Dr. Katharina Förster completed her B.Sc., M.Sc. and PhD in psychology at the University of Münster, with funded research visits in New Zealand and Ireland. She then started a postdoctoral position at Technische Universität Dresden. In her research, she elucidates the neural and behavioral mechanisms behind social dysfunction in adolescents and adults with affective disorders and generates new hypotheses regarding symptom-specific therapy and training. To answer these questions, she uses structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging combined with machine learning approaches and longitudinal designs.
Abstract: Affective disorders are associated with hetero- geneous disease courses. These heterogeneous disease courses provide a challenge in the diagnosis and treatment of affective disorders, resulting in high rates in non-response to treatment and chronicity. In particular, patients with early negative social experiences (e.g., childhood maltreatment and abuse) are affected by unfavorable disease courses, whereas patients with great social support recover faster. Therefore, it is evident that social experiences and interactions are central for the course of affective disorders. Building on my previous research on disease trajectories and brain structure, I will zoom in on social interaction as one central mechanism of disease trajectories in affective disorders.