Sie sind hier: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2019/2020 Dr. Fritz Renner

Dr. Fritz Renner

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Experimentelle Psychopathologie
Junior Fellow
Juni 2018 - September 2019


I currently work as a postdoctoral researcher at the department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Freiburg. I am an experimental psychologist and my research is on the impact of mental imagery on behaviour with a focus on developing experimental interventions that target behavioural aspects of depression. I completed my undergraduate training in psychology at Maastricht University. This was followed by a six months research internship at the University of Pennsylvania. I completed my PhD in 2014 on psychological treatment innovation for chronic depression (Prof. Marcus Huibers and Prof. Arnoud Arntz). After my PhD I joined the Emotional Disorders and Mental Imagery group at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge (Prof. Emily Holmes).

My recent work was supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship from the European Union. My current research investigates the relationship between mental imagery and behaviour. Understanding how mental imagery can impact behaviour can help inform the development of new interventions, for example for depression by targeting behavioural aspects of depression.

For a full list of publications see:

Publikationen (Auswahl)

  • Renner, F., DeRubeis, R., Arntz, A., Peeters, F., Lobbestael, J., & Huibers, M. (2018). Exploring mechanisms of change in schema therapy for chronic depression. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.
  • Renner, F., Ji, J. L., Pictet, A., Holmes, E. A., & Blackwell, S. E. (2017). Effects of Engaging in Repeated Mental Imagery of Future Positive Events on Behavioural Activation in Individuals with Major Depressive Disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1-12.
  • Holmes, E.A., Blackwell, S.E., Burnett Heyes, S., Renner, F., and Raes, F. (2016). Mental imagery in depression: Phenomenology, potential mechanisms, and treatment implications. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology. 12 (1).
  • Renner, F., Siep, N., Arntz, A., van de Ven, V., Peeters, F.P.M.L., Quaedflieg, C.W.E.M., Huibers, M.J.H (2017). Negative mood-induction modulates default mode network resting-state functional connectivity in chronic depression. Journal of Affective Disorders. 208, 590-596.
  • Renner, F., Arntz, A., Peeters, F. P. M. L., Lobbestael, J., & Huibers, M. J. H. (2016) Schema therapy for chronic depression: Results of a multiple single case series. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 51, 66-73.


The (b)link between reward anticipation and depression

Depression is a major global health problem. Treatment innovation is urgently needed as current treatments are only effective for about half of the patients. A novel, innovative approach to identify treatment targets is to focus on core clinical features rather than the clinical syndrome as a whole. A core clinical feature of depression is reduced reward anticipation: a diminished tendency to expect rewards. A better understanding of the neurofunctional processes underlying this deficit is pivotal for the development of novel treatment innovations. Striatal dopamine (DA) plays a key role in reward processing. Spontaneous eye blink rate (EBR) is a well validated proxy for dopaminergic functioning. The aim of this project is to test the impact of an emotional task targeting reward anticipation on EBR in individuals with depression. My key hypothesis is that spontaneous EBR will modulate the effects of the reward anticipation task. I have developed and validated the reward anticipation task in my previous position at the University of Cambridge. The proposed study will give dynamic insights into the neurofunctional processes underlying reward anticipation and thereby contributes to research on innovative treatment development.