Emotion has a critical impact on learning and memory processes. This emotional modulation of learning and memory is generally adaptive but may become dysfunctional and ultimately contribute to the development and maintenance of mental disorders. Although the emotional modulation of learning and memory has been a topic of intense scientific inquiry for decades, the mechanisms underlying emotional learning and memory are not fully understood. Moreover, the translation from basic science on emotional learning and memory to clinical application remains difficult and rare.
The primary objectives of this interdisciplinary Research Training Group (RTG) – composed of cognitive and clinical psychologists, neuroscientists and psychiatrists – are to elucidate the mechanisms involved in emotion-related alterations of learning and memory in health and disease and to train a new generation of scientists that is ideally equipped to perform research at the intersection of basic science and clinical research, thus bridging basic and clinical research on emotional learning and memory and, ultimately, paving the way to developing new intervention approaches for emotional memory-related mental disorders. PhD students in this RTG will work on interdisciplinary research projects that combine a broad range of different methods, ranging from fMRI, EEG, MEG, and pharmacological interventions to cognitive modelling, psychophysiology and ecological momentary assessments, and belong to three highly interconnected research areas.
The first area will investigate emotional learning processes with a particular focus on pavlovian fear learning and memory processes. The second area will be directed at the impact of emotion and stress on episodic memory. While these two research areas will provide novel insights into emotional learning and memory in healthy individuals, the third area will study emotional learning and memory in (sub)clinical populations and its relation to clinical symptoms and treatment response.
The qualification program of this internationally-oriented RTG will combine supervision, mentoring and training tailored to the individuals needs of the PhD students with networking among RTG members, state-of-the-art education in research on emotional learning and memory, and training in key methods, thereby using the interdisciplinary composition of the RTG to provide a unique environment for a qualification at the intersection of basic research and clinical application.