Prof. Dr. Birgit Stürmer

Vice President, General Psychology and Neurocognitive Psychology

IPU Berlin
Stromstr. 1 - Room 4.06
10555 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 300 117-725
E-Mail: birgit.stuermer(at)

Teaching Focus

I teach general psychology and the biological basis of psychic processes. In general psychology, we explore the mental processes of experience and behavior that exist similarly in all people. Concretely, these are functions of thinking, language, learning, thinking, perception and action, as well as emotion and motivation.

In biological psychology, we are interested in the neural foundations of these mental processes. We are particularly occupied by the question of how mental processes are formed through brain structures and functions. Furthermore, the interactions between the neural system, hormonal system, immune system, as well as genetics and epigenetics are important themes.

In the context of lectures, the prevailing foundations are explored together with critical reflections on the research methods that lead to these insights. In biological psychology, we bring into question to what extent mental processes can be explained due to physiological processes. Individual topics, such as the functions of consciousness, are expanded upon in seminars.

Research Focus

My research projects revolve around the relatedness between automatic and controlled actions. I am interested in how voluntary action can interfere with the preparation of automatically generated action. Usually, multiple action goals compete to be translated into concrete plans of action to be carried out. This leads to conflicts in human information processing, which must be monitored and resolved so that individual action goals can be enacted through one’s behavior. In addition, I address how social situations and mental disorders affect these processes.

Methodologically, my research is located at the intersection of cognitive research and neuroscience. I examine how conflicts in human cognitive systems originate, are processed, and which consequences they have in subsequent information processing based on event-related brain potentials, which are measured and analyzed in behavioral experiments.

Selected Research Projects

since 2018
“The interplay of internal and external signal processing in patients with depression: An event-related brain potential study” together with Dorothea Huber (IPU Berlin) and Christian Valt (IPU Berlin)

since 2011
"Psychological Consequences of Meal Situations“ together with Manuel Martin-Loeches (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spanien), Annekathrin Schacht (Universität Göttingen) and Werner Sommer (Humboldt-University Berlin)

"Handlungsüberwachung in sozialen Interaktionen: Dynamik interner und externer Signalverarbeitung“ together with Christian Valt (IPU Berlin)

"Fehlerverarbeitung und Leistungsüberwachung im sozialen Kontext“ together with Christian Valt (IPU Berlin)

"Interdisziplinäres Wolfgang-Köhler-Zentrum zur Erforschung von Konflikten in intelligenten Systemen an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin“

DFG Research Group "Konflikte als Signale“ together with Peter Frensch (Humboldt-University Berlin), Stephan A. Brandt (Charité) and Werner Sommer (Humboldt-University Berlin)

Office hours by appointment (e-mail)