Address: Calwerstraße 14
72076 Tübingen

Person profile: 07071 29-82311

Fax number: 07071 29-4141

AG Affective Neuropsychiatry

Current research projects

Processing emotional information is a core competence of successful social interaction. Patients with mental illness often experience alterations in emotional cognition that are associated with disruptions in social integration and limitations in quality of life. The processing of verbal and nonverbal emotional signals (facial expressions, speech melody, speech content, laughter) is investigated in behavioral experiments, by means of peripheral physiological responses (skin conductance), and functional imaging (fMRI).

Current research projects focus on the evaluation of disease-specific differences in the processing of emotional signals and the investigation of neurobiological changes during the therapy process.

The Affective Neuropsychiatry group investigates the neurobiological basis of emotional processes in healthy subjects and in patients with disturbed emotion processing (e.g. depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder).

  • Dr. Kai Alter (Institute of Neuroscience, University of Newcastle, UK)
  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Bartels (Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Tübingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Buehner (Dept. of Psychology, University Cardiff, UK)
  •  Prof. Dr. Martin Butz (Dept. of Cognitive Sciences, University Tübingen)
  •  Prof. Dr. Birgit Derntl (Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie der Universität Tübingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Isabel Dziobek, Institute for Psychology, Humboldt-University Berlin)
  • Dr. Michael Erb (Abteilung Biomedizinische Magnetresonanz, Department für Radiologie, Tübingen)
  • Dr. Ann-Christine Ehlis (Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie der Universität Tübingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Ethofer (Abteilung Biomedizinische Magnetresonanz, Department für Radiologie, Tübingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Alex Hofer (Dept. of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Innsbruck, AT)
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans-Otto Karnath (Division of Neuropsychology, Center of Neurology & Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research, Tübingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Klingberg (Arbeitsgruppe Psychotherapieforschung, Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Tübingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Benjamin Kreifelts (Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie der Universität Tübingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Lotze (Funktionelle Bildgebung, Diagnostische Radiologie und Neuroradiologie, Universität Greifswald)
  •  Dr. Yulia Oganian (Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Tübingen)
  •  Prof. Dr. Christian Plewnia (Arbeitsgruppe Neurophysiologie und Interventionelle Neuropsychiatrie, Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Tübingen)
  •  Prof. Dr. Willibald Ruch (Fachgruppe Persönlichkeitspsychologie und Diagnostik, Universität Zürich)
  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schütz (Lehrstuhl für Persönlichkeitspsychologie und Psychologische Diagnostik, Kompetenzzentrum für Angewandte Personalpsychologie, Universität Bamberg)
  •  Dr. Andre Szameitat (Dept. of Life Sciences, Brunel University, London, UK)
  •  Prof. Dr. Ludger Tebartz van Elst (Universitätsklinik für Psychiatrie and Psychotherapie, University Freiburg)
  • Dr. Hong Yu Wong (Philosophy of Neuroscience, Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Tübingen)



frontend.sr-only_#{element.contextual_1.children.icon}: Prof. Dr. Dirk Wildgruber

frontend.sr-only_#{element.contextual_1.children.icon}: +49 7071 29-82314

E-mail address: dirk.wildgruber@med.uni-tuebingen.de

Non-verbal signals in literary texts

Exquisite feelings: Many people are familiar with the experience of vivid "inner voices" or "inner images" when reading a book. In a research cooperation with Professor Jürgen Wertheimer (Chair of Comparative Literature/New German Literature, University of Tübingen), neurobiological correlates of auditory and visual imagination in the reading of literary texts are evaluated.

Differentiation of laughing at and laughing out

While in animals only reflexive laughter occurs during physical contact (tickling, playing), differentiated types of laughter have developed in humans, which are of great importance for social interaction. By means of fMRI, an increased activation in the medial frontal brain (mentalization area) was shown during the perception of tickling or joyful laughter. Tickle laughter, on the other hand, led to activation of the acoustic association area in the temporal lobe.

Integration of multimodal emotional signals

In natural communication, emotional signals are conveyed on several channels (content, prosody, facial expression). Based on own research results, a model of cerebral integration of multimodal signals in healthy individuals could be established. Currently, the functional connections between the involved structures and disturbances of the integration in patients with psychiatric diseases are analyzed.


  • Hoffmann J, Pelzl MA, Travers-Podmaniczky G, Brück C, Jacob H, Hölz L, Wabersich-Flad D, Martinelli A, Wildgruber D (2023) Impairments in recognition of emotional facial expressions, affective prosody and multisensory facilitation in persons with autism spectrum disorder, Frontiers in Psychiatry
  • Martinelli A, Hoffmann E, Brück C, Kreifelts B, Ethofer T, Wildgruber D (2023) Neurobiological correlates and attenuated positive social intention attribution during laughter perception associated with degree of autistic traits. Journal of Neural Transmission, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-023-02599-5
  • Szameitat DP, Szameitat AJ, Wildgruber D (2022) Vocal Expression of Affective States in Spontaneous Laughter reveals the Bright and the Dark Side of Laughter, Scientific Reports 12, 5613. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-09416-1
  • Wildgruber D, Kreifelts B (2015) Evolutionary perspectives on emotions and their link to intentions, dispositions and behavior, Physics of Life Reviews 13: 89-91, 
  • Brück C, Kreifelts B, Gößling-Arnold C, Wertheimer J, Wildgruber D (2014) “Inner Voices”: The Cerebral Representation of Emotional Voice Cues Described in Literary Text, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 9: 1819-1827

Certificates and Associations