennedy7, J. Kreppner1, R. Kumsta5, W. Schlotz6, M. Rutter2, E. J. S. Sonuga-Barke7

1 University of Southampton, Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, Southampton, United Kingdom
2 King's College London, Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre, London, United Kingdom
3 King's College London, Department of Psychology, London, United Kingdom
4 University of Reading, School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, Reading, United Kingdom
5 University of Bochum, Department of Genetic Psychology, Bochum, Germany
6 Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt, Germany
7 King's College London, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: Severe early institutional deprivation is associated with neurodevelopmental problems that persist to early adulthood. In addition to these early-appearing impairments, we have also observed late onset of emotional problems across the adolescent-to-adult transition. Here we exploit prospective longitudal data from the English & Romanian Adoptees (ERA) study to identify the developmental processes that mediate this deprivation-to-emotional problems pathway. In particular we test whether late emerging emotional problems are a developmental consequence of the effects of living with early onset deprivation-specific neurodevelopmental problems.

Methods:The ERA study includes 165 Romanian individuals who spent their early lives in grossly depriving institutions and were subsequently adopted into UK families, along with 52 UK adoptees with no history of deprivation. Young adult (22-25 years) symptoms of depression and anxiety, and age-six years neurodevelopmental problems (inattention/overactivity, autism, disinhibited social engagement) were assessed using interview and questionnaire measures. Late adolescent/early adult exposure to life events and functioning in work and interpersonal relationships were tested as potential mediators.

Results: Symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety were elevated in young adults who experienced more than 6 months of institutional care. There were no direct paths from deprivation to early adult emotional problem symptoms; instead, effects were mediated via the impact of early neurodevelopmental problems, both directly and indirectly via risks of poor friendship functioning and unemployment experienced during the transition to adulthood.

Conclusions: Early deprivation increases the risk for young adult depression and anxiety - effects that appear to reflect a developmental cascade following early neurodevelopmental problems via social and vocational impairment during the transition between adolescence and adult life.

Keywords: Institutional deprivation, depression, anxiety, neuro-developmental problems

Psychosomatic Stress Awareness: How Stress-Related Somatic Sensations and Symptoms Affect the Process of Coping with Stress (#91)

V. Pfluger1, A. Maercker1, M. V. Thoma1

1 University of Zurich, Psychopathology and Clinical Intervention, 8050, Zürich, Switzerland

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: Stressful situations are a common and recurring phenomenon in almost everyone’s life. Beyond emotional, cognitive, and physiological reactions, the experience of stress is often associated with the perception of stress-related somatic sensations and symptoms (SRSSS), such as tension, restlessness, headache, or nausea. This body involvement does not express a pathological process, but rather reflects the strong psychosomatic nature of stress. Despite the strong somatic component of stress, coping with stress has so far been predominately examined as a cognitive-behavioral process. As a result, it is currently unclear to what extend the awareness of SRSSS is relevant for coping. The model of psychosomatic stress awareness (PSA) fills this gap by entailing the idea that SRSSS may be both beneficial and cumbersome for the process of coping. It is the aim of this study to a) test the PSA model and b) to validate the newly developed psychosomatic stress awareness questionnaire (PSAQ).

Methods: An item-pool of 54 items, consisting of beneficial and cumbersome ways how SRSSS could affect coping, will be administered to N= 250 participants via online survey. For conceptual validation several established questionnaires are included. Data analysis includes exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis using structural equation modeling.

Results: Results will be presented at the conference for the first time. We expect empirical confirmation for the PSA model (e.g., two-factor structure) as well as successful validation of the PSAQ.

Conclusions: The proposed PSA model allows a new perspective on SRSSS as well as on the process of coping by strengthening the previously neglected psychosomatic perspective. Moreover, it offers the possibility to examine both salutogenic and detrimental effects of SRSSS. Embedding the PSA model into a broader theoretical framework of established constructs emphasizes its scientific significance and promising role for future research.

Keywords: Psychosomatic Stress Awareness, Coping, Stress-Related Somatic Sensations and Symptoms

Effectiveness of short-term psychodynamic group therapy on happiness and life expectancy of people with depression (#104)

F. Taghavi1

1 Islamic Azad University, Department of clinical psychology, Garmsar, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Structured Poster Abstract

  • Introduction

Depression is expected to be one of the most prevalent and costly diseases in the world, according to studies. Therefore, it can be said that due to the prevalence, destructiveness and costlyness of depression, special attention to theoretical and applied researches on the methods of its prevention and treatment is necessary. Additionally, considering the need to address the short-term psychodynamic group therapy effectiveness, the current study aimed at determining the effectiveness of short-term psychodynamic group therapy on happiness and life expectancy of patients with depression.

  • Methods

The research benefited a semi-experimental scheme with pretest and posttest design with control group. The study statistical population comprised all women with depression in District 1 of Tehran city, of which 36 patients were chosen using a convenient sampling method and randomly divided into two control and experimental groups. Accordingly, both experimental and control groups were subject to a pretest of happiness and life expectancy, then an intervention plan of 8 short-term psychodynamic group therapy was conducted for the experimental group. However, no intervention was applied to the control group; immediately after completing the intervention for experimental group, posttest happiness and life expectancy were performed for both groups

  • Results

According to the data presented, it can be seen that happiness and life expectancy scores for the experimental group show marked changes compared to those for the control group. While the control group saw a pretty minor change. Covariance analysis result presented in this table demonstrated that after removing pretest effect, posttest mean scores for two groups were statistically significant (p <0.005).

  • Conclusions

Results revealed that short-term psychodynamic group therapy has a positive and significant impact on increasing happiness and life expectancy in women with depression.


Keywords: short-term psychodynamic group therapy, happiness, life expectancy, depression

Conflicted attention: Reward and punishment modulate gaze disengagement from negative stimuli in dysphoria (#155)

M. Godara1, A. Sanchez-Lopez2, R. De Raedt1

1 Ghent University, Department Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent, Belgium
2 Complutense University of Madrid, Department of Clinical Psychology, Madrid, Spain

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: One of the core mechanisms considered to be involved in the development and maintenance of depression is the attentional bias for negative information, i.e. difficulty to disengage from negative stimuli. However, current attention training procedures aimed at reducing attentional bias have shown limited success. Other than the reliability and validity concerns generated by the use of dot-probe paradigm in these procedures, an important drawback of the current attention trainings is the limited consideration of motivational influences. Therefore, in two studies, we examined whether goal stimuli, reinforced with music reward and white noise punishment, can modulate attention for negative information in dysphoric individuals.

Method: In study 1 (N = 59) and study 2 (N = 55),  we used a novel attention task which measures gaze disengagement from negative faces towards standard neutral and goal stimuli reinforced with reward and punishment.

Results: We found that dysphoric individuals displayed greater difficulties in disengaging eye-gaze from negative stimuli and directing it towards standard neutral stimuli, as compared to non-dysphorics. This evidence for attentional bias for negative stimuli was replicated in both studies. However, dysphoric individuals were faster in disengaging attention from negative stimuli in order to engage with both reward- and punishment-reinforced goal stimuli, in comparison to standard neutral stimuli.

Conclusions: These results provide preliminary evidence for the modulating role of music- and punishment-reinforced goals in the attention system of depressive individuals, and highlight how music-reinforced and punishment-reinforced goals can be incorporated  in current attention training procedures to improve treatment outcomes.

Keywords: Attention, Goals, Eye-Tracking, Negative

Imaging Social Interactions in Schizophrenia (#174)

F. Bitsch1, P. Berger1, A. Nagels1, 2, I. Falkenberg1, B. Straube1

1 Philipps-Universität Marburg, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Marburg, Germany
2 Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Department of English and Linguistics, Mainz, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract


Schizophrenia is associated with impaired and exaggerated Theory of Mind processes, pointing on alterations in generating a representation of another person’s mind. Despite recent work on healthy subjects suggesting that a coupling between the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) and the hippocampus is relevant for building representations of others’ intentions, the neural basis of related dysfunctions in patients with schizophrenia remains unclear.


We used structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging together with a modified prisoner’s dilemma game to test the hypotheses, that patients show dysfunctional social updating on behavioral level accompanied by altered rTPJ–hippocampus coupling on a functional and a structural level. During the task, 31 patients with schizophrenia and 20 healthy controls interacted with 3 playing partners, who behaved according to stable strategies competitively, cooperatively, or randomly.


Our data show that patients adapted their social behavior less flexibly to the playing partners than healthy controls, indicating differences in forming mental representations of the counterparts’ intentions. Patients showed lower functional connectivity between the rTPJ and temporal lobe regions such as the hippocampus, the fusiform gyrus, and the middle temporal gyrus, indicating that in patients the rTPJ fails to integrate memory-informed processing streams during mental state inferences. Remarkably, the rTPJ–hippocampus coupling accounted for the participants’ adaptive social behavior in the task.


Our findings indicate that a neural pathway relevant for updating social knowledge and forming forward predictions in social interactions is altered in schizophrenia.

Keywords: social interactions, social cognition, schizophrenia, fMRI

Mechanisms of schematic selection of optimistic cognitions (#180)

J. E. Bosch1, L. Dommes1, P. Beschoner2, K. Labek3, R. Viviani3, 1

1 University of Ulm, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy III, Ulm, Germany
2 University of Ulm, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, Ulm, Germany
3 Univeirsity of Innsbruck, Psychology, Innsbruck, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract

Introdiction. The selection of cognitions is a key aspect of psychological functioning in health and in psychopathological conditions. Psychological theories attribute systematic tendencies in the selection of thoughts to the effect of preexisting schemas. However, little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms. Here, we will explore a model of schema selection and thought generation based on mechanisms of choice-making as in perceptual decisions or in preference-based decisions.

Methods. To elicit schema selection, we asked participants to perform a computer-based version of the Scrambled Sentences Task (SST, Wenzlaff and Bates 1998), previously shown to demonstrate the selection of pessimistic cognitions in depression. We collected independent data on the tendency of each trial to elicit an optimistic cognition in the healthy. We then used this value in the statistical model for the neuroimaging data as if it constitued evidence to decide in favour of a cognition in a decision-making task (Heekeren et al. 2004).

Results. Based on known neural correlates of decision making in the vmPFC, we present functional neuroimaging data (N=22) to show the existence of a neural signal correlated with the tendency for schema selection with the same characteristics of a signal correlated with the evidence for a decision (vmPFC, t=5.19, p=0.002, ROI-corrected).

Conclusions. These findings suggest that schema selection takes place through similar processes as choice-making in preference-based decisions. Recruitment of these ventral areas, instead of dorsal-prefrontal areas, suggests that top-down influences or executive processes are not involved in the selection of these types of cognitions. As in preference-based choice, mechanisms that have some degree of automaticity may be involved. Because of the enormous influence schemas exert on our life and personality, there is a pressing need to clarify the nature of the processes underlying schematic tendencies

Keywords: negative cognitions, optimism, schema selection, functional imaging

Neuronal substrates of pain-related decision making (#186)

K. Labek1, R. Viviani1, 2

1 University of Innsbruck, Institute of Psychology, Innsbruck, Tirol, Austria
2 University of Ulm, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy III, Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Structured Poster Abstract


Research in social neuroscience on the empathy of pain investigates the neural mechanisms allowing us to perceive, understand and share other people's emotions. While the capability to encode and evaluate social situations is fundamental in making decisions in interaction with others, empathy for pain studies has been conducted with passive exposure paradigms using images or photographs. Here, we used a decision-making paradigm to elicit neural correlates of evidence for decisions about the degree of the injury of others. Studies of perceptual and preference-based decision making converge in showing the occurrence of an fMRI signal correlated with the evidence for a decision.

N=23 healthy participants were shown in the scanner two pictures of hands or feet in situations of anticipated physical pain or neutral conditions (source: Jackson, Meltzoff & Decety 2004). Participants were instructed to choose which situation was the most painful (24 trials painful/neutral, 12 trials painful/painful, 12 trials neutral/neutral).


The contrast associated with high evidence for a decision (painful/neutral vs. [painful/painful + neutral/neutral]) elicited activations in the vmPFC (t=4.98, p=0.008 ROI-corrected). The middle/posterior insula was also active in this contrast, even if without reaching significance after correction. The anterior insula was active in a cluster with the inferior and middle frontal gyrus in the opposite contrast (low evidence).

The vmPFC was identified in studies of decision-making tasks of subjective value. The anterior insula was active when decisions were difficult, as in effort-based decision-making strategies involving regions more typically associated with cognitive control. Taken together, these results imply a dissociation of neural substrates associated with different strategies in decision-making, which may arise in social interactions such as potentially painful situations of other people.

Keywords: empathy of pain, decision value, decision-making strategies, anterior insula

Using computational process models of depressive rumination to predict cognitive deficits (#192)

M. K. van Vugt1, M. van der Velde2

1 University of Groningen, Bernoulli Institute, Groningen, Netherlands
2 University of Groningen, Department of Psychology, Groningen, Netherlands

Structured Poster Abstract

Introduction: Many studies to date have examined the cognitive deficits associated with major depression disorder. Typically these studies focus on a single task, such as remembering information with negative valence. Consequently, these studies cannot explain how worse performance on that single task can generalize to deficits in daily life. One tool that allows for making more generalizable predictions is computational modeling of cognition. 

Methods: We implemented a cognitive model in the ACT-R cognitive architecture that describes the mechanisms underlying rumination. The model--based on our existing model of mind-wandering--assumes rumination differs from general mind-wandering in the nature of memories and mental habits that are being “wandered over”. During rumination, there are more negative memories, and the memories are more strongly linked to each other. This means that once the simulated person is thinking about these negative-valence memories, it is difficult to get away from them. 

Results: We show how this mechanism predicts performance deficits (significantly reduced accuracy; t(196.5)=2.2, p = 0.03) compared to a non-rumination model on a sustained attention task. With only slight alterations the model can account for the data from an emotional N-back task (Levens & Gotlib, 2010). We are able to reproduce specific impairments in depressed people in removing negative-valence stimuli from memory. These model fits arise from only assuming extra elaboration on negative information and an attentional bias towards negative information (match between the response times of model and data R2=0.71). 

Conclusions: This gives a first demonstration of how computational modeling of the cognitive processes underlying depressive rumination could help to elucidate similarities and differences between different cognitive theories of this process.

Keywords: computational modeling, rumination, cognitive tasks

Sensation and regulation of physical warmth in depression – findings from a population-based survey (#275)

S. Fischer1, S. von Salis1, U. Ehlert1

1 University of Zurich, Institute of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland

Structured Poster Abstract


The last decade has witnessed a renewed interest in warmth-based therapies for depression, with recent randomised controlled trials showing rapid and sustained antidepressant effects of whole body hyperthermia. Animal research suggests this may be due to warmth-sensitive serotonergic neurons in the brainstem, which project to forebrain areas involved in mood and cognition. The aim of this study was to investigate whether depressed individuals exhibit abnormalities in this pathway, as indicated by differences in how they normally perceive and respond to warmth.


A random sample of N=786 individuals from the general Swiss population participated in an online survey. After excluding participants with somatic or major mental illnesses as well as individuals with substance abuse and those on medication, N=435 were eligible for statistical analyses. Depressive symptoms were measured via the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8), and a validated cut-off score was used to divide participants into healthy individuals and those with a high probability of major depressive disorder. The Experienced Temperature Sensitivity and Regulation Survey (ETSRS) and the Social Thermoregulation and Risk Avoidance Questionnaire (STRAQ) were used to measure habitual sensation and regulation of warmth.


Controlling for age, BMI, and physical activity, depressed and healthy participants did not differ in how quickly they sensed warmth (p=.116), nor did they differ in their physiological regulation of warmth after physical exertion (p=.266). However, depressed individuals reported relatively increased physiological regulation of warmth after stress (p=.022) and were less inclined to like warm days (p=.055).


This study suggests that individuals with depression show specific abnormalities in how they perceive and respond to warmth. Experimental research will allow to test whether these results map onto physiological alterations in thermosensation/-regulation.

Keywords: thermosensation, thermoregulation, depression

Observation of others reinstates threat memories in rats and humans (#334)

J. Haaker1, 2, L. Diaz-mataix3, 4, G. Guillazo Blanch5, J. LeDoux3, A. Olsson2

1 University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Department of Systems Neuroscience, Hamburg, Germany
2 Karolinska Institutet, Deparmtent of Clinical Neuroscience, Stockholm, Sweden
3 New York University, Center for Neural Science, New York, United States of America
4 Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Emotional Brain Institute, New York, United States of America
5 University Barcelona, Department of Neuroscience, Barcelona, Spain

Structured Poster Abstract


Threat memories are persistent and prone to resurface after first-hand re-exposure to an aversive experiences. Yet, it is unclear if social information, transmitted through observation of aversive experiences in others, can reinstate threat memories that are shaped by first-hand experiences experiences.


We addressed this by investigating threat memories learned through Pavlovian Threat conditioning in rats (Experiment 1) and humans (Experiment 2 and 3), in which individuals learned to associate a conditioned stimulus (CS) with a directly experienced unconditioned stimulus (US, here: an electric stimulation). After extinction, the reinstatement of threat memories was tested following merely observing responses of a conspecific to the US.


In experiment 1, we found that post-reinstatement threat memory in rats (measured as freezing behavior), returned with a remarkably similarity as compared to reinstatement after direct experiences of the US. Translating these results to humans (experiment 2), we found that observing of an unrelated conspecific presented with the US reinstated conditioned threat responses (measured as skin conductance responses). Furthermore, we found that this observational reinstatement in humans was specific to the context in which the other’s experience of the US was observed (experiment3).


Our findings across species demonstrate that threat memories, shaped by first-hand experiences, can be recovered by socially transmitted information.

Keywords: social learning, threat, emotional memory, translational