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Postersession 7 - Social and Emotional Neuroscience
Donnerstag, 03.06.2021:
16:00 - 18:00

Ort: Postersaal

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P154 - A billion windows to the social world? Individual differences in social attention are stable, meaningful, but not generalizable to real-life contexts

Meent Mangels1, Matthias Gamer2, Lea Hildebrandt3

1Universität Leipzig; 2Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg; 3Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg


The eyes are the window to the world: Our gaze determines which aspects of our environment we process. Research on social attention indicates that we preferentially look at other people. Although individual differences in this social preference exist, it is unclear a) whether they represent a stable, individual trait, b) if they relate to behavioural preferences, and c) whether they generalize to naturalistic contexts.


The three-part-study was preregistered ( Thirty-seven participants initially viewed 48 images of complex social scenes for 10 seconds each. Subsequently, they viewed one of 20 new social and non-social images, freely pressing a key to continue to the next image. Presentation durations represented behavioural preferences. Finally, in a real-life context, participants interacted with the experimenter for two minutes. Fixations on peoples’ faces were recorded using eye tracking in both laboratory and real-life contexts.


A permutation analysis of odd-even-reliabilities confirmed a high individual consistency (rmean = .82) of social fixations in the first part. These social fixations correlated with the behavioural preference for social pictures in the second part (r = .30). Finally, fixation patterns between laboratory and real contexts did not correlate significantly (r = -.20).


Our results support a stable, trait-like social attention in laboratory contexts: How much we attend to social information relies on individual predispositions. This gaze-trait is related to behavioural social preferences. The lacking generalizability to naturalistic contexts, however, highlights the importance of ecological validity. Further research differentiating bottom-up and top-down aspects of social attention is needed.

P155 - A laboratory medical anamnesis interview elicits psychological and physiological arousal

Sarah Sturmbauer1, Andreas Schwerdtfeger2, Simon Schmelzle1, Nicolas Rohleder1

1Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Deutschland; 2Universität Graz, Österreich

Introduction: Since medical communication can be perceived as stressful, the assessment of patients’ physiological arousal and behavior during anamnesis interviews may lead to a better understanding of doctor-patient interactions. Therefore, the aim of this study was to test physiological arousal and word use in a laboratory anamnesis interview.

Methods: Sixty-five participants with a mean age of 25.0 years were randomly assigned either to an experimental group, in which they underwent an anamnesis interview or to a control group. Physiological arousal was assessed by salivary cortisol, salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV). Anamnesis interviews were analyzed using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count text analysis tool (LIWC).

Results: Participants of the experimental group showed an increase of cortisol, sAA, HR and negative affect (p’s≤.0.05). Moreover, higher cortisol area under the curve with respect to ground (AUCg) was associated with lesser use of positive emotion words during the interview and subsequent higher negative affect (p’s<.05).

Conclusions: Results indicate that talking about one’s own and family’s medical history in anamnesis interviews induces physiological arousal. Anamnesis interviews could not only induce higher negative affect, but also induce physiological arousal, underscoring the importance of good doctor-patient communication.

P156 - Activation in right inferior parietal lobe differentiates personal distress from cognitive and affective empathy

Matthias Burghart, Stephanie N. L. Schmidt, Daniela Mier

Universität Konstanz, Deutschland

Empathy constitutes a crucial element in human social interaction. Although it is widely perceived as a multifaceted construct – with mainly two separate components being involved: affective empathy (AE) and cognitive empathy (CE) – there are few studies on the neural differences between these two components. In addition, the neural substrates of a possible third component: personal distress (PD) have not yet been addressed fully in the literature. Hence, the current fMRI study sought to identify brain regions that show common, as well as distinct activity patterns for AE, CE, and PD.

Thirty healthy female psychology students completed a novel empathy fMRI-paradigm. Participants were presented with pictures depicting suffering individuals and were asked to rate their level of compassion towards the depicted person (AE), the depicted person’s level of distress (CE), and their own level of distress (PD). During the control condition, participants had to determine the size of a presented circle. The neuroimaging data was acquired with a Siemens 3.0 Tesla MRI scanner.

Applying region of interest analyses, the empathy conditions compared to the control condition resulted in stronger activation in the amygdala, insula, anterior cingulate cortex, and inferior parietal lobe (IPL). Activation in the right IPL was found to be specific to the experimental conditions, with the highest activation for PD.

The results support the hypothesis that AE, CE and PD are associated with common, as well as distinct neural patterns. These findings add to the understanding of empathy, and suggest PD as a separable empathy component.

P157 - An online experience sampling study on wellbeing during the first and second lockdown period in Germany

Maren Schlereth, Dominik Kiser, Cornelius Katz, Lea Hildebrandt

Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

Introduction: In an attempt to “flatten the curve” during the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns restricted public and private life. This experience sampling study was conducted to contribute to the understanding of psychological effects - caused by social isolation, uncertainty and psycho-emotional stress - and their mutual relationships, during the first and second lockdown in Germany.

Methods: Participants (nfirst_wave = 248, nsecond_wave = 116, nboth_waves = 77) filled out daily surveys for 28 days, measuring mood, productivity, (social-)media usage and social contacts. Additional weekly questionnaires assessed coping, loneliness, depression and anxiety. Data was analysed using network analysis.

Results: The networks were highly similar between the two lockdowns. Across participants, those who indicated more positive valence scored lower on depression and loneliness, but higher on productivity. Additionally, whenever participants felt stressed, they also tended to feel anxious and depressed. Adaptive coping was negatively correlated with experienced stress during the first lockdown only. Alcohol consumption correlated positively with social contacts during the first phase, but negatively with workload during the second wave. Within participants, positive mood lead to reduced loneliness.

Discussion: Despite differences in incidence numbers and restrictions, certain clusters among psychological indicators of well-being were relatively stable during both periods of measurement: Depression, stress, and anxiety form a central cluster, which is associated with negative mood. Crucially, high amounts of social contact and positive mood were correlated with less loneliness. Interestingly, the rarely highlighted aspects of productivity and workload are associated with better mood and less maladaptive coping during the pandemic.

P158 - Automatic Facial Coding und machine-learning-basierte Klassifikation emotionaler Gesichtsausdrücke

Tim Höfling1, Antje Gerdes1, Björn Büdenbender1, Ulrich Föhl2, Georg Alpers1

1Universität Mannheim, Deutschland; 2Hochschule Pforzheim, Deutschland

Einleitung: Das Facial Action Coding System (FACS) ist eine etablierte Beobachtungsmethode, durch die Experten einzelne Bewegungseinheiten im Gesicht (i.e., Action Units; AU) kodieren können. Automatic Facial Coding (AFC) ermöglicht eine software-gestützte, automatische Messung dieser AU Aktivität. Während AFC emotionale Gesichtsausdrücke standardisierter und prototypischer Bilderinventare trainierte Schauspieler akkurat klassifiziert, scheinen Gesichtsausdrücke untrainierter Studienteilnehmer häufigeren Fehlmessungen zu unterliegen.

Methode: In der vorliegenden Studie wurden 70 untrainierte Studienteilnehmer instruiert, aktiv die Gesichtsausdrücke von Freude, Ärger, Traurigkeit, Ekel, Angst und Überraschung darzustellen. Videoaufnahmen der intensivsten Gesichtsausdrücke wurden mit einer etablierten AFC Software analysiert (FaceReader, Noldus Information Technology) um AU-Parameter zu generieren und mit Daten von 70 trainierten Schauspielern aus standardisierten Bilderinventaren verglichen. Auf Grundlage der AU Messungen wurden zudem künstliche neuronale Netze zur Klassifikation der Emotionskategorien trainiert um mit Hilfe einer innovativen Technik (permutation-based variable importance) relevante AUs für die Klassifikation zu identifizieren.

Ergebnisse: Die intendierten Emotionen konnten sowohl bei trainierten als auch bei untrainierten Stichproben mit hoher Genauigkeit (> 90%) klassifiziert werden (insb. Freude). Allerdings konnten auch signifikante Unterschiede in den AU Profilen und relevanten AUs zwischen den beiden Stichproben beobachtet werden.

Diskussion: AFC scheint eine reliable Alternative zu menschlichen FACS Beobachtern zu sein. Allerdings demonstriert die vorliegende Studie, dass teilweise große Unterschiede in den Gesichtsausdrücken für spezifische emotionale Gesichtsausdrücke zwischen trainierten und untrainierten Stichproben existieren. Zukünftige Forschung sollte diese Unterschiede in naturalistischeren Versuchsdesigns untersuchen, um die Validität von AFC für spontane Reaktionen auf emotionale Stimuli zu überprüfen.

P159 - Behavioral and neuronal correlates of reward and aversion discounting as a potential pathomechanism in substance use disorder

Mathieu Pinger1, Janine Thome2, Patrick Halli1, Georgia Koppe2, Wolfgang Sommer3, Peter Kirsch1,4

1Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Institute of Mental Health Mannheim, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg; 2Department of Theoretical Neuroscience, Central Institute of Mental Health Mannheim, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg; 3Department of Psychopharmacology, Central Institute of Mental Health Mannheim, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg; 4Department of Psychology, University of Heidelberg


Aim: Delay discounting (DD) is an aspect of decision making whereby individuals attribute decreasing value to rewards in the distant future. Substance use disorders (SUDs) have been related to greater extents of DD in individuals. However, so far we do know much less about DD in the context of negative consequences. Since many SUD patients ignore negative consequences of their consume behavior in the future, DD of negative consequences might be an important SUD pathomechanism.

Method: We conducted a pilot study, combining a binary choice task for reward and loss discounting with a monetary incentive/loss delay task. Thirty healthy participants (age 18-35, 14 female) completed the study. In each trial, participants had to choose between a smaller immediate loss/win (aversion condition/reward condition) and a larger loss/win at a delay of two weeks. Task-related brain activation was measured with fMRI.

Results: An exponential model using different discounting parameters for reward and aversion described the behavioral data best. During decision-making, BOLD activation was observed in the parietal and prefrontal cortex. During reward and loss anticipation, activation was observed in the ventral striatum, anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula. There were no significant differences in neural activity between the win and loss condition.

Conclusion: We observed DD in both the reward and loss condition, with evidence for different behavioral patterns in the two conditions. Neural activation during the loss and reward condition were comparable. Overall, we conclude that aversion discounting might be a promising future target for SUD research.

P160 - Characterization of underlying dimensions of life adversity in emotional processing in adulthood

Alina Koppold1, Alexandros Kastrinogiannis1, Manuel Kuhn2, Tina Lonsdorf1

1Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Deutschland; 2McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School

The ability to understand and predict psychopathology based on individual characteristics (e.g. exposure to life adversity) is a longstanding goal of psychiatry. Current views posit that specific dimensions of childhood maltreatment might be associated with the recruitment of specific defensive neural systems. Besides considerations, our on-going systematic review indicates that there is a lack of studies linking emotion processing with specific response patterns in adulthood. In this preregistered study ( we aspire to fill this gap by examining emotional processing in the so-called 'Affective Startle Modulation’ Paradigm (ASM). The ASM, is a well-established tool for eliciting positive and negative emotions by passively viewing pleasant or unpleasant pictures, specifically selected to elicit differing responses of arousal of valence. Using fear potentiated startle and skin conductance response we aimed to investigate the impact of exposure to childhood maltreatment (assessed by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire) or recent life adversity (assessed by the List of Threatening Experiences) on emotional processing in adulthood in 500 healthy participants. First results confirm a generally blunted physiological responding irrespective of picture valence in adults exposed to childhood maltreatment or recent life adversity. In an ongoing (explorative) data-driven subgroup analysis, we explore specific reaction patterns. Ultimately, a data driven model of specific emotional processing profiles holds promise to not only improve our mechanistic understanding but can also be expected to contribute to the development of specifically tailored (‘individualized’) intervention and targeted prevention programs in the future.

P161 - Children´s body odors as chemosignals in the mother-child relationship - Integration of genetic, developmental and neurobiological factors

Laura Schäfer1, Agnieszka Sorokowska2, Ilona Croy1,3

1Medizinische Fakultät TU Dresden, Deutschland; 2Institute of Psychology, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland; 3Institut für Psychologie, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Deutschland


To form a secure bond towards their child, parents invest resources in a targeted manner. Chemosignals are assumed to facilitate this investment by mediating kin recognition and affection. We investigated the impact of children´s chemosignals in mother-child dyads over the complete development. We tested, whether mothers a) can identify their own child by body odor (BO), b) prefer this BO, c) can classify their child´s developmental stage; explored genetic and hormonal mediators, and neural correlates of BO perception.

Methods: 164 mothers evaluated BOs of own (226 children, aged 0-18 years) and unfamiliar children, which differed in development stage and genetic similarity. Genetic similarity was mapped via human leukocyte antigen (HLA) profile, developmental status was determined by steroid hormone concentration and pubertal status. In 38 mothers, neural responses to BOs of their own and unfamiliar babies were measured using fMRI.


Mothers identified their own child's BO above chance and preferred this odor with the exception of early pubertal children (9-13 years). For pubertal sons, reduced BO liking linked to increased testosterone levels. Genetic similarity was transported via BO, as ratings did not differ between the own and a same-aged HLA-similar child. Mothers classified the child´s developmental status above chance, predicted by perceptual BO ratings and the child´s pubertal status. Baby BOs elicited neural correlates of reward and pleasure in the maternal brain.


This work reveals that children´s chemosignals mediate both, maternal identification and affective perception. In future, chemosensory profiling may clarify which molecular components alter BO during development.

P162 - Cortico-limbic functional connectivity and dispositional use of emotion regulation strategies: A preregistered replication and extension study

Anne Gärtner, Christoph Scheffel, Denise Dörfel

Technische Universität Dresden

Introduction Tasked-based emotion regulation (ER) is linked to enhanced connectivity between amygdala and cortical regions during resting-state. However, it is unclear whether task-based ER and its neural correlates are related to dispositional ER strategy use. The present study aimed to (1) replicate previous findings on differential cortico-limbic coupling during resting-state depending on dispositional ER strategy use; and (2) to examine whether differences in cortico-limbic coupling predict experiential and neuronal ER success in a standard ER task. All hypotheses and the analysis plan were preregistered at

Methods N = 117 adults completed the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ), underwent an 8-min resting-state fMRI acquisition, and completed an ER task during fMRI. The sample size was more than twice as large as in the original study. Functional connectivity maps of the amygdala were associated with activity in predefined cortical regions, and correlated with ERQ scores, experiential, and neuronal ER success.

Results Opposed to prior findings, we could not replicate a correlation of dispositional ER strategy use with cortico-limbic functional connectivity (p > 0.05, FWE-corrected). Furthermore, there was no association of experiential and neuronal ER success with cortico-limbic functional connectivity (p > 0.05, FWE-corrected). All data, materials, and code for reproducible analyses can be found at

Discussion The present preregistered replication study calls into question the reported association between individual differences in resting-state cortico-limbic connectivity and dispositional ER strategy use. Ongoing advances in brain imaging and distributed network approaches may leverage the identification of reliable functional connectivity patterns that underlie successful ER.

P163 - Do we feel us? A cross-cultural fMRI study on empathy between Germans and Chinese

Christian A. Sojer1, Zhimin Yan1, Stephanie N. L. Schmidt1, Peter Kirsch2, Daniela Mier1

1Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Germany; 2Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim / University of Heidelberg, Germany


Empathy allows us to understand (cognitive empathy) and to feel with (affective empathy) another person. How well one understands the emotion of the other person, and how strongly one feels for them can be influenced by the valence of the other person’s emotion and by their in- or outgroup status. Culture is a factor that could influence perceived group membership as well as empathy processes.


In our study, 34 Germans and 35 Chinese completed an fMRI task, in which they rated affective and cognitive empathy towards happy and fearful facial expressions of persons from their own and the foreign culture.


Germans in comparison to Chinese showed enhanced activation in inferior parietal lobe, frontal lobe and fusiform gyrus when empathizing with Germans as opposed to Chinese. Additional analyses revealed higher activation in middle frontal gyrus and superior parietal gyrus in Germans (> Chinese) for cognitive empathy (> affective empathy) and in orbital gyrus in Chinese (> Germans) for fearful faces (> happy faces).


Our results suggest a cultural influence on the neural correlates of empathy, depending on the empathy process (cognitive or affective) and the valence of the emotion. In addition, Germans seem to show an intracultural advantage in empathy that might lead to higher empathy for people from the own culture.

P164 - Early hypervigilance and later avoidance: ERPs track the processing of threatening stimuli in anxiety and their modulation by distraction

Franziska Magdalena Kausche1, Kai Härpfer1, Norbert Kathmann2, Anja Riesel1

1University of Hamburg, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy with focus on Clinical Neuroscience, Hamburg, Germany; 2Humboldt University of Berlin, Department of Psychology, Berlin, Germany

Avoidance behavior, a key symptom of anxiety disorders, can be treated with exposure therapy, albeit not always. Previous research suggests to decompose anxiety into two dimensions: anxious apprehension (i.e. worry) and anxious arousal (i.e. physiological hyperarousal). However, how these two dimensions might differentially affect avoidance behavior, exposure, and their interaction, and how they affect the accompanying neural processes is barely understood. Therefore, we collected EEG data from 124 healthy individuals, participating in a two-phase passive picture-viewing task including neutral and threatening pictures. We used a 2 (anxious apprehension: low/high) × 2 (anxious arousal: low/high) design and analyzed emotion processing by means of ERPs (i.e. SPN, N1 and LPP). Results showed that during habituation, when instruction was to either distract from or maintain the upcoming emotions during picture presentation, threatening compared to neutral pictures were associated with increased in-depth processing (increased LPP), modulated by instruction (lower during distraction) and worry (lower for high worry participants). During re-exposure, when participants saw the same pictures again, now instructed to always maintain the emotions, previous maintained compared to distracted pictures revealed a decreased in-depth processing (decreased LPP), indicative of successful habituation. Again, this was modulated by worry (increased LPP for high worry participants). Moreover, high worry participants showed an increased anticipatory attention (increased SPN) to threatening vs. neutral pictures and a heightened automatic processing (increased N1), independent of stimulus type. Together, these results suggest, that anxious apprehension vs. anxious arousal affects the neural processing during distraction, thereby maybe affecting the progress of exposure therapy.

P165 - EEG Theta Oszillationen im dorsalen anterioren Cingulum während Akquisition und Extinktion von Furcht

Adrian Wroblewski1, Matthias F. J. Sperl2,3, Madeleine Mueller1,4, Erik M. Mueller2, Benjamin Straube1

1Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Deutschland; 2Differentielle Psychologie und Persönlichkeitsforschung, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Deutschland; 3Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Gießen, Deutschland; 4Systemische Neurowissenschaften, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg, Deutschland

Konditionierungsparadigmen dienen als Modell für die Entstehung und die Behandlung pathologischer Furcht. Trotz hoher translationaler Relevanz wurden bislang nur selten bedrohungsrelevante EEG-Oszillationen untersucht, die mit der Synchronisation neuraler Aktivität zwischen Hirnregionen assoziiert werden. Bisherige EEG-Studien konnten erhöhte oszillatorische Theta-Aktivität (4-8 Hz) in präfrontalen Regionen, insbesondere dem dorsalen anterioren Cingulum (dACC), während der Darbietung zuvor konditionierter Stimuli (CS) 24h nach der Furchtakquisition zeigen. Theta-Oszillationen wird demnach eine besondere Rolle bei der Furchtexpression zugesprochen. Ziel der vorliegenden Studie war es, Theta-Oszillationen sowohl im Verlauf des Furchtlernens, als auch des Extinktionslernens zu untersuchen.

In der vorliegenden Studie haben wir ein kürzlich entwickeltes, für EEG-Untersuchungen optimiertes 2-Tages Furchtkonditionierungsparadigma (Tag 1: Furchtakquisition; Tag 2: Extinktionstraining) eingesetzt. Dabei wurden EEG, Hautleitwert (SCR) und Verhaltensdaten bei n=21 gesunden Versuchspersonen neu ausgewertet.

SCR- und Verhaltensdaten zeigten eine erfolgreiches Furchtlernen, wobei die differentielle konditionierte Reaktion (CS+>CS-) im Laufe des Extinktionstrainings wieder abnahm. Auf Skalp-Ebene zeigte sich signifikant höhere Theta Power in der Furchtakquisition an fronto-zentralen Elektroden (FCz), die im Laufe des Extinktionstrainings wieder abnahm. Zudem konnte Theta in Furchtakquisition und Extinktionstraining im dACC quelllokalisiert werden, wobei das dACC Cluster im Extinktionstraining weiter anterior lokalisiert wurde.

Unsere EEG-Daten zeigen, dass oszillatorische Theta-Aktivität nicht nur beim Abruf konditionierter Furcht, sondern bereits während des Furchtlernens eine zentrale Rolle spielt. Zum ersten Mal konnten hier Theta-Oszillationen während der Furchtakquisition im dACC lokalisiert werden. Mit dem Extinktionslernen nahm die konditionierte Furchtreaktion wieder ab. Die Verschiebung der dACC Lokalisation im Extinktionstraining könnte für eine „Frontalisierung“ sprechen, die jedoch in zukünftigen Studien näher untersucht werden müsste.

P166 - Effects of emotion regulation on EEG microstates – Valence and arousal are not processed sequentially

Josephine Zerna, Alexander Strobel, Christoph Scheffel

Technische Universität Dresden, Deutschland

Introduction: In electroencephalography (EEG), microstates are distributions of activity across the scalp that persist for several tens of milliseconds before changing into a different topographical pattern. Microstate analysis is a promising way of utilizing EEG as both temporal and spatial imaging tool, but has mostly been applied to resting state data.

Methods: This study aimed to conceptually replicate microstate findings of valence and arousal processing and to investigate the effects of emotion regulation on microstates, using existing data of 107 healthy adults who actively viewed emotional pictures, cognitively detached from them, or suppressed facial reactions. EEG data were clustered into microstates based on topographical similarity and compared on global and electrode level between conditions of interest.

Results: Within the first 600 ms after stimulus onset only the comparison of viewing positive and negative pictures yielded significant global results, caused by different electrodes depending on the microstate. The microstates associated with more and less arousing pictures did not differ from each other. When extending the analysis to 2,000 ms after stimulus onset, global microstate differences were exclusive to the comparison of viewing and detaching from negative pictures. Intriguingly, we observed the novel phenomenon of a significant global difference that could not be attributed to single electrodes on the local level.

Discussion: Sequential processing of valence and arousal information could not be replicated. The phenomenon of exclusively global significance suggests that microstate analysis can detect differences beyond those detected by event-related potential analysis, simply by not confining the analysis to single electrodes.

P167 - Effort beats effectiveness in emotion regulation choice

Christoph Scheffel, Sven-Thomas Graupner, Anne Gärtner, Josephine Zerna, Alexander Strobel, Denise Dörfel

Technische Universität Dresden, Deutschland

Introduction. Emotion regulation (ER) can be implemented by different strategies which differ in their capacity to alter emotional responding. What all strategies have in common is that cognitive control must be exercised in order to implement them. The aim of the present preregistered studies was to investigate whether the two ER strategies suppression and distancing require different amounts of subjective and physiological effort.

Methods. Subjective effort was assessed via ratings and physiological effort via pupillometry. In two studies, N = 110 and N = 52 healthy adults conducted an ER paradigm. Participants used suppression and distancing during inspection of positive and negative pictures. They also had the choice to reapply either of the strategies at the end of the paradigm. All data, codebooks, and analyses routines are openly available on OSF (

Results. Although distancing was more effective in downregulation of subjective arousal (Study 1: p < .001, ηp² = .20; Study 2: p < .001, ηp² = .21), about two thirds reapplied suppression, because it was perceived as less effortful. Effort was rated significantly lower for suppression compared to distancing (Study 1: p= .042, ηp² = .04; Study 2: p = .002, ηp² = .13). However, differences in effort were not reflected in pupillary data (ps > .678 and ηp² ≤ .01).

Discussion. Results suggest that people tend to use the ER strategy that is perceived as less effortful, even though it might not be the most effective strategy. Findings are consistent as they were replicated in study 2.

P168 - Ende gut, alles gut oder alles eine Frage der Perspektive? – Elektrokortikale Effekte der kognitiven Neubewertungstaktiken Reinterpretation und Distanzieren

Raphaela Isabella Zehtner1,2, Marie Kristin Neudert1,2, Susanne Fricke1,2, Rosa Johanna Seinsche1,2, Rudolf Stark1,2,3, Andrea Hermann1,2,3

1Professur für Psychotherapie und Systemneurowissenschaften, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen; 2Bender Institute of Neuroimaging, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen; 3Center for Mind, Brain and Behaviour (CMBB), Universität Marburg und Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Reinterpretation und Distanzieren stellen zwei wichtige Taktiken der kognitiven Neubewertung dar. Zahlreiche Studien konnten zeigen, dass kognitive Neubewertung in Bezug auf aversive Bilder mit einem verringerten Late Positive Potential (LPP) assoziiert ist, das als Maß des Erregungsniveaus sensitiv auf kognitive Emotionsregulation reagiert. Trotz erster Hinweise auf eine unterschiedliche Wirksamkeit, werden die beiden Taktiken kaum differenziell betrachtet, worin das Ziel unserer Studie bestand. Dabei wurden die Taktiken bezüglich ihrer kurzfristigen und überdauernden Wirksamkeit untersucht. Probanden (n = 39) wurden in der Regulationsphase instruiert, neutrale sowie aversive Bilder zu betrachten oder mittels kognitiver Neubewertung (Distanzieren und Reinterpretation) negative Gefühle zu verringern. In der Abrufphase (30 Min. später) wurde das Bildmaterial erneut präsentiert. In beiden Phasen erfolgte nach der Bildpräsentation eine Einschätzung des Erlebens negativer Gefühle durch die Probanden. Erste Ergebnisse zeigten einen kurzfristigen Effekt für beide Taktiken (im Vergleich zum bloßen Betrachten), wobei sich eine verringerte Amplitude des LPP im Zeitfenster von 500 – 3000 ms für Reinterpretation des Bildinhaltes und von 500 – 1400 ms für Distanzieren zeigte. Überdauernd zeigte sich ein signifikanter Effekt für Distanzieren im Zeitfenster von 800 – 1400 ms, ein tendenzieller für Reinterpretation. Auf subjektiver Ebene führten Reinterpretation als auch Distanzieren kurzfristig sowie überdauernd zu einem geringeren Erleben negativer Gefühle im Vergleich zum Betrachten aversiver Bilder, wobei Reinterpretation kurzfristig zu einer stärkeren Reduktion führte. Diese Ergebnisse unterstreichen die Wirksamkeit der beiden Taktiken auf subjektiver sowie elektrokortikaler Ebene und geben Hinweise auf eine differentielle Wirksamkeit.

P169 - fMRI adaptation in the mirror neuron system in response to emotional facial expressions

Daniela Mier1, Joachim Hass2, Peter Kirsch3, Stephanie Schmidt1

1Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz; 2Faculty of Applied Psychology, SRH University of Applied Sciences Heidelberg; 3Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim / University of Heidelberg

The mirror neuron system is assumed to respond when observing and when executing motor actions. By using an adaptation design that reveals responding of neuronal populations to sensory information, the present fMRI study was aimed to investigate such a mirror neuron mechanism for emotional facial expressions.

74 healthy participants completed an experimental paradigm that included happy and fearful facial expressions while undergoing fMRI scanning. Participants were instructed to either imitate, or observe the facial expression, or to press a button when an inverted face was presented. To assess adaption, each picture was presented twice with either twice the instruction to observe, or to imitate, or first to imitate then to observe, or vice versa.

Adaptation during imitation was mainly found in inferior parietal lobe, and during observation in inferior frontal gyrus. Activation in both regions was higher when observation and imitation changed than for repeated imitation, or repeated observation. A change from observation to imitation resulted in higher activation in inferior frontal gyrus than a change from imitation to observation.

The study shows that brain regions supposed to host mirror neurons; i.e. inferior frontal gyrus and inferior parietal lobe are involved in the observation and imitation of facial expressions. Since the adaptation pattern for imitation and observation differed, the results are not in clear favour of the mirror neuron hypothesis.

P170 - How does placebo analgesia affect decisions to exert effort to reduce another’s pain?

Helena Hartmann, Paul Forbes, Markus Rütgen, Claus Lamm

Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) Unit, Institut für Psychologie der Kognition, Emotion und Methoden, Fakultät für Psychologie, Universität Wien, Wien, Österreich

Previous studies on placebo analgesia showed that down-regulation of first-hand pain influences the way we empathize with another person in pain. Thus, we might understand the pain of a conspecific by engaging the same mental processes responsible for experiencing that pain ourselves. Although empathy and prosocial behavior are closely linked, effects of placebo analgesia on prosocial behavior have not been tested as of yet. We conducted a preregistered behavioral study (, that investigated whether and how this manipulation modulates prosocial behavior. We induced placebo analgesia in 45 participants (placebo analgesia group), while a control group (n = 45) did not undergo this experimental manipulation. Participants completed a pain task and a prosocial decision-making task, making choices whether to exert physical effort via a hand dynamometer to decrease another participant’s pain. Preregistered analyses showed a significant first-hand placebo analgesia effect. The placebo analgesia group displayed reduced prosocial behavior, suggesting that placebo analgesia can influence our willingness to reduce another's pain: While both groups helped similarly when reducing the amount of shocks by a large number (e.g. five shocks), the control group was more motivated to help in situations of smaller pain reduction (reducing the number by only one or two shocks). Interestingly, these effects did not seem to be mediated by reductions in empathy. Moreover, physical strength, unpleasantness and physical demand when exerting effort, or motivation to win money for oneself were not affected by the placebo. This study highlights the far-reaching effects of altered first-hand pain perception on prosociality.

P171 - Impact of Perceived Social Support in Virtual Reality on Pain Perception

Isabel Neumann1, Ivo Käthner1, Paul Pauli1,2

1Department of Psychology I, Biological Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany; 2Center of Mental Health, Medical Faculty, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany

Introduction: Pain is a multidimensional phenomenon influenced by biological and psychosocial factors. Several studies demonstrated that social support can lead to pain-reduction. The present study investigated social support in a standardized way with virtual humans.

Methods: Healthy participants were immersed into a virtual natural environment and received heat pain stimuli at different stops in the virtual environment in a within-subjects design. Depending on the condition, a virtual human accompanied them. Conditions differed in perceived agency and social support. In one condition, participants were led to believe that the virtual character was controlled by an employee next door (avatar condition). In another condition, participants were told that they interacted with a computer (agent condition). In both cases, the virtual human was controlled by predefined computer scripts. Social support was provided verbally by the virtual humans immediately before pain stimulation. A third control condition was presented without social support. In each condition, three pain stimuli were applied. Pain ratings and psychophysiological measurements (electrodermal activity, heart rate) were recorded.

Results: Comparisons between the agent and the control condition demonstrated lower sensory pain ratings than in the control condition without social support (d = 0.4). Comparisons between the avatar and control condition and between the agent and avatar condition revealed no significance in sensory pain ratings (all d < .2).

Discussion: The current study contributes to understand virtual social support and its modulation of pain. Given the increase in social interactions online, this research contributes also to understanding how humans respond to virtual characters.

P172 - Kann ich dir vertrauen? Eine fMRT-Studie zur Einschätzung von Vertrauenswürdigkeit und sexuell übertragbaren Erkrankungen

Alexander Wolber, Stephanie N.L. Schmidt, Michael Odenwald, Brigitte Rockstroh, Daniela Mier

Universität Konstanz, Deutschland

Einleitung: Funktionelle Bildgebungsstudien weisen darauf hin, dass sowohl die Einschätzung einer Person als unvertrauenswürdig, als auch die Vermutung, dass eine Person eine sexuell übertragbare Erkrankung (SE) hat, mit Aktivierung im Salienznetzwerk einhergeht. Bislang fehlen Studien zur Bewertung der Vertrauenswürdigkeit von Personen, bei denen zuvor die Wahrscheinlichkeit eine SE zu haben als hoch oder niedrig eingeschätzt wurde.

Methoden: 34 Proband:innen sahen während einer fMRT-Messung Fotos von 50 Stimuluspersonen und bewerteten deren Vertrauenswürdigkeit. Die Wahrscheinlichkeit, mit einer SE infiziert zu sein, war in einer vorherigen Studie für jeweils die Hälfte der Personen als hoch bzw. niedrig klassifiziert worden.

Ergebnisse: Die Proband:innen bewerteten die Fotos nicht entsprechend der früheren Studie. Entsprechend liesen sich auch auf neuronaler Ebene keine signifikanten Aktivierungsunterschiede nachweisen, wenn die Vorab-Klassifikation von hoch und niedrig SE zugrunde gelegt wurde. Basierend auf den individuellen Einschätzungen der Proband:innen zeigte sich jedoch eine signifikant höhere Aktivierung in der Insula in Reaktion auf unvertrauenswürdige als auf vertrauenswürdige Personen. Im medialen Orbitofrontalen Kortex (mOFC) war dieser Effekt umgekehrt.

Diskussion: Die Studienergebnisse legen nahe, dass sich die Einschätzung, ob eine Person eine SE hat, nicht verallgemeinern lässt. Erwartungskonform kam es zu Aktivierung der Insula als Teil des Salienznetzwerk, wenn eine Stimulusperson als nicht vertrauenswürdig bewertet wurde. Die Aktivierung im mOFC könnte darauf hinweisen, dass vertrauenswürdig eingeschätzte Personen als belohnend wahrgenommen werden. Aufgrund der Bandbreite an subjektiver Definitionen des Konzepts „Vertrauenswürdigkeit“, sollten künftige Studien einen klaren Kontext für die Einschätzung der Vertrauenswürdigkeit vorgeben.

P173 - Loneliness and trauma memory: sex-specific dysregulation of amygdala reactivity to social fear signal

Mitjan Morr1, Jeanine Noell1, Daphne Sassin1, Jule Daniels1, Alexandra Philipsen2, Benjamin Becker3, Birgit Stoffel-Wagner4, René Hurlemann5,6, Dirk Scheele1,5

1Division of Medical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Bonn, 53105 Bonn, Germany; 2Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Bonn, 53105 Bonn, Germany; 3Clinical Hospital of Chengdu Brain Science Institute & Key Laboratory for Neuroinformation, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, 611731 Chengdu, China; 4Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Bonn, 53105 Bonn, Germany; 5Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Oldenburg, 26129 Oldenburg; 6Research Center Neurosensory Science, University of Oldenburg, 26129 Oldenburg

Loneliness exacerbates psychological distress and increases the risk of psychopathology after trauma exposure. Accumulating evidence indicates sex-specific effects of loneliness, but it is still unclear whether a lack of social connectedness may affect trauma-induced intrusions and the processing of fear signals via altered habituation or extinction learning in women and men.

We used a pre-stratification approach and recruited n = 47 (20 women) healthy individuals with high loneliness scores and n = 35 (18 women) controls (out of a screened sample of n = 4514). Participants were exposed to an experimental trauma and evoked intrusive thoughts in daily life were monitored for three consecutive days. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess fear learning (conditioning and extinction) and neural habituation to emotional faces. The study protocol and analysis were preregistered and the data will be publicly available at OSF (

Our results revealed a significant interaction between loneliness and sex such that loneliness was associated with more intrusive memories in men, but less intrusions in women. A similar pattern emerged on the neural level, with both reduced amygdala habituation to repeated fearful faces and amygdala hyperreactivity during the extinction of fear signals in high-lonely men, but not women.

Our findings indicate that loneliness may confer vulnerability to intrusive memories after trauma exposure in healthy men and this phenotype relates to altered limbic processing of social fear signals. Collectively, interventions targeting social connectedness may address similar neural mechanisms as exposure therapy and thus mitigate the sequelae of traumatic experiences.

P174 - Male or Female? – Influence of Gender Role and Sexual Orientation on Sex Categorization of Faces

Teresa Luther1, Carolin Lewis2,3,4, Melina Grahlow2,5, Philippa Hüpen6,7, Ute Habel6,7, Celia Foster8,9, Isabelle Bülthoff9, Birgit Derntl2,10,11

1Department of Psychology, University of Tübingen; 2Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Tübingen; 3Emotion Neuroimaging Lab, Max Plank Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences; 4International Max Plank Research School on Neuroscience of Communication: Function, Structure, and Plasticity; 5Graduate Training Centre of Neuroscience, University of Tübingen; 6Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, RWTH Aachen University; 7Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, JARA-Institute Brain Structure Function Relationship (INM 10), Research Center Jülich; 8Biopsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Sports Science, Bielefeld University; 9Max Plank Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Department of Human Perception, Cognition and Action; 10LEAD Graduate School and Research Network, University of Tübingen; 11International Max Plank Research School for Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience, University of Tübingen

Introduction: The categorization of dominant facial features, such as sex, is a highly relevant function for social interaction. It has been found that attributes of the perceiver, such as their biological sex, influence the perception of sexually dimorphic facial features, with women showing higher recognition performance for female faces than men. However, evidence on how aspects closely related to biological sex influence face sex categorization are scarce.

Methods: Using a previously validated set of sex-morphed facial images (morphed from male to female and vice versa), we aimed to investigate the influence of the participant’s gender role identification and sexual orientation on face sex categorization, besides their biological sex. Image ratings, questionnaire data on gender role identification and sexual orientation were collected from 67 adults (34 females).

Results: Contrary to previous literature, biological sex per se was not significantly associated with image ratings. However, an influence of participant sex was reflected in connection with data on sexual orientation and certain attributes of gender role identity: Participants strongly identifying with male gender attributes and showing strong attraction towards feminine individuals perceived masculinized female faces and femininized male faces as more male when compared to participants to whom these characteristics applied less.

Discussion: Considering that our sample predominantly consisted of cisgender and heterosexual individuals and given the crucial role of sex categorization for social behavior and interaction, investigation of face sex perception in individuals identifying with a gender different from their assigned sex (i.e. transgender people) represents an important objective for further research.

P175 - Modulation of Experimentally Induced Pain in Virtual Reality by Emotional Valence and Arousal

Annika Barisani1, Ivo Käthner1, Markus H. Winkler1, Paul Pauli1,2, Peter Collins1

1Department of Psychology I, Biological Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Psychotherapy, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany; 2Center for Mental Health, Medical Faculty, University of Würzburg, Germany

Introduction: Chronic pain is a severe condition, which affects millions of people worldwide. As standard treatments are less powerful as expected, virtual reality (VR) might be a promising new approach in developing additional treatments. Previous research has shown the effectiveness of VR in reducing acute and chronic pain. Recently, the psychological factors mediating the effects received heightened interest. Basic non-VR based research has shown that particularly high arousing positive emotional states reduce self-reported pain. However, thus far studies in VR do not allow deducing if valence or arousal is driving the effect. Accordingly, the present study aims to investigate the differential impact of positive valence and arousal on experimentally induced pain.

Methods: Sixty-four healthy participants will be immersed into a newly created virtual environment. Participants in the experimental group will receive painful stimuli during the study. Positive vs. neutral mood will be systematically varied by reading (self-affirmative) statements in high vs. low arousing environmental conditions (manipulated by height). Self-report (pain intensity and unpleasantness) and physiological data (heart rate and skin conductance) will be recorded.

Results: Data collection currently started.

Discussion: We expect the highest reduction of pain in the high arousing positive mood condition. The results of the study may stimulate further research on the mechanisms of VR induced pain reduction and new approaches in the treatment of acute and chronic pain.

The study is part of the research consortium VirtualNoPain, funded by the BMBF in the medical technology funding initiative (FKZ: 13GW0343).

P176 - Negative artificial facial expressions evoke the strongest brain reactions in both men and women

Livija Sarauskyte, Rasa Monciunskaite, Ramune Griksiene

Bioscience Institute, Life Sciences Center, Vilnius University, Lithuania

Introduction. In recent years, studies on artificial emotional faces and their perception have attracted much attention from researchers investigating emotions and their nature. The structural features of computer-generated faces have less variance; therefore, the intensity of the expression may be manipulated, and differences specifically related to emotional processing may be evaluated more accurately. However, it remains unclear whether sex influences the emotion recognition of the artificial faces and emotion-evoked ERP’s.

Our study aims to investigate the sex effect on behavioural and electrophysiological measures during emotion recognition in artificial faces.

Methods. 71 volunteers performed an emotion recognition task, designed using artificial faces that portrayed six basic emotions, while EEG was recorded. Accuracy and response time of emotion recognition were measured. Global field power calculation and topographic analysis were performed to assess electrophysiological differences.

Results. We demonstrated that: 1) sadness was the poorest identified emotion but females demonstrated a higher accuracy in its recognition compared to males; 2) fear, disgust, and anger evoked higher LPP amplitudes compared to neutral facial expression; 3) females demonstrated higher GFP amplitude around 380 – 525 ms after stimuli onset.

Discussion. Women demonstrated a significant advantage in recognition of subtle emotions, however, our findings suggest that they are not superior at identification of artificial emotions in general. This is consistent with a higher women’s GFP amplitude which could be associated with greater focus or efforts during emotion recognition.

P177 - New insights on the correspondence between subjective affective experience and physiological responses from representational similarity analyses

Carlos Ventura-Bort, Julia Wendt, Mathias Weymar

University of Potsdam, Germany

Introduction: Affect is the general sense of feeling experienced throughout each day, characterized by two features: valence and arousal. Some evidence suggests that affect is related to a specific physiological response (fingerprint hypothesis). However, recently it was postulated that similar affective experiences may rather evoke different physiological responses (populations hypothesis). To advance this debate, we examined the similarities between the physiological reactivity and subjective affective experience evoked by emotional and neutral stimuli across various emotion induction contexts using representational similarity analysis (RSA).

Methods: 64 students from the University of Potsdam underwent a passive picture viewing task, a passive sound listening task and an imagery task, in which pleasant, unpleasant and neutral materials were presented. SCR, HR, startle and corrugator activity and subjective valence and arousal ratings were measured during all tasks. RSA were performed to compare the representation similarity matrices (RSM) of the physiological reactivity and the subjective experience of affect for each task and physiological variable, separately. RSMs of SCR and HR were compared to the RSM of arousal ratings, whereas RSMs of the startle and corrugator were compared to the RSM of valence rating.

Results: Significant similarities were exclusively observed between SCR and arousal in the passive picture viewing task. However, none of the other physiological measures showed a significant relation with valence and arousal ratings in any of the tasks.

Discussion: These findings support the populations hypothesis, suggesting that there is no clear match between the evoked physiological responses and the experienced subjective affect.

P178 - Nucleus accumbens Aktivierung bei mehrdeutigen emotionalen Gesichtsausdrücken

Stephanie Nicole Lyn Schmidt1, Peter Kirsch2, Daniela Mier1

1Universität Konstanz, Deutschland; 2Zentralinstitut für Seelische Gesundheit, Medizinische Fakultät Mannheim / Universität Heidelberg

Bei Schizophrenie treten sowohl bei der Emotionserkennung, als auch bei der Entscheidungsfindung Defizite auf. Um die neuronale Grundlage des Entscheidungsverhaltens im Kontext der Emotionserkennung zu erforschen, haben wir ein Jumping-To-Conclusion (JTC) Paradigma entwickelt, bei dem Fotos von gemorphten Gesichtern gezeigt werden, die gleichzeitig zu verschiedenen Anteilen Freude und Angst ausdrücken.

In einer ersten fMRT-Studie haben wir mithilfe dieses Paradigmas die Gehirnaktivierung beim probabilistischen Entscheiden und bei finalen Entscheidungen in einer Stichprobe von 47 gesunden studentischen Proband:innen erhoben (Schmidt et al., 2019). Übereinstimmend mit früheren Ergebnissen von nicht-sozialen JTC Aufgaben, fanden wir Aktivierung im fronto-parietalen Netzwerk während probabilistischer Entscheidungen, und im Nucleus accumbens bei finalen Entscheidungen.

Wir präsentieren diese Ergebnisse sowie die vorläufigen Befunde einer unabhängigen, laufenden Erhebung von aktuell 12 gesunden Proband:innen aus der Allgemeinbevölkerung. Bei dieser noch kleinen Stichprobe bilden sich bereits vergleichbare Ergebnisse ab, hauptsächlich eine Tendenz für eine Aktivierung des Nucleus Accumbens bei finalen Entscheidungen.

Unsere Ergebnisse weisen auf eine zentrale Rolle des Nucleus accumbens bei der Entscheidungsfindung im Rahmen der Emotionserkennung hin. Die Zwischenergebnisse der laufenden fMRT-Studie liefern erste Hinweise auf eine Replizierbarkeit der Befunde und bieten somit die Grundlage für die Untersuchung von Personen mit Schizophrenie.

P179 - Pain inhibits negative affect to aversive sound: Does threat play a role?

Silvia Metzger, Claudia Horn-Hofmann, Stefan Lautenbacher

Universität Bamberg, Deutschland

Background: Emotions are not additive. For example, we are not twice as fearful when confronted with two rather than one threatening stimulus. Pain research showed even decreased pain perception by the application of a competing pain stimulus (“counterirritation”). Inhibition mechanism might also regulate negative affect, which could be an important mechanism to prevent an “emotional overload”. Since affect regulation seems to vary within subjects, the influence of the situational context (threat context) on inhibition is investigated.

Objectives: We investigated the inhibition of the processing of aversive sound using the method of “counterirritation”. We assumed that pain decreases the perception (loudness) and the negative emotional response (measured by the startle reflex) to aversive sound. Moreover, we assumed that threat reduces inhibition efficacy.

Methods: Sixty-three healthy subjects completed two experimental blocks, one with presentation of aversive pictures showing burn wounds (high threat block) and one with presentation of neutral pictures (low threat block). Aversive sound was presented in the two blocks- first alone, then during counterirritation (immersion of the right hand in a hot water-bath). Loudness ratings and startle reflex were recorded and compared between baseline and counterirritation in the low and high threat condition.

Results: Results showed decreased startle reflex amplitudes and reduced loudness ratings during counterirritation. Threat did not effect inhibition.

Conclusion: Our results revealed that pain suppresses negative affect. This might mean that if we are already in pain, we are protected from negative emotions. Threat cannot explain inter-individual differences in the efficacy of emotion inhibition.

P180 - Self-Reported Gaze Anxiety Does Not Predict Gaze Behavior: A Dual Eye Tracking Setup to Examine Naturalistic Gaze Behavior in a Face-to-Face Interaction

Daniel Tönsing1, Bastian Schiller1, Antonia Vehlen2, Ines Spenthof1, Gregor Domes2, Markus Heinrichs1

1Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Deutschland; 2Universität Trier, Deutschland

The latest scientific findings on gaze behavior largely rely on screen-based studies employing static stimuli or brief social sequences. However, in everyday interactions, eye information is much more complex, dynamic, and dependent on how both interaction partners interact. To overcome these limitations here, we applied a recently developed, innovative dual eye-tracking setup that enables to record naturalistic gaze behavior of both interacting opponents simultaneously in face-to-face interactions while delivering high data quality. To investigate whether the self-reported fear of eye contact also influences one's own gaze behavior, 102 healthy females and males engaged in a standardized conversation. Using self-reported gaze anxiety ratings, high and low gaze-anxious participants interacted with average gaze-anxious participants.. Our results show that (a) data quality of this dual-eye-tracking setup was satisfactory, and similar to the validation study’s, (b) we are able to study dyadic one-way and two-way gaze behavior, (c) high and low gaze-anxious participants did not differ in their gaze behavior. These findings demonstrate that subjectively reported gaze anxiety does not predict gaze behavior in this friendly naturalistic interaction. These results can be due to a cognitive distortion; gaze anxiety might be a subjectively reported rather than an objectively measurable fear, and these results could serve an important argument supporting cognitive therapy for social anxiety. In further studies, this face-to-face dual-eye-tracking setup can be used to investigate gaze behavior in very diverse social interactions (e.g. stressful, threatening) and in a range of populations including clinical conditions (e.g. autism spectrum, social phobia).

P181 - Soziale Unterstützung verbessert die Fähigkeit zur Geschlechtsidentifikation von geschlechts-ambigen Augenpaaren

Sarah Wehner, Tobias C. Blum, Bettina M. Pause

Institut für Experimentelle Psychologie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, BRD

Einleitung: Untersucht wurde, ob soziale Unterstützung und soziale Persönlichkeitseigenschaften die Leistung bei einer Geschlechtsidentifikationsaufgabe mit Augenpaaren ambivalenten Geschlechts beeinflussen.

Methoden: 61 Teilnehmende sollten das Geschlecht (männlich vs. weiblich) von geschlechts-gemorphten Augenpaaren (60% männlich, 40% weiblich und vice versa) identifizieren. Für ein Augenpaar wurde jeweils ein männliches und ein weibliches Gesicht aus der Radbound Faces Datenbank (RAFD) übereinander gelegt, im angegebenen Verhältnis gemorpht (Abrosoft FantaMorph) und ausgeschnitten. Insgesamt 30 Augenpaare wurden 30 Teilnehmenden (davon 14 Männer) für 100 ms und 31 Teilnehmenden (davon 15 Männer) für 300ms präsentiert. Jedes Augenpaar wurde dreimal innerhalb von 90 Trials präsentiert (randomisierte Reihenfolge). Für die Auswertung wurde ein Mittelwert für jede Augenpartie über alle drei Wiederholungen errechnet und dann ein Summenscore über die 30 Augenpartien erstellt. Soziale Unterstützung (Social Support Questionnaire-6), soziale Kompetenz (Interpersonal Competence-Questionnaire-15), Soziale Erwünschtheit (Soziale Erwünschtheits-Skala) und soziale Ängstlichkeit (Social Interaction and Anxiety Scale) wurden über Fragebögen erfasst.

Ergebnisse: Teilnehmende konnten bei 300ms Präsentation das Geschlecht besser identifizieren, im Mittel bei 19.84 Augenpaaren (SD = 1.74), als die Teilnehmenden, denen die Augenpaare nur 100ms präsentiert wurden (M = 17.53, SD = 2.26, p < .001, t-Test). Je mehr sozial unterstützende Personen die Teilnehmenden in der 100ms Bedingungen angaben, desto besser war ihre Leistung bei der Geschlechtsidentifikation (Pearsons r = + .50, p = .005).

Diskussion: Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass soziale Unterstützung einen großen Einfluss auf die soziale Wahrnehmung hat. Soziale Unterstützung scheint daher unabdingbar für eine erfolgreiche soziale Kommunikation.

P182 - The effect of oral contraceptives on emotional recognition and emotional contagion

Stephanie J. Dimitroff1, Leonie Aupperle1, Maria Meier1, Bernadette Denk1, Annika B. E. Benz1, Ulrike U. Bentele1, Eva Unternährer1,2, Jens Pruessner1

1University of Konstanz, Germany; 2University of Basel

Emotion recognition abilities (ER) may be affected in women taking oral contraceptives (OC), although results are inconsistent (Shirazi et al., 2020). The use of different tools to measure ER, and the aggregation of OC-users independent of varying hormonal formulations, may contribute to the mixed findings. In the current study, we wanted to compare the effects of oral contraceptives on emotion recognition across two measures –the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task (RMET), and the Emotional Recognition Task (ERT). Furthermore, we wanted to determine whether OCs also affected emotional contagion, which we measured with a video-based emotional contagion task (ECT). Methods: Forty women (20 OC users; mean age = 21.50 years, SD = 2.10 years) were recruited. Non-OC users were in the late luteal or early follicular phase. OC users all used OCs with the same ratio of 1:5 ethinylestradiol to levongesterol. Results: All participants performed equally well on the RMET. In contrast, in the ERT, OC-users were significantly worse at identifying emotions correctly. However, when correct, OC-users were significantly better at identifying more ambiguous emotions. In the ECT, when OC-users watched videos of speakers experiencing varying degrees of stress, their parasympathetic nervous system activity changed concordantly to the speakers’. No such association was found in non-OC users. Conclusion: First, OC-users were less accurate yet faster at detecting emotions in faces. Second, OC-users show more evidence for emotional contagion, which may be related to a more sensitive perception of subtle emotions in others.

P183 - The role of mirror neurons in social cognition – a multivariate pattern approach for fMRI

Lara Wallenwein1, Stephanie Schmidt1,2, Joachim Hass3, Daniela Mier1,2

1Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany; 2Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim/University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany; 3Faculty of Applied Psychology, SRH University Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany

The discovery of mirror neurons (MN) has inspired the embodied simulation theory of human social cognition (e.g., Gallese, 2007). In this theory, a common neuronal representation for action and perception is suggested that allows an automatic understanding of another person’s mental state. Multivariate pattern analysis of fMRI data is sensitive to spatially distributed responses and therefore an ideal candidate to assess neural representation patterns in social-cognitive processes.

75 participants performed a social-cognitive task with emotional facial stimuli during fMRI scanning with the conditions imitation, execution, observation and control. Conditions will be distinguished using support vector machines with cross validation. Furthermore, classification accuracy of fear and anger will be investigated within modality (i.e. separately for imitation and observation) and across modalities. Region of interest analyses will be performed within the MN system and the face processing network. Within-subject and inter-subject classification performance will be considered to assess stability of representations across individuals.

Activation analyses confirmed increased MN system activation during imitation, but not during observation in contrast to a control condition (Schmidt et al., 2021). Classification analyses are currently ongoing.

The lack of MN system activation during observation contradicts simulation theory. Classification analyses might prove more sensitive to fine-grained responses and might thus allow to detect MN involvement across conditions. These findings will help to understand the neural basis of social cognition and will add to our understanding of the human MN system.

P184 - Tryptophan availability is linked to the processing of social information

Vera Zamoscik1,2, Stephanie Schmidt3, Rafael Bravo4, Lierni Ugartemendia4, Thomas Plieger2, Ana Rodríguez4, Martin Reuter2, Peter Kirsch1

1Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany; 2University of Bonn, Department of Psychology, Laboratory of Neurogenetics, Bonn, Germany; 3Research Group of Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Germany; 4Chrononutrition Laboratory, Neuroimmunephysiology & Chrononutrition Research Group, Faculty of Science, University of Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain

Understanding of emotions and intentions are key processes in social cognition at which serotonin is an important neuromodulator. Its precursor is the essential amino acid tryptophan (TRP). Reduced TRP availability leads to weaker impulse control ability and higher aggression, while TRP supplementation promotes confidence.

In a double-blind placebo-controlled fMRI study with 77 healthy adults, we investigated the influence of a 4 week TRP enriched diet and an acute 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) intake on two social-cognitive tasks, a moral evaluation and an emotion recognition task.

With 5-HTP, immoral behavior without negative consequences was rated as more reprehensible. Additionally, during story reading, activation in insula and supramarginal gyrus was increased after TRP intake. No significant effects of TRP on emotion recognition were identified for the whole sample. Importantly, emotion recognition ability decreased with age which was for positive emotions compensated by TRP.

Since the supramarginal gyrus is associated with empathy, pain and related information integration results could be interpreted as reflecting stricter evaluation of negative behavior due to better integration of information. Improved recognition of positive emotions with TRP in older participants supports the use of a TRP-rich diet to compensate for age related decline in social-cognitive processes.

P185 - Wie fühlst du dich, Avatar? I & II

Peter Göller1, Philipp Reicherts1, Stefan Lautenbacher2, Regina Dorothea Fauerbach2, Miriam Kunz1

1Medizinische Psychologie und Soziologie, Universität Augsburg, Deutschland; 2Physiologische Psychologie, Universität Bamberg, Deutschland

Einleitung: Das Erkennen von Schmerzausdrücken (Dekodierung von Schmerzmimik) spielt eine wichtige Rolle in der sozialen Interaktion und im klinischen Setting. Um zu verstehen, welche Mechanismen dem Dekodieren zugrunde liegen (Dekodierungsstudien), ist es notwendig, Gesichtsausdrücke kontrollierbar und flexibel darzustellen, was durch computer-generierte Gesichtsausdrücke von Avataren möglich ist. Ziel dieser Studie war es, zu untersuchen, wie derartige computer-generierte mimische Schmerzausdrücke im Vergleich zu computer-generierten Gesichtsausdrücken der sechs Basisemotionen wahrgenommen werden.

Methode: Hierfür wurden zwei Online-Studien durchgeführt. In der ersten Studie bewerteten 106 Probanden die Valenz, das Arousal und die Natürlichkeit des gezeigten Gesichtsausdrucks. In Studie 2 sollten 200 Probanden bewerten, welche Affektzustände sie mit welcher Intensität in den gezeigten Gesichtsausdrücken erkennen.

Ergebnisse: In Studie 1 zeigte sich, dass die Gesichtsausdrücke der Avatare als natürlich wahrgenommen wurden. Der Schmerzausdruck wurde – erwartungskonform - hoch im Arousal und niedrig in der Valenz bewertet; und ähnelte in den Arousal- und Valenzratings den Gesichtsausdrücken von Ärger und Ekel. In Studie 2 wurde in den Schmerzausdrücken zuverlässig Schmerz gesehen. Es zeigte sich zudem, dass die Schmerzmimik recht mehrdeutig („ambiguous“) wahrgenommen wird, da ebenfalls Ärger und Ekel mit hoher Intensität wahrgenommen wurde.

Diskussion: Durch computer-generierte Avatare lassen sich die intendierten mimische Affektausdrücke gut erkennen. Es zeigte sich eine Ambiguität des Gesichtsausdrucks des Schmerzes, da in diesem neben Schmerz auch Ärger und Ekel wahrgenommen werden. Dies könnte darauf zurückzuführen sein, dass alle drei Affektzustände mit ähnlichen mimischen Muskelkontraktionen (Corrugator supercilii, Depressor supercilii) einhergehen, so dass hierdurch zwar eine negative Valenz zuverlässig kommuniziert wird, jedoch nicht eindeutig der spezifische Affektzustand.

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