Relevant for Research Area

C - Applications


Prof. Dr. Anelis Kaiser

Dr. Pierre LeVan

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Hennig



Stereotype threat, defined as "...being at risk of conforming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one's group" (Steele & Aronson, 1995) has been shown to significantly decrease performance of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Previous reports revealed heightened activation of the ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC) in women under stereotype threat (e.g. Krendl et al. 2008), a brain region associated with affect regulation, emotion assessment, and an involvement in clinical depression (Drevets et al., 1997). Former studies could already demonstrate successful self-modulation of activity in the vACC mediated by real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback (Hamilton et al. 2011) but to our knowledge, these findings have not been transferred to stereotype threat research yet. In this project we want to further investigate the neurocognitive correlates of stereotype threat impairing STEM performance in women and to modify neuronal activity of the identified brain regions through rtfMRI-nf training. Therefore we will conduct an experimental fMRI study with 40 subjects (f/m, N=40) who will be recruited at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Freiburg. FMRI experiments will be executed on a 3T Siemens Trio fMRI scanner in cooperation with the group of Prof. Dr. Dr. Jürgen Hennig at the Department of Radiology, University Medical Center Freiburg and will consist of three parts: two fMRI sessions before and after repeated rtfMRI-neurofeedback training.