NeuroImaging Labor at Campus of University of Munich (NICUM)

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Seven interdisciplinary areas of work at NICUM: 



A1A1. Schizophrenia research (AG, Maurus, Yakimov, Roell, Moussiopoulou, Raabe, Keeser, Falkai; collaboration: Wagner, Hasan).

The significant genetic basis of various mental diseases has sparked interest in identifying the neural and genetic factors involved in schizophrenia. The research team employs a diverse set of methods, including advanced multimodal neuroimaging techniques, comprehensive genetic associations, and specialized contrast-based structural imaging of blood-brain barrier dysfunction. They also assess cognitive and behavioral factors. The team is exploring both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, including sports, pharmacological, and brain stimulation interventions.

Representative publication: Roell L, Keeser D, Papazov B, Lembeck M, Papazova I, Greska D, Muenz S, Schneider-Axmann T, Sykorova EB, Thieme CE, Vogel BO, Mohnke S, Huppertz C, Roeh A, Keller-Varady K, Malchow B, Stoecklein S, Ertl-Wagner B, Henkel K, Wolfarth B, Tantchik W, Walter H, Hirjak D, Schmitt A, Hasan A, Meyer-Lindenberg A, Falkai P, Maurus I. Effects of Exercise on Structural and Functional Brain Patterns in Schizophrenia-Data From a Multicenter Randomized-Controlled Study. Schizophr Bull. 2023 Aug 19:sbad113.

A2 A2. Noninvasive brain stimulation (AG, Keeser, Bulubas, Chang, Mizutani-Tiebel, Vural, Taylor, Padberg, Soutschek, Taylor; collaboration: HäEckert, Muck, Suschek).

The research group focuses on the pioneering interface between multimodal neuroimaging with concurrent brain stimulation methods, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Their aim is to unravel the complexities of these stimulation methods in treating psychiatric disorders. The team adopts a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the intricate neural mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders and the therapeutic potential of neuromodulation. Using state-of-the-art TMS and tDCS technologies, the team is investigating how targeted neuromodulation can impact brain circuits associated with psychiatric symptoms, and these non-invasive techniques for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in disorders like depression and schizophrenia. Recognizing the heterogeneity of psychiatric disorders, the team is also focusing on developing personalized treatment strategies.

Representative publication: Mizutani-Tiebel Y, Tik M, Chang KY, Padberg F, Soldini A, Wilkinson Z, Voon CC, Bulubas L, Windischberger C, Keeser D (2022). Concurrent TMS-fMRI: Technical Challenges, Developments, and Overview of Previous Studies. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 13:825205.


A3. Visual attention (AG Shi, Chen, Zinchenko, Geyer, Soutschek, Taylor, Schütz-Bosbach, Kaiser)

This research team investigates the behavioral and neural underpinnings of selective attention through visual search tasks, particularly focusing on how attention evolves during statistical learning. They also utilize Go/ChangeGo tasks to explore how attention navigates conflicting information, alongside working memory (N-back) tasks to assess divided attention, specifically examining participants' capacity to dedicate time and mental effort to challenging tasks. Additionally, the group employs noninvasive brain stimulation to explore the cause-and-effect mechanisms in these processes. They further enhance their research precision by combining fMRI and EEG techniques, integrating single-trial ERP data to improve the localization accuracy in the fMRI's general linear model.

Representative publication: Seitz, W., Zinchenko, A., Müller, H. J., & Geyer, T. (2023). Contextual cueing of visual search reflects the acquisition of an optimal, one-for-all oculomotor scanning strategy. Nature Communications Psychology, 1(1), 20.


A4. Pediatric neuroimaging (AG Körte) investigates the effects of traumatic brain injury on the brain’s structure and function as well as the development of diagnostic markers that can be used for the purpose of both therapeutic, and preventative interventions. The research of this group focuses on the most vulnerable traumatic brain injury (TBI) patient cohorts – children, adolescents, and women.

Representative publication. Bonke, E. M., Bonfert, M. V., Hillmann, S. M., Seitz-Holland, J., Gaubert, M., Wiegand, T. L., ... & Koerte, I. K. (2023). Neurological soft signs in adolescents are associated with brain structure. Cerebral Cortex, 33(9), 5547-5556.


A5. Neuroimaging of dementia (AG Rauchmann, Kurz, Hufnagel, Perneczky).

The dementia imaging research team, along with their collaborators, concentrates on Alzheimer's disease, primarily through neuroimaging studies. Their focus is on investigating the dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier and neuroinflammation, and how these relate to fluid and cognitive biomarkers. By employing sophisticated multimodal neuroimaging methods, the team is dedicated to enhancing the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and gaining a deeper insight into its neurobiological underpinnings.

Representative publication: Rauchmann BS, Brendel M, Franzmeier N, Trappmann L, Zaganjori M, Ersoezlue E, Morenas-Rodriguez E, Guersel S, Burow L, Kurz C, Haeckert J, Tatò M, Utecht J, Papazov B, Pogarell O, Janowitz D, Buerger K, Ewers M, Palleis C, Weidinger E,
Biechele G, Schuster S, Finze A, Eckenweber F, Rupprecht R, Rominger A, Goldhardt O, Grimmer T, Keeser D, Stoecklein S, Dietrich O, Bartenstein P, Levin J, Höglinger G, Perneczky R (2022). Microglial Activation and Connectivity in Alzheimer Disease and Aging. Ann Neurol. 768-781. doi: 10.1002/ana.26465

A6 A6. Computational Psychiatry (AG Ruef, Bieler, Eberle, Koutsouleris) focuses on the early detection and prediction of psychoses in people at high risk as well as on differential diagnostic subgroups with affective and psychotic disorders. This group uses machine learning approaches to develop formal models that can use neuroimaging data such as fMRI and structural MRI as well as genetic, behavioral, and clinical measurements to identify biomarkers and disease patterns in order to predict the onset of psychosis, estimate psychosocial functional trajectories and predict treatment-related outcomes.

Representative publication: Dwyer DB, Buciuman MO, Ruef A, Kambeitz J, Sen Dong M, Stinson C, Kambeitz-Ilankovic L, Degenhardt F, Sanfelici R, Antonucci LA, Lalousis PA, Wenzel J, Urquijo-Castro MF, Popovic D, Oeztuerk OF, Haas SS, Weiske J, Hauke D, Neufang S, Schmidt-Kraepelin C, Ruhrmann S, Penzel N, Lichtenstein T, Rosen M, Chisholm K, Riecher-Rössler A, Egloff L, Schmidt A, Andreou C, Hietala J, Schirmer T, Romer G, Michel C, Rössler W, Maj C, Borisov O, Krawitz PM, Falkai P, Pantelis C, Lencer R, Bertolino A, Borgwardt S, Noethen M, Brambilla P, Schultze-Lutter F, Meisenzahl E, Wood SJ, Davatzikos C, Upthegrove R, Salokangas RKR, Koutsouleris N (2022); PRONIA Consortium. Clinical, Brain, and Multilevel Clustering in Early Psychosis and Affective Stages. JAMA Psychiatry. 677-689. 

A7A7. Social and emotional processing (AG Merz, Bertsch, Keeser, Padberg, Musil, Nelson, Plank, Falter-Wagner). The aim of this AG is to measure social and emotional dysfunction in, e.g., autism spectrum disorder or reactive aggression in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), in addition to the development of (BPD) psychotherapeutic approaches based on real-time fMRI neurofeedback training and directly targeting underlying neurobiological mechanisms.

Representative publication: Levine, S. M., Merz, K., Keeser, D., Kunz, J. I., Barton, B. B., Reinhard, M. A., ... & Musil, R. (2023). Altered amygdalar emotion space in borderline personality disorder normalizes following dialectical behavioral therapy. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. 48(6):E431-E438.

The NICUM is supported by the following institutions: