STORM – Study of Resilience Mechanisms

Many people experience severe blows of fate in their lives or constant daily burdens and stress. At the same time, not all people suffer from mental illness or show stress-related mental dysfunction. The individual differences indicate that there must be certain processes that influence how resistant a person is under stress, or in other words, how resilient he or she is. The aim of this study is to gain insights into such mechanisms that contribute to mental resilience.
In this project, we focus on controllability and investigate how the experience of controllable or uncontrollable stress affects emotions, cognitive functions, and behaviour. For example, theories on the aetiology of depression in humans are closely linked to animal studies on the effects of stressor controllability. For some years now there has also been research showing that the experience of control has a positive effect and can protect against the consequences of future uncontrollable stress. However, explicit translations of established animal designs remain sparse. Therefore, for this project we are developing a translational paradigm to investigate stressor-controlability effects in humans.
Besides objectively manipulated control, we are also interested in the extent to which self-efficacy expectations and subjectively perceived control may moderate stress effects.
A combination of biopsychological and behavioural measurement methods enables us to provide comprehensive answers to the questions raised in this project. Among other things, we use electrocardiography, neuropsychological tests and questionnaires.
Our results will support the development and improvement of interventions aimed at promoting resilience to stress-related mental dysfunction.

Duration of study:
October 2016 to March 2020

Project C07 within the CRC 1193 „Neurobiology of Resilience“

Prof. Dr. Michèle Wessa (principal investigator),
Dr. Vanessa Scholz,
M.Sc. Laura Meine,
M.Sc. Katja Schüler