CBBM Lecture "Sleep and emotional memories: Implications for psychopathology"

by Dr. Ines Wilhelm,

Psychiatric University Hospital Zürich &

University of Zürich

will take place on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 from 17:15 to 18:15 hours in CBBM, EG, Room B1/B2.

Host: Prof. Dr. Sören Krach
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy


Since Freud it became clear that disturbing memories can contribute to psychopathology and that the modification of these memories and the acquisition of new positive memories is essential for psychotherapeutic change. There is now a wealth of studies indicating that sleep essentially contributes to the long-term consolidation and reconsolidation of memories. However, the role of sleep in emotional memory functioning in mental disorders as well as in psychotherapeutic change is less well understood. In my talk, I will present first experimental research that aimed to start filling this gap. More specifically, I will present recent findings on the role of sleep in emotional memory consolidation in healthy participants and participants suffering from mental disorders. I will further show data on the impact of sleep after traumatic experiences on the development of PTSD. And finally, i will present findings on the impact of sleep on the modification of aversive memories. This research clearly suggests that i) studying emotional memory processes during sleep can help to increase our understanding of the emergence and maintenance of mental disorders and that ii) sleep-related interventions can contribute to psychotherapeutic change.


Dr. Ines Wilhelm is a post-doctoral researcher at the Psychiatric University Hospital Zürich and at the Department of Experimental Psychopathology and Psychotherapy of the University of Zürich. After studying psychology at the University of Trier she did her PhD in the lab of Prof. Jan Born at the University of Lübeck.  Her work during the last 10 years was dedicated to the question how sleep and memory is interrelated across development by combining different methods (i.e. behavioural measures, event-related potentials, functional MRI, high-density EEG, eye-tracking). Recently, she started to extend her research program by studying the role of sleep in memory in mental disorders with the long-term goal to improve our understanding of healthy and pathological development.