Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunobiology
+49 201 723 4501

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W3-Professorship for Experimental Psychology
considering gender-related aspects

Tel. +49 201 723 4501




Prof. Sigrid Elsenbruch received her Ph.D. in biological psychology in the year 2000 from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (Oklahoma City, U.S.A.) for research on stress and visceral pain. She continued to work on visceral pain as an assistant professor at the Medical Faculty of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, where she completed her habilitation in 2004. She was funded within the Heisenberg-program of the DFG from 2009 – 2014. Since 2011, she is a full professor at the Medical Faculty of University of Duisburg-Essen. As Professor of Experimental Psychobiology & Gender Research at the Institute of Medical Psychology & Behavioral Immunobiology, her research team focusses on biological and psychological aspects of the brain-gut axis in human visceral pain.


My primary research interest is the brain-gut axis and its central role in acute and chronic visceral pain. At the interface of psychology, the neurosciences and neurogastroenterology, the experimental research conducted in my group aims to improve knowledge about peripheral and central mechanisms of the brain-gut axis. We focus especially on psychological factors, such as stress, attention and learning processes. In addition, our work also addresses neuroendocrine and inflammatory processes underlying sensitization and hyperalgesia. Together, our research aims to close research gaps regarding the brain-gut axis in healthy individuals and in patients with functional and chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders.

Research projects

Inflammatory mechanisms of pain sensitization
Funding DFG: BE 5173/2-1 and EL 236/11-1
Stress and negative emotions in acute and chronic visceral pain
Funding DFG: EL 236/5-2 and EL 236/8-2
Pain-related learning, memory and attentional processes
Funding DFG: Project 7 of the research Unit FOR 1581
Expectancy effects on pain perception and treatment response
Funding DFG Project 5 (EL 236/8-2) of the Research Unit FOR 1328 and IFORES-Program

Selcted publications

Labrenz F, Icenhour A, Schlamann M, Forsting M, Bingel U, Elsenbruch S.
From Pavlov to pain: How predictability affects the anticipation and processing of visceral pain in a fear conditioning paradigm.
Neuroimage. 2016;130:104-14.

Elsenbruch S, Enck P.
Placebo effects and their determinants in gastrointestinal disorders.
Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015;12(8):472-85

Elsenbruch S, Wolf OT.
Could Stress Contribute to Pain-Related Fear in Chronic Pain?
Front Behav Neurosci. 2015;9:340

Schmid J, Langhorst J, Gaß F, Theysohn N, Benson S, Engler H, Gizewski ER, Forsting M, Elsenbruch S.
Placebo analgesia in patients with functional and organic abdominal pain: A fMRI study in irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and healthy volunteers.
GUT. 2015;64:418-27

Icenhour A, Kattoor J, Benson S, Boekstegers, Schlamann M, Merz C, Forsting M, Elsenbruch S.
Neural circuitry underlying effects of context on human pain-related fear extinction in a renewal paradigm.
Human Brain Mapping. 2015; 3179-93

Benson S, Rebernik L, Wegner A, Kleine-Borgmann J, Engler H, Schlamann M, Forsting M, Schedlowski M, Elsenbruch S.
Neural circuitry mediating inflammation-induced central pain amplification in human experimental endotoxemia.
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2015; 222-31

Elsenbruch S, Rosenberger C, Bingel U, Forsting M, Schedlowski M, Gizewski ER.
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome have altered emotional modulation of neural responses to visceral stimuli.
Gastroenterology. 2010;139:1310-9.

Elsenbruch S, Rosenberger C, Enck P, Forsting M, Schedlowski M, Gizewski ER.
Affective disturbances modulate the neural processing of visceral pain stimuli in irritable bowel syndrome: An fMRI study.
Gut. 2010;59(4):489-95.