Deutsch Intern
Department of Psychology I - Biological Psychology, Clinical Psychology
and Psychotherapy

Context conditioning: Generalization, discrimination, extinction, and the influence of risk factors

Project: Collaborative Research Centre / Transregio 58 (CRC-TRR58) Fear, Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, B01

Title: Context conditioning: Generalization, discrimination, extinction, and the influence of risk factors

Description: In this project, the psychophysiological mechanisms of anxiety are investigated. Furthermore, we study the risk factors, which might result in the development of an anxiety disorder, and we test new therapeutic approaches in healthy participants. We use Virtual Reality for the examination of anxiety in ecological valid and highly controlled environments and for the investigation of physiological, subjective and behavioral responses. With the understanding of these basic mechanisms, the therapy for patients suffering from an anxiety disorder can be improved in the future.


  • Andreatta, M., Genheimer, H., Wieser, J., M., Pauli, P. (2020). Context-dependent generalization of conditioned responses to threat and safety signals. International Journal of Psychophysiology.
  • Genheimer, H., Andreatta, M., Pauli, P. (2020). Conjunctive and elemental representations of a context in humans. J Cogn Neurosci.
  • Andreatta, M., Neueder, D., Herzog, K., Genheimer, H., Schiele, A., M., Deckert, J., Domschke, K., Reif, A., Wieser, J., M., Pauli, P. (2020). Generalization of conditioned contextual anxiety and the modulatory effects of anxiety sensitivity. Neurotherapeutics
  • Stegmann, Y., Schiele, M. A., Schümann, D., Lonsdorf, T. B., Zwanzger, P., Romanos, M., Reif, A., Domschke, K., Deckert, J., Gamer, M., & Pauli, P. (2020). Individual differences in human fear generalization – pattern identification and implications for anxiety disorders. Transl Psychiatry 9: 307.
  • Wieser, M. J., & Keil, A. (2020). Attentional threat biases and their role in anxiety: A neurophysiological perspective.
  • Andreatta, M., Neueder, D., Genheimer, H., Schiele, M.A., Schartner, C., Deckert, J., Domschke, K., Reif, A., Wieser, M. J., Pauli, P. (2019). Human BDNF rs6265 polymorphism as a mediator for the generalization of contextual anxiety. J Neurosci Res 97: 300-312.
  • Neueder, D., Andreatta, M., Pauli, P. (2019). Contextual fear conditioning and fear generalization in panic disorder. Front Behav Neurosci 13.
  • Stegmann, Y., Reicherts, P., Andreatta, M., Pauli, P., Wieser, M.J. (2019). The effect of trait anxiety on attentional mechanisms in combined context and cue conditioning and extinction learning. Sci Rep 9: 8855.
  • Boecker, L., & Pauli, P. (2019) Affective startle modulation and psychopathology: Implications for appetitive and defensive brain systems. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 103: 230-266.
  • Lange, B., & Pauli, P. (2019). Social anxiety changes the way we move – a social approach-avoidance task in a virtual reality CAVE system. PLoS One 14: e0226805.
  • Stegmann, Y., Ahrens, L.M., Pauli, P., Keil, A., & Wieser, M. J. (2019). Social aversive generalization learning sharpens the tuning of visuocortical neurons to facial identity cues.
  • Kastner-Dorn, A. K., Andreatta, M., Pauli, P., Wieser, M.J. (2018). Hyper-vigilance during anxiety and selective attention during fear: An ssVEP-study disentangling attention mechanisms during predictable and unpredictable threat. Cortex 106: 120-131.
  • Genheimer, H., Andreatta, M., Asan, E., Pauli, P. (2017). Reinstatement of contextual conditioned anxiety in virtual reality and the effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation in humans. Sci Rep 7: 17886.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Paul Pauli (

Duration: 2016-2020