Julia is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist interested in how hormones impact brain and behavior in health and disease. Our group uses apply multimodal neuroimaging techniques (PET & fMRI) to study changes in neurochemistry and neural activity in the female brain and how they relate to emotion and mood.
Available PhD projects:
We are currently welcoming new PhD candidates to investigate the impact of sex hormones on the physiological and subjective stress response in the social context.
In modern society, where stress has grown into an omnipresent phenomenon, stress-associated difficulties in social processing abilities may predispose affected individuals to psychopathology, such as depression and anxiety disorders. With twice as many women than men affected by these stress-associated diseases, accumulating evidence indicates that endogenous sex steroids may have a crucial role in modulating the physiologic and subjective stress response. However, little is known about the interplay of cortisol and sex hormones in shaping adaptive or maladaptive social processing. To address fundamental questions about how individual endogenous sex hormonal states and cortisol interact to influence body and brain in a social context, we will test effects of menstrual cycle-, and oral contraceptive (OC) dependent hormonal fluctuations on social processing during psychosocial stress. We will further investigate underlying neural correlates (neural activation, resting state functional connectivity and structural connectivity), and inflammatory markers. Within this scope, we are looking for a candidate to be working closely (possible co-supervision) with Prof. Engert (the Social Stress and Family Health Group) to develop a new multi-level strategy to understanding how individual hormonal states affect the body and brain during psychosocial stress.