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Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Markowitsch H.J.,Bielefeld University
Gerontology | Year: 2010

Neuropsychological research contributes to a better understanding of cognitive mechanisms involved in making advantageous decisions, which is important for everyday life. Using laboratory gambling tasks, it has been demonstrated that both structural and functional brain changes can result in disadvantageous decision-making linked to reductions in executive functioning and feedback processing. However, relatively little is known about whether or not decision-making on these tasks is affected by normal aging. We argue that functions involved in decision-making - in particular categorization and monitoring processes - are most likely reduced in older adults. These reductions should lead to decision-making difficulties in older individuals. However, we also argue that the effects of age on decision-making depend on the type of decision situation (i.e. ambiguous or risky) in combination with the complexity of the decision-making task. In addition, we give a brief overview of methodological issues that should be taken into account in future studies on decision-making and aging. © 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.


Grabenhorst F.,University of Cambridge | Grabenhorst F.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Schulte F.P.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Schulte F.P.,University of Duisburg - Essen | And 3 more authors.
NeuroImage | Year: 2013

Food labeling is the major health policy strategy to counter rising obesity rates. Based on traditional economic theory, such strategies assume that detailed nutritional information will necessarily help individuals make better, healthier choices. However, in contrast to the well-known utility of labels in food marketing, evidence for the efficacy of nutritional labeling is mixed. Psychological and behavioral economic theories suggest that successful marketing strategies activate automatic decision biases and emotions, which involve implicit emotional brain systems. Accordingly, simple, intuitive food labels that engage these neural systems could represent a promising approach for promoting healthier choices. Here we used functional MRI to investigate this possibility. Healthy, mildly hungry subjects performed a food evaluation task and a food choice task. The main experimental manipulation was to pair identical foods with simple labels that emphasized either taste benefits or health-related food properties. We found that such labels biased food evaluations in the amygdala, a core emotional brain system. When labels biased the amygdala's evaluations towards health-related food properties, the strength of this bias predicted behavioral shifts towards healthier choices. At the time of decision-making, amygdala activity encoded key decision variables, potentially reflecting active amygdala participation in food choice. Our findings underscore the potential utility of food labeling in health policy and indicate a principal role for emotional brain systems when labels guide food choices. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.


Starcke K.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Polzer C.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Wolf O.T.,Ruhr University Bochum | Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Psychoneuroendocrinology | Year: 2011

Recent studies in the field of neuropsychological decision-making as well as moral psychology emphasize the role of emotions in decision-making. The current study examines whether stress affects moral decision-making. We induced stress in 20 participants with the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and also examined 20 participants in a control condition (Placebo TSST). The level of stress was assessed with questionnaires and endocrine markers (salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase). All participants performed a moral decision-making task in which everyday moral dilemmas were described. Dilemmas varied in emotional intensity and each offered a rather egoistic and a rather altruistic option. Results show that groups did not differ significantly in everyday moral decision-making. However, cortisol responses and egoistic decision-making in emotional dilemmas were positively correlated. Our results indicate that stress per se does not cause more egoistic decision-making in the current setting but suggest an association between the individual's cortisol stress response and egoistic decision-making in high-emotional situations. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Trotzke P.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Starcke K.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Pedersen A.,University of Munster | Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Psychosomatic Medicine | Year: 2014

Objective: Pathological buying is associated with marked distress and impaired functioning in important life domains. It is currently under debate whether pathological buying can be considered a behavioral addiction. In analogy to results reported in addicted individuals, craving reactions elicited by addiction-related cues might be an underlying mechanism for the etiology and pathogenesis of pathological buying. Methods: In the present study, 30 pathological buyers and 30 matched control participants were examined with a cue-reactivity paradigm consisting of shopping and control cues. Skin conductance responses, as well as subjective ratings for arousal, valence, and urge to buy, were assessed. Subjective craving reactions were measured before and after the cue-reactivity paradigm. Results: On a physiological level, skin conductance responses toward shopping cues were higher in pathological buyers (mean [M; standard deviation {SD}] = 0.26 [0.13]) compared with control participants (M [SD] = 0.19 [0.09]; t(58) = 2.29, p = .025, d = 0.60). On a behavioral level, the individuals with pathological buying rated the shopping cues as more arousing and more positive, and reported a greater urge to buy compared with control participants and with control cues. An increase in subjective craving after completing the cue-reactivity paradigmwas observed only in the pathological buyers (Mpre [SD] = 1.95 [1.47],Mpost [SD] = 2.87 [1.79]; t(29) = 5.07, p < .001, d = 0.97). Conclusions: Cue-reactivity and craving might be potential correlates for the development and maintenance of pathological buying. The results demonstrate similarities between pathological buying and substance or behavioral addictions and provide implications for clinical treatment. Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychosomatic Society.


Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Young K.S.,St. Bonaventure University | Laier C.,University of Duisburg - Essen
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Most people use the Internet as a functional tool to perform their personal goals in everyday-life such as making airline or hotel reservations. However, some individuals suffer from a loss of control over their Internet use resulting in personal distress, symptoms of psychological dependence, and diverse negative consequences. This phenomenon is often referred to as Internet addiction. Only Internet Gaming Disorder has been included in the appendix of the DSM-5, but it has already been argued that Internet addiction could also comprise problematic use of other applications with cybersex, online relations, shopping, and information search being Internet facets at risk for developing an addictive behavior. Neuropsychological investigations have pointed out that certain prefrontal functions in particular executive control functions are related to symptoms of Internet addiction, which is in line with recent theoretical models on the development and maintenance of the addictive use of the Internet. Control processes are particularly reduced when individuals with Internet addiction are confronted with Internet-related cues representing their first choice use. For example, processing Internet-related cues interferes with working memory performance and decision making. Consistent with this, results from functional neuroimaging and other neuropsychological studies demonstrate that cue-reactivity, craving, and decision making are important concepts for understanding Internet addiction. The findings on reductions in executive control are consistent with other behavioral addictions, such as pathological gambling. They also emphasize the classification of the phenomenon as an addiction, because there are also several similarities with findings in substance dependency. The neuropsychological and neuroimaging results have important clinical impact, as one therapy goal should enhance control over the Internet use by modifying specific cognitions and Internet use expectancies. © 2014 Brand, Young and Laier.


Schiebener J.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Zamarian L.,Innsbruck Medical University | Delazer M.,Innsbruck Medical University | Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology | Year: 2011

In two experiments with healthy subjects, we used the Game of Dice Task (GDT), the Probability-Associated Gambling (PAG) task, the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), and executive-function and logical thinking tasks to shed light on the underlying processes of decision making under risk. Results indicate that handling probabilities, as in the PAG task, is an important ingredient of GDT performance. Executive functions and logical thinking also play major roles in deciding in the GDT. Implicit feedback learning, as measured by the IGT, has little impact. Results suggest that good probability handling may compensate for the effects of weak executive functions in decisions under risk. © 2011 Psychology Press.


Pittig A.,University of Mannheim | Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Pawlikowski M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Alpers G.W.,University of Mannheim
Journal of Anxiety Disorders | Year: 2014

Individuals with anxiety disorders typically avoid fear-relevant stimuli even if they miss potential rewards. However, few studies have accounted for such costs of fear-related avoidance in doing so. In this study, 51 spider fearful and 49 non-fearful participants completed the Spider Gambling Task, our modification of the Iowa Gambling Task, to investigate whether fear-relevant stimuli trigger avoidant decisions in the presence of potential rewards. In one version, advantageous choices were associated with pictures of spiders, whereas the same pictures were associated with disadvantageous choices in another version. Fearful participants generally avoided choices associated with pictures of spiders, which resulted in lower overall gains in the version with advantageous spider decks. Although this relative avoidance was sustained, fearful participants progressively approach more advantageous spider choices. These findings demonstrate that phobic fear results in irrational avoidant decisions which can result in considerable cost. Potential long-term rewards for approach may, however, diminish absolute avoidance behavior. © 2014.


Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Schiebener J.,University of Duisburg - Essen
Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology | Year: 2013

Little is known about how normal healthy aging affects decision-making competence. In this study 538 participants (age 18-80 years) performed the Game of Dice Task (GDT). Subsamples also performed the Iowa Gambling Task as well as tasks measuring logical thinking and executive functions. In a moderated regression analysis, the significant interaction between age and executive components indicates that older participants with good executive functioning perform well on the GDT, while older participants with reduced executive functions make more risky choices. The same pattern emerges for the interaction of age and logical thinking. Results demonstrate that age and cognitive functions act in concert in predicting the decision-making performance. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


Pawlikowski M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Psychiatry Research | Year: 2011

The dysfunctional behavior of excessive Internet gamers, such as preferring the immediate reward (to play World of Warcraft) despite the negative long-term consequences may be comparable with the dysfunctional behavior in substance abusers or individuals with behavioral addictions, e.g. pathological gambling. In these disorders, general decision-making deficits have been demonstrated. Hence, the aim of the present work was to examine decision-making competences of excessive World of Warcraft players. Nineteen excessive Internet gamers (EIG) and a control group (CG) consisting of 19 non-gamers were compared with respect to decision-making abilities. The Game of Dice Task (GDT) was applied to measure decision-making under risky conditions. Furthermore psychological-psychiatric symptoms were assessed in both groups. The EIG showed a reduced decision-making ability in the GDT. Furthermore the EIG group showed a higher psychological-psychiatric symptomatology in contrast to the CG. The results indicate that the reduced decision-making ability of EIG is comparable with patients with other forms of behavioral addiction (e.g. pathological gambling), impulse control disorders or substance abusers. Thus, these results suggest that excessive Internet gaming may be based on a myopia for the future, meaning that EIG prefer to play World of Warcraft despite the negative long-term consequences in social or work domains of life. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Lagemaat M.W.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Scheenen T.W.J.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Scheenen T.W.J.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging
NMR in Biomedicine | Year: 2014

Magnetic resonance imaging is attracting increasing attention from the uroradiological community as a modality to guide the management of prostate cancer. With the high incidence of prostate cancer it might come as a surprise that for a very long time (and in many places even at present) treatment decisions were being made without the use of detailed anatomical and functional imaging of the prostate gland at hand. Although T2-weighted MRI can provide great anatomical detail, by itself it is not specific enough to discriminate cancer from benign disease, so other functional MRI techniques have been explored to aid in detection, localization, staging and risk assessment of prostate cancer. With the current evolution of clinical MR systems from 1.5 to 3 T it is important to understand the advantages and the challenges of the higher magnetic field strength for the different functional MR techniques most used in the prostate: T2-weighted MRI, diffusion-weighted MRI, MR spectroscopic imaging and dynamic contrast-enhanced imaging. In addition to this, the use of the endorectal coil at different field strengths is discussed in this review, together with an outlook of the possibilities of ultra-high-field MR for the prostate. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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