Cognitive neuropsychiatry presents a modern discipline within psychiatric and psychological research that focuses on the interface between cognition and psychopathology. Within this discipline the neurobiological basis of psychopathological phenomena as well as neurotypical processes are investigated. One important tool for the examination of neuropsychological mechanisms is psychophysical measures. Psychophysical measures belong to the eldest research tools within psychological research and comprise methods like the measurement of reaction times or error rates. Thereby it is possible to draw conclusions about the interaction between subjective experience and physical phenomena and to display cognitive processes.
Another psychophysical method is the measurement of electrical brain activity via electroencephalography. The high temporal resolution of this technique enables the investigation of event-related changes within milliseconds. Neuroimaging techniques, by contrast, allow for the examination of structural processes by high spatial resolution. The main method of neuroimaging is magnetic resonance imaging. Functional neuroimaging presents a combination of high temporal and spatial resolution and can be measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Our research group focuses on:
- Examination of neural correlates of psychiatric symptoms
- Understanding of multisensory phenomena
- Examination of the interface between neurotypical experiences and psychopathological processes
- Implementation of an aftercare return to work project in psychiatric institute clinics
Senses like sight, hearing, touch and smell give orientation in everyday life. Thus, our brain needs to efficiently combine information from different modalities to a coherent percept. The availability of information from different modalities results in multimodal facilitation which means a reduction in reaction times to stimuli that comprise different senses and a facilitated perception under impaired conditions.
Recent research indicates that processes of multimodal integration are impaired in people with psychiatric disorders (e.g. schizophrenia or autism). In our research group, we focus on different aspects of this complex phenomenon (e.g. spatial, temporal and semantic) in psychiatric patients by applying neurophysiological techniques to investigate underlying neural mechanisms.
One specific example of multisensory perception is speech perception: Typically, speech is perceived via auditory information about the voice and visual information about the lip movement. The visual information has a significant impact on speech perception by facilitating speech perception in noisy environments. The integration process of auditory and visual information to a coherent percept can be examined in the McGurk illusion in which incongruent visual and auditory information leads to a completely different speech perception. In the present project, we focus on neural activity patterns of multimodal speech perception in different populations.
Imagine yourself at a cocktail party: You become introduced to a group of four people. Everyone welcomes you friendly and tells you their names. The party is very noisy, so that you cannot understand the voice of the last person. One week later you meet the same group of people at another party. Whose face are you most likely going to remember?
Many everyday situations comprise multisensory information. Therefore, our brain utilizes complex processes to integrate information from different modalities. The working memory is one of these processes that process multisensory information. Moreover the working memory shows pathological impairments in a number of psychiatric disorders. This deficit is associated with strong impairments in the patient’s everyday life.
However, most studies investigate the working memory from a unimodal perspective. Therefore, we focus on the examination of the working memory in psychiatric populations under multisensory, naturalistic conditions to derive reliable information about the impact of crossmodal interactions.
In the present project, we are interested in the relationship between mechanisms of aggression regulation and video gaming. Therefore, we utilize the General Aggression Model (GAM) for the investigation of excessive use of violent video games. The GAM states a causal relation between the excessive use of violent video games and short-term aggressive or impulsive behavior. This behavior is supposed to be traced back to an emotional desensitization and an associated loss of empathy. Our project focusses on the effects of the excessive use of violent video games on neurophysiological processes and structures.
Research on return to work (RTW) after mental illness focuses mainly on the time before the return, the time during and after the return has hardly been considered. The present project aims on filling this gap by implementing an intensified support in five care clinics. For this purpose, a multiprofessional team provides guidance for patients with psychiatric disorders during and after the return to work to provide a long-term support. The implemented concept links medical-therapeutic treatment with corporate actions to reinforce the job-related reintegration. The project will be evaluated by assessing the sustainable return, the incapacity to work, the functionality and the self-efficacy expectation as well as self-reported incapacity to work days. The concept will be manualized and in case of a positive evaluation implemented in psychiatric institute clinics.
- International Neuroscience Institute Hannover, Neurologie (Prof. Mohammadi)
- Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Biologische Psychologie (Prof. Noesselt)
- Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Psychiatrie (PD Walter)
- Universität Lübeck, Neurologie ( Prof. Münte, Dr. Wiswede)
- Alexianer St. Joseph Klinikum Berlin-Weißensee
- Asklepios-Klinikum Harburg
- Burghof-Klinik Rinteln
- Klinik Wittgenstein
- Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin Berlin
- Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
- The cognitive neuropsychiatric research laboratory is provided with modern computer equipment and software (e.g. BrainVision Analyzer, BESA Research, E-Prime) allowing for psychophysical experiments on psychiatric populations and healthy control subjects in a comfortable environment. Multimodal stimulation is possible in our laboratory.
- Additionally, we are equipped with an electroencephalograph (EEG). This technique allows for the assessment of electrical potentials at 32 different scalp sites. By means of an active electrodes system, the device is able to autonomously adapt to different measurement situations, thereby shortening the duration of the experiments.
- In our laboratory, we also have a device for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This technique is commonly used in brain research and in the medical treatment of psychiatric disorders. By our scientific collaboration, we also have the opportunity to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (3 and 7 tesla).