Philipp Sterzer's research while affiliated with Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and other places

Publications (261)

Article
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One notion emerging from studies on unconscious visual processing is that different “blinding techniques” seem to suppress the conscious perception of stimuli at different levels of the neurocognitive architecture. However, even when only the results from a single suppression method are compared, the picture of the scope and limits of unconscious v...
Article
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Objectives Predictive processing posits that perception emerges from inferential processes within a hierarchical cortical system. Alterations of these processes may result in psychotic experiences, such as hallucinations and delusions. Central to the predictive processing account of psychosis is the notion of aberrant weights attributed to prior in...
Article
Research suggests that at the core of paranormal belief formation is a tendency to attribute meaning to ambiguous stimuli. But it is unclear whether this tendency reflects a difference in perceptual sensitivity or a decision bias. Using a two-alternative forced choice task, we tested the relationship between paranormal belief and perceptual sensiti...
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Reinforcement learning algorithms have a long-standing success story in explaining the dynamics of instrumental conditioning in humans and other species. While normative reinforcement learning models are critically dependent on external feedback, recent findings in the field of perceptual learning point to a crucial role of internally-generated rei...
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Psychotic disorders as well as psychosis proneness in the general population have been associated with perceptual instability, suggesting weakened predictive processing. Sleep disturbances play a prominent role in psychosis and schizophrenia, but it is unclear whether perceptual stability diminishes with sleep deprivation, and whether the effects o...
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Visual illusions provide a compelling case for the idea that perception and belief may remain incongruent. This can be explained by modular theories of mind, but it is not straightforwardly accommodated by the Predictive Processing framework, which takes perceptual and cognitive predictions to derive from the same underlying inferential hierarchy....
Article
The Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) model proposes preoperational functioning as a core feature of persistent depressive disorders (PDD). Empathy deficits comprise one aspect. Resulting from childhood maltreatment, empathy deficits may aggravate social isolation, a key factor in the maintenance of depression. CBASP tar...
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In Philosophy of Psychedelics, Letheby provides a convincing basis for the idea that psychedelics primarily derive their therapeutic potential through mediating favourable changes to self-related belief systems. In this commentary, we take a closer look at the role that contextual factors (‘set’ and ‘setting’) play in Letheby’s two-factor account o...
Preprint
Background: The CBASP model proposes preoperational functioning as a core feature of persistent depressive disorders (PDD). Empathy deficits comprise one aspect. Resulting from childhood maltreatment, empathy deficits may aggravate social isolation, a key factor in the maintenance of depression. CBASP targets empathy by teaching patients to disenga...
Preprint
Background. Predictive processing posits that perception emerges from inferential processes within a hierarchical cortical system. Alterations of these processes may result in psychotic experiences, such as hallucinations and delusions. Central to the predictive processing account of psychosis is the notion of aberrant weights attributed to prior i...
Article
Full-text available
Predictions shape our perception. The theory of predictive processing poses that our brains make sense of incoming sensory input by generating predictions, which are sent back from higher to lower levels of the processing hierarchy. These predictions are based on our internal model of the world and enable inferences about the hidden causes of the s...
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Introduction: Emotion regulation (ER), the ability to actively modulate one's own emotion reactions, likely depends on the individual's current emotional state. Here, we investigated whether negative emotions induced by an interpersonal autobiographic script affect the neuronal processes underlying ER. Methods: Twenty healthy participants were r...
Preprint
Reinforcement learning algorithms have a long-standing success story in explaining the dynamics of instrumental conditioning in humans and other species. While normative reinforcement learning models are critically dependent on external feedback, recent findings in the field of perceptual learning point to a crucial role of internally-generated rei...
Preprint
Perception is known to cycle through periods of enhanced and reduced sensitivity to external information. Here, we asked whether such infra-slow oscillations arise as a noise-related epiphenomenon of limited processing capacity or, alternatively, represent a structured mechanism of perceptual inference. Using two large-scale datasets, we found that...
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According to the predictive processing framework, perception is geared to represent the environment in terms of embodied action opportunities as opposed to objective truth. Here, we argue that such an optimisation is reflected by biases in expectations (i.e., prior predictive information) that facilitate ‘useful’ inferences of external sensory caus...
Article
In the search for the neural correlates of consciousness, it has remained controversial whether prefrontal cortex determines what is consciously experienced or, alternatively, serves only complementary functions, such as introspection or action. Here, we provide converging evidence from computational modeling and two functional magnetic resonance i...
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Im Zuge der Anfänge der Verhaltenstherapie (VT) und der “kognitiven Wende” wurde der aktiven Beziehungsgestaltung und damit verbundenen Faktoren zunächst nur zweitrangig Beachtung geschenkt, obwohl die Bedeutung der Beziehung zwischen Therapeut und Patient auch in der VT bereits relativ früh erkannt wurde. Seitdem hat sich die VT substanziell weite...
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The Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) was originally developed for outpatients with persistent depressive disorder (PDD). We adapted CBASP as inpatient treatment on a general acute psychiatric ward and evaluated its outcome and feasibility. Sixty PDD patients received a 12-week multidisciplinary CBASP program. Hamilton D...
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According to the predictive coding theory of psychosis, hallucinations and delusions are explained by an overweighing of high-level prior expectations relative to sensory information that leads to false perceptions of meaningful signals. However, it is currently unclear whether the hypothesized overweighing of priors (1) represents a pervasive alte...
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Human faces can convey socially relevant information in various ways. Since the early detection of such information is crucial in social contexts, socially meaningful information might also have privileged access to awareness. This is indeed suggested by previous research using faces with emotional expressions. However, the social relevance of emot...
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Background: The Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) has been tailored specifically to the demands of patients with persistent depressive disorder (PDD). According to the CBASP model, PDD patients are supposed to live perceptually disconnected from their social environment, which consequently maintains depression. While ini...
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Perceptual history can exert pronounced effects on the contents of conscious experience: When confronted with completely ambiguous stimuli, perception does not waver at random between diverging stimulus interpretations, but sticks with recent percepts for prolonged intervals. Here, we investigated the relevance of perceptual history in situations m...
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Abstract Background Conduct disorder (CD) is characterized by severe aggressive and antisocial behavior. Initial evidence suggests neural deficits and aberrant eye gaze pattern during emotion processing in CD; both concepts, however, have not yet been studied simultaneously. The present study assessed the functional brain correlates of emotional fa...
Preprint
Predictions shape our perception. The theory of predictive processing poses that our brains make sense of incoming sensory input by generating predictions, which are sent back from higher to lower levels of the processing hierarchy. These predictions are based on our internal model of the world and enable inferences about the hidden causes of the s...
Article
A dimensional approach in psychiatry aims to identify core mechanisms of mental disorders across nosological boundaries. We compared anticipation of reward between major psychiatric disorders, and investigated whether reward anticipation is impaired in several mental disorders and whether there is a common psychopathological correlate (negative moo...
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In the original article, the reference number #36 is listed with the wrong list of authors. The first author was unfortunately omitted. The correct reference #36 should read: Lasalvia A, Bonetto C, Tosato S, Cristofalo D, Salazzari D et al (2014) First-contact incidence of psychosis in north-eastern Italy: influence of age, gender, immigration and...
Article
Background: The atypical processing of eye contact is a characteristic hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The severity of these symptoms, however, is thought to lie on a continuum that extends into the typical population. While behavioural evidence shows that differences in social cognitive tasks in typically developed (TD) adults are rela...
Article
Empathy refers to the ability to understand the emotions of others. It encompasses a cognitive component of decoding a mental state, and an affective component that relates to an emotional response. Deficits in empathy have been associated with social dysfunction in depression. It is further assumed that impairments are aggravated when depression t...
Preprint
Despite a growing understanding of human brain function, it is still unclear how conscious experience emerges from neural activity. A much-debated question in the search for the neural underpinnings of consciousness is whether prefrontal cortex actively shapes conscious experience or, alternatively, serves only complementary cognitive functions suc...
Chapter
In diesem Kapitel wird das psychotische Erleben am Bespiel der paranoiden Schizophrenie dargestellt.
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Visual working memory (VWM) allows for keeping visual information available for upcoming goal-directed behavior, while new visual input is processed concurrently. Interactions between the mnemonic and perceptual systems cause VWM to affect the processing of visual input in a content-specific manner: visual input that is initially suppressed from co...
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Systematic reviews and meta-analyses suggest that there are increased rates of schizophrenia and related psychoses in first- and second-generation migrants and refugees. Here, we present a meta-analysis on the incidence of non-affective psychotic disorders among first- and second-generation migrants. We found substantial evidence for an increased r...
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It is well-established that increased sensory uncertainty impairs perceptual decision-making and leads to degraded neural stimulus representations. Recently, we also showed that providing unreliable feedback to choices leads to changes in perceptual decision-making similar to those of increased stimulus noise: A deterioration in objective task perf...
Article
Perceptual inference depends on an optimal integration of current sensory evidence with prior beliefs about the environment. Alterations of this process have been related to the emergence of positive symptoms in schizophrenia. However, it has remained unclear whether delusions and hallucinations arise from an increased or decreased weighting of pri...
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Individuals differ in how they learn from experience. In Pavlovian conditioning models, where cues predict reinforcer delivery at a different goal location, some animals—called sign-trackers—come to approach the cue, whereas others, called goal-trackers, approach the goal. In sign-trackers, model-free phasic dopaminergic reward-prediction errors un...
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With progress in magnetic resonance imaging technology and a broader dissemination of state-of-the-art imaging facilities, the acquisition of multiple neuroimaging modalities is becoming increasingly feasible. One particular hope associated with multimodal neuroimaging is the development of reliable data-driven diagnostic classifiers for psychiatri...
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Research on visual perception in schizophrenia suggests a deficit in motion processing. Specifically, difficulties with discriminating motion speed are commonly reported. However, speed discrimination tasks typically require participants to make judgments about the difference between two stimuli in a two-interval forced choice (2IFC) task. Such tas...
Article
We present a schizophrenia patient who reports “seeing rain” with attendant somatosensory features which separate him from his surroundings. Because visual/multimodal hallucinations are understudied in schizophrenia, we examine a case history to determine the role of these hallucinations in self-disturbances (Ichstörungen). Developed by the early H...
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Background: Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT) describes the influence of conditioned stimuli on instrumental behaviors and is discussed as a key process underlying substance abuse. Here, we tested whether neural responses during alcohol-related PIT predict future relapse in alcohol-dependent patients and future drinking behavior in adolesce...
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Feedback is central to most forms of learning, and its reliability is therefore critical. Here, we investigated the effects of corrupted, and hence unreliable, feedback on perceptual inference. Within the framework of Bayesian inference, we hypothesised that corrupting feedback in a demanding perceptual task would compromise sensory information pro...
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The influence of Pavlovian conditioned stimuli on ongoing behavior may contribute to explaining how alcohol cues stimulate drug seeking and intake. Using a Pavlovian-instrumental transfer task, we investigated the effects of alcohol-related cues on approach behavior (i.e., instrumental response behavior) and its neural correlates, and related both...
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Background Despite the high clinical and epidemiological relevance of persistent depression, little is known about its specific psychopathology and whether it is distinct from recurrent depression. Depression in general has been associated with blunted affective reactivity but the evidence from previous studies is inconsistent. Here, we asked wheth...
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1 Background There is still uncertainty if and to what extent chronic depression (CD) presents with specific features especially in contrast to the nonchronic course of major depressive disorder (non‐CD). This systematic review aims to summarize the existing literature regarding sociodemographic factors, psychopathology, and course of disease in pa...
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Objective This meta‐analysis investigates the efficacy of inpatient psychotherapy in major depressive disorders compared to control conditions. Methods In total, 14 studies were entered into the meta‐analysis with a total of 1.080 patients. Primary outcome were the standardized mean differences in self‐rated depression outcomes. A priori planned s...
Article
Weight gain is a common adverse effect of lithium augmentation. Previous studies indicate an impact of genetic variants at the leptin gene on weight gain as a consequence of psychopharmacological treatment. The primary aim of our study was to identify variants at the leptin locus that might predict lithium-induced weight gain. The secondary aim was...
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The predictive coding account of psychosis postulates the abnormal formation of prior beliefs in schizophrenia, resulting in psychotic symptoms. One domain in which priors play a crucial role is visual perception. For instance, our perception of brightness, line length, and motion direction are not merely based on a veridical extraction of sensory...
Article
Understanding the organising principles and functional properties of the primate brain's numerous visually responsive cortical regions is one of the major goals in cognitive neuroscience. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have revealed that neural responses in higher-order visual cortex are shaped by object categories, task conte...
Preprint
Predictive coding accounts of psychosis state that an overweighing of high-level priors relative to sensory information may lead to the misperception of meaningful signals underlying the experience of auditory hallucinations and delusions. However, it is currently unclear whether the hypothesized overweighing of priors (1) represents a pervasive al...
Article
Psychotic experiences may be understood as altered information processing due to aberrant neural computations. A prominent example of such neural computations is the computation of prediction errors (PEs), which signal the difference between expected and experienced events. Among other areas showing PE coding, hippocampal-prefrontal-striatal neuroc...
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Neural responses to visual stimuli are modulated by spatial and temporal context. For example, in primary visual cortex (V1), responses to an oriented target stimulus will be suppressed when embedded within an oriented surround stimulus. This suppression is orientation-specific, with the largest suppression observed when stimuli in the neuron's cla...
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Conduct disorder (CD) is a psychiatric disorder of childhood and adolescence which has been linked to deficient emotion processing and regulation. The behavioral and neuronal correlates targeting the interaction of emotion processing and response inhibition are still under investigation. Whole-brain event-related fMRI was applied during an affectiv...
Article
The study of nonconscious priming is rooted in a long research tradition in experimental psychology and plays an important role for a range of topics, including visual recognition, emotion, decision making, and memory. Prime stimuli can be transiently suppressed from awareness by using a variety of psychophysical paradigms. The aim is to understand...
Article
Background The atypical processing of eye contact is a characteristic hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The severity of these symptoms, however, is thought to lie on a continuum that extends into the typical population. While behavioural evidence shows that differences in social cognitive tasks in typically developed (TD) adults are relat...
Article
Dysfunctional decision-making has been implicated in the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Decision-making can be conceptualized within the framework of hierarchical predictive coding as the result of a Bayesian inference process that uses prior beliefs to infer states of the world. According to this idea, prior beliefs encoded at hi...
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Fueled by developments in computational neuroscience, there has been increasing interest in the underlying neurocomputational mechanisms of psychosis. One successful approach involves predictive coding and Bayesian inference. Here, inferences regarding the current state of the world are made by combining prior beliefs with incoming sensory signals....
Article
Sensory information is inherently noisy, sparse, and ambiguous. In contrast, visual experience is usually clear, detailed, and stable. Bayesian theories of perception resolve this discrepancy by assuming that prior knowledge about the causes underlying sensory stimulation actively shapes perceptual decisions. The CNS is believed to entertain a gene...
Article
Alternating conscious visual perception of bistable stimuli is influenced by several factors. In order to understand the effect of negative valence, we tested the effect of two types of aversive conditioning on dominance durations in binocular rivalry. Participants received either aversive classical conditioning of the stimuli shown alone between r...
Article
Multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) methods such as decoding and representational similarity analysis (RSA) are growing rapidly in popularity for the analysis of magnetoencephalography (MEG) data. However, little is known about the relative performance and characteristics of the specific dissimilarity measures used to describe differences between...
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Objective: We investigated the potential of computer-based models to decode diagnosis and lifetime consumption in alcohol dependence (AD) from grey-matter pattern information. As machine-learning approaches to psychiatric neuroimaging have recently come under scrutiny due to unclear generalization and the opacity of algorithms, our investigation a...
Article
Predictive coding theories state an aberrant weighting of prior beliefs and present sensory information as a core computational pathology in psychosis. Specifically, it has been proposed that the influence of prior beliefs which attenuate improbable sensory information is weakened, resulting in an overweighing of this potentially misleading informa...
Article
A given pattern of optical stimulation can arise from countless possible realworld sources, creating a dilemma for vision: What in the world actually gives rise to the current pattern? This dilemma was pointed out centuries ago by the astronomer and mathematician Ibn al-Haytham and was forcefully restated 150 years ago when von Helmholtz characteri...
Article
Background: Chronic depression (CD) is strongly associated with childhood maltreatment, which has been proposed to lead to inefficient coping styles that are characterized by abnormal affective responsiveness and dysfunctional cognitive attitudes. However, while this notion forms an important basis for psychotherapeutic strategies in the treatment...
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The premature aging hypothesis of alcohol dependence proposes that the neurobiological and behavioural deficits in individuals with alcohol dependence are analogous to those of chronological aging. However, to date no systematic neurobiological evidence for this hypothesis has been provided. To test the hypothesis, 119 alcohol-dependent subjects an...
Article
The phenomenon of bistable perception, in which perception alternates spontaneously despite constant sensory stimulation, has been particularly useful in probing the neural bases of conscious perception. The study of such bistability requires access to the observer's perceptual dynamics, which is usually achieved via active report. This report, how...
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In recent years, various therapeutic interventions have been established that extended behavior and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) by so-called “third-wave” strategies. In order to address specific therapeutic challenges in certain subgroups of patients who do not sufficiently respond to “classical CBT,” some of these third-wave strategies put pa...
Data
Raw data including dominance times from the studies [9, 10]. Data include dominance times for intermittent (AlbertetalDataINT2015.RData) and continuous (AlbertetalDataCON2015.RData) stimulation for each of the 61 subjects of [10], and dominance times of two trials of continuous stimulation for each of the 105 subjects of [9] (AlbertetalDataCON2013....
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Viewing of ambiguous stimuli can lead to bistable perception alternating between the possible percepts. During continuous presentation of ambiguous stimuli, percept changes occur as single events, whereas during intermittent presentation of ambiguous stimuli, percept changes occur at more or less regular intervals either as single events or bursts....
Article
Anticipatory anxiety and harm avoidance are essential features of panic disorder (PD) and may involve deficits in the reward system of the brain, in particular in the ventral striatum. While neuroimaging studies on PD have focused on fearful and negative affective stimulus processing, no investigations have directly addressed deficits in reward and...
Article
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Atypical responses to direct gaze are one of the most characteristic hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The cause and mechanism underlying this phenomenon, however, have remained unknown. Here we investigated whether the atypical responses to eye gaze in autism spectrum disorder is dependent on the conscious perception of others’ faces. F...
Article
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The human brain has the capacity to integrate various sources of information and continuously adapts our behavior according to situational needs in order to allow a healthy functioning. Emotion–cognition interactions are a key example for such integrative processing. However, the neuronal correlates investigating the effects of emotion on cognition...