Helena Hartmann

Helena Hartmann

Neuroscientist, psychologist and science communicator (she/her/hers)

Bingellab / Translational Pain Research Unit, University Hospital Essen

Biography

I am interested in factors that influence how we perceive pain in ourselves and in other people. To investigate this, I use neuroimaging, neuromodulation and behavioral experiments. I incorporate open scholarship practices into my research and communicate my work to the public as often as I can.

Interests

  • Treatment expectations and pain modulation via placebo and nocebo effects
  • Empathy, shared representations and prosocial decision-making
  • Open scholarship
  • Science communication

Education

  • PhD in Social Neuroscience, tbd

    University of Vienna, AT

  • MSc in Psychology, 2017

    University of Vienna, AT

  • BSc in Psychology, 2014

    University of Vienna, AT

Affiliations

I am currently working at the Bingellab at the University Hospital Essen as a postdoctoral researcher, while finishing my PhD at the Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit in Vienna. In 2021/2022, I was a visiting researcher at the Social Brain Lab at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam.

Activities

COS Ambassador

Center for Open Science

DGPs & IGOR Member

German Psychological Society

Co-editor

In-Mind Magazine

Social Media Manager

Bingellab, SFB289, SIPS placebo, S4SN, FORRT, & FemABC

fMRI, sMRI, rTMS

SPM, FreeSurfer, Nipype, & Neuronavigation

Data collection

Behavior, pain, effort, heart rate, skin conductance

Data analysis

RStudio, JASP, Matlab, & Python/Jupyter

Research

What are the behavioral and biological mechanisms underlying pain modulation through placebo and nocebo effects?

In my Postdoc, I am using fMRI combined with placebo hypoalgesia/nocebo hyperalgesia to find out more about the cognitive modulation of first-hand pain perception. Specifically, I am interested in the role of positive and negative expectations on real and fake treatments.

How do we empathize with another person in pain? What role does our own pain perception play?

My PhD research focused on the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying shared representations between first-hand and empathy for pain, as well as their connection to prosocial behavior.

© Helena Hartmann

Below is a short animation of my PhD research made by Scientistt.

How can we improve the openness, transparency and reproducibility of research, scholarship, and education?

I am a member of the Framework for Open and Reproducible Research Training (FORRT) where I am involved in multiple projects, such as the glossary, neurodiversity and reversals projects. We are always looking for new contributors and collaborators! Join our Slack here.

© Framework for Open and Reproducible Research Training (FORRT)

Mentors and Collaborators

© Helena Hartmann

Publications

Journal articles

Conference contributions

Collaborative hackathon “Feminist Ways of Doing - A hackathon collecting resources for feminist approaches to science”

  • Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS) meeting (2022)

Collaborative hackathons for FORRT’s “Replications and Reversals in Social Sciences” project

  • Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS) meeting (2022)
  • Association for Interdisciplinary Metaresearch and Open Science (aimos) conference (2021)
  • Psychological Science Accelerator (PSACON) conference (2021)

Another’s Pain vs. my Gain: Evidence of absence for a causal role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in costly decision-making

  • Psychology and Brain Conference (2022)
  • Austrian Society for Psychology meeting (2022)

Another’s pain in my social brain: How does placebo analgesia affect decisions to exert effort to reduce another’s pain?

  • 46th joint annual meeting Psychology and the Brain (PuG) of the Division of Biological Psychology and Neuropsychology of the DGPs and DGPA (2021)
  • Society for Social Neuroscience conference (2021)

Engaging with Open Science as Feminist Early Career Researchers: 6 Top Tips

  • Open Science Conference (2021)

Effects of spatially-specific placebo analgesia on somatosensory responses during first-hand and empathy for pain

  • International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Virtual Series on Pain & Expo (2020)
  • 9th IMPRS Neurocom Summer School, Leipzig, Germany (2019)
  • 25th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM), Rome, Italy (2019)

Is your pain my pain? Effects of localized placebo analgesia on empathy for everyday painful situations

  • 8th MindBrainBody Symposium of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (2021)
  • Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Global Connectome (2021)
  • 25th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM), Rome, Italy (2019)

Social pain and emotional egocentricity in high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: Behavioral and neurophysiological evidence

  • Self-Knowing-Others Workshop, Brussels, Belgium (2018)
  • International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) Annual Meeting, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2018)
  • Social Brain Symposium, Vienna, Austria (2018)
  • Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) Annual Meeting, Vienna, Austria (2017)
  • Salzburg Mind Brain Annual Meeting (SAMBA), Salzburg, Austria (2017)

Talks

I am always happy to give talks about my research, science communication and open science, both scientist-to-scientist and scientist-to-public. Contact me via helena.hartmann@uk-essen.de.

Invited talks

I was one of eight presentations of the Framework for Open and Reproducible Research Training (FORRT)’s amazing projects, presented at our first ever Open Day (my talk starts at 4:08):


I gave a short presentation about a study where I investigated the effects of placebo analgesia on prosocial behavior at the 2021 Society for Social Neuroscience conference:


I talked about first experiences and lessons learned when preregistering an fMRI study at the Methods Meeting of the Institute of Systems Neuroscience in Hamburg. Find the slides here.

Below is a short talk about the effects of placebo analgesia on interoceptive abilities that I gave as part of the symposium “From heart to brain and back: novel findings and methodological challenges in interoception research” organized by Federica Riva and myself at the 63rd Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP).


I was part of the feminist dream team that gave the collaborative talk “Navigating open science as early career feminist researchers” at the RIOT Science Club’s “Open Research: A Vision for the Future” conference in March 2021.


This is a talk I gave at the online lecture series OnNeuro about parts of my PhD on the role of the somatosensory component of pain processing in empathy in November 2020:


Teaching

Lecture “Science for Everyone! Science Communication for Beginners” - slides (University of Vienna, 2020) and updated slides (BIOME lecture series, University Duisburg-Essen, 2022).

Lectures “Doing Good/Open Science” (University of Vienna, 2019 & 2020):

Open Science

Resources

Check out my awesome-PhD GitHub repository that includes a curated list of carefully selected tools and resources I wish I knew when starting my PhD. Please feel free to contribute more resources! Also have a look at the Twitter thread where I started this list.

Have a look at the fMRI preregistration template I helped update.

Find stimuli templates for my first-hand and empathy for pain task from Hartmann et al. (2021, NeuroImage) here.

Check out the data and code associated with Hartmann et al. (2022, PsyArXiv) here.

Below you can find my open fMRI datasets:

Preregistrations

Outreach

Are you interested in interviewing me about my research or do you want me to write something for your media outlet? Contact me via helena.hartmann@uk-essen.de.

Written Work

Podcast appearances

  • I talked to Lee Delaney from Curiosity Cake about my PhD, specifically what kinds of methods I employ to measure empathy for pain in brain and behavior.

  • I was so lucky to be part of the episode “Ever Felt Someone’s Pain… In Your Butt?” by Every Little Thing. Learn all about vicarious pain and how we can feel someone else’s pain in our own body.

  • I chatted with Aaron Halliday about my research on empathy, prosocial behavior and interoception, but also about making science relevant and accessible to everyone.

Interviews

  • The Telekom employee magazine “You and Me Quarterly” interviewed me about why we share the emotions of other people.

  • DiscoverPhDs asked me about my PhD research, what a typical work day looks like for me and what enjoyments and challenges my PhD entails. Have a look at the full interview.

  • 1 Million Women in STEM (1MWIS), a global network providing the stories of women studying & working in STEM, asked me what I do, why I chose this field of research, what I would tell my younger self and why I love working in STEM. Have a look at my answers.

  • Check out the German interview I did for my Twitter takeover at Real Scientists DE in May 2020.

Events

Together with Ulrike Bingel and Angelika Kunkel, we participated at the Self Help Day 2022 of the University Medicine Essen and educated patients and stakeholders about treatment expectations.

I was part of a Children’s University workshop at the University of Vienna, where we taught children about the brain, perspective taking and empathy.

Here I explained my research on empathy for pain and prosocial behavior in German at a science communication format called Kaffeeklatsch mit Wissenschaft hosted by the amazing Franziska Sattler in February 2021. Find the slides to this talk here.


Pint of Science (PoS) brings scientists to share their latest research with you! I was part of 2020’s “Beautiful Mind” event manager team to organize three exciting evenings all about neuroscience that were unfortunately cancelled due to COVID. In 2021, I also helped organize online events for PoS Amsterdam in 2021 (see for example here or here). More info on the Website.

Together with my PhD colleagues, I organized a booth at the Long Night of Research in Vienna all about research in psychology and social neuroscience in 2018. Have you ever experienced the rubberhand illusion? How do we investigate something called affective touch? Can we put awake dogs into an MR-scanner? And can you match all brains to their corresponding species?

© LNF2018_4781 Universitaet_Wien/derknopfdruecker.com

Art of Neuroscience: Have a look at my application for the art competition all about neuroscience here.

Photo Competition “My Research in one Picture”: In 2018, my photo about my PhD research titled “Another’s Pain in my Placebo Brain” got into the Top 10 of winning photos. See the other photos or general information on the competition.

© Helena Hartmann

Other Activities

Collaborative Research Center SFB/TRR 289 “Treatment Expectation”

Check out our animated movie about how our expectations can influence our health and treatment efficacy here. More info on the research and projects here.

Project Encephalon

I joined the scientific advisory committee of Project Encephalon, an “international, trainee-led non-profit organization for neuroscience enthusiasts”.

MyMind

I support MyMind, a startup company in Vienna, as an external scientific advisor. They are developing Brain Hero, a Neurofeedback game to improve concentration levels and relaxation capabilities in individuals with autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

FemABC

Feminist Alliance Book Club (FemABC), founded in December 2020, is a monthly book club to read and discuss books centred around feminism and underrepresented genders. EVERYBODY is welcome to join! For more infomation, have a look at our Twitter or Goodreads pages. More info on the general idea and joining us can also be found here. If you have questions or want to become a member, write us an email at abc.feminist@gmail.com.

© Srestha Chakraborty

Participate

Online studies

  • If you’re interested in feminist approaches to science, click here for a super short 3-min survey!

Lab studies in Essen

  • Have a look at our currently running studies and trials here.

Lab studies in Amsterdam

  • Here you can sign up to stay informed about current or future studies of the Social Brain Lab in Amsterdam!

Lab studies in Vienna

Contact