Previous lectures

Psychotherapie als klinsche Neurowissenschaft - kann uns das weiterbringen?

Prof. Dr. Andreas Reif,  Director of the Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy
on November 9,  2015

In den letzten einhundertfünfzig Jahren entwickelte sich die Psychiatrie von einem eher beschreibenden Fach, dessen therapeutische Optionen zwar wohlwollend aber überwiegend frustran waren, zu einem ausgesprochen therapeutischen Fach. Trotz der beeindruckenden Erfolge der psychiatrischen und psychotherapeutischenTherapien in den letzten 50 Jahren stehen überzeugende pathophysiologische Modelle noch aus und entsprechend ist die Diagnostik in diesem Fach immer noch weitestgehend deskriptiv und nicht viel anders als um 1900. Der Einzug der Neurowissenschaften in die Psychiatrie jedoch eröffnet die Möglichkeiten, auch die Psychiatrie zu einem diagnostisch-therapeutischen Fach zu machen.
Anhand einiger exemplarischer Beispiele aus den Bereichen Genetik, Neuroimaging usw. wurden in diesem Vortrag aktuelle Entwicklungen skizziert und somit ein Ausblick auf das Fach Psychiatrie als klinische Neurowissenschaft gegeben.

Die Rolle von Erwartung und Erfahrung auf Schmerzwahrnehmung

Prof. Dr. Christian Büchel, Institut für Systemische Neurowissenschaften Hamburg
on October 8, 2015


Erwartungs- und Erfahrungseffekte spielen allgemein bei der Wahrnehmung eine sehr große Rolle. So kommt der Rolle von Erwartungen in vielen Sinnesmodalitäten ein sehr hoher Stellenwert zu und es gibt Fälle, in denen die Wahrnehmung stärker durch Erwartungen als durch die Reize selbst geprägt wird. Dem Schmerz kommt als Sinnesmodalität eine besondere Rolle zu, da er eine drohende Gewebsschädigung anzeigt. Trotz der hohen Priorität ist auch dieser Sinn sehr stark durch Erwartungseffekte beeinflussbar. Im Kontext von Schmerz und Therapie wird dieser Effekt auch als Plazeboanalgesie bezeichnet. Initial als „psychogen“ abgetan, konnten neuere Studien jedoch zeigen, dass dieser Effekt auf messbaren biologischen Mechanismen beruht. In diesem Vortrag wurden die Grundlagen der Schmerzverarbeitung sowie die Beeinflussung durch Erwartungseffekte behandelt. Besonderes Augenmerk wurde auf die Rolle von Endorphinen sowie auf die plazeboinduzierte Modulation im Rückenmark gelegt.

Hirnforschung und Psychotherapie

Prof. Dr. Herta Flor, Zentralinstitut für Seelische Gesundheit Mannheim
on April 13, 2015


In den letzten Jahren hat sich gezeigt, dass die Diagnosekategorien, die wir für psychische Störungen verwenden, wenig über die diesen Störungen zugrunde liegenden Mechanismen aussagen. Es wurde deshalb eine an psychobiologischen Mechanismen orientierte Diagnostik und Therapie psychischer Störungen vorgeschlagen. Die Hirnforschung kann hier einen wichtigen Beitrag leisten, weil sie Motive aufdecken kann, die sich im Verhalten und Erleben nicht direkt abbilden lassen.  Von der Hirnforschung wurden darüber hinaus neue psychotherapeutische Verfahren wie das Neurofeedback  oder die Kombination  von Psychotherapie mit Neuroenhancern  inspiriert, und die Hirnforschung kann auch zeigen, welche Veränderungen Psychotherapie im Gehirn bewirkt. 

Are we neuronal machines? - Computer models of the brain

Dr. med. habil Peter Jedlicka, Institute of Clinical Neuroanatomy
on January 19,  2015

The human brain is probably the most complex system to arise during evolution. The brain’s activity is generated by dynamically interlinked, nested networks of many molecules, nerve cells and nerve cell groups integrated in specific ways. One cannot understand the complexity of the brain through intuition and thinking alone. Thus computer simulations and mathematical models have become very important in modern neurosciences. We are living in the age of the “Human Brain Project”.  How do computer models help us better understand the nervous system and its activity? Can such models serve to make treatment of neurological diseases more effective? In a discussion of free will it will be argued that neurobiology shows us that all out thoughts, decisions and actions are determined by neuronal processes, and thus free will is an illusion. Are we really predictable neuronal machines? Will it be possible in the future to completely describe and/or simulate free will and consciousness using a computer model?

Neuroeconomy – how does the marketplace function in the brain?

Prof. Dr. Jochen Roeper, Director of the Institute of Neurophysiology
on October 27, 2014

This talk provides an overview of developments in the new interdisciplinary field of neuroeconomy. The central theme is the question, which neuronal processes in the brain influence our behaviour as a “customer” in the economic environment. How do we evaluate the worth of an article, how do we compare these with each other, and how do we reach risky purchasing decisions or weigh up long-term decisions. Knowledge gained from neuroscientific experiments based on these questions will be presented and discussed.

Brain degeneration in the light of genomic research

Prof. Dr. Georg Auburger, Experimental Neurology
University Medical Center Frankfurt on July 7, 2014

How do the degeneration illnesses of the nervous system originate with age? Patients with Alzheimer, Parkinson, Huntington and Ataxie need answers to this question.
The complexity in the brain and the diversity of environmental events during the whole life complicate the research.  Now, by analysing great families with inheritance of such illnesses, one has succeeded in identifying responsible genetic defects. To the surprise of the doctors their effects (insolubility and dismantling disturbance of the illness protein, sequestering by interactors, changed expression profiles) also can be detected beyond the nervous system, and already decades before appearance of the illness symptoms. In particular disturbances in the lifelong cycle, e.g. how gen activities react to absorption of nutrients, as well as for hunger periods and similar stress,  seem to have cumulative effects on the health of the brain.
Now the prediction of illness risks is improved continously. Our understanding on how molecules and metabolisms are concerned grows constantly  When will preventive treatments for  relief and healing become possible?

Overcoming hearing loss and deafness with hearing implants

Prof. Dr. Uwe Baumann, Head of the department Audiological Acoustics
University Medical Center Frankfurt on February 17, 2014

Depending on the extent of the hearing damage, hearing loss or deafness significantly reduces the quality of life and can even lead to severe depressive disorders. Today, with the use of modern hearing implants and structured life-long medical care, in almost all cases, damage in the middle or inner ear can be alleviated. When conventional hearing aids are no longer sufficient, and for example on the telephone or in conversation little can be understood, it should be checked whether a hearing implant can enable better medical care. Every year one out of 10,000 people in Germany suffers from unilateral deafness, for instance following an accident or sudden loss of hearing. Research has shown that also in these cases a cochlear implant can help improve directional hearing and understanding speech above background noise. If bilateral deafness exists from birth, early bilateral treatment and targeted stimulation makes essentially normal speech development and in many cases attending normal schools possible. This talk presented the various forms of hearing implant treatments and current audiological research results from the hearing lab at the University Clinic Frankfurt.

The glioblastoma: Clinic, pathology and genetics

Professor Dr. med. Paul Kleihues, Former Director of the Institute for Neuropathology, University Medical Center, Zuerich, Switzerland on November 11, 2013

Despite significant therapeutic advances, glioblastoma is still associated with very negative prognoses. The main reasons are the motility of the tumour cells and their associated diffuse infiltration of brain tissue and pronounced genomic instability. As yet, interventions targeting specific signal pathways have remained unsuccessful. The majority of glioblastomas (around 90%) manifest de novo in older patients after a very short medical history, without evidence of a less malignant pre-lesion (primary glioblastoma). Secondary glioblastomas develop over a longer time from lower grade or anaplastic astrocytoma. These secondary glioblastomas appear with patients 15 years younger, are primarily located in frontal areas, are less necrotic and have a considerable better prognosis. They are characterized genetically by an IDHI mutation that is lacking in primary glioblastomas. They have a “pro-neural” expression profile with hypermethylation of numerous genes.

Infants take control – new knowledge about cognitive development in babies

Prof. Dr. Monika Knopf, Department of Psychology and Prof. Dr. Jochen Triesch, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) on July 8, 2013

What interests infants in their surroundings? How do they process the information in their world? The insufficiently developed motoric capabilities of babies make it difficult to determine what in their world catches a baby’s attention, and how they deal with the information on offer in their surroundings. One motoric skill that infants possess relatively early on is eye movement. However using eye movements a baby can usually only inspect its surroundings, not control or even change them. This talk presents a new method that allows an infant to control and change its environment by looking. It demonstrates that infants rapidly learn how to use an optical switch, if it allows them to make pictures appear on a screen. Furthermore, after a short introductory phase the babies apparently anticipate the appearance of these pictures. Comparing data from young and older adults investigated as a reference population unexpectedly showed that acquiring the skill to use an optic switch becomes progressively worse and subjects gain little insight into this function. Initial investigations of this procedure for analyzing the memory of babies revealed that with a self switching stimulus triggered by the baby, a sub-group of the infants are less concerned with the stimulus than is usually the case. This was linked to poorer memory performance. Are these special children? Has the attractiveness of the given stimuli been previously over-estimated? These processes and the knowledge obtained from them open up new ways to analyze and interpret typical early cognitive development as well as early developmental disorders.

The remote controlled worm – opto-genetic methods revolutionize neuroscience

Prof. Dr. Alexander Gottschalk, Institute for Biochemistry and Buchmann Institute of Molecular Biosciences on May 6, 2013

The last few years has seen a revolution in neurosciences: researchers have succeeded in altering the function of nerve cells non-invasively, i.e. “from the outside”, by activating or inhibiting them using light. This can provide information about the task of these nerve cells, e.g. in directing behaviour. This is made possible by light sensitive proteins from microbes that are introduced into the cells of experimental animals using genetic methods. If in the living animal one then directs light onto these neurons, e.g. through thin optic fibres introduced into the brain, one can affect total cell function and even entire behaviour patterns. Called opto-genetics, this has huge significance and has found broad applications particularly in lab research. It will help us gain a new understanding of neuronal networks not only in simple model organisms such as the roundworm, but also in mammals such as the mouse. In addition, the hope is that the use of light activated protein and opto-genetics will lead to new therapy approaches, e.g. for progressive blindness or also to relieve psychopathological conditions. This talk will give an overview of opto-genetics and its applications in research, as well as discuss the opportunities for new therapies. 

Language and the Brain - Neurocognitive Mechanisms of Language Processing

Prof. Dr. Christian Fiebach, Department of Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, on November 19, 2012


Language is a specifically human cognitive ability that distinguishes us from other species. It involves the recognition of words within a few hundred milliseconds and the combination of words to phrases and sentences, according to the rules of grammar. This combinatorial power makes it possible to communicate an infinite number of meanings based on a limited set of words. In the 19th century, language was one of the first mental capacities for which neurologists suggested a localization in the brain. Based on these early localization results, this talk gave an overview over modern neurocognitive research that investigates how language is organized in the brain.

Myths about brain tumors - homing in on a fateful disease

Prof. Dr. Joachim Steinbach, Dr. Senckenbergisches Institut für Neuroonkologie, on July 9, 2012


Brain tumors are one of the most feared diseases; many aspects of their biology still remain unexplained today. How ideas have developed about how they arise, and how they have been treated since ancient times, what is known scientifically about them, and what myths about brain tumors still abound today - all these was addressed in this wide-ranging talk.

Autistic disorders - myths and facts

Prof. Dr. Christine Freitag, Klinik für Psychiatrie, Psychososmatik und Psychotherapie des Kindes- und Jugendalters, on March 12, 2012


In the last few years, autistic disorders shifted in the center of scientific and clinical interest. Since the diagnostic criteria have changed over the years, much information on this aspect is needed. Also, cause studies, that have made great progress, will be presented. Treatment options (myths and facts) will be discussed in detail. The lecture is designed for professionals as well as for interested non-professionals.

Multisensory perception - how the brain integrates sensory impressions

Prof. Dr. Jochen Kaiser, Institute for Medical Psychology, on January 23, 2012


Im Alltag nehmen wir unsere Umwelt mit mehreren Sinnen gleichzeitig wahr und verknüpfen diese Informationen automatisch. Die Mechanismen, die der Integration dieser Sinnesdaten im Gehirn zugrunde liegen, werden derzeit in der kognitiven Neurowissenschaft intensiv untersucht. Nach einer Einführung in die relevanten nichtinvasiven Methoden zur Erforschung der menschlichen Gehirntätigkeit wird der Vortrag auf die folgenden Fragen eingehen: Hängt multisensorische Integration von unseren Vorerfahrungen ab? Wodurch entstehen illusionäre Verknüpfungen zwischen Eindrücken aus verschiedenen Sinneskanälen? Wie verändert sich die multisensorische Verarbeitung bei psychischen Störungen?

Different views of the world: How mammals see colours

Prof. Dr. Leo Peichl, Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung on October 31, 2011


Colour vision is a very useful ability that is widespread among vertebrates. Many fish, reptiles and birds have excellent “tetrachromatic” colour vision. The mammals were less successful in this evolution. Humans and Old World primates have evolved relatively good “trichromatic” colour vision, but most other mammals are stuck with limited “dichromatic” colour vision. The presentation explains the basics of mammalian colour vision and discusses zoologically interesting deviations from this basic pattern.

How brains form memories

Prof. Dr. Bernd Grünewald, Institut für Bienenkunde, Inst. for Cell Biology and Neuroscience; on July 4, 2011

Learning and memory are essential for our human experience. However, forming memories is a universal ability of all nerve systems, since all animals learn from memories. By altering the properties of nerve cells in the brain, memories can be stored and accessed. How do neuroscientists track down the molecules of memory? How does one investigate a “learning” brain? The scope of learning research in modern neurobiology ranges from mammals and humans to bees and sea snails. Discover more about what your brain does during learning and why neuroscientists can help you to keep it in top form.

Aspects of modern pain therapy

For there was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently.

William Shakespeare

Prof. Dr. Dr. Gerd Geisslinger, Director of the Institute for Clinical Pharmacology

Pain is one of the most frequent symptoms of local tissue damage or disease and is the most common reason for visiting a doctor. Based on how it arises, pain can be roughly divided into three types: Acute physiological pain, which comprises a warning function and is essential for survival, ensuring that injuries are noticed to avoid consequential mutilation.Inflammation pain arises in the context of tissue damage (inflammation), and neuropathic pain arises when nerves are damaged by crushing or compression (e.g. slipped disc), severing (e.g. following an amputation) or disease (e.g. shingles, diabetes). While acute pain primarily has a vital warning and protective function, and represents an important indicative symptom for the doctor making a diagnosis, chronic pain serves no purpose, and for the affected patient is an agonizing burden. Reliable pain relief therefore becomes particularly important. The prerequisites for successful application of painkillers are analyzing the type, duration and symptoms of pain, and taking into account containdications.

Alzheimer's disease - new ways to early diagnosis and therapie?

Prof. Dr. Harald Hampel, Director of the Clinic for psychyiatry, psychosomatics and psychotherapy


Usually, scientists subdue the hope of breakthrough successes in medicine, but in the battle against Alzheimer’s many are confident that our understanding of the basic factors underlying the disease has made great progress. This means that research is tracking down clear and early diagnostics as well as effective therapies. In the future, doctors will have access to new biological and imaging procedures as diagnostic tools. Everyone has the right that the earliest signs of disease, such as memory loss, are recognized in order to deal with these in time and start early treatment. Researchers see themselves as facing a race against time with the increasing demographic epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease.
Today there are 37 million Alzheimer’s patients worldwide, and in 2050 this will reach over 115 million. However, such successes throw up more questions: in some studies the tested drug diminished Alzheimer’s plaques in the brain, but the disease progressed no differently than in untreated patients. Is this avenue a dead end? Currently, more than 200 new medication studies are underway worldwide. Among these there are a whole range of promising candidates. 

Seeing with the ears - neurobiology of echolocation in bats

Prof. Dr. Manfred Kössl, Institute for Cell Biology and Neuroscience


Hearing is the most important of all its senses for a bat, and it is adapted to precise and highly sensitive detection of echolocation signals. Bats are top performers when it comes to processing time and resolving tone pitch. They use numerous evolved adaptations to occupy many different sensory ecological niches. This talk will present neurological mechanisms that are not only essential for echolocation, but also represent an exciting model system for human hearing and speech recognition.

Palaeoneurology: Brain growth, speech and human evolution

Prof. Dr. Helmuth Steinmetz, Clinic for Neurology


In year 1 after “Darwin Year” – and parallel to the exhibition “Safari to Primitive Man” still running in the Senckenberg Museum – the approximately 60 minute talk tried to analyze the connection between the three-fold expansion in size and new functions of our brain cortex arising over the last 4 million years. The hypotheses presented for discussion touched on fossil evidence, current imaging data on the development of the human brain and anatomical observations of the vocal tract. Professor Steinmetz is Director of the Neurological University Clinic at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. With his glimpse into our past he supported the theme of the global “Brain Awareness Week”, which started on the day of the talk.

In the fragile home of the soul - how modern neurosurgery works

Prof. Dr. Volker Seifert, Clinic for Neurosurgery


Probably more than any other surgical discipline, neurosurgery has profited immensely from advances in microsurgery, modern imaging techniques and the development of computer technology. This means microsurgical operations supported by peri- and intra-operative neuronavigation are possible on complex brain tumors, as well as cerebrovascular diseases such as aneurysms, angiomas and cavernomas using minimal invasion procedures. The techniques available to neurosurgeons today allow them to carry out the most difficult brain operations without mortality and with minimal morbidity. The talk discusses developments in modern neurosurgery in the context of the technological advances mentioned above and illustrates these using specific examples.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Brain function activation – modulation – therapy

Prof. Dr. Ulf Ziemann, Clinic for Neurology


Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) permits painless, non-invasive stimulation of the human brain. Since the method was introduced in 1985, TMS has developed at an almost revolutionary pace. Today one can hardly imagine routine clinical neurophysiological diagnoses of disturbances in central motoric conduction and stimulation without TMS. In addition, TMS has become extremely important as a tool in experimental brain research. By inducing short-lived functional disturbances (so-called virtual lesions) one can assess the functional relevance of the stimulated brain region. Combining TMS with other neurophysiological methods such as EEG and functional imaging has increased its range of possible applications even further over the last few years. Another important field lies in the possibility of neuromodulation through inducing changes in sensitivity (plasticity) in stimulated brain tissue and the potential to link these to therapeutic applications for patients with neuroplastic and psychiatric diseases. The talk “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Brain function activation – modulation – therapy” gave an overview with examples of all these application areas of TMS.

Computers more intelligent than humans?

Prof. Dr. Christoph von der Malsburg, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS)

Podcast (Internet Explorer | Flash-Version)

Soon the capacity of computers will reach that of the human brain. Will we then be able to simulate essentiell functions of the nervous system? The Frankfurt Bernstein- Project “Frankfurt Vision Initiative” ambitiously aims to develop a functioning visual system. However, fundamental breakthroughs will be necessary to do this. What are the problems and what ideas will be needed to overcome them? If wesucceed, how will this contribute toour understanding of the brain? Prof. von der Malsburg, senior fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced studies (FIAS) answered these and other questions in his lecture.

The eye - a window to the brain

Prof. Dr. Heinz Wässle, emer. Direktor, Max-Planck-Institue for Brain Research

Podcast (Internet Explorer | Flash-Version)

The eye is our most important sense organ and our window to the world. The retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye, transforms images into electrical signals that are carried to the brain by the optical nerve. However, the retina itself is also a part of the brain, has a simple construction, contains well-described nerve cells and synapses and can therefore serve as a model of the much more complicated brain cortex. Also in this sense, the eye is a window to the brain. In his talk, Prof. Heinz Wässle, Emeritus Director at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, showed how the retina processes images and what we can learn from this about the function of the brain.

Deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease – from the nerve cells to the patients

Prof. Dr. Jochen Roeper, Institute for Neurophysiologiy
Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Hilker, Clinic for Neurology
PD Dr. Thomas Gasser, Clinic and Policlinic for Neurosurgery
on November 24, 2008

The lecture is available as Podcast/MP3
Prof. Roeper (Internet Explorer | Flash), PD Gasser (MP3) und Prof. Hilker (Internet Explorer | Flash)

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in humans. In Germany alone, 250 000 mostly older people are affected. Typical symptoms are uncontrolled shaking, muscle stiffness and diminished movement. One treatment method used successfully for a number of years is “deep brain stimulation” (DBS), where patients receive an impulse generator, known as a brain pacemaker. This involves implanting electrodes in the region of the brain where the neuron groups important for movement control are located. As a result of the altered electric activity of the stimulated nerve cells, movement dysfunction can be reduced. In the three-part lecture “Deep cell stimulation in Parkinson’s disease – from the nerve cells to the patients”, Prof. Jochen Roeper, head of the Department of Neurophysiology at the Neuroscience Center of the Frankfurt University Clinic, explained the neurophysiological basis of DBS. The neurosurgical strategies of surgically implanting DBS electrodes was the theme of the talk by PD Dr. Thomas Gasser, senior physician at the Clinic for Neurosurgery at the Frankfurt University Clinic and head of the section for Functional Neurosurgery. Prof. Rüdiger Hilker, senior physician at the Clinic for Neurosurgery at the Frankfurt University Clinic, described the clinical-neurological care of DBS patients.

Formation of new nerve cells in the adult brain: mechanisms and possibilities

Prof. Dr. Herbert Zimmermann, Institute for Cell Biology and Neuroscience on June 9, 2008

Podcast (Internet Explorer | Flash-Version)

For a long time medicine assumed that the formation of new nerve cells in the brain only took place during embryonic development, and no longer happened after birth, especially in adult life. In his lecture, Prof. Herbert Zimmermann, Director of the Institute for Cell Biology and Neurosciences at the J.W. Goethe University, demonstrates that new nerve cells are also formed in adult brains from humans and mammals. These nerve cells arise in certain brain regions, the so-called neurogenic niches, from stem cells located there. New nerve cells are continually being generated particularly for the olfactory brain and hippocampus. At the moment the mechanisms that control the activation of neuronal stem cells and the subsequent migration and formation of new nerve cells is under intensive investigation. Understanding these mechanisms could lead to therapeutic approaches for treating diseases of the nervous system arising from acute or chronic damage to nerve cells.

Who reigns in the brain?

Prof. Dr. Wolf Singer, MPI for Brain Research, on March 10, 2008 (Brain Awareness Week)

Podcast (Internet Explorer | Flash)

In their self-awareness, people mostly define themselves as self-determined beings with their own free will. But to what extent does our awareness, our feelings and decisions depend on neuronal processes? In his lecture Prof Dr. Wolf Singer, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and member of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS), demonstrates that neurobiological evidence about the functioning of our brain contradicts our intuition. Following a description of the functional organization of the brain, he sets out to analyze the consequences of this neurobiological data for our self-understanding. 

Learning in early childhood – how is the inner world formed?

Prof. Dr. Ruxandra Sireteanu, MPI for Brain Research, on January 21, 2008

What does a newborn baby perceive? How are the loud, colorful stimuli of the outside world assimilated into a meaningful whole? And what role does early childhood experiences play? Is it possible and useful to practice prenatal stimulation? What is inherited, what is learnt? And is it ever too late to learn? What environmental factors can influence early childhood development? And what brain mechanisms are responsible for these developments? Prof. Ruxandra Sireteanu (Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, and Institute for Psychology, J.W. Goethe University) answers these and other questions in his lecture.

Stroke – prevention and therapy

Prof. Dr. Helmuth Steinmetz, Clinic for Neurology, on November 19, 2007

Acute brain blood vessel diseases (strokes) are as frequent nowadays as acute blood supply deficiency to the heart. Parallel to the demographic development, stokes will increase dramatically over the next 40 years, and remain one of the main causes for old people needing care. The lecture from Prof. Dr. Helmuth Steinmetz, Director of the Clinic for Neurology at the J.W. Goethe University of Frankfurt, presents the latest information on prevention and acute treatment of strokes, and a valuable insight into neurovascular research.

Alzheimer's disease – hope for a cure?

Prof. Dr. Johannes Pantel, Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, on July 02, 2007

Alzheimer's disease leads to slowly progressing destruction of the brain, and today over a million people suffer from the devastating consequences of this in Germany alone. Although no cure for the underlying cause is know, modern medicine has access to a range of procedures that can significantly improve early diagnosis and treatment of the disorder. This includes imaging techniques, neurochemical laboratory analyses and using symptomatic treatment procedures. Starting from current theories about the origin of the disease, the lecture gives an overview of the methods mentioned above and sketches out how these could contribute to considerably improving treatment in the near future. In addition, up-to-date information about possible preventative measures is discussed.

Infection and Multiple Sclerosis: Inflammation in the brain as a balancing act

Prof. Dr. Ingo Bechmann, Institute for Neuroanatomy , on May 07, 2007

Inflammation serves to eliminate infectious pathogens and stimulate regeneration of the body, but it also causes considerable collateral damage. To maintain a healthy cost – benefit ratio, the control of immune cells is organ specific. In organs that are good at forming new cells, immune cells "are allowed" to completely eliminate all infected cells. In contrast, a compromise must be made in poorly regenerating organs. The brain, where individual cells may be particularly important due to their integration in neural networks, is an ideal example of the need for immunological tolerance. We are only beginning to understand the fascinating immunoregulation in the brain, and can start to re-interpret diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis as faulty regulation of these underlying mechanisms.

Neuro-anatomical basis for learning and memory

Prof. Dr. Thomas Deller, Institute for Neuroanatomy , on January 22, 2007

Where do we store memories? How do our short-term and long-term memories work? Which brain region is used for learning? Prof. Dr. Thomas Deller, Director of the Institute for Neuroanatomy at the Clinic of the J.W. Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main answers these and other questions in his lecture. The neuroscientist also points out which anatomical structures of the brain are important for memory processes. In this connection, he distinguished between various forms of learning and memory and presents the corresponding brain region and functional system involved. He then explains the cellular basis of learning and memory processes and illustrates this to his audience using simple examples.

How does our biological clock tick?

Prof. Dr. Horst-Werner Korf, Institute for Experimental Neurobiology , on Nov. 27, 2006

Many functions in our body are controlled by an "inner clock". This clock developed very early on in the process of evolution, and has been retained to this day in all living things. This lecture addresses five major questions:

Where is our inner clock located?
How does an inner (circadian) rhythm arise?
How is the inner clock adjusted to the day/night rhythm of our surroundings?
How does the inner clock pass on its signals to the whole organism?
What are the consequences of living at odds with our inner clock?

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