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Epigenetic, neural and cognitive memories of traumatic stress and violence

Objective

MemoTV investigates the mechanisms through which stressful experiences shape memories in humans on epigenetic, neural and behavioural/cognitive levels. We will explore how these memories interact with cultural settings in ways that result in malfunctioning and mental suffering. Frequent exposure to the severe stressors associated with domestic and organised violence leads to the detrimental conditions associated with extreme and traumatic stress. Such exposure reorganises the functioning of the brain and mind in a lasting, self-perpetuating manner so that even very subtle cues, sometimes merely arising from imaginative processes alone, can continuously activate a corresponding stage of the defence cascade.

We will investigate survivors of organised and domestic violence in different cultural settings: the German trauma clinic, Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, the townships of South Africa and a Burundian peace corps. Specifically, with regard to violence and trauma, MemoTV's ultimate goal is to identify the psycho-physiological mechanisms that lastingly alter the functional organisation of brain and mind. As means for suggesting methods to prevent and potentially reverse the consequences of maladaptive plasticity, MemoTV focuses on the exposure to and exertion of violence: (1) These extreme and intense stressors are thought to produce lasting changes. Reversing clinical symptoms and improving psychological functioning through treatment provides the detection of causal mechanisms. (2) The applicant’s group has demonstrated international leadership and expertise in field work in war-torn crisis regions. (3) The detection and influence of the mechanisms that govern the cycle of violence and adversity is a highly relevant societal topic.

With its bold attempt to redefine the mind and its related functional brain organisation as interactive processes in the co-construction of humans from their genetic and socio-cultural systems, MemoTV
enters an uncharted territory.

Call for proposal

ERC-2012-ADG_20120411
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITAT KONSTANZ
Address
Universitatsstrasse 10
78464 Konstanz
Germany
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 2 380 780
Principal investigator
Thomas Rudolf Elbert (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Sabine Schiess (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITAT KONSTANZ
Germany
EU contribution
€ 2 380 780
Address
Universitatsstrasse 10
78464 Konstanz
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Thomas Rudolf Elbert (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Sabine Schiess (Ms.)