»Progress in mental health requires combining etiological and treatment research. «

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Margraf

Mechanisms of mental disorders across the life span

Cognitive mechanisms in mental health

This research line focuses on the role of dysfunctional associations, appraisals, and interpretations. Part of this involves developing and testing novel instruments to assess these cognitive mechanisms, and here the group is also interested in whether the assessed mechanism has predictive validity for e.g. stress reactivity. In addition, the group members are eager to better understand associated markers, such as neuronal and psychophysiological markers. Group leader Marcella Woud and her team find taking this holistic approach – coming at the problem from all angles – particularly exciting.


The role of dysfunctional associations and interpretations in panic disorder: An etiological approach. (Research grant)

Principal Investigator and Team

PI: Dr. Marcella Woud, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Margraf


Dr. Andrea Reinecke (Oxford University, GB)


Woud: WO2018/2-1, €212.250
Margraf: MA1116/13-1, €12.960


From 2016 to 2021


Current treatments are guided by models stressing the role of cognitive factors in the etiology and maintenance of Panic Disorder (PD). However, results from studies investigating e.g., panic-related associations are highly heterogeneous, and panic-related interpretations have been studied by means of one paradigm only. The present project aims to overcome these problems by applying novel and improved paradigms. Study 1 involved a validation study that tested a novel cognitive test battery in an analogue risk sample (see Zahler, L., … Woud, M.L., 2020, Cognitive Therapy and Research). Study 2 involves a cross-sectional approach, comparing panic-related associations and interpretations in PD vs. anxious control patients. Study 3 involves a longitudinal approach, examining panic-related associations and interpretations over the course of treatment vs. a waiting list for treatment in PD patients. Following this, our project will provide a first step towards a fundamental and structural understanding of panic-related associations and interpretations. Hence, this research project will be crucial for the understanding of the underlying cognitive mechanisms in PD, and will therefore provide a valuable contribution to theory refinement and development.