1. What is the focus of your research and teaching?
In my research and teaching work, I focus on the interfaces between general, biological and differential psychology. In the field of research, I utilise various methodical approaches (e.g. behavioural experimental, functional imaging and genetics) in order to study general mechanisms of cognitive processing, as well as to identify neurocognitive principles of intra- and inter-individual variability.
What interests me especially in this regard is the modulation of cognitive processing through motivational processes, together with their references to self-control and impulsivity mechanisms. Doing so, we are examining in a series of current experiments, for instance, how the processing of intentions for the future are modulated by various kinds of motivational incentives. In addition, I am interested in the connection between fundamental cognitive control processes and self-control, which we are examining in a large random sample of test subjects with a focus on inter-individual differences.
A further research topic consists of studying cognitive flexibility in multi-tasking situations especially. In addition to specifying the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in this context, we are also examining the neurocognitive effectiveness of cognitive and motoric training programmes here.
2. Which content do you convey in your modules?
I lecture in general psychology in the BA Psychology course, as well as in clinical neuropsychology in the MA Psychology course (compulsory elective subject). Both of these subjects are linked by a hypothesis testing approach, as well as by their references to behaviour and neurocognitive processing. And I hope I convey this approach to the students by means of theories, experiments and case studies.
3. What can students learn from you?
Knowledge of cognitive psychology theories represents a precondition for understanding experimental paradigms, as indeed for understanding neuropsychological symptoms in the course of various illnesses.
I hope that I am able to pass on to the students my enthusiasm for psychological theory construction, as well as for experimental work.
4. What is it about psychology that excites you?
What excites me is the rich diversity of psychology and its openness to interdisciplinarity. As an experimental psychologist, what fascinates me specifically is the possibility of relating human behaviour to mental processes by means of skilful experimental manipulations. And what fascinates me especially right now are current methodical developments which permit prognoses to be made about variability in behaviour via the recording of dynamic connectivity patterns in the brain. Which processes form the basis for intra- and inter-individual variability? Under which conditions are our actions steered by impulses and when are we in a position to act upon long-term intentions in an appropriately targeted manner?
The route from understanding information processing procedures through to the individual design of therapeutic sessions is a long one. And I regard the study of individual differences in paradigms of self-control as providing an important contribution to this.
5. Have you got a motto on life or a favourite quote?
"Impulse without reason is not enough, and reason without impulse is a poor makeshift." (William James)