Psychosocial Consequences

Due to the fact that ACE frequently involve interpersonal acts, these projects focus largely on conditions relevant for social functioning, namely emotion processing (B1), social environment (B2), social emotions such as loneliness (B3) and aggression (B4). Besides, frequent ACE-related psychopathology such as SUD (B5) is of interest, as well as MDD (see also C1, C2), PTSD, and SSD (C1). In these projects, psychophysiological, neuroendocrinological, neuroimaging or ambulatory assessment methods will be used to clarify the role of ACE in the development of psychosocial consequences and disease-related mechanisms.

Emotion Processing (B1)

Emotion Processing in Individuals with ACE - a Daily Life Study

ACE were found to be related to deficits in emotion processing and interpersonal problems in later life. However, the connection between aversive emotional states, biased emotion recognition and interpersonal problems remains unexplored in the daily lives of patients. Likewise, the influence of possible moderators, such as intrusions and dissociative symptoms remains unknown. Consequently, the proposed doctoral projects aim to elucidate the link between emotion dysregulation and interpersonal problems in the daily lives of individuals with a history of ACE.

Principal Investigator: I. Niedtfeld

PhD Student: Sarah Schmitz

Social Environment (B2)

ACE and Stress Sensitivity: the Modulatory Role of the Social Environment 

ACE have enduring effects on human stress regulatory circuits and promotes alterations in stress sensitivity and emotion regulation in later life. The likelihood of the sensitized neural system to (de)compensate is thereby shaped by adverse and protective social influences in everyday life, but the examination is methodologically challenging. The planned doctoral projects will tackle this problem and interrogate data on prior ACE, alterations in stress sensitivity and emotion regulation and real-life social environmental exposures to identify the intermediate neural mechanisms.

Principal Investigators: H. Tost, A. Meyer-Lindenberg

PhD Student: Oksana Berhe

Loneliness (B3)

Loneliness, Social Belonging and ACE: Determinants and Treatment

Chronic and pervasive loneliness, i.e., a lack in the sense of social belonging and social affiliation, has been identified as an important factor in the relation between ACE and mental disorders. ACE have also been linked to somatic disorders, however, the mediating role of loneliness to the development of somatic disorders has not been investigated. The planned doctoral projects will aim at investigating a) the link between ACE, loneliness, and mental and somatic diseases, b) the mechanisms underlying the detrimental effects of loneliness after ACE and they will c) develop and evaluate psychosocial interventions that aim to improve the experiential and behavioural aspects of loneliness and social isolation.

Principal Investigators: M. Bohus, S. Lis

PhD Student: Ezgi Erol

Aggression (B4)

The Relationship of ACE and Violent Video Gaming: Effects on Pain Perception, Pain-Related Empathy and Aggression Towards Self and Others

There is initial behavioural evidence that violent video gaming leads to reduced pain perception and reduced empathy for pain as well as enhanced aggression towards self and others. ACE appear to be a central moderator in these effects. The planned doctoral projects will examine how violent video gaming is associated with childhood adversity and stress and will analyse the not yet well understood underlying psychobiological mechanisms.

Principal Investigators: H. Flor, S. Becker

PhD Student: Maxi Luisa Ritter

Addiction (B5)

Stress sensitivity, emotion processing and cue-reactivity in substance-related disorders: the influence of ACE

ACE are related to the development of SUD and behavioural addictions. Further knowledge on the interaction of behavioural, neural and physiological risk factors would be helpful for treatment and prevention of addictive disorders. The suggested doctoral projects will examine stress sensitivity, emotion processing and cue-reactivity using fMRI in alcohol use disorder (AUD) with and without ACE.

Principal Investigators: F. Kiefer, S. Vollstädt-Klein

PhD Student: Sarah Gerhardt