Negative biases in the interpretation of ambiguous information are a hallmark feature of anxiety disorders.
However, despite considerable advances in research, there are still a significant number of unanswered questions. In particular, the precise role of interpretation biases and their underlying mechanisms remain elusive, yet this knowledge is of great theoretical and clinical relevance. A central question here is whether interpretation biases are a causal risk factor for the development of anxiety symptoms and disorders, and if so, via what mechanisms.
The projects within the Emmy Noether grant aim to provide answers to these questions and will do so using a mechanistically-focused and interdisciplinary approach, combining paradigms from basic and clinical translational science. Via experimental research in at-risk and clinical samples, interpretation biases will be assessed and manipulated via a computerized interpretation training, and the effects of the manipulation on both symptoms of anxiety and treatment outcome will be examined. In parallel, mechanisms underlying interpretation biases and how they are updated will be investigated, e.g., neural correlates.