»Early psychosocial intervention pays off!«

Prof. Dr. Silvia Schneider

Intervention research across the life span

Cognitive Bias Modification

In addition to assessing dysfunctional associations, appraisals, and interpretations the group also works on studies testing whether such dysfunctional cognitions can be manipulated, and whether this has an effect on symptoms of anxiety.
Within the experimental lab work the group mainly focuses on testing causal hypotheses, for example whether dysfunctional interpretations can trigger symptoms of anxiety. However, we are also keen to apply our lab findings clinically, e.g. by testing whether a CBM training to reduce dysfunctional interpretation has beneficial effects as a treatment add-on.
“Translating the lab work on cognitive dysfunctions into clinical applications can be quite challenging, however, when it does work out, it is extremely rewarding, and I have also learned a lot from my patients during the last few years”, states group leader Marcella Woud.


Mechanisms of interpretation biases in anxiety – bridging experimental investigation and clinical translation. (Emmy Noether Independent Junior Research Group)

Principal Investigator

Dr. Marcella Woud


Dr. Elske Salemink (Utrecht University, NL)


Woud: WO 2018/3-1, 2x3 years, €1.540.249


Start in May 2021


Negative biases in the interpretation of ambiguous information are a hallmark feature of anxiety disorders. However, despite considerable advances in research, a number of significant challenges remain, in particular regarding the biases’ underlying mechanisms. The proposed projects will use a mechanistically-focused and interdisciplinary approach, combining paradigms from basic and clinical translational science: Via (experimental) research in at-risk and clinical samples, interpretation biases will be assessed and manipulated via a computerized interpretation training, and the effect of the manipulation on both symptoms of anxiety and treatment outcome will be examined. In parallel, mechanisms underlying (changes in) interpretation biases will be investigated (e.g., neuronal correlates). The primary aim of the present proposal is thus to bridge the gap between lab-based and clinical research, in order to test and refine theoretical models of anxiety disorders, and to accelerate and improve their treatment. This scientific fusion brings with it the potential to produce more meaningful and significant results in the context of interpretation biases in anxiety disorders, therefore enabling a step-change in both research and treatment.