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   Markus Kiefer



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Curriculum Vitae


  Prof. Dr. Markus Kiefer, Ph.D.

 Director of the Section for Cognitive Electrophysiology

Associate Professor of Psychology
at the Institute of Psychology
and Education
of Ulm University 

Ulm University 
Department of Psychiatry
Leimgrubenweg 12

D-89075 Ulm, Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 731-500-61532
+49 (0) 731-500-61542
Email to 
Markus Kiefer

picture markuskiefer

Link to the home page of the Section for Cognitive Electrophysiology

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 high-resolution event-related 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.

Within 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.

Selected publications:

Harpaintner, M., Trumpp, N. M., & Kiefer, M.. (2018). The semantic content of
  abstract concepts: A property listing study of 296 abstract words. Frontiers in
   Psychology, 9:1748. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01748 
Download article here

Harpaintner, M., Sim, E.-J., Trumpp, N. M., Ulrich, M. & Kiefer, M.. (2020). The
  grounding of abstract concepts in the motor and visual system: An fMRI study.
  Cortex, 124. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2019.10.014.
Download article here

  Conscious and unconscious visual processing

In this field of my research, my colleagues and I investigate mechanisms of conscious and unconscious visual processing. We showed that unconscious processing is modulated by attentional task sets. Other work from our group suggests that the emergence of awareness is neither purely gradual nor dichotomous, but highly dynamic depending on the task and mask type. This research is conducted within the research network "Neuro-cognitive Mechanisms of Conscious and Unconscious Visual Perception" funded by the German Research Foundation.

Selected publications:

Kiefer, M., Trumpp, N. M., Schaitz, C., Reuss, H., & Kunde, W. (2019). Attentional
  modulation 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. (2019). Cognitive control over unconscious cognition: Flexibility and
  generalizability of task set influences on subsequent masked semantic priming.
  Psychological Research, 83(7), 1556-1570.doi:10.1007/s00426-018-1011-x.
  Download article here

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

  Working memory/Executive Function

The 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.

Selected publications:

Sanwald, S, Montag, C., & Kiefer, M. (2020). Depressive emotionality moderates the
 influence of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on executive functions and on
 unconscious semantic priming. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, 70(5), 699-712,
 doi: 10.1007/s12031-020-01479-x.
 Download article here

Schneider-Hassloff, 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,
  doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00299.
Download article here

  Emotion and cognition

Emotions have important modulatory influences on cognitive processes such as memory and executive functions and are altered in psychopatholgocial states. To address this issue, we investigate the interaction between emotions, memory and action control in healthy participants as well as in psychiatric patients. Furthermore, we investigate the moleculargenetic foundations of emotions and their disturbance in affective disorders.

Selected publications:

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,
  doi 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00483.
Download article here

Sanwald, S., Gahr, M., Widenhorn-Müller, K., Schönfeldt-Lecuona, C., Richter, K.,
  Connemann, B. J., Kammer, T., Montag, C., & Kiefer, M. (2020). Relation of promoter
  methylation of the oxytocin gene to stressful life events and depression severity.
  Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, 70(2), 201-211.
  doi: 10.1007/s12031-019-01446-1.
Download article here

Woike, 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, 10:463,
  doi 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00463.
Download article here