I studied Psychology at the University of Mainz, in Germany and earned my PhD at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. My PhD focussed on interactions between pain and reward/punishment, and how motivation regulates pain. I have worked with chronic pain patients as well as experimental pain in healthy participants. I was trained on standardized QST protocols, commonly performed to support the diagnosis of different pain syndromes, and gained experience with various brain imaging techniques, including fMRI, MRS, PET, EEG, and MEG.
Currently, I am a Leverhulme post-doctoral fellow at CINN, being mentored by Carien van Reekum.
I am very interested in how people regulate pain and how they manage – or struggle – to cope with it. Coping with pain becomes especially important when pain persists over long periods of time or even becomes chronic. Within this context, I am trying to understand how pain is being influenced by emotion, cognition, and motivation. Most intriguing to me is the ‘how’ and ‘who’ of pain regulation, so I use fMRI to understand the interplay between psychological influences on pain and their underlying neural mechanisms. Because people all come with different pain experiences, cultural differences to communicate pain, and different abilities to handle aversive situations, I am also trying to detect individual patterns that may tell us who is particularly vulnerable to struggle with pain versus those who manage to cope with it just fine.
I am Co-lead of the Pain Lab at CINN with Rich Harrison.