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PD Dr. rer. nat. Christian J. Merz


Ruhr University Bochum
Department of Cognitive Psychology
44780 Bochum, Germany

Room: IB 6-75
Phone: +49 234 32-24498
e-mail: Christian.J.Merz@ruhr-uni-bochum.de

ORCID    Google Scholar



Curriculum Vitae


since 2017: Principal Investigator
SFB 1280 "Extinction Learning", Ruhr University Bochum

since 2015: Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Cognitive Psychology, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Ruhr University Bochum

2014-2017: Principal Investigator
DFG Research Group "Extinction Learning: Neural Mechanisms, Behavioural Manifestations, and Clinical Implications" (FOR 1581)

2014-2015: Interim Professor (W2) for Biological and Clinical Psychology
Trier University

2012-2014: Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Cognitive Psychology, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Ruhr University Bochum

2011-2012: Postdoctoral Researcher
Psychotherapy and Systems Neuroscience, Justus Liebig University Giessen

2008-2011: Research Assistant
Department of Cognitive Psychology, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Ruhr University Bochum

2008: Student Assistant
Bender Institute of Neuroimaging, Justus Liebig University Giessen

2006-2007: Student Assistant
Psychological Psychotherapy (Supervision), Justus Liebig University Giessen

2017: Habilitation for Cognitive and Biological Psychology
Ruhr University Bochum
Topic: “Neurobiology of emotional learning processes: Basics, neuroendocrine modulation, and clinical implications”

2011: Dr. rer. nat., summa cum laude
Ruhr University Bochum
Topic: “Influence of stress and sex hormones on fear conditioning under different learning conditions"

09/2007: Diploma in Psychology
Justus Liebig University Giessen

2002-2007: Psychology Student (Minor Subject: Medicine)
Justus Liebig University Giessen

  • Psychoneuroendocrinology, Psychophysiology, fMRI
  • Stress and Stress Hormones
  • Sex Differences and Sex Hormones
  • Fear Conditioning
  • Emotional Learning
  • Episodic Memory
  • Clinical Applications

Peer-Reviewed Journals

* shared authorship

Book Chapters:

  • Merz, C.J., Elzinga, B.M. & Schwabe, L. (2016). Stress, fear, and memory in healthy individuals. In J.D. Bremner (Hrsg.), Post-traumatic stress disorder: From neurobiology to treatment. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Merz, C.J., Wolf, O.T. (2015). Stress and emotional learning in humans: Evidence for sex differences. In R. Shansky (Hrsg.), Sex Differences in the Central Nervous System. London, San Diego, Waltham, Oxford: Academic Press.
  • 2021: DFG Research Grant, Subproject of SFB 1280 “Extinction Learning”
    “Stress hormone effects on contextualized extinction memories”, Joint Application with V. L. Jentsch & O. T. Wolf
  • 2020: International Scientific Event Grant (DFG, ME 3831/6-1)
    to organize the “12th European Meeting on Human Fear Conditioning (EMHFC) 2020" in Bochum
  • 2019: DFG Research Grant (ME3831/5-1)
    “Genomic and non-genomic cortisol effects on memory retrieval dependent on sex hormone status”
  • 2018: Scholarship for Conference Participation (DAAD)
    „30th Winter Conference on Neural Plasticity“, Curaçao
  • 2017: DFG Research Grant, Subproject of SFB 1280 “Extinction Learning”
    “The impact of stress and stress hormones on extinction, renewal, reinstatement and reconsolidation”, Joint Application with O. T. Wolf
  • 2017: Project Funds, eLearning Contest 5x5000 (Center for Teaching and Learning, Ruhr University Bochum)
    „RightCite: Richtiges Zitieren und Umgang mit Plagiaten“, Joint Application with S. Brandhorst, S. Hahn, M. Krause, K. Lucht-Roussel, M. Luhmann, C. Peifer, J. Rose, A. Schüffler & M. Theile
  • 2016: Research Grant, Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR)
    “The influence of stress on retrieval of socially relevant fear memories”
  • 2016: Teaching Award (Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum)
    Best Seminar in M.Sc. Psychology
  • 2015: Teaching Award (Students Representatives, Faculty of Psychology, Trier University)
    Best Lecture and Best Seminar in B.Sc. Psychology
  • 2015: Event Award (Ruhr University Bochum)
    to organize the “7th European Meeting on Human Fear Conditioning“
  • 2015: DFG Research Grant (LO 1980/2-1)
    “Research network for the (European) Interdisciplinary study of Fear and Extinction Learning as well as the Return of Fear (EIFEL-ROF)“, Joint Application with T. Lonsdorf; 2020: Commendation from the Society for Improving Psychological Science; SIPS
  • 2014: Scholarship for Conference Participation (DAAD)
    “44th annual ISPNE conference", Montreal
  • 2013: DFG Research Grant, Subproject of FOR 1581 "Extinction Learning: Neural Mechanisms, Behavioural Manifestations, and Clinical Implications" (WO733/13-2)
    "Effects of the stress hormone cortisol on extinction retrieval: In search of the neural correlates", Joint Application with O.T. Wolf
  • 2012: DFG Research Grant (ME 3831/4-1)
    “Neurobiology of context-dependent extinction learning: Modulation by multiple extinction contexts and cortisol”, Joint Application with A. Hermann
  • 2012: Scholarship for Conference Participation (DAAD)
    "Neuroscience 2012", New Orleans
  • 2012: Research Grant (Justus Liebig University Giessen)
    Neuronal basis of generalization of extinction learning“, Joint Application with A. Hermann
  • 2011: Young Investigator Award (International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology)
  • 2011: Scholarship for participation at the Spring School (DGPA)
    "Genes, brain, and behavior: From personality to psychopathology", St. Goar
  • 2009: Research Grant (Women’s Representative of the Justus Liebig University Giessen)
    “Neurobiological bases of social anxiety in women”, Joint Application with A. Hermann

German Psychological Society (DGPs)

  • since 2016: Member of the Ethics Committee
  • Section General Psychology
  • Section Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
  • Section Biological Psychology and Neuropsychology (since 2021: Committee Member of the Board and Treasurer)
  • Interest Group Biopsychology and Neurosciences in Clinical Psychology
  • Interest Group Open and Reproducible Research in the Section Biological Psychology and Neuropyschology (Founding Member)

German Society for Psychophysiology and its Applications (DGPA)

  • 2015-2016: Committee Member of the Board and Speaker of the Young Scientists

International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (ISPNE)

Research Funding Programs

  • German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • German-American Fulbright Commission
  • German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD))
  • European Research Council (ERC)
  • Austrian Science Fund (Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF))
  • Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)

Consulting Editor

  • Biological Psychology

Peer-Reviewed Journals

Acta psychologica, American Journal of Psychiatry, Behavioural Brain Research, Behavioral Neuroscience, Behavior Research Methods, Behaviour Research and Therapy, Biological Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, Biological Psychology, BMC Women’s Health, Brain Imaging and Behavior, Brain Sciences, Clinical Psychological Science, Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, Communications Biology, Contraception, Depression and Anxiety, European Neuropsychopharmacology, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Hormones and Behavior, Human Brain Mapping, International Journal of Psychophysiology, Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Journal of Individual Differences, Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience Research, Journal of Vision, Memory, Memory & Cognition, Motivation and Emotion, Nature Communications, Nature Protocols, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Neurobiology of Stress, Neuroimage, Neuropsychobiology, Neuropsychologia, Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, Physiology and Behavior, PLOS Biology, PLOS ONE, Psychological Medicine, Psychological Reports, Psychological Science, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Psychopathology Review, Psychopharmacology, Psychophysiology, Science Advances, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Social Neuroscience, Stress, The Cerebellum, Thinking & Reasoning, Translational Psychiatry, Zeitschrift für Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie

Current Teaching Activities:

  • Seminar  "Cognition I: Perception, Attention, Memory"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum
  • Seminar "Stress and Cognition"
    M.Sc. Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum

Past Teaching Activities:

  • Seminar "Cognition II: Language, Thinking, Problem Solving"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum
  • Practical Course in Experimental Psychology "Context and Memory"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum
  • Practical Course in Experimental Psychology "Stress and Memory"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum
  • Seminar "Learning and Memory Processes under Stress I + II"
    B.Sc./M.Sc. Psychology, Trier University
  • Lecture "Biopsychology I"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Trier University
  • Lecture "Biopsychology II"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Trier University
  • Colloquium "Biological and Clinical Psychology"
    B.Sc./M.Sc. Psychology, Trier University
  • Seminar "Focus in Basics: Biopsychology"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Trier University
  • Seminar "Selected Problems: Neurobiology of Mental Disorders"
    M.Sc. Psychology, Trier University
  • Seminar "Research-Oriented Focus: Neurobiology of Mental Disorders"
    M.Sc. Psychology, Trier University
  • Seminar "Hormonal Aspects of Mental Disorders"
    M.Sc. Psychology, Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • Practical Course "Professional Field"
    M.Sc. Psychology, Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • Seminar "Stress and Memory"
    M.Sc. Psychology, Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • Seminar "Obsessive-Compulsive Disordes"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • Teaching Research Project
    M.Sc. Psychology, Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • Seminar "Cognitive Neurosciences: Emotional Learning"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum
  • Seminar "Biological Psychology"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • Seminar "Psychoneuroendocrinology, Hormones and Behavior"
    M.Sc. Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum
  • Seminar "Conditioning Processes in Cognitive Neurosciences"
    B.Sc. Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum