Belinda Pletzer

Belinda Pletzer
University of Salzburg · Department of Psychology & Centre for Neurocognitive Research

DDr.

About

76
Publications
15,793
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1,291
Citations
Additional affiliations
March 2013 - September 2019
University of Salzburg
Position
  • PostDoc Position
September 2011 - August 2012
University of California, Irvine
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (76)
Preprint
Combined oral contraceptives (COC) are among the most commonly used contraceptive methods worldwide, and mood side effects are the major reason for discontinuation of treatment. We here investigate the directed connectivity patterns associated with the mood side effects of an androgenic COC in a double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial in...
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Intrusions, a key symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can occur in the form of images but also as pain sensations. Similar to audiovisual intrusions, the frequency and persistence of pain intrusions varies greatly between individuals. In the current study, we examined whether peritraumatic circulating 17β-estradiol (E2) levels are a bi...
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Sex differences in spatial navigation have been related to different navigation strategies. For example, women are more likely to utilize local landmark-information in the environment compared to men. Furthermore, sex differences appear to be more pronounced when distances need to be judged in Euclidian terms and an allocentric representation of th...
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Sex differences in navigation have often been attributed to the use of different navigation strategies in men and women. However, no study so far has investigated sex differences in the brain networks supporting different navigation strategies. To address this issue, we employed a 3D-navigation task during functional MRI in 36 men and 36 women, all...
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Recent research into the effects of hormonal contraceptives on emotion processing and brain function suggests that hormonal contraceptive users show (a) reduced accuracy in recognizing emotions compared to naturally cycling women, and (b) alterations in amygdala volume and connectivity at rest. To date, these observations have not been linked, alth...
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Previously, we presented our preliminary results (N = 14) investigating the effects of short-wavelength light from a smartphone during the evening on sleep and circadian rhythms (Höhn et al., 2021). Here, we now demonstrate our full sample (N = 33 men), where polysomnography and body temperature were recorded during three experimental nights and su...
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Longitudinal menstrual cycle studies allow to investigate the effects of ovarian hormones on brain organization. Here, we use spectral dynamic causal modelling (spDCM) in a triple network model to assess effective connectivity changes along the menstrual cycle within and between the default mode, salience and executive control networks (DMN, SN, an...
Preprint
Full-text available
Intrusions, a key symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can occur as classically conditioned responses to trauma-related cues, both in the form of images and pain sensations. Women are more vulnerable to experiencing intrusions, and gonadal hormones may underlie this sex difference. Yet so far, particularly estradiol's influence on intru...
Article
Introduction: Older adults with late-onset hearing loss are at risk for cognitive decline. Our study addresses the question of whether cochlear implantation (CI) can counteract this potential influence. We investigated whether cognitive performance in older adults with severe and profound hearing loss improves 12 months after CI to a level compara...
Article
Sex differences in functional hemispheric asymmetries (FHA) have been hypothesized as a fundamental mechanism behind sex differences in global-local processing. So far, it has not been assessed how interactive effects of sex and hemifield presentation influence common indicators of global precedence. The current study is the first to investigate th...
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The cortisol response to social evaluative stress has been well characterized. However, data regarding changes in gonadal hormones after stress are still scarce and inconsistent. The majority of studies have focused on testosterone reactivity to stress in men, while estradiol responses or gonadal stress responses in women have hardly been investiga...
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Coupling between delta (1‒4 Hz) and beta (14‒30 Hz) oscillations is posited to reflect subcortico-cortical communication and stress regulation. To validate delta-beta coupling (DBC) as an index of neural stress regulation, we investigated whether DBC changes during stress and whether these changes are associated with established stress responses. W...
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Smartphone usage strongly increased in the last decade, especially before bedtime. There is growing evidence that short-wavelength light affects hormonal secretion, thermoregulation, sleep and alertness. Whether blue light filters can attenuate these negative effects is still not clear. Therefore, here, we present preliminary data of 14 male partic...
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Sleep spindles benefit declarative memory consolidation and are considered to be a biological marker for general cognitive abilities. However, the impact of sexual hormones and hormonal oral contraceptives (OCs) on these relationships are less clear. Thus, we here investigated the influence of endogenous progesterone levels of naturally cycling wom...
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Frontal and striatal areas are the neuroanatomical basis for working memory (WM), as well as targets for sex steroids. However, up to date little is known regarding menstrual cycle (MC) effects on brain activation and connectivity patterns during verbal WM. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal dataset to study dorsolateral p...
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Increasing evidence indicates that ovarian hormones affect brain structure, chemistry and function of women in their reproductive age, potentially shaping their behavior and mental health. Throughout the reproductive years, estrogens and progesterone levels fluctuate across the menstrual cycle and can modulate neural circuits involved in affective...
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The spontaneous eye blink rate (EBR) has been linked to different cognitive processes and neurobiological factors. It has also been proposed as a putative index for striatal dopaminergic function. While estradiol is well-known to increase dopamine levels through multiple mechanisms, no study up to date has investigated whether the EBR changes acros...
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Number processing and visual hierarchical processing (global-local processing) have much in common. However, the shared aspects of number processing and global-local processing have not been investigated so far. Most visual stimuli are hierarchical with global structures made up of local parts. Processing of global and local aspects occurs in paral...
Preprint
Full-text available
Longitudinal menstrual cycle research allows the assessment of sex hormones effects on brain organization in a natural framework. Here, we used spectral dynamic causal modelling (spDCM) in a triple network model consisting of the default mode, salience and executive central networks (DMN, SN, and ECN), in order to address the changes in effective c...
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Sex differences in cognitive functions are heavily debated. Recent work suggests that sex differences do stem from different processing strategies utilized by men and women. While these processing strategies are likely reflected in different brain networks, so far the link between brain networks and processing strategies remains speculative. In the...
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Multi-digit numbers are of a hierarchical nature with whole number magnitudes depending on digit magnitudes. Processing of multi-digit numbers can occur in a holistic or decomposed fashion. The unit-decade compatibility effect during number comparison is often used as a measure of decomposed processing. It refers to the fact that performance is red...
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Increasing evidence suggests that endogenous sex steroid changes affect human brain functional connectivity, which could be obtained by resting-state fMRI (RS-fMRI). Nevertheless, RS studies on the menstrual cycle (MC) are underrepresented and yield inconsistent results. We attribute these inconsistencies to the use of various methods in explorator...
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Hubs emerge in structural and resting state network analysis as areas highly connected to other parts of the brain and have been shown to respond to several task domains in functional imaging studies. A cognitive explanation for this multi-functionality is still wanting. We propose, that hubs subserve domain-general meta-cognitive functions, releva...
Article
Combined oral contraceptive (COC) use is associated with small, albeit significant, increases in mental symptom scores, predominantly irritability, depressed mood, and anxiety. Yet, randomized prospective trials are needed to better characterize the women at risk for COC-induced negative mood change. Thus, the primary aim of this sub-study to a pla...
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Abstract Sex differences in navigation performance have been attributed to sex differences in information processing during navigation. Perspective refers to the viewpoint of the navigator, with previous work suggesting that men tend to use an allocentric perspective, while women tend to use an egocentric perspective during navigation. Furthermore,...
Article
Objective: Cognitive performance of older adults with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss and indication for cochlear implantation was evaluated compared to peers with age appropriate hearing. Design: Prospective matched case control study. Study sample: Study group consisted of n = 30 patients aged between 60 and 80 years, with adult ons...
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This Data In Brief article contains supplementary materials to the article "Social-evaluative threat: stress response stages and influences of biological sex and neuroticism" [1], and describes analysis results of an open dataset [2]. Additional information is provided regarding the methods, particularly: the analysis of individual stress response...
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Since the 1920s, psychologists have sought to assess the sex- and gender-related attributes of men and women, including primarily aspects of personality and focusing on positive characteristics. In this paper, we introduce a new questionnaire for assessing gender-related attributes with a broader approach than provided by previous ones. Therefore,...
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Like many visual stimuli, multi-digit numbers are of a hierarchical nature, with whole number magnitudes depending on individual digit magnitudes. Accordingly, multi-digit numbers can be processed in a holistic (whole number magnitudes) or decomposed manner (digit magnitudes). The compatibility effect during number comparison serves as an indicator...
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Men and women differ in their vulnerability to a variety of stress-related illnesses, but the underlying neurobiological mechanisms are not well understood. This is likely due to a comparative dearth of neurobiological studies that assess male and female rodents at the same time, while human neuroimaging studies often don't model sex as a variable...
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Basal ganglia (BG) are involved in inhibitory control (IC) and known to change in structure and activation along the menstrual cycle. Therefore, we investigated BG activation and connectivity patterns related to IC during different cycle phases. Thirty-six naturally cycling women were scanned three times performing a Stop Signal Task and hormonal l...
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Oral contraceptive (OC) effects on the brain have gained increasing interest, but are highly controversial. Previous studies suggest that OC users have larger hippocampi, parahippocampi, fusiform gyri and Cerebelli. Preliminary evidence from one of those studies even suggests an effect of previous contraceptive use on the hippocampi of women who ar...
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Sex differences in spatial abilities are well documented, even though their underlying causes are poorly understood. Some studies assume a biological basis of these differences and study the relationship of sex hormone levels to spatial abilities. Other studies assume social influences and study the relationship of gender role (masculinity/feminini...
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Social-evaluative threat (SET) − when the self could be negatively judged by others − can cause pronounced responses in the different stress systems: threat/challenge appraisal, the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic (PNS) nervous systems, experienced motivation and affect, and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Here, we utilize a fo...
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The present study investigates the relationship of circulating sex hormone levels and gender role to gray matter volumes in sexually dimorphic brain areas and explores, whether these relationships are modulated by biological sex (as assigned at birth based on sexual anatomy) or oral contraceptive (OC) use. It was hypothesized that testosterone and...
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Estradiol and progesterone vary along the menstrual cycle and exert opposite effects on a variety of neurotransmitter systems. However, few studies have addressed menstrual cycle-dependent changes in the brain. In the present study we investigate menstrual cycle changes in brain activation and connectivity patterns underlying cognition. Thirty-six...
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The hybrid model of number magnitude processing suggests that multi-digit numbers are simultaneously processed holistically (whole number magnitudes) and in a decomposed manner (digit magnitudes). Thus, individual tendencies and situational factors may affect which type of processing becomes dominant in a certain individual in a given situation. Th...
Data
A dataset of 37 men and 30 women (tested in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle) participated in a public speaking task to induce social-evaluative threat. Responses of multiple stress systems were measured (trait appraisal, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity, self-reported motivation and affect, and hypothalamic–pituitar...
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Background: Global-local stimuli are hierarchical structures consisting of a larger global structure which is composed of smaller local stimuli. Numbers are also constructed hierarchically, with multi-digit numbers being made up from single digits. During two-digit number comparison, compatible items (larger number contains larger unit digit, e.g....
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Animal studies have robustly shown hormone related changes in spine density in various brain areas, specifically the hippocampus. Literature on hormone dependent gray matter volume changes in humans is however less consistent. While various areas have been reported to change along the menstrual cycle in women, many do not survive multiple-compariso...
Article
Background There is little research on how to best introduce children to stochastics. In general, demonstration and concrete experience seem to be necessary to establish good understanding of stochastics in children. Pupils seem to be able to develop an intuition on stochastic thinking when they actively solve probabilistic problems and carry out p...
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Sex, stimulus material and attention condition have previously been related to global advantage (faster responses to global targets than to local targets), as well as lateralization during global-local processing. It is presumed that the lateralization of brain functions is either related to the inhibitory influence of the dominant on the non-domin...
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Sex differences have been reported for a variety of cognitive tasks and related to the use of different cognitive processing styles in men and women. It was recently argued that these processing styles share some characteristics across tasks, i.e. male approaches are oriented towards holistic stimulus aspects and female approaches are oriented towa...
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Estradiol and progesterone levels vary along the menstrual cycle and have multiple neuroactive effects, including on the dopaminergic system. Dopamine relates to executive functions in an “inverted U-shaped” manner and its levels are increased by estradiol. Accordingly, dopamine dependent changes in executive functions along the menstrual cycle hav...
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Sex differences and menstrual cycle influences have been investigated in a variety of cognitive abilities, but results regarding attention are comparably sparse. In the present study, 35 men and 32 naturally cycling women completed three attention tasks, which are commonly used in neuropsychological assessment situations. All participants completed...
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Sex differences in verbal fluency performance and strategies are highly controversial, nevertheless suggesting a slight female advantage at least for phonemic fluency. A tendency of increased clustering of words into phonemic and semantic subcategories in men and increased switching between those categories in women has been suggested. In spatial t...
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Men typically outperform women in spatial navigation tasks, while the advantage of women in verbal fluency is more controversial. Sex differences in cognitive abilities have been related to sex-specific cognitive strategies on the one hand and sex hormone influences on the other hand. However, sex hormone and menstrual cycle influences on cognitive...
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Neuroimaging studies suggest segregated neuronal systems underlying number magnitude processing (e.g. subtraction) and arithmetic fact retrieval (e.g. multiplication). While number magnitude processing is thought to rely on the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) bilaterally, arithmetic fact retrieval is thought to rely on the left angular gyrus (AG). Howev...
Article
Personality assessment has been challenged by the fact that different assessment methods (implicit measures, behavioral measures and explicit rating scales) show little or no convergence in behavioral studies. In this neuroimaging study we address for the first time, whether different assessment methods rely on separate or overlapping neuronal syst...
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Research, directly assessing sex-dependent differences in global versus local processing is sparse, but predominantly suggesting that men show a stronger global processing bias than women. Utilizing the Kimchi-Palmer task however, sex differences in the number of global choices can only be found in children, but not in adults. In the current study...
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The unit-decade compatibility effect has challenged the model of holistic number magnitude processing, suggesting decomposed processing of multi-digit numbers. Recent evidence confirms that decomposed processing of decade and unit magnitudes occurs in parallel. However, the mode of presentation of multi-digit numbers may affect the processing mode...
Article
Menstrual cycle dependent changes have been reported for a variety of functions, including cognition, attention, emotion, inhibition and perception. For several of these functions an effect of hormonal contraceptives has also been discussed. Cognitive, attentional, emotional, inhibitory and perceptual functions have been linked to distinct intrinsi...
Article
The present study aims to identify factors that may influence the dissociability of number magnitude processing and arithmetic fact retrieval at the behavioural level. To that end, we assessed both subtraction and multiplication performance in a within-subject approach and evaluated the interdependence of unit-decade integration measures on the one...
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Mathematics anxiety involves feelings of tension, discomfort, high arousal, and physiological reactivity interfering with number manipulation and mathematical problem solving. Several factor analytic models indicate that mathematics anxiety is rather a multidimensional than unique construct. However, the factor structure of mathematics anxiety has...
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Aim of this multicenter study was to investigate whether schooling relates to mental health problems of adolescents with cochlear implants (CI) and how this relationship is mediated by hearing and family variables. One hundred and forty secondary school students with CI (mean age = 14.7 years, SD = 1.5), their hearing parents and teachers completed...
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Time-stable personality traits, such as impulsivity and its relationship with functional and structural brain alterations, have gained much attention in the recent literature. Evidence from functional neuroimaging data implies an association between impulsivity and cortical as well as subcortical areas of the reward system. Discounting future rewar...
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Sex role orientation, i.e., a person's masculinity or femininity, influences cognitive and emotional performance, like biological sex. While it is now widely accepted that sex differences are modulated by the hormonal status of female participants (menstrual cycle, hormonal contraceptive use), the question, whether hormonal status and sex hormones...
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Mathematics anxiety is negatively related to mathematics performance, thereby threatening the professional success. Preoccupation with the emotional content of the stimuli may consume working memory resources, which may be reflected in decreased deactivation of areas associated with the default mode network (DMN) activated during self-referential a...