Affective Neuroscience
Research group


Using neuroscientific methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we study the neural mechanisms of pain, anxiety and decision making. Furthermore, this entails studying emotional processing and how emotions affect other cognitive functions. In part, we employ very simple paradigms such as classical conditioning, because this enables a link of our research to existing animal work. Methodologically, we are also bridging the gap between human neuroscientific research and animal neurophysiology by using high resolution neuroimaging techniques for instance to investigate emotional processing in different subnuclei of the amygdala or pain processing in small brainstem structures such as the PAG or the spinal cord. The interaction between emotion and cognition is also exemplified by the modulation of pain processing by various cognitive factors. A prime example of this effect is placebo analgesia in which expectation and experience shape pain perception. Using novel MR protocols to investigate spinal cord and brain responses simultaneously, pharmacological interventions and computational models, we investigate the neuronal mechanisms underlying these effects.

  • Staff
    • The neuronal basis of placebo and nocebo effects

    • The role of the amygdala in emotion processing

    • The mechanisms of fear generalization

    • The role of memory in decision making

  • Vlemincx E, Sprenger C, Büchel C. (2021) Expectation and dyspnea: The neurobiological basis of respiratory nocebo effects. Eur Respir J.

    Kampermann L, Tinnermann A, Büchel C. (2021). Generalization of placebo pain relief. Pain. 2020 Dec 15. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002166.

    Tinnermann A, Büchel C, Cohen-Adad J.(2021) Cortico-spinal imaging to study pain. Neuroimage

    Geuter S, Boll S, Eippert F, Büchel C (2017) Functional dissociation of stimulus intensity encoding and predictive coding of pain in the insula. eLife 6.

    Menz MM, Rihm JS, Büchel C (2016) REM Sleep Is Causal to Successful Consolidation of Dangerous and Safety Stimuli and Reduces Return of Fear after Extinction. J Neurosci 36:2148–2160.

    Wimmer GE, Büchel C (2016) Reactivation of Reward-Related Patterns from Single Past Episodes Supports Memory-Based Decision Making. J Neurosci 36:2868–2880.

    Sprenger C, Finsterbusch J, Büchel C (2015) Spinal cord-midbrain functional connectivity is related to perceived pain intensity: a combined spino-cortical FMRI study. J Neurosci 35:4248–4257.

    Gluth S, Sommer T, Rieskamp J, Büchel C (2015) Effective Connectivity between Hippocampus and Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Controls Preferential Choices from Memory. Neuron 86:1078–1090.

    Full publication list PubMed

  • Brian Knutson
    Department of Psychology, Stanford University, USA

    Bryan Strange
    Centre for Biomedical Technology, Madrid, Spain

    Andreas Heinz
    Department of Psychiatry, Charité University Medicine, Berlin, Germany

    Herta Flor
    Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim

    Trevor Robbins
    Department of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge University, UK

    Hans Christian Pape
    Department of Physiology, Münster University, Germany

    Jan Born
    Department of Psychology, Tübingen University, Germany

    Thomas Münte
    Department of Neurology, Lübeck University, Germany

    Andreas von Leupoldt
    Department of Health Psychology, University of Leuven, Netherlands

  • There are ongoing employment opportunities for doctoral students and post-docs. On a speculative application with motivation letter and CV to we look forward.