Andreas Ströhle

Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlín, Berlin, Germany

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Publications (228)1061.51 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and pharmacological treatment with selective serotonin or serotonin-noradrenalin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI/SSNRI) are regarded as efficacious treatments for panic disorder with agoraphobia (PD/AG). However, little is known about treatment-specific effects on symptoms and neurofunctional correlates. Experimental procedures: We used a comparative design with PD/AG patients receiving either two types of CBT (therapist-guided (n=29) or non-guided exposure (n=22)) or pharmacological treatment (SSRI/SSNRI; n=28) as well as a wait-list control group (WL; n=15) to investigate differential treatment effects in general aspects of fear and depression (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale HAM-A and Beck Depression Inventory BDI), disorder-specific symptoms (Mobility Inventory MI, Panic and Agoraphobia Scale subscale panic attacks PAS-panic, Anxiety Sensitivity Index ASI, rating of agoraphobic stimuli) and neurofunctional substrates during symptom provocation (Westphal-Paradigm) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Comparisons of neural activation patterns also included healthy controls (n=29). Results: Both treatments led to a significantly greater reduction in panic attacks, depression and general anxiety than the WL group. The CBT groups, in particular, the therapist-guided arm, had a significantly greater decrease in avoidance, fear of phobic situations and anxiety symptoms and reduction in bilateral amygdala activation while the processing of agoraphobia-related pictures compared to the SSRI/SSNRI and WL groups. Discussion: This study demonstrates that therapist-guided CBT leads to a more pronounced short-term impact on agoraphobic psychopathology and supports the assumption of the amygdala as a central structure in a complex fear processing system as well as the amygdala׳s involvement in the fear system׳s sensitivity to treatment.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · European Neuropsychopharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies of the dimensional structure of panic attack symptoms have mostly identified a respiratory and a vestibular/mixed somatic dimension. Evidence for additional dimensions such as a cardiac dimension and the allocation of several of the panic attack symptom criteria is less consistent. Clarifying the dimensional structure of the panic attack symptoms should help to specify the relationship of potential risk factors like anxiety sensitivity and fear of suffocation to the experience of panic attacks and the development of panic disorder. Method. In an outpatient multicentre study 350 panic patients with agoraphobia rated the intensity of each of the ten DSM-IV bodily symptoms during a typical panic attack. The factor structure of these data was investigated with nonlinear confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The identified bodily symptom dimensions were related to panic cognitions, anxiety sensitivity and fear of suffocation by means of nonlinear structural equation modelling (SEM). Results. CFA indicated a respiratory, a vestibular/mixed somatic and a cardiac dimension of the bodily symptom criteria. These three factors were differentially associated with specific panic cognitions, different anxiety sensitivity facets and suffocation fear. Conclusions. Taking into account the dimensional structure of panic attack symptoms may help to increase the specificity of the associations between the experience of panic attack symptoms and various panic related constructs.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Psychological Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure therapy is considered an effective treatment strategy for phobic anxiety, however, it is rarely applied in clinical practice. The under-usage might be due to various factors of which heightened stress levels not only in patients but also in therapists are presumed to be of particular relevance. The present study aimed to investigate whether different forms of exposure might lead to varying physiological and psychological stress responses in therapists and phobic patients. 25 patients with specific phobia underwent individual cognitive behavioural therapy, performed by 25 psychotherapist trainees, applying exposure sessions in graduated form or the flooding technique. Patients and therapists provided subjective evaluations of stress and five saliva samples for analysis of salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase either during two graduated exposure sessions or during one flooding session, while a regular therapy session served as control condition. Therapists displayed heightened salivary alpha-amylase release during exposure of the flooding, but not the graduated, type. Patients showed elevated salivary cortisol during flooding exposure numerically, however, not on a statistically significant level. Therapists reported more pronounced subjective stress during flooding compared to graduated exposure. Elevated stress levels should be addressed in clinical training in order to improve application of exposure in routine practice.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Psychiatry Research
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Smoking is a highly preventable risk factor. The present study investigates whether military operations abroad, as compared to deployment preparation, increase the risk of starting to smoke, enhance tobacco dependence and moderator variables can be identified on smoking behavior. Method: The study was conducted at 2 mechanized infantry battalions with N=264 soldiers. The task force completed a deployment in Afghanistan, the control group performed a deployment training. Assessments of tobacco dependence, posttraumatic symptoms, depression and stress were done before (t1) and after (t3) deployment. In addition, one assessment was done at mid-point (t2) during deployment and during the pre-deployment training, respectively. Results: The prevalence rate of smoking soldiers was 56,4%. 51,1% (n=135) of all examined soldiers smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day. The results show a significant increase of tobacco dependence in the task force from t1 to t3 (p=0,040) as compared to the control group. For both groups, there was no increase in starting to smoke during the period of investigation (χ²<1; n. s.). Moderator variables on smoking were not found, but there was a significant increase in posttraumatic stress symptoms in the deployed group (p=0,006). Conclusions: Perhaps the increase in tobacco dependence in the experimental group can be attributed to the specific burdens of deployment. If high smoking rates were to be found also in other branches of the armed services, effective smoking cessation programs should be offered more widely.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Das Gesundheitswesen
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    ABSTRACT: The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 allele is the best established genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and has been previously associated with alterations in structural gray matter and changes in functional brain activity in healthy middle-aged individuals and older non-demented subjects. In order to determine the neural mechanism by which APOE polymorphisms affect white matter (WM) structure, we investigated the diffusion characteristics of WM tracts in carriers and non-carriers of the APOE ɛ4 and ɛ2 alleles using an unbiased whole brain analysis technique (Tract Based Spatial Statistics) in a healthy young adolescent (14 years) cohort. A large sample of healthy young adolescents (n = 575) were selected from the European neuroimaging-genetics IMAGEN study with available APOE status and accompanying diffusion imaging data. MR Diffusion data was acquired on 3T systems using 32 diffusion-weighted (DW) directions and 4 non-DW volumes (b-value = 1,300 s/mm2 and isotropic resolution of 2.4×2.4×2.4 mm). No significant differences in WM structure were found in diffusion indices between carriers and non-carriers of the APOE ɛ4 and ɛ2 alleles, and dose-dependent effects of these variants were not established, suggesting that differences in WM structure are not modulated by the APOE polymorphism. In conclusion, our results suggest that microstructural properties of WM structure are not associated with the APOE ɛ4 and ɛ2 alleles in young adolescence, suggesting that the neural effects of these variants are not evident in 14-year-olds and may only develop later in life.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD
  • Carolin Liebscher · Andreas Ströhle · Thomas Fydrich

    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Psychotherapeut
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    ABSTRACT: Demographic changes are increasing the pressure to improve therapeutic strategies against cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Besides drug treatment, physical activity seems to be a promising intervention target as epidemiological and clinical studies suggest beneficial effects of exercise training on cognition. Using comparable inclusion and exclusion criteria we analyzed the efficacy of drug therapy (cholinesterase inhibitors, memantine and Ginkgo biloba) and exercise interventions for improving cognition in AD and MCI populations.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
  • Jens Plag · Andreas Ströhle

    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · PiD - Psychotherapie im Dialog
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To investigate the role of personality factors and attentional biases towards emotional faces, in establishing concurrent and prospective risk for mental disorder diagnosis in adolescence. Method: Data were obtained as part of the IMAGEN study, conducted across 8 European sites, with a community sample of 2257 adolescents. At 14 years, participants completed an emotional variant of the dot-probe task, as well two personality measures, namely the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale and the revised NEO Personality Inventory. At 14 and 16 years, participants and their parents were interviewed to determine symptoms of mental disorders. Results: Personality traits were general and specific risk indicators for mental disorders at 14 years. Increased specificity was obtained when investigating the likelihood of mental disorders over a 2-year period, with the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale showing incremental validity over the NEO Personality Inventory. Attentional biases to emotional faces did not characterise or predict mental disorders examined in the current sample. Discussion: Personality traits can indicate concurrent and prospective risk for mental disorders in a community youth sample, and identify at-risk youth beyond the impact of baseline symptoms. This study does not support the hypothesis that attentional biases mediate the relationship between personality and psychopathology in a community sample. Task and sample characteristics that contribute to differing results among studies are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: During rest, brain activity is synchronized between different regions widely distributed throughout the brain, forming functional networks. However, the molecular mechanisms supporting functional connectivity remain undefined. We show that functional brain networks defined with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging can be recapitulated by using measures of correlated gene expression in a post mortem brain tissue data set. The set of 136 genes we identify is significantly enriched for ion channels. Polymorphisms in this set of genes significantly affect resting-state functional connectivity in a large sample of healthy adolescents. Expression levels of these genes are also significantly associated with axonal connectivity in the mouse. The results provide convergent, multimodal evidence that resting-state functional networks correlate with the orchestrated activity of dozens of genes linked to ion channel activity and synaptic function. Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Science
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    ABSTRACT: Depression is frequent in panic disorder (PD); yet, little is known about its influence on the neural substrates of PD. Difficulties in fear inhibition during safety signal processing have been reported as a pathophysiological feature of PD that is attenuated by depression. We investigated the impact of comorbid depression in PD with agoraphobia (AG) on the neural correlates of fear conditioning and the potential of machine learning to predict comorbidity status on the individual patient level based on neural characteristics. Fifty-nine PD/AG patients including 26 (44%) with a comorbid depressive disorder (PD/AG+DEP) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Comorbidity status was predicted using a random undersampling tree ensemble in a leave-one-out cross-validation framework. PD/AG-DEP patients showed altered neural activation during safety signal processing, while +DEP patients exhibited generally decreased dorsolateral prefrontal and insular activation. Comorbidity status was correctly predicted in 79% of patients (sensitivity: 73%; specificity: 85%) based on brain activation during fear conditioning (corrected for potential confounders: accuracy: 73%; sensitivity: 77%; specificity: 70%). No primary depressed patients were available; only medication-free patients were included. Major depression and dysthymia were collapsed (power considerations). Neurofunctional activation during safety signal processing differed between patients with or without comorbid depression, a finding which may explain heterogeneous results across previous studies. These findings demonstrate the relevance of comorbidity when investigating neurofunctional substrates of anxiety disorders. Predicting individual comorbidity status may translate neurofunctional data into clinically relevant information which might aid in planning individualized treatment. The study was registered with the ISRCTN: ISRCTN80046034. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Journal of Affective Disorders
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    ABSTRACT: Adolescence is a common time for initiation of alcohol use and alcohol use disorders. Importantly, the neuro-anatomical foundation for later alcohol-related problems may already manifest pre-natally, particularly due to smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. In this context, cortical gyrification is an interesting marker of neuronal development but has not been investigated as a risk factor for adolescent alcohol use. On magnetic resonance imaging scans of 595 14-year-old adolescents from the IMAGEN sample, we computed whole-brain mean curvature indices to predict change in alcohol-related problems over the following 2 years. Change of alcohol use-related problems was significantly predicted from mean curvature in left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Less gyrification of OFC was associated with an increase in alcohol use-related problems over the next 2 years. Moreover, lower gyrification in left OFC was related to pre-natal alcohol exposure, whereas maternal smoking during pregnancy had no effect. Current alcohol use-related problems of the biological mother had no effect on offsprings' OFC gyrification or drinking behaviour. The data support the idea that alcohol consumption during pregnancy mediates the development of neuro-anatomical phenotypes, which in turn constitute a risk factor for increasing problems due to alcohol consumption in a vulnerable stage of life. Maternal smoking during pregnancy or current maternal alcohol/nicotine consumption had no significant effect. The OFC mediates behaviours known to be disturbed in addiction, namely impulse control and reward processing. The results stress the importance of pre-natal alcohol exposure for later increases in alcohol use-related problems, mediated by structural brain characteristics. © 2015 Society for the Study of Addiction.
    No preview · Article · May 2015 · Addiction Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Regulator of G-protein Signaling 2 (RGS2) is a key regulator of G-protein-coupled signaling pathways involved in fear and anxiety. Data from rodent models and genetic analysis of anxiety-related traits and disorders in humans suggest down-regulation of RGS2 expression to be a risk factor for anxiety. Here we investigated, whether genetic variation in microRNAs mediating posttranscriptional down-regulation of RGS2 may be a risk factor for anxiety as well. 75 microRNAs predicted to regulate RGS2 were identified by four bioinformatic algorithms and validated experimentally by luciferase reporter gene assays. Specificity was confirmed for six microRNAs (hsa-miR-1271-5p, hsa-miR-22-3p, hsa-miR-3591-3p, hsa-miR-377-3p, hsa-miR-4717-5p, hsa-miR-96-5p) by disrupting their seed sequence at the 3' untranslated region of RGS2. Hsa-miR-4717-5p showed the most robust effect on RGS2 and regulated two other candidate genes of anxiety disorders (CNR1 and IKBKE) as well. Two SNPs (rs150925, rs161427) within and 1,000 bp upstream of the hostgene of hsa-miR-4717-5p (MIR4717) show a minor allele frequency greater than 0.05. Both were in high linkage disequilibrium (r(2) = 1, D' = 1) and both major (G) alleles showed a trend for association with panic disorder with comorbid agoraphobia in one of two patient/control samples (combined npatients = 497). Dimensional anxiety traits, as described by Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI) and Agoraphobic Cognitions Questionnaire (ACQ) were significantly higher among carriers of both major (G) alleles in a combined patient/control sample (ncombined = 831). Taken together, data indicate that MIR4717 regulates human RGS2 and contributes to the genetic risk towards anxiety-related traits. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics

  • No preview · Chapter · Mar 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Accumulating evidence from mouse models points to the G protein-coupled receptor RGS2 (regulator of G-protein signaling 2) as a promising candidate gene for anxiety in humans. Recently, RGS2 polymorphisms were found to be associated with various anxiety disorders, e.g., rs4606 with panic disorder (PD), but other findings have been negative or inconsistent concerning the respective risk allele. To further examine the role of RGS2 polymorphisms in the pathogenesis of PD, we genotyped rs4606 and five additional RGS2 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; rs16834831, rs10801153, rs16829458, rs1342809, rs1890397) in two independent PD samples, comprising 531 matched case/control pairs. The functional SNP rs4606 was nominally associated with PD when both samples were combined. The upstream SNP rs10801153 displayed a Bonferroni-resistant significant association with PD in the second and the combined sample (P = 0.006 and P = 0.017). We furthermore investigated the effect of rs10801153 on dimensional anxiety traits, a behavioral avoidance test (BAT), and an index for emotional processing in the respective subsets of the total sample. In line with categorical results, homozygous risk (G) allele carriers displayed higher scores on the Agoraphobic Cognitions Questionnaire (ACQ; P = 0.015) and showed significantly more defensive behavior during fear provoking situations (P = 0.001). Furthermore, significant effects on brain activation in response to angry (P = 0.013), happy (P = 0.042) and neutral faces (P = 0.032) were detected. Taken together, these findings provide further evidence for the potential role of RGS2 as a candidate gene for PD. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics
  • Katharina Gaudlitz · Jens Plag · Fernando Dimeo · Andreas Ströhle
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    ABSTRACT: Physical activity has been discussed as a therapeutic alternative or add-on for the treatment of anxiety disorders. We studied whether aerobic exercise compared to physical activity with low impact can improve the effect of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in patients with panic disorder (PD) with/without agoraphobia. Forty-seven patients received group CBT treatment over 1 month, which was augmented with an 8-week protocol of either aerobic exercise (three times/week, 30 min, 70% VO2 max; n = 24) or a training program including exercises with very low intensity (n = 23) in a randomized controlled double-blind design. The primary outcome measure was the total score on the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (Ham-A). A 2 × 3 analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with baseline value as a covariate was conducted for data analysis. Time × group interaction for the Ham-A revealed a significant effect (P = .047, η(2) p = .072), which represented the significant group difference at a 7-month follow-up. For the other clinical outcome measures no statistical significance emerged, although improvement was more sustained in the exercise group. For patients with PD, regular aerobic exercise adds an additional benefit to CBT. This supports previous results and provides evidence about the intensity of exercise that needs to be performed. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Depression and Anxiety
  • Jens Plag · Sarah Schumacher · Andreas Stroehle

    No preview · Chapter · Feb 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Nonresponsiveness to therapy is generally acknowledged, but only a few studies have tested switching to psychotherapy. This study is one of the first to examine the malleability of treatment-resistant patients using acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Methods: This was a randomized controlled trial that included 43 patients diagnosed with primary panic disorder and/or agoraphobia (PD/A) with prior unsuccessful state-of-the-art treatment (mean number of previous sessions = 42.2). Patients were treated with an ACT manual administered by novice therapists and followed up for 6 months. They were randomized to immediate treatment (n = 33) or a 4-week waiting list (n = 10) with delayed treatment (n = 8). Treatment consisted of eight sessions, implemented twice weekly over 4 weeks. Primary outcomes were measured with the Panic and Agoraphobia Scale (PAS), the Clinical Global Impression (CGI), and the Mobility Inventory (MI). Results: At post-treatment, patients who received ACT reported significantly more improvements on the PAS and CGI (d = 0.72 and 0.89, respectively) than those who were on the waiting list, while improvement on the MI (d = 0.50) was nearly significant. Secondary outcomes were consistent with ACT theory. Follow-up assessments indicated a stable and continued improvement after treatment. The dropout rate was low (9%). Conclusions: Despite a clinically challenging sample and brief treatment administered by novice therapists, patients who received ACT reported significantly greater changes in functioning and symptomatology than those on the waiting list, with medium-to-large effect sizes that were maintained for at least 6 months. These proof-of-principle data suggest that ACT is a viable treatment option for treatment-resistant PD/A patients. Further work on switching to psychotherapy for nonresponders is clearly needed. © 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have pointed to high rates of substance use disorders among female prisoners. The present study aimed to assess comorbidities of substance use disorders with other mental disorders in female prisoners at admission to a penal justice system. A sample of 150 female prisoners, consecutively admitted to the penal justice system of Berlin, Germany, was interviewed using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). The presence of borderline personality disorder was assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview II for DSM-IV. Prevalence rates and comorbidities were calculated as percentage values and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Ninety-three prisoners (62%; 95% CI: 54-70) had substance use disorders; n=49 (33%; 95% CI: 24-42) had alcohol abuse/dependence; n=76 (51%; 95% CI: 43-59) had illicit drug abuse/dependence; and n=53 (35%; 95% CI: 28-44) had opiate use disorders. In the group of inmates with substance use disorders, 84 (90%) had at least one other mental disorder; n=63 (68%) had comorbid affective disorders; n=45 (49%) had borderline or antisocial personality disorders; and n=41 (44%) had comorbid anxiety disorders. Female prisoners with addiction have high rates of comorbid mental disorders at admission to the penal justice system, ranging from affective to personality and anxiety disorders. Generic and robust interventions that can address different comorbid mental health problems in a flexible manner may be required to tackle widespread addiction and improve mental health of female prisoners. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Addictive Behaviors
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    ABSTRACT: Adaption to changing environments is evolutionarily advantageous. Studies that link genetic and phenotypic expression of flexible adjustment to one's context are largely lacking. In this study, we tested the importance of psychological flexibility, or goal-related context sensitivity, in an interaction between psychotherapy outcome for panic disorder with agoraphobia (PD/AG) and a genetic polymorphism. Given the established role of the 5HTT-LPR polymorphism in behavioral flexibility, we tested whether this polymorphism (short group vs. long group) impacted therapy response as a function of various endophenotypes (i.e., psychological flexibility, panic, agoraphobic avoidance, and anxiety sensitivity). Patients with PD/AG were recruited from a large multicenter randomized controlled clinical trial on cognitive-behavioral therapy. Pre- to post-treatment changes by 5HTT polymorphism were analyzed. 5HTT polymorphism status differentiated pre- to post-treatment changes in the endophenotype psychological flexibility (effect size difference d = 0.4, p < 0.05), but none of the specific symptom-related endophenotypes consistently for both the intent-to-treat sample (n = 228) and the treatment completers (n = 194). Based on the consistency of these findings with existing theory on behavioral flexibility, the specificity of the results across phenotypes, and the consistency of results across analyses (i.e., completer and intent to treat), we conclude that 5HTT polymorphism and the endophenotype psychological flexibility are important variables for the treatment of PD/AG. The endophenotype psychological flexibility may help bridge genetic and psychological literatures. Despite the limitation of the post hoc nature of these analyses, further study is clearly warranted.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience

Publication Stats

5k Citations
1,061.51 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2005-2016
    • Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin
      • Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 2011-2014
    • Ghent University
      • Department of Experimental Psychology
      Gand, Flemish, Belgium
    • Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology
      München, Bavaria, Germany
    • University of Toronto
      • Rotman Research Institute
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2013
    • Technische Universität Dresden
      • Department of Psychology
      Dresden, Saxony, Germany
  • 2012
    • Universität Heidelberg
      • Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
      Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • 2010-2012
    • Central Institute of Mental Health
      • Klinik für Abhängiges Verhalten und Suchtmedizin
      Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 1998-2008
    • Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry
      München, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2006
    • Freie Universität Berlin
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 2003
    • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 1998-2001
    • Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich
      • Department of Psychiatry
      München, Bavaria, Germany