Our interdisciplinary team develops and implements algorithms for analysing structural data (especially diffusion weighted). We implement new techniques to derive and optimize tractograms of the human brain in order to derive specific markers within the brain white matter to investigate neurodegenerative and especially psychiatric disorders. For example, we showed that our novel optimized fiber density marker shows higher sensitivity for schizophrenia and major depressive disorders compared to standard measures such as fractional anisotropy.
Furthermore, we adapt and improve MRS methods for specific questions in the field of psychiatry and psychology. An important aspect is the quantification of the MRS data. Quantification not only requires artefact-free acquisition, but also methods to correct other factors that influence signal detection. For example, our combination of the metabolite cycling technique for localization, and a quantification approach based on the principle of reciprocity allows us to reliably determine metabolite concentrations from small volumes in the human brain.
In the fMRI neurofeedback research area, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging as a non-invasive therapeutic tool and apply this technique to clinical conditions. Neurofeedback is non-invasive and safe and focuses on a fundamental human capacity: our ability to learn. Real-time fMRI neurofeedback signals of the brain are provided to teach participants to self-regulate their brain activity. This approach allows to manipulate regionally specific brain activity, thus enabling us to establish a causal link between brain activity and behaviour. We showed, for example, that neurofeedback-based 'brain training' over the motor cortex speeds up motor reaction times and that control over emotion networks improves valence ratings. We closely work with clinicians to use this technique in order to 'normalize' abnormal patterns of brain activity that are associated with neurological and psychiatric conditions.
We aim at translating these cutting-edge technologies to the clinics to the benefit of patients.
Keywords: Sequence development, functional brain imaging, structural brain imaging, spectroscopic imaging, clinical neuroscience, psychiatric disorders, Neurofeedback, translational neuroimaging, brain-computer-interfaces