Forschungsschwerpunkt Translationale Neurowissenschaften Mainz

Kalisch lab

Next to his duties as head of the NIC, Raffael Kalisch runs a research group investigating mechanisms of stress resilience. The group is partly attached to the NIC and partly to the Deutsches Resilienz Zentrum Mainz (DRZ). The the group coordinates the Mainz Resilience Project (MARP) and the new EU Horizon2020 project DynaMORE (Dynamic MOdelling of Resilience). Raffael Kalisch is also the spokesperson of the International Resilience Alliance (intresa) and deputy spokesperson of the DFG Collaborative Research Center CRC1193 “Neurobiology of Resilience”.

Please follow Raffael Kalisch and his lab members on ResearchGate.


Research overview: Resilience

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Resilience is the maintenance or quick recovery of mental health during and after severely stressful life stituations. Traditionally, psychiatric research has focused on mechanisms that make people vulnerable and lead to disease, and on ways of treating mental illness. Interestingly, however, many people do not or only temporarily become mentally ill despite significant burden from psychological or physical adversity. This suggests the existence of protective mechanisms that can prevent the development of stress-related conditions like anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression or addiction. Our approach is to understand these resilience mechanisms and to harness them in the service of better disease prevention. This strategy can potentially much reduce individual suffering, dysfunction and economic and social costs.

More specifically, we investigate basal resilience mechanisms at the level of cognition and neural function. Our approach is characterized by a dynamic view on resilience that understands resilience as the outcome of a process of adaptation to stressors. For this reason, we conduct prospective longitudinal studies (MARP, LORA) in which changes in biological and psychological functions are monitored over time and put in relation to stressor exposure and mental health changes. We also conduct laboratory studies on the neural and cognitive bases of identified resilience mechanisms (esp. extinction and emotion regulation), using methods of experimental psychology, neuroimaging (MRI), neurostimulation (tDCS), pharmacology and psychophysiology.

We also conduct basic research on mechanisms of fear, anxiety and stress.

Key conceptual publications

  • Kalisch R, Baker DG, Basten U, Boks MP, Bonanno GA, Brummelman E, Chmitorz A, Fernàndez G, Fiebach CJ, Galatzer-Levy I, Geuze E, Groppa S, Helmreich I, Hendler T, Hermans EJ, Jovanovic T, Kubiak T, Lieb K, Lutz B, Müller MB, Murray RJ, Nievergelt CM, Reif A, Roelofs K, Rutten BPF, Sander D, Schick A, Tüscher O, Van Diest I, van Harmelen AL, Veer IM, Vermetten E, Vinkers CH, Wager TD, Walter H, Wessa M, Wibral M, Kleim B (2017) The resilience framework as a strategy to combat stress-related disorders. Nat Hum Behav 1:784-90.
  • Kalisch R, Müller MB, Tüscher O (2015) A conceptual framework for the neurobiological study of resilience. Behav Brain Sci 27:1-79.

Some findings

  • Braem S, De Houwer J, Demanet J, Yuen KSL, Kalisch R*, Brass M* (2017) Pattern analyses reveal separate experience-based fear memories in the human right amygdala. J Neurosci 37:8116-30.
  • Meyer B, Yuen KS, Ertl M, Polomac N, Mulert C, Büchel C, Kalisch R (2015) Neural mechanisms of placebo anxiolysis. J Neurosci 35:7365-73.
  • Kalisch R, Gerlicher AM (2014) Making a mountain out of a molehill: on the role of the rostral dorsal anterior cingulate and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex in conscious threat appraisal, catastrophizing, and worrying. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 42:1-8.
  • Haaker J, Gaburro S, Sah A, Gartmann N, Lonsdorf TB, Meier K, Singewald N, Pape HC, Morellini F*, Kalisch R* (2013) Single dose of L-dopa makes extinction memories context-independent and prevents the return of fear. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:E2428-36.
  • Etkin A, Egner T, Kalisch R (2011) Emotional processing in anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex. Trends Cogn Sci 15:85-93.
  • Raczka KA, Mechias ML, Gartmann N, Reif A, Deckert J, Pessiglione M, Kalisch R (2011) Empirical support for an involvement of the mesostriatal dopamine system in human fear extinction. Transl Psychiatry 1:e12.
  • Raczka KA, Gartmann N, Mechias ML, Reif A, Buchel C, Deckert J, Kalisch R (2010) A neuropeptide S receptor variant associated with overinterpretation of fear reactions: a potential neurogenetic basis for catastrophizing. Mol Psychiatry 15:1067-74. Corrigendum 17:468.
  • Kalisch R (2009) The functional neuroanatomy of reappraisal: time matters. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 33:1215-26.
  • Kalisch R, Korenfeld E, Stephan KE, Weiskopf N, Seymour B, Dolan RJ (2006) Context-dependent human extinction memory is mediated by a ventromedial prefrontal and hippocampal network. J Neurosci 26:9503-11.


28. Juni 2018
NIC Meeting
Florian Müller-Dahlhaus (Psychiatry) will give a talk on “Brain state dependent neuromodulation” in the NIC Meeting on Thursday May 3rd at 12 in the seminar room in building 701....mehr
13. Juni 2018
rmn2 retreat
The next biennial meeting of the rmn² will take place in Oberwesel from June 13 to 15, 2018. Program and registration can be found here  ...mehr
25. April 2018
Guest talk
Tanja Jovanovic (Emory University, USA) will give a talk on “Resilience in the Face of Trauma: The Role of Inhibitory Neural Circuits” on Wednesday April 25th at 12 in the seminar room in building 701....mehr