Learning and Motivation in Developmental Psychopathology and Psychotherapy

Our research group focuses on motivation, learning and decision-making over the course of development. How do these cognitive processes change over the course of life? Which environmental influences play an important role in which age group? In addition to typical developmental trajectories, we are also interested in changes in psychiatric disorders and their risk factors.


Our lab studies motivation, learning and decision-making across human development. We are interested in how these cognitive processes change over the course of the lifespan and how different environmental factors (for example social influences, uncontrollability or uncertainty of the environment) shape them across development. One focus is to investigate these processes in healthy children, adolescents and adults. We are also particularly interested in understanding how these processes might be altered in different psychiatric disorders and their risk factors. Many mental health problems manifest themselves already during childhood and adolescence. This is why we are convinced that childhood and adolescence are particularly important phases to study in order to gain a better understanding of why these psychopathologies arise.

Research objectives

With this agenda, our aim is to contribute to a deeper insight into psychiatric symptoms and their treatment, across diagnostic boundaries. A particular interest lies in the question of whether we can use some of our tools from cognitive neuroscience to define predictors, mediators and moderators for the efficacy of learning-based intervention and prevention in children, adolescents and adults. The long-term goal here is on the one hand to improve clinical decision-making (for example in terms of differential indication and individualised treatment), but on the other hand also to contribute to an understanding of how and why psychological treatments work.


We employ cross-sectional and longitudinal studies which include cognitive experiments and questionnaires, often times combined with neural measurements derived from (f)MRI and EEG, to pinpoint developmental trajectories both on the behavioural as well as on the neural level. We often use computational models to analyse these data, as they promise mechanistically-informed insight into these cognitive processes (a.k.a. “Developmental Computational Psychiatry“).

Funding and cooperation

Our research is funded by the German Research Foundation and the Brain and Behavior Science Foundation. There are close national and international collaborations, among others with Technische Universität (TU) Dresden and its Collaborative Research Centre SFB 940 “Cognitive Control” (Prof. Philipp Kanske, Prof. Shu-Chen Li, Dr. Dimitrije Markovic), University College London (Prof. Ray Dolan, Prof. Quentin Huys, Dr. Michael Moutoussis) and Concordia University Montreal (Prof Ben Eppinger).

Research Team

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Andrea Reiter

Lena Pollerhof M.Sc, PhD student in cooperation with TU Dresden
Klara Gregorova M.Sc., PhD student
Katharina Kneer M.Sc., research assistant

Selected Publications

Reiter AMF, Moutoussis M, Vanes L., Kievit R, Bullmore ET., Goodyer IM, Fonagys P, Jones PB, NSPN Consortium & Dolan R
Taste uncertainty explains developmental effects on susceptibility to peer influence in adolescence.
PsyArXiv, 2019; doi:10.31234/osf.io/7u4xd
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Reiter AMF, Atiya, NA, Berwian IM, Huys QJ
Neuro-cognitive processes as mediators of psychological treatment effects.
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 38, 2021, 103-109
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Reiter AMF, Suzuki S, O'Doherty J P, Li SC, Eppinger B
Risk contagion by peers affects learning and decision-making in adolescents.
J Exp Psychol Gen; 2019 Sep;148(9):1494-1504, doi: 10.1037/xge0000512
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Reiter AMF, Heinze HJ, Schlagenhauf F, Deserno L
Impaired flexible reward-based decision-making in binge eating disorder: Evidence from computational modeling and functional neuroimaging.
Neuropsychopharmacology, 2017 Feb; 42(3):628-637; doi:10.1038/npp.2016.95
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Voon V, Reiter AMF, Sebold M, Groman S
Model-based control in dimensional psychiatry.
Biol Psychiatry, 2017 Sep 15; 82(6):391-400, doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.04.006
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Reiter AMF, Deserno L, Kallert T, Heinze HJ, Heinz A, Schlagenhauf F
Behavioral and neural signatures of reduced updating of alternative options in alcohol-dependent patients during flexible decision-making.
Journal of Neuroscience, 2016 Oct, 36(43) 10935-10948; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4322-15.2016
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Klinik und Poliklinik für KJPPP
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Direktion / Prof. Dr. Marcel Romanos
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PD Dr. Regina Taurines
taurines_r@ ukw.de


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+49 931 201-78620


Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie, Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie des Universitätsklinikums | Margarete-Höppel-Platz 1 | 97080 Würzburg | Deutschland