Interdisciplinary Research on Emotions in Neuroscience and Philosophy

Martin Diessel, Dipl.-Psych.

I’ve always been impressed by the huge diversity of human consciousness and behavior. For that reason I studied psychology at the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg. My major subjects were clinical psychology and neuropsychology, neurology and the cognitive psychology of attention.

I finished my diploma-thesis in 2005 investigating the neural foundations of social cognition: decision making and the detection of emotional facial expressions. To track the interrelations of these components, I developed a new labyrinth-paradigm. People had to find their way through a labyrinth using the emotional expressions of faces as a guide. The emotional expressions changed slightly according to the distance to the point of destination. I found strong and significant relations between the ability to react to fine changes in emotional facial expressions and the selection of actions with positive future consequences in the Iowa-gambling-task (Bechara 2000).

As the combination of psychology and neuroscience became so fascinating to me, I decided to go on working as a scientist in the field of social neuroscience. My part in the project animal emotionale (supported by VW-Foundation) will be fMRI-investigations on how people perceive enforcement and freedom in social interactions or how they reduce the uncertainty involved in social contact by trust and control.

Furthermore, I cooperate with René Hurlemann, M.D. in searching for ways to pharmacologically manipulate the perception of emotional facial expressions.

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