My research is focused on the cognitive
psychology and the cognitive
neuroscience of memory, unconscious perception, executive function and emotion. My colleagues and I
elucidate neuro-cognitive mechanismes underlying these cognitive
functions in both healthy participants as well as in psychiatric
patients. Besides of behavioral experiments, we use
potentials (ERPs), functional magnetic resonance imaging
(fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulution (TMS) in order to
investigate the temporal and spatial orchestration
of brain activity subserving these cognitive functions.
this field I am working on the following four topics:
Semantic Memory Structure
In this part of my research, my
coworkers and I investigate according to which general principles
conceptual object knowledge is stored in human long-term memory. Hereby
we test the assumption that conceptual knowledge is not abstract, but
modality-specific. We demonstrated that concepts are essentially derived from our perceptual
and motor interactions with the outside world and embodied in the sensory and motor brain systems. More information
regarding this research project is found on the home page
of the Semantic
Memory Research Group.
Harpaintner, M., Trumpp, N. M.,
& Kiefer, M.. (2018). The semantic content of
abstract concepts: A
property listing study of 296 abstract words. Frontiers in
9:1748. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01748 Download article here
Popp, M., Trumpp, N., & Kiefer , M. (2016). Feature-specific event-related potential
effects to action- and sound-related verbs during visual word recognition. Frontiers
in Human Neuroscience, 10:637. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00637.
Download article here
Sim, E. J., Helbig, H. B., Graf, M., & Kiefer, M. (2015). When action observation
facilitates visual perception: Activation in visuo-motor areas contributes to object
recognition. Cerebral Cortex, 25, 2907-2918. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu087.
Hoenig, K., Müller, C.,
Herrnberger, B., Spitzer, M., Ehret, G., & Kiefer, M. (2011).
Neuroplasticity of semantic maps for musical instruments in
NeuroImage, 56, 1714-1725.
Kiefer, M., & Pulvermüller, F. (2012). Conceptual representations in mind and brain:
Theoretical developments, current evidence and future directions. Cortex, 48,
M., Sim, E.-J., Herrnberger, B., Grothe, J. & Hoenig, K. (2008).
The sound of concepts for markers for a link between auditory and conceptual brain
The Journal of Neuroscience, 28, 12224-12230.
learning in vocational education"
This flyer describes evidence-based
guidelines for optimized learning in vocational education. It has been
developed in cooperation with vocational instructors at Bosch und
Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH in Gingen, Germany.
Conscious and unconscious visual processing
In this field of my research, my colleagues and I investigate mechanisms of conscious and unconscious visual processing. In
one line of research, we asses attentional control of unconscious
visual processes elicited by masked prime stimuli. We showed that
unconscious processing is modulated by attentional task sets. This
indicates that unconscious processing streams are not autonomous, but
orchestrated by higher-level attentional control. In a second line of
research, we elucidate the temporal emergence of visual awareness. Is
there a sharp discontinuous or dichotomous transition between unaware
and fully aware states, or does awareness emerge gradually encompassing
intermediate states? Our work suggests that the emergence of
awareness is neither purely gradual nor dichotomous, but highly dynamic
depending on the task and mask type. More
is found on the home page
of the Unconscious Visual
Perception Research Group. This research is conducted within the
research network "Neuro-cognitive Mechanisms of Conscious
and Unconscious Visual Perception" funded by the German Research
Kiefer, M., Trumpp, N. M.,
Schaitz, C., Reuss, H., & Kunde, W. (2019). Attentional
of masked semantic priming by visible and masked task cues. Cognition,
187, 62-77, doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2019.02.013. Download article here
Kiefer, M. (2018). Cognitive
control over unconscious cognition: Flexibility and
task set influences on subsequent masked semantic priming.
Psychological Research, doi:10.1007/s00426-018-1011-x.
Kiefer , M., & Kammer, T. (2017). The emergence of visual awareness: Temporal
dynamics in relation to task and mask type. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8:315.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00315. Download article here
Kiefer, M., Liegel, N., Zovko, M., & Wentura, D. (2017). Mechanisms
evaluative priming: Task sets modulate behavioral and
for picture and words differentially.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,
12(4), 596-608. doi10.1093/scan/nsw167. Download article here
Ulrich, M., Adams, S. C., & Kiefer, M. (2014). Flexible establishment of functional brain
networks supports attentional modulation of unconscious cognition. Human Brain
Mapping, 35, 5500-5516.
Martens, U., Ansorge, U., & Kiefer , M. (2011). Controlling the unconscious:
Attentional task sets modulate subliminal semantic and visuo-motor processes
differentially. Psychological Science, 22, 282–291.
M. & Martens
(2010). Attentional sensitization of unconscious cognition. Task
sets modulate subsequent masked semantic priming. Journal of Experimental
Psychology: General, 114,
Working memory/Executive Function
coordination of processes underlying cognition and action is an
important prerequisite for goal-directed behavior. It is assumed
that some of the working memory systems are mainly dedicated for
holding relevant information on line while others (executive function)
are involved in manipulating this information and in the goal-directed
orchestration of information processing. My colleagues and I
investigate the functional neuroanatomy of working memory systems, their development in children and
their dysfunction in psychiatric disorders.
H., Zwönitzer, A., Künster, A. K., Mayer, C., Ziegenhain, U., &
Kiefer, M. (2016). Emotional availability modulates
electrophysiological correlates of
executive functions in preschool
children. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10:299,
10.3389/fnhum.2016.00299. Download article here
Stroth, S., Kubesch, S., Dieterle, K., Ruchsow, M., Heim, R. & Kiefer, M. (2009).
Physical fitness, but not acute exercise modulates event-related potential indices
for executive control in healthy adolescents. Brain Research, 1269, 114-124.
Ahlegian, M. & Spitzer, M. (2005). Working memory
semantic priming and Stroop interference: Pattern of
performance differences in healthy
volunteers. Neuropsychology, 19, 332-344.
& Kiefer, M. (2005). Disturbing visual working memory:
Electrophysiological evidence for a role of prefrontal cortex in
interference. Cerebral Cortex, 15, 1075-1087.
Kiefer, M. Apel,
A., & Weisbrod, M. (2002). Arithmetic fact
retrieval and working
memory in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research,
Kiefer, M., Marzinzik, F. & Spitzer, M. (2000).
Executive control is
disturbed in schizophrenia: Evidence from
event-related potentials in a Go/Nogo
task. Biological Psychiatry, 47,
Kiefer, M., Marzinzik, F., Weisbrod, M., Scherg, M. &
(1998). The time
course of brain activations during response
inhibition: Evidence from event-related
potentials in a Go/Nogo task.
NeuroReport, 9, 765-770.
have important modulatory influences on cognitive processes such as
memory and executive functions. It is assumed that emotions configure
the cognitive system thereby improving human adaptation to enviromental
challenges. Meanwhile it
is well accepted that emotional mood states
trigger different cognitive styles and -
as a consequence - influence memory
processes. However, the precise neuro-cognitive mechanisms underlying
the emotion/cognition interface are unclear. To address this issue, we
investigate the interaction between emotions, memory and action
control in healthy participants as well as in psychiatric patients.
Sanwald, S., Widenhorn-Müller, K.,
Wernicke, J., Sindermann, C., Kiefer, M., Montag,
C. (2019). Depression
is associated with the absence of sex differences in the
2D:4D ratio of
the right hand. Frontiers in Psychiatry.
K., Sim, E-J., Keller, F., Schönfeldt-Lecuona, C., Sosic-Vasic, Z.,
& Kiefer, M.
(2019). Common factors of psychotherapy in inpatients
with major depressive
disorder: A pilot study. Frontiers in Psychiatry,
doi 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00463. Download article here
Fladung, A. K., & Kiefer, M. (2016). Keep calm! Gender differences in mental rotation
performance are modulated by habitual expressive suppression. Psychological
Research, 80, 985-996, doi 10.1007/s00426-015-0704-7.
Montag, C., Widenhorn-Müller, K., Panksepp, J., & Kiefer, M. (2016). Individual
differences in Affective Neuroscience Personality Scale (ANPS) primary emotional
traits and depressive tendencies. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 73, 136-142.
Schönfeldt-Lecuona, C, Keller, F., Kiefer, M., Gahr, M., Plener, P. L., Spitzer, M.,
Gunst, I. M., Fischer, T, Connemann, B. J., Schmidt, M., M. (2015). Relationship
between transitional objects and personality disorder in female psychiatric inpatients
– A prospective study. Journal of Personality Disorders, 29, 215-230.
Fladung, A.-K., Baron, U., Gunst, I., & Kiefer, M. (2010). Cognitive reappraisal
modulates performance following negative feedback in patients with major
depressive disorder. Psychological Medicine, 40, 1703-1710.
Schuch, S., Schenck, W. & Fiedler, K. (2007). Mood states
activity in semantic brain areas during
emotional word encoding. Cerebral Cortex,