Zu Hauptinhalt springen

Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach

Gesine Dreisbach

PT Gebäude, Zi. 4.1.30

Telefon 0941 943-3817

Telefax 0941 943-1995

Sprechstunde: Mo 13-14:00 Uhr (in der vorlesungsfreien Zeit nach Vereinbarung!)

E-Mail: gesine.dreisbach@ur.de

Research Interests

Cognitive Control: On the dynamic interplay between flexibility and stability

In my research, I focus on processes of cognitive control. Cognitive control enables humans to dynamically adjust thought and action to changing goals and task demands. To give just one example, cognitive control enables to resist a strong but currently inappropriate response tendency (reaching for your cell phone to look for possible messages) in favor of a weaker but adequate response (listening to your partner).

Broadly speaking, my research interests revolve around four issues:

(1) Task switching and the functional role of task rules.

(2) Context-sensitive adjustment of cognitive control.

(3) Conflicts as aversive signals for control adaptations.

(4) Affective and motivational modulation of cognitive control.

(5) Training executive functions

Curriculum Vitae

Academic education

  • 1992: Vordiplom (Psychology) University of Mannheim.

  • 1997: Diplom (Psychology) Berlin University of Technology.

  • 2000: Promotion zum Dr. phil. University of the Federal Armed Forces, Hamburg.
    Senior Advisor: Prof. Dr. Rainer H. Kluwe.

  • 2007: Habilitation zum Dr. phil. et rer. nat. habil. , Dresden University of Technology

Professional employment history

  • 1997 - 1998: Research Associate, University of the Federal Armed Forces, Hamburg, Research project "Intentional control of cognitive activity", funded by DFG.

  • 1998 - 2000: Research Scientist, University of the Federal Armed Forces, Hamburg, Institute for Cognitive Research

  • 2000 - 2001: Postdoc with Jonathan D. Cohen, Princeton University, USA, Center for the Study of Mind, Brain, and Behavior

  • 2002 - 2008: Research Scientist, Dresden University of Technology, Department of Psychology

  • 10/2006 - 9/2007: Visiting Professor (Professurvertretung Allgemeine Psychologie II) an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/M.

  • 10/2008 - 9/2009: Professor (W2), Allgemeine Psychologie II, Department of Psychology, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld.

  • Since 10/2009 Professor, Lehrstuhl für Allgemeine Psychologie, Institut für Experimentelle Psychologie, Universität Regensburg

  • 2017: Visiting Professor at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, funded by the KNAW (the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Editorial Activities

Associate Editor for Experimental Psychology (2016-2019)

Series Editor SpringerBriefs in Cognition

Member of the editorial Board:

  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition
  • Psychonomic Bulletin and Review


Für Forschungsinstitutionen

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)

Israel Science Foundation (ISF)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Für wissenschaftliche Zeitschriften

  • Acta Psychologica

  • Adaptive Behavior

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

  • Biological Psychology

  • Brain and Cognition

  • Brain Research Bulletin

  • Cognition

  • Cognition and Emotion

  • Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

  • Cognitive Psychology

  • Emotion

  • Experimental Psychology

  • Experimental Brain Research

  • Frontiers in Cognition

  • Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition

  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance

  • Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

  • Memory and Cognition

  • Motivation and Emotion

  • Nature Human Behavior

  • Neuropsychologia

  • PLoS ONE

  • Psychologica Belgica

  • Psychological Research

  • Psychological Science

  • Psychological Review

  • Psychologische Rundschau

  • Psychoneuroendocrinology

  • Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

  • Psychophysiology

  • Social Cognition

  • Social Psychological and Personality Science

  • Social Psychology

  • The American Journal of Psychology

  • Trends in Cognitive Science

  • Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

  • Vision Research

Teaching Experience


  • Learning and Memory
  • Memory research: Eyewitness testimony
  • Judgment and decision making
  • Planning experiments
  • Introduction to psychology
  • Psychology of emotion
  • Affect and cognition
  • Practical courses
  • Motivation
  • Emotion


  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
  • Learning and Memory
  • Motivation and Emotion
  • Cognition and Emotion


Selected Publications 

  • Dreisbach, G. (2023). Using the theory of constructed emotion to inform the study of cognition-emotion interactions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 30, 489–497. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-022-02176-z 

  • Dreisbach, G. & Fröber, K. (2019). How to be flexible (or not): Modulation of the Flexibility-Stability-Balance. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28(1), 3-9. doi: 10.1177/0963721418800030

  • Dreisbach, G. & Fischer, R. (2015). Conflicts as aversive signals for control adaptation. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24(4), 255-260. DOI: 10.1177/0963721415569569

  • Dreisbach, G. (2012). Mechanisms of cognitive control: The functional role of task rules. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(4), 227-231.

Articles (peer-reviewed)

  • Kolnes, M., Calcott, R., van Steenbergen, H. & Dreisbach, G. (in press). The differential effects of reward prospect and reward reception: Dynamic performance adjustment versus stable performance. Motivation Science. https://dpo-org/10.1037/mot0000348

  • Mendl, J., &  Dreisbach, G. (2024). Is task switching avoided to save effort or time? Shorter intertrial durations following task switches increase the willingness to switch tasks. Motivation Science. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/mot0000347

  • Mendl, J., Fröber, K., & Dreisbach, G. (2024). Flexibility by association? No Evidence for an Influence of Cue-Transition Associations on Voluntary Task Switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 50(3), 313–328. https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0001186

  • Dreisbach, G. & Mendl, J. (2024). Flexibility as a matter of context, effort, and ability: evidence from the task-switching paradigm. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 55, 101348. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2023.101348

  • Dreisbach, G. (2023). Using the theory of constructed emotion to inform the study of cognition-emotion interactions. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 30, 489–497. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-022-02176-z 

  • Fröber, K., & Dreisbach, G. (2023). You can('t) always get what you want: When Goal Persistence Requires Flexibility. Motivation Science. Advance online publication. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/mot0000297

  • Mendl, J. & Dreisbach, G. (2022). The role of objective and introspective switch costs in voluntary task choice. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0001051

  • Hommel, B., & Dreisbach, G. (2022). Cognitive resources, quo vadis? Editorial. Frontiers in Psychology, 12:994801. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.994801

  • Jurczyk, V. Steinhauser, R., Dreisbach, G., & Steinhauser, M. (2022). To switch or to repeat? Commonalities and differences in the electrophysiological correlates of preparation for voluntary and forced task choices. Psychophysiology. 


  • Köllnberger, K., Bogon, J., & Dreisbach, G. (2022). Binding time: Investigations on the integration of visual stimulus duration. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. First published online November 15, 2022

  • Czacczkes, T. J., Berger, A., Koch, A. & Dreisbach, G. (2022). Conflict interference in an insect. Journal of Comparative Psychology. Vol. 136, No. 1, 35–43. https://doi.org/10.1037/com0000294

  • Fröber, K., Jurczyk, V., & Dreisbach, G. (2021). Keep flexible - keep switching? Boundary conditions of the influence of forced task switching on voluntary task switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0001104

  • Fröber, K., Jurczyk, V., Mendl, J., & Dreisbach, G. (2021). Investigating anticipatory processes during sequentially changing reward prospect: An ERP study. Brain and Cognition. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2021.105815 full text

  • Dreisbach, G. & Jurczyk, V. (2021). The role of objective and subjective effort costs on voluntary task choice. Psychological Research, published online August 29, 2021. link to full text

  • Jurczyk, V., Fröber, K., & Dreisbach, G. (2021). Bottom-up influences on voluntary task switching in different reward contexts? Acta Psychologica. Online first https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2021.103312

  • Gable, P. & Dreisbach, G. (2021). Approach motivation and positive affect. Current Dpinion in Behavioral Sciences, 39, 203-208.

  • Paul, K., Pourtois, G., van Steenbergen, H., Gable, P., & Dreisbach, G. (2021). Finding a balance: Modulatory effects of positive affect on attentional and cognitive control. Current Dpinion in Behavioral Sciences39, 163-141.

  • Pereg, K., Harpaz, D., Sabah, K., BenShachar, M. S., Amir, I., Dreisbach, G. & Meiran, N. (2021) Lerning the ababstract general task structure in a rapidly changing task content. Journal of Cognition, 4(1): 31, pp. 1-16. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/joc.176

  • Sabah, K., Meiran, N., & Dreisbach, G. (Jan 27, 2021). Examining the Trainability

    and Transferability of Working-Memory Gating Policies. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41465-021-00205-8 (open access).
  • Fröber, K., & Dreisbach, G. (2020). How sequentially changing reward prospect

    modulates meta-control: Increasing reward prospect promotes cognitive flexibility. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi.org/10.3758/s13415-020-00825-1
  • Berger, A., Dolk, T., Bogon, J. & Dreisbach, G. (2020). Challenging

    Voices: Mixed evidence for context-specific control adjustments in the auditory domain. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.73(10) 1684–
  • Sabah, K., Dolk, T., Meiran, N. & Dreisbach, G. (2020). Enhancing task-demands disrupts learning but enhances transfer gains in short-term task switching training. Psychological Research. doi.org/10.1007/s00426-020-01335-y
  • Fröber, K., Pittino, F., & Dreisbach, G. (2020). How sequential changes in reward expectation modulate cognitive control: Pupillometry as a tool to monitor dynamic changes in reward expectation. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 148, 35-49.
  • Hefer, C. & Dreisbach, G. (2020). Prospect of performance-contingent reward distorts the action-relevance of predictive context information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 46(2), 380–399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000727
  • Hefer, C. & Dreisbach, G. (2020). The volatile nature of positive affect effects: Opposite effects of positive affect and time on task on proactive control. Psychological Research, 84, 774-783. doi: 10.1007/s00426-018-1086-4.
  • Fröber, K., Pfister, R., & Dreisbach, G. (2020). Increasing reward prospect promotes cognitive flexibility: Direct evidence from voluntary task switching with double registration. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 148, 35-49. doi: 10.1177/1747021818819449
  • Berger, A., Fischer, R. & Dreisbach, G. (2019). It's more than just conflict: The functional role of congruency in the sequential control adaptation. Acta Psychologica, 197, 64-72. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.04.016
  • Dreisbach, G. & Fröber, K. (2019). How to be flexible (or not): Modulation of the Flexibility-Stability-Balance. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28(1), 3-9. doi: 10.1177/0963721418800030
  • Meiran, N., Dreisbach, G., & von Bastian, C. C. (2019). Mechanisms of working-memory training: Insights from individual differences. Intelligence, 73, 78-87. doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2019.01.010
  • Dreisbach, G., Fröber, K., Berger, A. & Fischer, R. (2018, October 4). Unexpected conflict signals loom larger in a positive context: Evidence from context specific control adjustments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000662
  • Jurczyk, V., Fröber, K., & Dreisbach, G. (2018, October 25). Increasing reward prospect motivates switching to the more difficult task. Motivation Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/mot0000119
  • Fischer R., Fröber, K. & Dreisbach, G. (2018). Shielding and Relaxation in Multitasking: Prospect of Reward Counteracts Relaxation of Task Shielding in Multitasking.  Acta Psychologica,191, 112-123. doi: 10.10167j.actpsy.2018.09.002
  • Sabah, K. , Dolk, T., Meiran, N. & Dreisbach, G. (2018, Apr 5.). When less is more: : Costs and Benefits of Varied vs. Fixed Content and Structure in Short Term Task Switching Training. Psychological Research. doi:10.1007/s00426-018-1006-7. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Dolk, T., Freigang, C., Bogon, J., & Dreisbach, G. (2018). Auditory (dis-)fluency triggers sequential processing adjustments. Acta Psychologica,
    191, 69-75. This article has been retracted by the authors due to a coding error in the experimental files. Please do not cite!
  • Czaczkes, T, Koch, A., Fröber, K., & Dreisbach, G. (2018). Voluntary switching in an invertebrate. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition. 44(3), 247-257. 
  • Aufschnaiter, S., Kiesel, A., Dreisbach, G., Wenke, D., & Thomaschke, R. (2018). Time-based expectancy in temporally structured task switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44, 856-870.
  • Fröber, K., Raith, L., & Dreisbach, G. (2018). The dynamic balance between cognitive flexibility and stability: the influcence of local changes in reward expectation and global task context on voluntary switch rate. Psychological Research, 82(1), 65-77. doi: 10.1007/s00426-017-0922-2.
  • Dreisbach, G., Reindl, A.- L., & Fischer, R. (2018). Conflict and disfluency as aversive signals: Context-specific processing adjustments are modulated by affective location association. Psychological Research.  Volume: 82   Issue: Pages: 324-336   DOI: 10.1007/s00426-016-0822-x
  • Thomaschke, R., Bogon, J., & Dreisbach, G. (2017). Timing affect: Dimension-specific time-based expectancy for affect. Emotion. doi: 10.1037/emo0000380. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Hefer, C., Cohen, A.-L., Jaudas, A., & Dreisbach, G. (2017). The flexible engagement of monitoring processes in non-focal and focal prospective memory tasks with salient cues. Acta Psychologica,179, 42-53.
  • Bogon, J., Thomaschke, R., & Dreisbach, G. (2017)Binding time: Evidence for integration of temporal stimulus features. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. Volume: 79   Issue: 5   Pages: 1290-1296  
  • Hefer, C. & Dreisbach, G. (2017). How performance-contingent reward prospect modulates cognitive control: Increased cue maintenance at the cost of decreased flexibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.Volume: 43   Issue: 10   Pages: 1643-1658  

  • Surrey, C., Dreisbach, G., & Fischer, R. (2017). Context-specific adjustment of cognitive control: Transfer of adaptive control sets. Quarlerly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 70(11), 2386-2401. doi:10.1080/17470218.2016.1239748.

  • Fröber, K., Stürmer, B., Frömer, R. & Dreisbach, G. (2017). The role of affective evaluation in conflict adaptation: An LRP study. Brain and Cognition, 116, 9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2017.05.003 full text

  • Fröber, K. & Dreisbach, G. (2017). Keep flexible -- keep switching! The influence of  forced task switching on voluntary task switching. Cognition.162, 48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.01.024

  • Bogon, J., Eisenbarth, H., Landgraf, S. & Dreisbach, G. (2017). Shielding voices: The modulation of binding processes between voice features and response features by task representations. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70(9), 1856-1866. doi.org/10.1080/17470218.2016.1209686.

  • Hefer, C., & Dreisbach, G. (2016). The motivational modulation of proactive control in a modified version of the AX-Continuous Performance Task: Evidence from cue-based and prime-based preparation. Motivation Science, 2(2), 116-134. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/mot0000034

  • Fröber, K. & Dreisbach, G. (2016). How performance (non-)contingent reward modulates cognitive control. Acta Psychologica,168, 65-77. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.04.008

  • Cohen, A.-L., Gordon, A., Jaudas, A., Hefer, C. & Dreisbach, G. (2016). Let it go: The flexible engagement and disengagement of monitoring processes in a nonfocal prospective memory task. Psychological Research.

  • Fröber, K. & Dreisbach, G. (2016). How sequential changes in reward magnitude modulate cognitive flexibility: Evidence from voluntary task switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 285-295. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000166

  • Dreisbach, G. & Fischer, R. (2016). Conflicts as aversive signals: Motivation for control adaptation in the service of affect regulation. In Todd S. Braver (Ed.). Motivation and Cognitive Control. Psychology Press, New York, NY. (pp. 188-210).

  • Dreisbach, G. & Fischer, R. (2015). Conflicts as aversive signals for control adaptation. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24(4), 255-260. DOI: 10.1177/0963721415569569
  • Fischer, R., & Dreisbach, G. (2015). Predicting high levels of multitasking reduces between task interactions.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 41(6), 1482-1487.
  • Fritz, J., Fischer, R., & Dreisbach, G. (2015). The influence of negative stimulus features on conflict adaptation: Evidence from fluency of processing. Frontiers in Cognition. 6  doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00185 

  • Thomaschke, R., & Dreisbach, G. (2015). The time-event correlation effect is due to temporal expectancy, not to partial transition costs. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41, 196-218.

  • Fritz, J. & Dreisbach, G. (2015). The time course of the aversive conflict-signal. Experimental Psychology. 62(1), 30-39.

  • Fischer, R., Plessow, F., Dreisbach, G., & Goschke, T. (2014). Individual differences in the context-dependent recruitment of cognitive control: Evidence from action versus state orientation. Journal of Personality.

  • Thomaschke, R., Kunchulia, M., & Dreisbach, G. (2014). Time-based event expectations employ relative, not absolute, representations of time. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review  DOI: 10.3758/s13423-014-0710-6 

  • Dreisbach, G. & Bäuml, K.-H. T. (2014). Don't do it again... Directed forgetting of habits. Psychological Science. 25, 1242-1248.

  • Fröber, K. & Dreisbach, G. (2014). The differential influences of positive affect, random reward, and performance-contingent reward on cognitive control. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. 14, 530-547. doi: 10.3758/s13415-014-0259-x 
  • Fischer, R., Gottschalk, C. & Dreisbach, G. (2014). Context-sensitive adjustment of cognitive control in dual task performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition. Volume: 40   Issue: 2   Pages: 399-416

  • Böttcher, S. & Dreisbach, G. (2014). Socially triggered negative affect impairs performance in simple cognitive tasks. Psychological Research.78   Issue: 2   Pages: 151-165.

  • Reisenauer, R. & Dreisbach, G. (2014). The shielding function of task rules in the context of task switching. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,
    67, 358-376

  • Pastötter, B., Dreisbach, G., & Bäuml, K.-H. T. (2013). Dynamic adjustments of cognitive control: Oscillatory correlates of the conflict-adaptation effect. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 25, 2167-2178.

  • Fritz, J. & Dreisbach, G. (2013). Conflicts as aversive signals: Conflict priming increases negative judgments for neutral stimuli. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, 13, 311-317.

  • Reisenauer, R. & Dreisbach, G. (2013). The impact of task rules on distracter processing: Automatic categorization of irrelevant stimuli. Psycholgical Research.doi: 10.1007/s00426-012-0413-4,  77, 128-138.

  • Thomaschke, R. & Dreisbach, G. (2013). Temporal predictability facilitates action, not perception. Psychological Science, 24, 1335-1340.

  • Dreisbach, G. & Fischer, R. (2012). The role of affect and reward in the conflict-triggered adjustment of cognitive control. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.6:342.doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00342  .

  • Wendt, M., Luna-Rodriguez, A., Reisenauer, R., Jacobsen, T. & Dreisbach, G. (2012). Sequential modulation of cue use in the task switching paradigm. Frontiers in Cognition. 3, 287 open access

  • Fröber, K. & Dreisbach, G. (2012). How positive affect modulates proactive control: Reduced usage of informative cues under positive affect with low arousal. Frontiers in Cognition, 3, 265. download

  • Dreisbach, G. (2012). Mechanisms of cognitive control: The functional role of task rules. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(4), 227-231.

  • Dreisbach, G. & Fischer, R. (2012). Conflicts as aversive signals. Brain & Cognition, 72, 94-98. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2011.12.003   download

  • Dreisbach, G. & Wenke, D. (2011). The shielding function of task sets and its relaxation during task switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 37,  1540-1546. doi: 10.1037/a0024077 

  • Dreisbach, G. & Fischer, R. (2011). If it's hard to read... try harder! Processing fluency as signal for effort adjustments. Psychological Research, 75, 376-383. DOI: 10.1007/s00426-010-0319-y.  

  • Metzker, M. & Dreisbach, G. (2011). Priming processes in the Simon Task: Evidence from the lexical decision task for a third route in the Simon effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception, and Performance, 37, 892-902.

  • Dreisbach, G. & Boettcher, S. (2011). How the social-evaluative context modulates processes of cognitive control. Psychological Research, 75, 143-151. DOI: 10.107/s00426-010-0298-z link

  • Metzker, M. & Dreisbach, G. (2009). Bidirectional priming processes in the Simon task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception, and Performance, 35, 1770-1783.

  • Dreisbach, G. & Haider, H. (2009). How task representations guide attention: Further evidence for the shielding function of task sets. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 35, 477-486. download 

  • Dreisbach, G. & Haider, H. (2008). That's what task sets are for: Shielding against irrelevant information. Psychological Research, 72, 355-361. download

  • Fischer, R., Dreisbach, G., & Goschke, T. (2008). Context-sensitive adjustments of cognitive control: Conflict-adaptation effects are modulated by processing demands of the ongoing task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 34(3), 712-718. download

  • Goschke, T., & Dreisbach, G. (2008). Conflict-triggered goal-shielding attenuates background-monitoring for prospective memory cues. Psychological Science, 19, 25-32. download 

  • Dreisbach, G. (2008). Wie Stimmungen unser Denken beeinflussen. Report Psychologie, 33, 289-298. download

  • Müller, J. , Dreisbach, G., Goschke, T., Hensch, T., Lesch, K.-P., Brocke, B. (2007). Dopamine and cognitive control: The prospect of monetary gains influences the balance between flexibility and stability in a set-shifting paradigm. European Journal of Neuroscience. doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05949.x  (available online)

  • Dreisbach, G., Goschke, T., & Haider H. (2007). The role of task-rules and stimulus-response mappings in the task switching paradigm. Psychological Research, 71, 383-392. download

  • Müller, J., Dreisbach, G., Brocke, B., Lesch, K. P., Strobel, A. & Goschke, T. (2007). Dopamine and cognitive control: The influence of spontaneous eyeblink rate, DRD4 exon III polymorphism and gender on flexibility in set-shifting. Brain Research. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2006.11.002  (available online)

  • Strobel, A., Dreisbach, G., Müller, J., Goschke, T. Brocke, B., & Lesch, K.P. (2007). Genetic variation of serotonin function and cognitive control. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 1923-1931

  • Dreisbach, G., Goschke, T., & Haider H. (2006). Implicit task sets in task switching? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 32, 1221-1233. download

  • Dreisbach, G., & Haider, H. (2006). Preparatory adjustment of cognitive control in the task switching paradigm. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13, 334-338. download

  • Dreisbach, G. (2006). How positive affect modulates cognitive control: The costs and benefits of reduced maintenance capability. Brain & Cognition, 60, 11-19. download

  • Dreisbach, G., Müller, J., Goschke, T., Strobel, A., Schulze, K., Lesch, K. P., & Brocke, B. (2005). Dopamine and Cognitive Control: The influence of spontaneous eye-blink rate and dopamine gene polymorphisms on perseveration and distractibility. Behavioral Neuroscience, 119, 483-490. download

  • Dreisbach, G. & Goschke, T.(2004). How positive affect modulates cognitive control: Reduced perseveration at the cost of increased distractibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition. 30, 343-353. download

  • Hübner, M., Dreisbach, G., Haider, H., & Kluwe, R.H. (2003). Backward Inhibition as a Means of Sequential Task-Set Control: Evidence for Reduction of Task Competition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition. 29, 289-297. download

  • Dreisbach, G., Haider, H., & Kluwe, R.H. (2002). Preparatory Processes in the Task Switching Paradigm: Evidence from the Use of Probability Cues. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition. 28, 468-483. download

Book and Book Chapters

  • G. Horstmann & G. Dreisbach (2017). Allgemeine Psychologie 2 kompakt. Weinheim: Beltz PVU. 2., vollständig überarbeitete Auflage.

  • Goschke, T. & Dreisbach, G. (2011). Kognitiv-affektive Neurowissenschaft: Emotionale Modulation des Denkens, Erinnerns und Handelns. In U. Wittchen & J. Hoyer (Hrsg.), Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie (2. Aufl.) (S. 129- 168). Berlin: Springer.

  • Dreisbach, G. (2000). Kognitive Prozesse der Vorbereitung bei wechselnden Aufgabenstellungen. Marburg: Tectum-Verlag. (Thesis)

Funding / Current Research Projects


DR 392/12-1, FI 1624/7-1 The (in)flexibility of control adaptations

Funding Period: 36 months (about to start)

Adaptive control forms the basis of cognitive and behavioral flexibility. It is sensitive to normal aging and its malfunction is closely related to neurological and psychiatric conditions. In general, human beings have the astonishing ability to flexibly adapt action and thought in response to changing requirements from the environment. At the same time, they can be surprisingly stuck in set, for example when they continue using a formerly successful but no longer adaptive processing strategy. Such stuck-in-set phenomena, originally reported in problem solving tasks (Luchins, 1942) are not restricted to neuropsychological abnormalities like perseveration in frontal lobe patients but have recently also been reported for control strategies in context processing- and response conflict-tasks in healthy individuals (e.g., Abrahamse, Duthoo, Notebaert, & Risko, 2013Hefer & Dreisbach, 2017). In this research project, we intend to investigate two so far highly neglected phenomena that expose a weakness of the much-vaunted cognitive flexibility: (1) The asymmetrical costs when switching between a shielded and a more relaxed mode of control, which show that it can be harder to let go from a shielding control mode and switch to a more relaxed control mode than vice versa.  And (2) the observation that the flexibility to adapt control to different context demands is further limited by the volatility and frequency of context changes. The importance of adaptive control for cognitive and behavioral flexibility highlights the need for understanding the underlying cognitive mechanisms (e.g., the flexible (dis)engagement of different control states), which may offer fertile grounds for subsequent translational research.

PI projetct 1:  Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach

PI project 2:  Prof. Dr. Rico Fischer

Ph.D.: N. N. 

Ph.D.: N. N. 

DR 392/10-1 Mechanisms underlying flexible task choice: Investigating reward and context effects

Funding Period: Starting October 2019 (for 3 years)

Goal directed behavior in a constantly changing environment requires a dynamic balance between two antagonistic modes of control: on the one hand, goals need to be maintained and shielded from distraction (stability), and, on the other hand, goals need to be relaxed and flexibly updated whenever significant changes occur (flexibility). To investigate the flexible modulation of task choice, we will use the voluntary task switching paradigm. In the first part of the project, we will investigate the mechanisms underlying the context effect, which describes the observation that humans switch more often voluntarily when they are in a context of frequent forced choices. The second part of the project will be devoted to the question why humans switch more often to a different task when reward prospect increases and why they show more stable behavior when reward prospect remains unchanged. To answer these questions, we will rely on behavioral measures (task choice, reaction times, error rates, and subjective effort costs), pupillometry (to measure effort and arousal) and electrophysiological correlates of preparatory activity. The overarching goal is to deepen our understanding how context and motivation impact flexible task choice.

PI: Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach

Contributing: Dr. Kerstin Fröber

Ph.D.: MSc. Jonathan Mendl

DR 392/9-1 Training Executive Functions: Lessons learned from prefrontal cortex physiology

Funding Period: 1.9. 2016-30.4. 2020

Executive functions (EFs) enable us to flexibly adjust our thoughts and actions according to rapidly changing constraints to optimize goal attainment. EF rely on a network of brain areas including the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and are heavily involved in complex problem solving, cognitive development, and aging-related cognitive decline. Moreover, most psychopathological problems go along with impairments in EF.  Consequently, there has been growing interest in finding ways to improve EF, with special attention given to computerized training.  However, the results so far are equivocal. Some reviews have reached optimistic conclusions.  Yet, meta-analytic reviews indicate that while there are reliable practice effects (improvement seen in the training task) and relatively modest near transfer effects (improvement in structurally similar tasks), far transfer effects (improvements in structurally dissimilar tasks that presumably tap the trained EF) are predominantly tiny.  We argue that the design of most of the current computerized EF training programs is not well grounded in extant theories of PFC neurophysiology. In this research project we will test two related hypotheses concerning why the success of computerized training had so far proven very modest: (1) From PFC physiology, far transfer is not to be expected in the first place unless the abstract task structure that is learned during training is mirrored in the transfer task. (2) How EF-training is currently designed results in negative transfer effects (performance deterioration due to practice) which mask the (already quite small) beneficial transfer effects.  These negative transfer effects occur because (a) the application of (instructed task rules) increases shielding and (b) because the repetitive nature of the training (constant repetition of a small number of training tasks) minimizes the involvement of EF.

PI: Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach, Prof. Dr. Nachshon Meiran (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel)

Ph.D. student Germany: M.Sc. Katrina Sabah

SPP 1772 -- DR 392/8-1 The influence of sequentially changing reward prospect on cognitive flexibility during (voluntary) task switching

(Part of DFG Priority Program SPP 1772: Human performance under multiple cognitive task requirements: From basic mechanisms to optimized task scheduling)

Förderperiode: 1. Oktober 2015 - 30. September 2019

Attending to two (or more) tasks at the same time requires cognitive flexibility and is associated with performance decrements as compared to single task performance. In cognitive psychology, the task switching paradigm has become a popular tool to investigate a specific kind of multitasking performance, namely performing more than one task in a sequential and random order. In this paradigm, task switches afford cognitive flexibility, whereas task repetitions benefit from cognitive stability. This makes the task switching paradigm an ideal tool to investigate the interplay of two antagonistic control modes, namely flexibility and stability.

Considering the increasing importance of successful multitasking performance in modern society it is essential to identify ways to differentially motivate flexible and stable behavior. Recent evidence (Shen & Chun, 2011; Fröber & Dreisbach, in press) suggests that specifically increases in expected reward magnitude increase flexibility whereas the prospect of unchanged high reward increases stability: Predetermined task switches are facilitated and the willingness to deliberately switch the task is increased as compared to unchanged high reward prospect. Aim of the proposed research program is to further investigate how sequential changes in reward prospect differentially influence stability versus flexibility during (voluntary) task switching.

In one part of the first funding period, we want to investigate the boundary conditions of the modulation of cognitive flexibility by sequentially changing reward magnitudes. Therefore, we will manipulate global context parameters like the ratio of forced to voluntary task switching, specific instructions given to the participant (on how to choose freely), the absolute vs. relative amount of reward prospect, and varying task difficulties. In the other part, we will focus on the interaction of task expectancies and reward expectancies. Increased cognitive flexibility should facilitate adaptation to unexpected events. Therefore, we want to investigate how sequentially changing reward prospect modulates performance under violations of expectation and increased uncertainty using different procedures of voluntary and forced task switching. The overarching goal of this research program is to deepen our understanding of how global context parameters and motivation modulate processes of cognitive flexibility. As such, the project contributes to the second cluster of the priority program (“Flexibility”).

Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach

Projektmitarbeiter: Dr. Kerstin Fröber, Julia Hauke, M. Sc. Vanessa Jurczyk

DR 392/7-1 Der Einfluss von positivem Affekt und Belohnung auf Prozesse kognitiver Kontrolle.

Förderperiode: 1. Oktober 2014 - 30. September 2018

Seit Mitte der 80er Jahre des vergangenen Jahrhunderts mehren sich die empirischen Belege, dass milder positiver Affekt qualitative Effekte auf die kognitive Informationsverarbeitung hat. Die neuropsychologischen Grundlagen werden gemäß der Dopamintheorie des positiven Affekts (Dopamine theory of positive affect; Ashby, Isen & Turken, 1999; Ashby, Valentin, & Turken, 2002)  in einer mit positivem Affekt einhergehenden erhöhten dompaminergen Aktivität gesehen (s. auch Dreisbach & Goschke, 2004; Dreisbach et al., 2005). Da Dopamin auch in engem Zusammenhang mit dem Erhalt einer unerwarteten Belohnung steht (z.B. Schulz, 1997) und Belohnung typischerweise mit positivem Affekt einhergeht, wurde in der kognitionspsychologischen Literatur häufig kaum bzw. unzureichend zwischen positivem Affekt und Belohnung als unabhängiger Variable unterschieden (s. Chiew & Braver, 2011; Dreisbach & Fischer, 2012). In dem beantragten Projekt sollen die differentiellen Einflüsse von positivem Affekt einerseits und (verhaltensabhängiger und -unabhängiger) Belohnung andererseits auf kognitive Kontrollprozesse vergleichend untersucht werden. Diese Forschung soll einen Beitrag zur aktuellen Diskussion über das Zusammenspiel von motivationalen und emotionalen Einflüssen auf kognitive Kontrolle leisten. 

Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach
Projektmitarbeiterin: Dipl. Psych. Carmen Hefer

Reaktionskonflikt und perzeptuelle Verarbeitungsflüssigkeit als affektive Signale der Handlungssteuerung

2. Förderung: DR 392/6-3  (1.5 2016-30.9. 2020)

1. Förderung: DR 392/ 6-1 (1. Mai 2012 - 30. April 2015)

In dem Projekt geht es um die Rolle von affektiven Stimulus-Eigenschaften auf Prozesse der sequentiellen Konfliktmodulation, ein Mechanismus der durch die Konfliktüberwachungstheorie von Botvinick et al. (2001) beschrieben wird. Neuere Überlegungen schreiben Reaktionskonflikten aversive Eigenschaften zu. Ein Teil des Projekts wird sich damit befassen, empirische Evidenzen für diese bislang kaum belegte Annahme der affektiven Valenz von Reaktionskonflikten zu erbringen. Subjektiv geht ein Reaktionskonflikt mit spürbaren (und objektiv messbaren) Reaktionsverlangsamungen einher. Daher wird angenommen, dass der aversive Charakter von Reaktionskonflikten auf diese reduzierte Verarbeitungsflüssigkeit zurückzuführen ist. Da die affektive Valenz der Verarbeitungsflüssigkeit als gut belegt gilt (s. Oppenheimer, 2008), wird in einem weiteren Teil des Projekts der Frage nachgegangen, welche Rolle die perzeptuelle Verarbeitungsflüssigkeit (als affektives Signal) bei der sequentiellen Konfliktregulation spielt. Experimentell wird dazu die perzeptuelle Verarbeitungsflüssigkeit (z.B. über die Lesbarkeit der Stimuli) unabhängig von der motorischen Verarbeitungsflüssigkeit (durch die Anvs.
Abwesenheit eines Reaktionskonflikts) manipuliert. Sollte sich bestätigen, dass sowohl motorische als auch perzeptuelle Verarbeitungsflüssigkeit zur sequentiellen Verhaltenssteuerung genutzt werden, würde dies den Anwendungsbereich der Konfliktüberwachungstheorie maßgeblich erweitern.

Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach
Projektmitarbeiterin: B.Sc.  Anja Berger
Abgeschlossene Promotion: Dr. Julia Pastötter (2016)


Funktionalität von Task Sets bei der Aufmerksamkeitssteuerung

1. Förderung: DR 392/5-1 (1. Januar 2007 - 31. Dez. 2009)
2. Förderung: DR 392/5-2 (1. Januar 2009 - 31. Mai 2012, 4 Monate
3. Förderung: DR 392/5-3 (1. Juni 2012 - 31. Mai 2013)

Eine der fundamentalen Fähigkeiten menschlicher Kognition besteht darin, die für eine aktuelle Absicht relevanten Aufgabenmerkmale zu beachten und irrelevante Merkmale auszublenden. Im Mittelpunkt der Untersuchungen steht die Frage, wie diese Fokussierung der Aufmerksamkeit bei gleichzeitiger Abschirmung gegenüber möglichen Störeinflüssen aus der Umwelt ermöglicht wird. Woher "weiß" das kognitive System, welche Merkmale relevante Merkmale im Sinne der Aufgabenstellung sind und entsprechende Beachtung verdienen und welche nicht? Und wovon hängt es ab, ob scheinbar irrelevante Merkmale dennoch Zugang zur Aufgabenrepräsentation erlangen? Ich nehme an, dass Task Sets bei der Aufmerksamkeitssteuerung eine zentrale Rolle einnehmen. In Voruntersuchungen zum geplanten Projekt konnte bereits gezeigt werden, dass ein irrelevantes Stimulusmerkmal (z.B. die Farbe des gezeigten Stimulus) die Aufgabenbearbeitung in einer seriellen Reaktionszeitaufgabe nachhaltig beeinflusst, nicht aber, wenn der Bearbeitung eben dieser Stimuli ein Task Set (eine kategoriale Entscheidung) zugrunde gelegt wurde (Dreisbach & Haider, 2008, 2009).

Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach
Projektmitarbeiterinnen: Dr. Manja Metzker (2007-2009, Promotion 2009)
                              Dr. Renate Reisenauer (2010-2013, Promotion 2014)

  1. Fakultät für Hunanwissenschaften
  2. Institut für Psychologie

Chair for General and Applied Psychology

Prof. dr. gesine dreisbach

Claudia Lehnes

Raum: PT 4.1.31

Telefon 0941 943-3816

Fax 0941 943-1995