Frank H. Wilhelm

Frank H. Wilhelm
University of Salzburg · Department of Psychology

Ph.D.

About

295
Publications
119,591
Reads
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13,813
Citations
Introduction
Frank H. Wilhelm; University professor, Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg; Head of Division of Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology; Head of Ethics Committee, University of Salzburg; Faculty Member of Doctoral Programmes „Imaging the Mind“ and „Brain, Health, & Behaviour"; Head of Clinical Stress and Emotion Lab; Head of ANSLAB Development Team; Website: www.uni-salzburg.at/psy/people/wilhelm; Current research: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=wilhelm+fh
Additional affiliations
October 2011 - present
Doctoral Programme „Imaging the Mind“
Position
  • Faculty Member
October 2010 - present
University of Salzburg
Position
  • Principal Investigator
October 2010 - present
University of Salzburg
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Education
December 2005 - December 2005
University of Basel
Field of study
  • Psychology and Psychophysiology
July 1996 - July 1996
University of Marburg
Field of study
  • Psychology
October 1986 - June 1992
University of Marburg
Field of study
  • Psychology and Computer Sciences

Publications

Publications (295)
Article
Full-text available
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be conceptualized as a disorder of emotional memory showing strong (conditioned) responses to trauma reminders and intrusive memories among other symptoms. Women are at greater risk of developing PTSD than men. Recent studies have demonstrated an influence of ovarian steroid hormones in both fear conditionin...
Article
Social evaluation is a ubiquitous feature of daily interpersonal interactions and can produce strong positive or negative emotional reactions. While previous research has highlighted neural correlates of static or dynamic facial expressions, little is known about neural processing of more naturalistic social interaction simulations or the modulatin...
Article
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Cardiac vagal control (CVC) has been linked to both physical and mental health. One critical aspect of health, that has not received much attention, is sleep. We hypothesized that adults with higher CVC - operationalized by high-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV) - will exhibit better sleep quality assessed both subjectively (i.e., with Pitt...
Article
Full-text available
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep has been postulated to facilitate emotional processing of negative stimuli. However, empirical evidence is mixed and primarily based on self-report data and picture-viewing studies. This study used a full-length aversive film to elicit intense emotion on one evening, and an emotionally neutral control film on another...
Article
Full-text available
Sleep benefits memory consolidation. Here, we tested the beneficial effect of sleep on memory consolidation following exposure psychotherapy of phobic anxiety. Method A total of 40 individuals afflicted with spider phobia according to DSM-IV underwent a one-session virtual reality exposure treatment and either slept for 90 min or stayed awake after...
Article
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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...
Preprint
Full-text available
While research has elucidated processes underlying dissociative symptoms in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder, little is known about the circumstances under which trauma-related dissociation initially arises. To experimentally investigate causes and concomitants of peritraumatic dissociation, we subjected sixty-nine healthy women to avers...
Article
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Aversive autobiographical memories play a key role in the development and maintenance of many mental disorders. Imagery rescripting is a well-established psychotherapeutic intervention aiming to create a more adaptive version of an aversive memory by modifying its interpretation. Sleep has been shown to support reconsolidation of updated neutral me...
Article
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The current study investigated heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) across day and night in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). We recorded 24-h electrocardiography in 26 patients with DOC (i.e., unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS; n = 16) and (exit) minimally conscious state ((E)MCS; n = 10)). To examine diurnal variati...
Article
Full-text available
Psychological trauma is typically accompanied by physical pain, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often co-occurs with chronic pain. Clinical reports suggest that pain after trauma may be part of a re-experiencing symptomatology. Classical conditioning can underlie visual re-experiencing since intrusions can occur as conditioned responses (C...
Preprint
The current study investigated heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) across day and night in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). We recorded 24-h ECG in 26 patients with DOC (i.e., unresponsive wakefulness syndrome [UWS; n=16] and (exit) minimally conscious state [(E)MCS; n=10]). To examine diurnal variations, HR and HRV indi...
Article
Full-text available
Background Peritraumatic dissociation is purported to emerge together with attenuated autonomic arousal, immobility, and staring. However, empirical evidence is scarce and heterogeneous. Moreover, it is still a matter of debate whether these responses predict intrusion formation. Objective The present trauma-analogue study examined associations be...
Article
Background and objectives Although most trauma survivors experience some intrusive recollections of the traumatic event, only few subsequently develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A well-established proximal risk-factor predictive of post-trauma psychopathology is peritraumatic cognitive processing. Another, more distal risk-factor is pre-...
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
Full-text available
Objective Emotion regulation difficulties in anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) might underlie bingeing and purging in BN, extreme fasting in AN, or combinations of these symptoms in binge-purge type AN. In this study, we tested for decreased food cue reactivity in response to negative emotions in AN, and the opposite pattern for BN. Fu...
Preprint
Psychological trauma is typically accompanied by physical pain, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often co-occurs with chronic pain. Clinical reports suggest that pain in the aftermath of trauma may be part of a re-experiencing symptomatology. Previously, we demonstrated that classical conditioning can underlie visual re-experiencing since i...
Article
Full-text available
Intrusions in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are clinically understood as conditioned responses (CRs) to trauma-cues; however, experimental evidence for this is limited. We subjected 84 healthy participants to a differential conditioned-intrusion paradigm, where neutral faces served as conditioned stimuli (CSs) and aversive film clips as unco...
Article
Self-efficacy is a key construct in behavioral science with significant impact on mental health and wellbeing. A growing body of work has shown that perceptions of self-efficacy can be increased through recall of autobiographical episodes (AEs) of mastery ("self-efficacy memories") in experimental settings. Doing so contributes to improvements in c...
Article
Background: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly show sensory over-responsivity (SOR), an impairing condition related to over-reactive brain and behavioral responses to aversive stimuli. While individuals with ASD often show atypically high physiological arousal, it is unclear how this relates to sensory reactivity. We therefor...
Article
Full-text available
Maladaptive avoidance behaviour, a key symptom of anxiety-related disorders, prevents extinction learning and maintains anxiety. Individual personality traits likely influence avoidance propensity: high sensation-seeking may decrease avoidance, thereby increasing extinction, and neuroticism may have the reverse effect. However, research on this is...
Preprint
Full-text available
Intrusions in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are clinically understood as conditioned responses (CRs) to trauma-cues; however, experimental evidence for this is limited. We subjected 84 healthy participants to a differential conditioned-intrusion paradigm, where neutral faces served as conditioned stimuli (CS) and aversive film clips as uncon...
Article
Full-text available
Background Cognitive models of panic disorder (PD) highlight the role of panic-related associations and interpretations. However, results are mixed and rely on specific measures. This study examined panic-related associations and interpretations using established and new paradigms in individuals varying on anxiety sensitivity (AS).Methods Associati...
Article
Background: Depression in elderly patients is common and characterized by anxiety symptoms and cognitive impairment. To our knowledge, no studies have yet investigated the process of fear extinction in these patients. We investigated fear extinction with a paradigm consisting of habituation, acquisition and extinction. Methods: We included three ag...
Article
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In today’s society, obesity rates are rising as food intake is no longer only a response to physiological hunger signals that ensure survival. Eating can represent a reward, a response to boredom, or stress reduction and emotion regulation. While most people decrease food intake in response to stress or negative emotions, some do the opposite. Yet,...
Article
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Palatable food can trigger appetitive responses, such as salivation and approach tendencies. Though evolutionarily functional, these conditioned responses can encourage overeating and obesity when food is abundant. The current study examines the neural correlates of ‘denovo’ Pavlovian appetitive conditioning, pairing one class of unknown objects (c...
Article
Psychophysiological theories postulate respiratory dysregulation as a mechanism contributing to panic disorder (PD). Additionally, symptomatic and respiratory recovery from voluntary hyperventilation (HVT-recovery) have been shown to lag in PD and it is unclear if HVT-recovery normalizes with treatment. Thirty-seven panic disorder patients were ran...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep has been postulated to facilitate emotional processing of negative stimuli. However, empirical evidence is mixed and the conditions under which higher amounts of REM sleep lead to decreased or increased emotional responses are unclear. We proposed that the time course between REM sleep and measurement of e...
Article
Emotions involve response synchronization across experiential, physiological, and behavioral systems, referred to as concordance or coherence. Women are thought to be more emotionally aware and expressive than men and may therefore display stronger response concordance; however, research on this topic is scant. Using a random-order film-average des...
Article
Background: Deficient extinction learning has been suggested as an important mechanism involved in the etiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A key feature of PTSD, re-experiencing the trauma in form of intrusions, may be linked to deficient extinction learning. This link is investigated in a novel, fMRI-compatible fear conditioning pro...
Article
Full-text available
Muscular activity recording is of high basic science and clinical relevance and is typically achieved using electromyography (EMG). While providing detailed information about the state of a specific muscle, this technique has limitations such as the need for a priori assumptions about electrode placement and difficulty with recording muscular activ...
Article
Impaired learning and memory functioning are prime markers for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although initial evidence points to impaired fear acquisition in later AD, no study has investigated fear conditioning in early stages and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), a condition often preceding AD. The present study examined if fear conditioning...
Article
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Wearable sensors are increasingly used in research, as well as for personal and private purposes. A variety of scientific studies are based on physiological measurements from such rather low-cost wearables. That said, how accurate are such measurements compared to measurements from well-calibrated, high-quality laboratory equipment used in psycholo...
Article
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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...
Article
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There is a rich repertoire of methods for stress detection using various physiological signals and algorithms. However, there is still a gap in research efforts moving from laboratory studies to real-world settings. A small number of research has verified when a physiological response is a reaction to an extrinsic stimulus of the participant's envi...
Article
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Sleep and memory studies often focus on overnight rather than long‐term memory changes, traditionally associating overnight memory change (OMC) with sleep architecture and sleep patterns such as spindles. In addition, (para‐)sympathetic innervation has been associated with OMC after a daytime nap using heart rate variability (HRV). In this study we...
Article
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This study investigates the temporal patterning of infant self-regulatory behaviors (crying/fussing, sleeping) in relation to both infant (age, sex, regulatory problems) and maternal variables (soothing behaviors, mood). Self-regulatory and soothing behaviors were assessed in 121 mother-infant dyads (4–44 weeks) by the Baby’s Day Diary at 5 min int...
Article
Zusammenfassung. Die hohen Flüchtlingszahlen und die fortlaufende Ankunft schwer traumatisierter unbegleiteter minderjähriger Flüchtlinge (UMF) verschärfen die Suche nach wirksamen und niederschwelligen Präventions- und Interventionsprogrammen. Die vorliegende Pilotstudie evaluiert die Effektivität eines nicht-indizierten, sechs Sitzungen umfassend...
Article
Full-text available
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...
Article
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Reduced perception of bodily signals and low levels of intuitive eating have been reported in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) compared with normal-weight individuals. However, findings have been inconsistent and treatment progress might account for some of these inconsistencies. Thirty-seven inpatients with AN and 39 normal-weight controls comp...
Article
Full-text available
Cortisol is a stress hormone and potent modulator of learning and memory processes. If administered after learning, cortisol can enhance memory consolidation. Yet it is unknown whether cortisol administration after fear extinction learning strengthens extinction memory. Extinction is a crucial mechanism underlying psychotherapy of posttraumatic str...
Article
Background: Pathological peritraumatic encoding is proposed as a proximal risk factor for the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with trauma-analog studies linking increased neural processing of trauma films to intrusive trauma recollections, a core symptom of PTSD. Cumulative lifetime adversity is proposed as a more distal risk...
Article
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is marked by persistent fear of being scrutinized by others. This and most diagnostic symptoms relate to some form of fear of negative evaluation (FNE). More recent accounts of SAD, such as the Bivalent Fear of Evaluation Model, however, complement FNE with fear of positive evaluation (FPE), described as distress and a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Muscular activity recording is of high basic science and clinical relevance and is typically achieved using electromyography (EMG). While providing detailed information about the state of a specific muscle, this technique has limitations such as the need for a-priori assumptions about electrode placement and difficulty with recording muscular activ...
Article
Full-text available
Intrusive thoughts, images, and their appraisal remain difficult to study despite their clinical relevance. Clinical studies typically used time-based (frequency and distress per observation period), while analogue studies mainly used event-based (report upon occurrence) assessment. A comparison of intrusion frequency, distress appraisal, complianc...
Article
Higher prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in women than men may be explained by sex differences in fear learning processes. Initial evidence points to elevated unconditioned and conditioned fear responding as well as to elevated state anxiety in women as potential peritraumatic mechanisms. Using the “conditioned-intrusion-paradigm”...
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...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Conventional weight-loss programs that induce a calorie deficit mostly fail in long-term weight reduction and disadvantageous eating styles often remain unchanged. Mindfulness interventions therefore redirect the focus away from the weight-loss goal and toward the process of eating itself. By eating more mindfully, at a slower pace, and...
Article
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Objective: Medical cancer treatment is often accompanied by appearance‐related side effects such as hair loss, skin irritation, and paleness, which can subsequently lead to psychosocial distress. Initial evidence suggests that beauty care interventions may reduce distress and improve quality of life (QoL), body image, and self‐esteem immediately. M...
Article
Full-text available
Social threat detection is important in everyday life. Studies of cortical activity have shown that event-related potentials (ERPs) of motivated attention are modulated during fear conditioning. The time course of motivated attention in learning and extinction of fear is however still largely unknown. We aimed to study temporal dynamics of learning...
Article
Background Traumatic experiences during childhood are considered a major risk factor for depression in adulthood. Childhood trauma may induce physiological dysregulation with long-term effects of increased allostatic load until adulthood, which may lead to depression. Thus, our aim was to investigate whether allostatic load—which represents a multi...
Article
Change point detection methods signal the occurrence of abrupt changes in a time series. Non-parametric approaches, such as the Gaussian kernel based change point (KCP) detection (Arlot et al., 2012), are especially attractive because they impose less assumptions on the data. Yet, a drawback of these methods is that most of them are sensitive to ch...
Article
Background Previous research has shown that hypoventilation therapy reduces panic symptoms in part by increasing basal PCO2 levels. We tested an additional pathway by which hypoventilation therapy could exert its therapeutic effects: through repeated interoceptive exposure to sensations of dyspnea. Methods Thirty-five patients with panic disorder...
Article
Full-text available
Background Previous research has demonstrated that the neuropeptide oxytocin modulates social behaviors and reduces anxiety. However, effects of oxytocin on startle reactivity, a well-validated measure of defense system activation related to fear and anxiety, have been inconsistent. Here we investigated the influence of oxytocin on startle reactivi...
Chapter
Computerisierte Verfahren zur klinischen Diagnostik, Indikationsstellung und Therapieverlaufskontrolle finden in Form von Fragebögen, strukturierten Interviews und elektronischen Patiententagebüchern zunehmend Eingang in die klinische Praxis. Eine internetbasierte Erfassung der Symptomatik eines Patienten über Smartphone-Apps ist zeitsparend und or...
Chapter
Die Erforschung computergestützter Psychotherapie hat eine lange Tradition. Die aktuelle intensive Forschung zu Online- bzw. Smartphone-Interventionen, Selbsthilfeprogrammen mit oder ohne Therapeutenkontakt und therapeutischen Computerspielen hat gezeigt, dass sie traditionelle verhaltenstherapeutische Ansätze durch fokussierte und zeitlich begrenz...
Chapter
Die Psychophysiologie betrachtet die vielfältigen Beziehungen zwischen psychologischen und physiologischen Vorgängen. Dies ermöglicht beispielsweise, Veränderungen der vegetativen Funktionen bei emotionaler Aktivierung objektiv zu quantifizieren oder die zentralnervösen Prozesse, die bei einer psychischen Störung eine Rolle spielen, besser zu verst...
Article
Women are at higher risk for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and recent research has highlighted a modulating role of female sex hormones for cognitive and emotional processes potentially underlying PTSD symptoms. However, studies combining fMRI recordings of brain activity during trauma film viewing with assessment of female sex hormones are...
Article
Sex differences in emotional reactivity have been studied primarily for negative but less so for positive stimuli; likewise, sex differences in the psychophysiological response-patterning during such stimuli are poorly understood. Thus, the present study examined sex differences in response to negative/positive and high/low arousing films (classifi...
Article
Research on eating behavior is limited by an overreliance on self-report. It is well known that actual food intake is frequently underreported, and it is likely that this problem is overrepresented in vulnerable populations. The present research tested a chewing detection method that could assist self-report methods. A trained sample of 15 particip...
Article
Emotion recognition and emotional mimicry are both highly important for social interactions. The authors investigated in a subclinical sample if High Socially Anxious (HSA) individuals show an altered pattern of emotional mimicry, and exhibit difficulties in emotion recognition compared to Low Socially Anxious (LSA) individuals. Twenty-one HSA and...