Ralf Schmälzle [SHMAL-ts-lee]

Ralf Schmälzle

Assistant Professor

Department
  • Communication
schmaelz@msu.edu
(517) 353-6629

Bio

Ralf Schmälzle [SHMAL-ts-lee] is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at MSU. He is uniquely cross-trained in communication, health psychology and the cognitive neurosciences. He received his doctorate from the University of Konstanz, Germany, where he also held a postdoctoral position. Before joining MSU, Dr. Schmälzle worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Pennsylvania in the Communication Neuroscience Lab. 

Ralf Schmälzle's research strives to provide a mechanistic understanding of how messages affect the brain and how the brain - the biological organ of communication - enables us to respond to and interact with a uniquely social world. With this overarching goal in mind, his work promotes theoretical and methodological integration between communication science and neuroscience. he currently advances this goal within two areas: Neuroimaging of Health Prevention Messages and Cognitive/Media Neuroscience.

One of his major roles is to provide a unique interdisciplinary learning environment for communication scientists who seek to embrace neuroscience or biological approaches to communication more broadly. His main research tools include functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG/ERP), and related imaging methods. He combines these methods with self-report and linguistic measures, and behavioral testing. As a Cognitive Neuroscientist by training he also retains a healthy interest in AI and machine learning.

He lives in East Lansing with his wife and two preschoolers. They enjoy spending time with the kids or doing sports. 

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

404 Wilson Rd, Room 569
Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Roles

Assistant Professor: Department of Communication, Neuroscience of Messages Lab (NOM) nom.cas.msu.edu 

Core Leader: Health and Risk Communication Center (HRCC) hrcc.cas.msu.edu

Co-Director: Center for Avatar Research and Immersive Social Media Applications (CARISMA) carismalab.com

Personal Website: ralfschmaelzle.net

Research and Teaching

Research Topics:
- Media Neuroscience: Motivational Response to Media
- Neuroimaging of Health and Risk Communication 
- Neurocognitive Foundations of Mass Communication Campaigns  

Courses:
- Neurocognitive Communication (CAS 992)
- Media Neuroscience (CAS892)
- Special Topics Neurocognitive Communication (COM399)
- Public Communication Campaigns - Design and Analysis (COM475)
- Mass Communication and Public Health (CAS825)
- Special Topics: Formative Research for Health Communication: From time-proven methods to neuroscience and AI (COM399)
- Think Tank: Communication as a Dynamic Process (CAS892)
- Social Influence and Conflict (COM325)

 

Thematic Research Areas

Neurocognitive Communication - Communication Neuroscience
Media Psychology
 

Research Centers and Labs

Health and Risk Communication Center
Neuroscience of Messages Lab
Carismalab (Center for Avatar Research and Immersive Social Media Applications)

Links

Assistant Professor: Department of Communication, Neuroscience of Messages Lab (NOM) nom.cas.msu.edu 

Core Leader: Health and Risk Communication Center (HRCC) hrcc.cas.msu.edu

Co-Director: Center for Avatar Research and Immersive Social Media Applications (CARISMA) carismalab.com

Personal Website: ralfschmaelzle.net

Media Coverage & Recent Publications

Recent mentions

Washington Post: Why human brains are bad at assessing the risks of pandemics, September 2020

National Geographic: Struggling to assess pandemic risks? You’re not alone, July 2021

LATimes: Op-Ed: Why storytelling is an important tool for social change. July 2021

New European Bauhaus (video): Fictional narrative & the meaning factory, May 2021

StoryTank, European Film Lab (video): Audience brain responses to films, July 2020, July 2021

Newsweek: Scientists Connect Three People's Minds So They Can Communicate Using Brainwaves Alone, October 2018

MSUToday: The link between brain activity and social networks, May 2017

Book mention: Sharot, T. (2017). The Influential Mind, What the brain reveals about our power to change others; Macmillan, London.

Book mention: Goldstein, E. B. (2020). The Mind: Consciousness, Prediction, and the Brain. MIT Press, Boston
 

Recent research articles

in press/2021

Schmälzle, R., & Wilcox, S.. (in press). Harnessing AI for health message generation: The Folic Acid Message Engine. Journal of Medical Internet Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/28858

Schmälzle, R., Wilcox, S., & Grall, C.. (in press). Neuroimaging in Environmental Communication Research. In. Takahashi, B., Metag, J., Thaker, C. & Evans-Comfort, A.: ICA-Routledge Handbook of International Trends in Environmental Communication.

Anderson, J., Lapinski, M., Turner, M., Peng, T., & Schmälzle, R.. (2021). Speaking of Values: Value-Expressive Communication and Exercise Intentions. Health Communication. 

Grall, C., Weber, R., Tamborini, R., & Schmälzle, R.. (2021). Stories collectively engage listeners’ brains: Enhanced intersubject correlations during reception of personal narratives. Journal of Communication, 71(2), 332-355. 


2020

Schmälzle, R., & Meshi, D.. (2020). Communication Neuroscience: Theory, methodology, and experimental approaches. Communication Methods and Measures, 1(1), 1-16. [+Shared first authorship]

Imhof, M. A., Schmälzle, R., Renner, B., & Schupp, H. T.. (2020). Strong health messages increase audience brain coupling. NeuroImage.

Schmälzle, R., & Grall, C.. (2020). Mediated messages and synchronized brains. In. Floyd & Weber: Handbook of Communication Science and Biology.

Wilcox, S., Holmstrom, A., Dorrance-Hall, E., & and Schmälzle, R.. (2020). The emerging frontier of interpersonal communication and neuroscience: Scanning the social synapse. Annals of the International Communication Association, 44(4), 368-384.

Schmälzle, R., & Grall, C.. (2020). Psychophysiological methods: Options, uses, and validity. In. J. VanDenBulck & M.-L. Mares: The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology.

Grall, C., & Schmälzle, R.. (2020). Neurocinematics. In. J. VanDenBulck & M.-L. Mares: The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology.

Schmälzle, R., & Grall, C.. (2020). The coupled brains of captivated audiences: An investigation of the collective brain dynamics of an audience watching a suspenseful film. Journal of Media Psychology, (Online First). [+Shared first authorship]

Huskey, R., Eden, A., Grall, C., Meshi, D., Prena, K., Schmälzle, R., Scholz, C., Turner, B., & Wilcox, S.. (2020). Marr’s tri-level framework integrates biology with communication science. Journal of Communication, 1(1), 1-20.

Schmälzle, R., Cooper, N., O’Donnell, B. M., Tompson, S., Lee, S., Cantrell, J., Vettel, J. M., & Falk, E. B.. (2020). The effectiveness of online messages for promoting smoking cessation resources: Predicting nationwide campaign effects from neural responses in the EX campaign. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, [Shared frist authorship].

2019
Schmälzle, R.,Imhof, M., Kenter, A., Renner, B. & Schupp, H.T. (2019). Impressions of HIV risk online: Brain potentials while viewing online dating profiles. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 19(5), 1203-1217. 

Kranzler, E. C., Schmälzle, R., O’Donnell, M. B., Pei, R., & Falk, E. B.. (2019). Message-elicited brain response moderates the relationship between opportunities for exposure to anti-smoking messages and message recall. Journal of Communication.

Schmälzle, R., Hartung, F-M., Imhof, M., Kenter, A., Renner, B. & Schupp, H.T. (2019). Visual cues that predict intuitive risk perception in the case of HIV. PLOSOne.

Pei, R., Schmälzle, R., Kranzler, E., O’Donnell, M. B., & Falk, E. B. (2019). Neural activity during anti-smoking message exposure predicts subsequent message sharing engagement. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 56(2), S40-S48.

2018
Schlicht-Schmälzle, R., Chykina, V.,& Schmälzle, R.(2018). An attitude network analysis of post-national citizenship identities. PLOSOne, 13(12), e0208241. 

Kryston, K., Novotny, E., and Schmälzle, R., & Tamborini, R. (2018). Social demand in video games and the synchronization theory of flow. Ed. N. Bowman. Video Games: A Medium that Demands Our Attention.

Kranzler, E., Schmälzle, R., O’Donnell, M. B., Pei, R. & Falk, E. B. (2018). Adolescent neural responses to anti-smoking messages, perceived effectiveness, and sharing intention. Media Psychology.

2017
Imhof, M. A., Schmälzle, R., Renner, B., & Schupp, H. T.. (2017). How real-life health messages engage our brains: Shared processing of effective anti-alcohol videos.. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience. 

Schmälzle, R., Renner, B., & Schupp, H. T.. (2017). Health risk perception and risk communication. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 

Schmälzle, R., Brook O’Donnell, M., Garcia, J. O., Cascio, C. N. C., Bayer, J., Vettel Jean, Bassett Danielle, & Falk, E. B.. (2017). Brain connectivity dynamics during social interaction reflect social network structure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(20), 5153?5158. 

Schmälzle, R., Imhof, M. A., Grall, C., Flaisch, T., & Schupp, H. T.. (2017). Reliability of fMRI time series: Similarity of neural processing during movie viewing. biorxiv. 

2016
 Schupp, H. T., Kirmse, U., Schmälzle, R., Flaisch, T., & Renner, B.. (2016). Newly-formed emotional memories guide selective attention processes: Evidence from event-related potentials.. Scientific reports, 6, 28091. 

2015
Schmälzle, R., Häcker, F., Honey Christopher J, & Hasson, U.. (2015). Engaged Listeners: Shared neural processing of powerful political speeches. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neurosciences, 1, 168-169. 

Renner, B., Gamp, M., Schmälzle, R., & Schupp, H. T.. (2015). Health Risk Perception. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 10, 702-709. 

Flaisch, T., Imhof, M., Schmälzle, R., Wentz, K., Ibach, B., & Schupp, H. T.. (2015). Implicit and Explicit Attention to Pictures and Words: An fMRI-Study of Concurrent Emotional Stimulus Processing. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(1), 1861. 

Becker, C., Schmälzle, R., Flaisch, T., & Schupp, H. T.. (2015). Thirst and the state-dependent representation of incentive stimulus value in human motive circuitry. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neurosciences, 10(12), 1722-1729. 

Barth, A., Schmälzle, R., Hartung, F., Britta Renner, & Schupp, H. T.. (2015). How target and perceiver gender affect impressions of HIV risk. Frontiers in Public Health, section HIV and AIDS, 3(1), 223. 

2014
Schupp, H. T., Schmälzle, R., & Flaisch, T.. (2014). Explicit semantic stimulus categorization interferes with implicit emotion processing. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9, 1738-1745. 

Häcker, F., Schmälzle, R., Renner, B., & Schupp, H. T.. (2014). Neural correlates of HIV risk feelings. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, doi:10.1093/scan/nsu093(nsu093), 1-6. 

2013
Schmälzle, R., Häcker, F., Renner, B., Honey, C. J., & Schupp, H. T.. (2013). Neural correlates of risk perception during real-life risk communication. The Journal of Neuroscience, 33(25), 10340-10347. 

Barth, A., Schmälzle, R., Renner, B., & Schupp, H. T.. (2013). Neural correlates of risk perception: HIV vs. leukemia. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(1), 1. 

2012
Schupp, H. T., Schmälzle, R., Flaisch, T., Weike, A. I., & Hamm, A. O.. (2012). Affective picture processing as a function of preceding picture valence: An ERP analysis. Biological Psychology, 91(1), 81-87. 

Schmälzle, R., Renner, B., & Schupp, H. T.. (2012). Neural correlates of perceived risk: the case of HIV. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7(6), 667-676. 

Renner, B., Schmälzle, R., & Schupp, H. T.. (2012). First impressions of HIV risk: it takes only milliseconds to scan a stranger. PloS One, 7(1), e30460. 

2011
Schmälzle, R., Schupp, H. T., Barth, A., & Renner, B.. (2011). Implicit and explicit processes in risk perception: neural antecedents of perceived HIV risk. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5(1), 1. 

2010
Bublatzky, F., Flaisch, T., Stockburger, J., Schmälzle, R., & Schupp, H. T.. (2010). The interaction of anticipatory anxiety and emotional picture processing: An event-related brain potential study. Psychophysiology, 47(4), 687-696. 

2009
Stockburger, J., Schmälzle, R., Flaisch, T., Bublatzky, F., & Schupp, H. T.. (2009). The impact of hunger on food cue processing: an event-related brain potential study. Neuroimage, 47(4), 1819-1829. 

Schmälzle, R.. (2009). Intuitive risk perception: A neuroscientific approach. PhD thesis, -, -. 

2008
Schupp, H. T., Stockburger, J., Schmälzle, R., Bublatzky, F., Weike, A. I., & Hamm, A. O.. (2008). Visual noise effects on emotion perception: brain potentials and stimulus identification. Neuroreport, 19(2), 167-171. 

Renner, B., Schupp, H. T., & Schmälzle, R.. (2008). Risikowahrnehmung und Risikokommunikation. Handbuch ü Gesundheitspsychologie und Medizinische Psychologie, 16(3), 113-121. 

Renner, B., Schupp, H., Vollmann, M., Hartung, F., Schmälzle, R., & Panzer, M.. (2008). Risk perception, risk communication and health behavior change. Zeitschrift für Gesundheitspsychologie, 16(3), 150-153. 

2005
Schmälzle, R.. (2005). Effekte von Nahrungsdeprivation auf die Verarbeitung visueller Reize: eine ERP-Studie. Diploma thesis. 

Contact Information

404 Wilson Rd, Room 569
Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824