Age is a factor that affects not only cognitive skills but also emotions and response patterns. © Baan Taksin Studio/stock.adobe.com

Age is a factor that affects not only cognitive skills but also emotions and response patterns. © Baan Taksin Studio/stock.adobe.com

Can positive thinking help us to age more healthily?

Patient expectation can influence emotions as well as the sensation of pain. The processing of pleasure and pain is closely linked in the brain, and overlapping brain activity patterns suggest common neural mechanisms. This project investigates these mechanisms and how they are influenced by attention and age.

Research summary

Expectation effects on emotional processing throughout life: the role of frontolimbic function and attention control

This project will investigate the impact of attention, age and mood on positive expectation effects in emotional processing. Using an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) paradigm for emotional interference in young and elderly healthy participants and elderly depressive patients, it will focus particularly on prefrontal top-down regulation of the limbic system. As these frontolimbic networks are also involved in the expectation modulation of the pain system, the results of this study may provide direct evidence of common and distinct neural mechanisms in the affective and pain systems.

Recommended reading:

Brassen S, Gamer M, Büchel C (2011) Anterior cingulate activation is related to a positivity bias and emotional stability in successful aging. Biol Psychiatry 70:131–137. PubMed

Brassen S, Gamer M, Peters J, Gluth S, Büchel C (2012) Don’t look back in anger! Responsiveness to missed chances in successful and nonsuccessful aging. Science 336:612–614. PubMed

Schneider S, Brassen S (2016) Brooding Is Related to Neural Alterations during Autobiographical Memory Retrieval in Aging. Front Aging Neurosci 8:219. PubMed

In close cooperation with these projects

A01

A01

A02

A02

A03

A03

A07

A07

How do positive expectations improve mood?

Prof. Dr. Erik M. Müller
Prof. Dr. Dominik M. Endres

A08

A08

Do positive expectations improve the effect of antidepressants?

Prof. Dr. Tilo Kircher
PD Dr. Irina Falkenberg

Project Lead

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Brassen

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Brassen
Neuroscientist

Team

Dr. Joshua Baker
Postdoc, Psychologist

Dr. Jonas Rauh
Clinician Scientist