Press releases

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Press releases 2020

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21.07.2020 Scientists observe learning processes online in the brain

Tactile stimulation repeatedly administered over a sustained period of time changes neuronal processing in the hand area of the brain.

Stimulating the fingertip rhythmically for a sustained period of time, markedly improves touch sensitivity of this finger. A research team led by Associate Professor Dr. Hubert Dinse at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) analysed the impact of this process in the brain. Using electroencephalography (EEG), the scientists recorded neuronal activity of brain areas associated with tactile processing. They were able to observe changes in activity over time – possibly illustrating a learning process. The team reported their findings in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience on 30 June 2020.

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15.06.2020 The benefits of slowness

An algorithm developed by neuroinformatics engineers in Bochum estimates age and ethnic origin as exactly as humans do. The researchers are not yet sure which features it interprets.

Wrinkles, furrows, spots: a person’s aging process is accompanied by tell-tale signs on their face. Researchers from the Institute for Neural Computation at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have developed an algorithm that interprets these features very reliably. It makes it possible to estimate the age and ethnicity of people so accurately that it catapulted RUB researchers to the top of the league table worldwide for a while. The RUB team published its report in the journal “Machine Learning” from May 2020.

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12.05.2020 Why visual perception is a decision process

Visual illusion uncovers processing strategies of the brain.

A popular theory in neuroscience called predictive coding proposes that the brain produces all the time expectations that are compared with incoming information. Errors arising from differences between actual input and prediction are then iteratively minimized along a hierarchical processing scheme. It is assumed that such stepwise iteration leads to updating of brain predictions so that internal prediction errors are finally explained away. Neuroscientists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) together with colleagues at the Freiburg University show that this is not strictly the case. Instead, they show that prediction errors can occasionally appear as visual illusion when viewing rapid image sequences. Thus, rather than being explained away prediction errors remain in fact accessible at final processing stages forming perception. Previous theories of predictive coding need therefore to be revised. The study is reported in Plos One on 4. May 2020.

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23.04.2020 How hearing loss in old age affects the brain

The brain doesn’t cope well with age-related deafness and memory suffers.

If your hearing deteriorates in old age, the risk of dementia and cognitive decline increases. So far, it hasn’t been clear why. A team of neuroscientists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) in Germany examined what happens in the brain when hearing gradually deteriorates: key areas of the brain are reorganized, and this affects memory. The results are published online in the journal “Cerebral Cortex” dated 20 March 2020.

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15.04.2020 How expectations influence learning

Researchers from Bochum have identified two brain regions that are important for decision making during learning.

During learning, the brain is a prediction engine that continually makes theories about our environment and accurately registers whether an assumption is true or not. A team of neuroscientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum has shown that expectation during these predictions affects the activity of various brain networks. Dr. Bin Wang, Dr. Lara Schlaffke and Associate Professor Dr. Burkhard Pleger from the Neurological Clinic of Berufsgenossenschaftliches Universitätsklinikum Bergmannsheil report on the results in two articles that were published in March and April 2020 in the journals Cerebral Cortex and Journal of Neuroscience.

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07.04.2020 How serotonin balances communication within the brain

The neurotransmitter fine-tunes weights of sensory stimulation and internal ongoing processes.

Our brain is steadily engaged in soliloquies. These internal communications are usually also bombarded with external sensory events. Hence, the impact of the two neuronal processes need to be permanently fine-tuned to avoid their imbalance. A team of scientists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) revealed the role of the neurotransmitter Serotonin in this scenario. They discovered that distinct serotonergic receptor types control the gain of both streams of information in a separable manner. Their finding may facilitate new concepts of diagnosis and therapy of neuronal disorders related to malfunction of the serotonin system. The study is published online in the open access journal „Elife“ on 7. April 2020.

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03.04.2020 Wie viele Menschen wirklich Linkshänder sind (only in german)

Alle bisherigen Daten beruhten auf Schätzungen. Jetzt bringt eine riesige Analyse verlässliche Informationen.

Eines war schon immer klar: Linkshänder sind seltener als Rechtshänder. Aber wie viele Menschen wirklich die linke Hand bevorzugen, ist erst jetzt geklärt: 10,6 Prozent beträgt die Linkshänder-Quote. Das ergab die weltgrößte Untersuchung zu diesem Thema, in der ein Forschungsteam der Universitäten St. Andrews, Athen, Oxford, Bristol und Bochum Studien zur Händigkeit von insgesamt mehr als zwei Millionen Menschen auswertete. Die Ergebnisse sind in der Zeitschrift Psychological Bulletin vom 2. April 2020 veröffentlicht.

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10.03.2020 Diet has an impact on the multiple sclerosis disease course

Intestinal bacteria operate as a self-sufficient organ: they influence the immune system and the brain via their metabolites.

The short-chain fatty acid propionic acid influences the intestine-mediated immune regulation in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). This has been shown by a team from the Department of Neurology of Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) at St. Josef-Hospital in an international study headed by Professor Aiden Haghikia. The application of propionic acid in addition to MS medication reduced the relapse rate and the risk of disability progression in the long term. Moreover, initial Magnetic Resonance Imaging studies indicated that propionic acid may reduce brain atrophy as a sign of neuronal cell death. The results were published in the journal “Cell” from 10 March 2020.

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05.03.2020 The difference between physical and psychosocial stress

A sports stress test and psychosocial stress produce similar stress hormone increases. And yet, the first one is perceived as positive, the second one as negative. Why is that?

Cell-free DNA might be a marker for distinguishing physical and psychosocial stress. This is the theory pursued by the team at the Department of Genetic Psychology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). Dr. Dirk Moser and Professor Robert Kumsta compared the physical reactions of test participants after a sports stress test and a fictitious job interview. Both caused the stress hormone level to rise; but at the same time, cell-free DNA of different origin was detected in the blood.

Kumsta and Moser were interested in how different types of stress affect the body and why stress is sometimes perceived to be positive and sometimes to be negative. The researchers published a report on their work in Rubin, the RUB’s science magazine.

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02.03.2020 A new tool for switching proteins on and off

Proteins can be controlled with light of different wavelengths. Even several at once, thanks to a new tool.

Light-sensitive proteins, also known as optogenetic tools, can be switched on and off by light pulses, thus triggering specific cellular processes. A research team at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) has characterised a new optogenetic tool, the protein parapinopsin, which can be switched on and off with very weak and short light signals. The excitation wavelengths required for this purpose differ greatly from those used by other known optogenetic tools. Consequently, it is possible to use two such tools simultaneously. The teams headed by Professor Stefan Herlitze and Professor Klaus Gerwert report on these findings in the cover story of the journal ChemBioChem from 2. March 2020.

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25.02.2020 What we see affects what we feel

Why the back hurts less when we look at it.

Chronic back pain is reduced when people watch a real-time video of their back for a short time. Watching it also increases the effectiveness of therapies such as massage. This has been shown by studies conducted by the team of Professor Martin Diers from the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the LWL University Hospital of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). The specialists therefore recommend the so-called multisensory integration in the treatment of pain.
You can find a detailed article on this topic in the science magazine Rubin.

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05.02.2020 Parkinson’s and the immune system

Genes associated with Parkinson’s disease point to an interface between the nervous system and immune system. This may lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Mutations in the Parkin gene are a common cause of hereditary forms of Parkinson’s disease. Similar to Parkin, the neighbouring Parkin Co-Regulated Gene PACRG regulates a signalling pathway that plays an important role in the innate immune system. This was discovered by a team of researchers led by Professor Konstanze Winklhofer from the Department of Molecular Cell Biology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). The team was thus able to provide further evidence that there are interfaces between the nervous system and immune system. The researchers hope that the protagonists or antagonists of this signalling pathway may be suitable for therapeutic interventions. They report on this in the cover story in the journal Science Signaling on 4 February 2020.

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07.01.2020 Vernachlässigung im Kindesalter beeinflusst spätere Gehirngröße (only German)

Wenig soziale Kontakte, kaum kognitive Anreize, schlechte Hygiene und Ernährung – das hat Folgen bis ins Erwachsenenalter.

Erwachsene, die als Kinder aus rumänischen Heimen adoptiert wurden, haben kleinere Gehirne als Adoptierte, die keine vergleichbare Vernachlässigung im Kindesalter erfahren haben. Je mehr Zeit die Kinder im Heim verbracht hatten, desto geringer war ihr Gehirnvolumen später. Das berichtet ein internationales Forschungsteam unter Federführung des King’s College London in der Zeitschrift Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, kurz PNAS, vom 6. Januar 2020. An der Arbeit beteiligt war auch Prof. Dr. Robert Kumsta von der Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

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Press releases 2019

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10.12.2019 ERC Consolidator Grant for neuroscientist from Bochum

Photo Nikolai Axmacher

Backed by funding from the European Research Council, Nikolai Axmacher hopes to find out how the brain manages spatial navigation. The results will also be relevant for Alzheimer’s research.

Professor Nikolai Axmacher from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) has received a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for his research on the neuronal basics of spatial navigation in humans. The grant amounts to 2 million euros over five years. Among other things, Axmacher is interested in grid cells that are believed to play a central role in rodent navigation, but whose function in humans is largely unknown. The research could also provide new insights into early brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease.

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09.12.2019 How playing the drums changes the brain

Many years of playing the instrument leave clear traces.

People who play drums regularly for years differ from unmusical people in their brain structure and function. The results of a study by researchers from Bochum suggest that they have fewer, but thicker fibres in the main connecting tract between the two halves of the brain. In addition, their motor brain areas are organised more efficiently. This is the conclusion drawn by a research team headed by Dr. Lara Schlaffke from the Bergmannsheil university clinic in Bochum and Associate Professor Dr. Sebastian Ocklenburg from the biopsychology research unit at Ruhr-Universität Bochum following a study with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The results have been published in the journal Brain and Behavior, online on 4 December 2019.

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04.12.2019 The gut may be involved in the development of multiple sclerosis

Simon Faissner

The gut has long been suspected to play a role in autoimmune disease. A research team has now identified evidence of a potential mechanism.

It is incompletely understood which factors in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) act as a trigger for the immune system to attack the brain and spinal cord. A potential factor is described by a research team in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS.

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28.11.2019 Neues Medikament gegen Neuromyelitis optica erfolgreich getestet (in german)

Die seltene Autoimmunkrankheit ist verwandt mit der Multiplen Sklerose – aber verläuft meist schwerwiegender.

Ein internationales Forschungskonsortium hat das Medikament Satralizumab erstmals in einer Phase-III-Studie an Patienten getestet. Der Wirkstoff ist zur Therapie der Autoimmunkrankheit Neuromyelitis optica gedacht, die mit der Multiplen Sklerose verwandt ist, aber deutlich seltener auftritt. Patientinnen und Patienten, die zusätzlich zu einer Basis-Immuntherapie mit Satralizumab behandelt wurden, erlitten seltener einen Rückfall als Patienten, die ein Plazebo erhielten. Satralizumab hatte jedoch keinen Effekt auf Schmerzen und Müdigkeit. Die Ergebnisse sind am 28. November 2019 online im New England Journal of Medicine erschienen.

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25.11.2019 Understanding of perception of touch in the brain

Brain

Larger parts of the cerebral cortex than thought process tactile stimuli.

More than ten percent of the cerebral cortex are involved in processing information about our sense of touch – a larger area than previously thought. This is the result of a joint study by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and Ruhr Universität Bochum, which was published online on 18th November 2019 in the journal Scientific Reports.

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25.10.2019 Hormonal contraceptives affect the efficacy of exposure therapy

In case of arachnophobia and many other phobias, exposure therapy can be a helpful approach. Its effectiveness apparently depends on whether the patient uses hormonal contraception.

Psychologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have studied in what way hormonal contraceptives affect the efficacy of anxiety therapy. They demonstrated that women who were on the pill benefitted less from exposure therapy than women who didn’t take any oral contraceptives. Friederike Raeder, Professor Armin Zlomuzica and colleagues describe the results in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, published online on 28 September 2019.

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24.10.2019 Why artificial intelligence doesn’t really exist yet

KI

The processes underlying artificial intelligence today are in fact stupid. Researchers from Bochum are attempting to make them smarter.

Radical change, revolution, megatrend, maybe even a risk: artificial intelligence has penetrated all industrial segments and keeps the media busy. Researchers at the Ruhr-Universtität Bochum (RUB) Neural Computation Institute have been studying it for 25 years. Their guiding principle is: in order for machines to be truly intelligent, new approaches must first render machine learning more efficient and flexible.

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30.09.2019 Jacqueline Reinhard awarded for glaucoma research

Foto-glaucome-research-Dr Reinhard

The early career researcher wants to understand what causes glaucoma and how its treatment can be improved.

Dr. Jacqueline Reinhard from the Department of Cell Morphology and Molecular Neurobiology at Ruhr Universität Bochum has been awarded for her research on glaucoma eye disease.

The biologist has been awarded the glaucoma research prize by Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft (DOG). She received the prize amounting to 5,000 euros and sponsored by Santen GmbH in Berlin on 28 September 2019.

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17.09.2019 Pros and cons of genetic scissors

Thorsten Müller

In combination with other methods, Crispr technology might one day render animal testing obsolete, according to the authors of a review article in “Trends in Cell Biology”.

Crispr technology has greatly facilitated gene editing. Associate Professor Thorsten Müller from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Dr. Hassan Bukhari from Harvard Medical School discuss its pros and cons in a review article in the journal “Trends in Cell Biology” from 12 September 2019. They believe Crispr technology has future potential primarily if it can be rendered usable in the field of stem cell research.

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11.09.2019 Mentally ill avatars

Medical students practice examination conversations in virtual space.

Medical students at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) will have the opportunity to conduct psychiatric interviews with avatars in future. “This will enable them to practise with patients presenting the full range of symptoms and degrees of severity and to broaden the panorama,” explains project manager, Associate Professor Paraskevi Mavrogiorgou from the clinic for psychiatry, psychotherapy and preventive medicine. Students wearing a virtual reality headset (VR headset) will be able to meet those avatars in a three-dimensional space – or, as experts call it, “exploration”. The clinic is planning to start using avatars in the summer semester 2020.

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23.08.2019 New approaches to heal injured nerves

Fischer-Leibinger

Preventing the deactivation of a protein could be the key to repairing the central nervous system.

Injuries to nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves usually result in functional losses as the nerve fibers are unable to regenerate. A team from the Department of Cell Physiology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) led by Professor Dietmar Fischer has deciphered new mechanisms that enable the regeneration of such fibers. This could open up new treatment approaches for the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord injuries. The researchers report on these results in the journal Nature Communications Biology on 23 August 2019.

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20.08.2019 How to improve multiple sclerosis therapy

New drugs haven’t brought about any significant improvement in the treatment of progressive multiple sclerosis. For a variety of reasons.

Medications currently used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) can merely reduce relapses during the initial relapsing-remitting phase. Many patients, however, develop progressive MS at a later stage, with disability becoming progressively worse. This type cannot be sufficiently treated at yet. Possible causes why an effective therapy for progressive MS is still lacking have been compiled by an international research team in a review article in the journal “Nature Reviews Drug Discovery” from 9 August 2019.

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02.08.2019 Manufacture of light-activated proteins

So far, development has been mainly based on a trial-and-error approach. But a novel method might help save a lot of time.

A new strategy for designing light-sensitive proteins has been developed by researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). In collaboration with a colleague from Münster, the team headed by Professor Stefan Herlitze, Department of General Zoology and Neurobiology at RUB, and Professor Klaus Gerwert, Department of Biophysics at RUB, has published an article on the method in the journal “Chembiochem”, where it was featured as the cover story in the edition from 15 July 2019.

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31.07.2019 What the brains of people with excellent general knowledge look like

What is the capital city of Tajikistan? When did Einstein create his famous theory of relativity? And when did Goethe die? Some people seem to have an answer to every general knowledge question. Why?

The brains of people with excellent general knowledge are particularly efficiently wired. This was shown by neuroscientists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin using magnetic resonance imaging. The team describes the results in the European Journal of Personality on 28 July 2019.

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16.07.2019 Why two out of three babies are cradled on the left

A team of researchers from Bochum evaluated 40 studies conducted over 60 years.

Over two thirds of all people prefer to carry a baby in their left arm. The figure is as high as three quarters for women, and the same also applies to right-handed people. This is the result of an analysis of 40 studies from the past 60 years carried out by a team from the Department of Biopsychology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). The experts assume that one reason for this preference is that emotions are primarily processed in the right hemisphere of the brain, which is linked to the left side of the body. The team led by lead author Julian Packheiser reports in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews on 26 June 2019.

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11.07.2019 How procrastinators and doers differ genetically

Is your tax return still not finished and cleaning the house has been put off until next week? Your genes could be to blame. At least for women.

Some people tend to postpone actions. In women, this trait is associated with a genetic predisposition towards a higher level of dopamine in the brain. This is what researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Technical University of Dresden discovered using genetic analyses and questionnaires. They were unable to identify this correlation in men.
Erhan Genç reports on the results together with Caroline Schlüter, Dr. Marlies Pinnow, Professor Onur Güntürkün, Professor Christian Beste and associate professor (PD) Dr. Sebastian Ocklenburg in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience on 3 July 2019.

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12.07.2019 The research building “Think” at Ruhr-Universität is well on the way

Research Building THINK

A further important milestone on the path to becoming a University of Excellence.

On 5th July 2019, the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz – GWK) decided to fund the “Think” research building at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) – the Bau- und Liegenschaftsbetrieb NRW (BLB NRW, the real estate services of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia) is continuing with its building planning.
After the German Council of Science and Humanities recommended funding for the “Think” research building (Centre for Theoretical and Integrative Neuroscience and Cognitive Science) in May 2019, the Joint Science Conference has now finally decided on funding.

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05.07.2019 Potenzielles Huntington-Medikament verträglich (in German)

Ein Medikament gegen Morbus Huntington zielt darauf ab, die Belastung des Gehirns durch schadhafte Genprodukte zu reduzieren. Erstmals hat ein Konsortium bei Patienten untersucht, wie verträglich die Substanz ist.

Die Ergebnisse zur Verträglichkeit berichten die Forscherinnen und Forscher im New England Journal of Medicine vom 13. Juni 2019. Das University College London koordinierte die Studie. In Deutschland beteiligt waren die Abteilung für Neurologie des Universitätsklinikums Ulm/Universitäts- und Rehabilitationskliniken Ulm (Prof. Dr. Bernhard Landwehrmeyer), das Huntington-Zentrum NRW am St. Josef-Hospital – Universitätsklinikum der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Prof. Dr. Carsten Saft) und die Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Prof. Dr. Josef Priller).

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04.07.2019 How the brain remembers where you’re heading to

Researchers have made new discoveries about how certain brainwaves aid navigation. They hope that the methods may benefit patients suffering from neurodegenerative disorders one day.

A team headed by Dr. Lukas Kunz, Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, and Professor Nikolai Axmacher, Head of the Department of Neuropsychology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, published their findings on 3 July 2019.

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24.05.2019 How single neurons and brain networks support spatial navigation

Both individual nerve cells and large neuronal assemblies appear to be relevant for spatial navigation. But what’s the relationship between both?

Various theories on this topic were put forward by an international team in the journal “Trends in Cognitive Sciences” from 24 May 2019. The review article was jointly authored by Dr. Lukas Kunz from the University Medical Center in Freiburg, Professor Liang Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and Professor Nikolai Axmacher from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, together with colleagues from Columbia University in New York.

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30.04.2019 Alzheimer’s in mini brains

The causes of the disease are for the most part obscure. Researchers intend to expose them using cerebral organoids grown from stem cells.

In the majority of cases, dementia can be traced back to Alzheimer’s disease. Its causes are not really understood yet. What is known is that plaques form from misfolded proteins and that there is an increase in neuronal cell death levels in the brain. However, the plaques don’t necessarily go hand in hand with any symptoms. Dr. Thorsten Müller, Head of the research group Cell Signalling at the Chair of Molecular Biochemistry at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), suspects other deposits to cause the disease, namely ones that form in the nuclei. He intends to verify this hypothesis using tissue that resembles that of the brain. Rubin, the RUB’s science magazine, published a report on his research.

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25.04.2019 How the olfactory brain affects memory

Foto Christine Strauch

Nothing immediately evokes memories like odours. Two neuroscientists have examined why olfaction plays a special role in memory.

How sensory perception in the brain affects learning and memory processes is far from fully understood. Two neuroscientists of Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have discovered a new aspect of how the processing of odours impacts memory centres. They showed that the piriform cortex – a part of the olfactory brain – has a direct influence on information storage in our most important memory structure, the hippocampus. Dr. Christina Strauch and Professor Denise Manahan-Vaughan report about their findings in the online edition of the magazine Cerebral Cortex on 9 April 2019.

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25.04.2019 How cortisol affects exposure therapy for anxiety disorders

When the fear of spiders or heights gets so extreme that it interferes with everyday life, it often makes sense to undergo behavioural therapy. The approach works quite well, and it could become even more efficient.

Bochum-based psychologists have studied how the application of the stress hormone cortisol affects exposure therapy for anxiety disorders. The researchers knew from earlier studies that extinction learning, which constitutes the foundation of exposure therapy, can be reinforced by administering cortisol. However, the team headed by Professor Armin Zlomuzica at Zentrum für Psychotherapie (psychotherapy centre) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) has demonstrated with a group of arachnophobics that an application of cortisol after exposure is not beneficial for the patients. The report was published in Rubin, the RUB’s science magazine.

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16.04.2019 How jackdaws remember what they did where and when

Dohlen

Time and patience are crucial in order to work with the eccentric corvids. Still, they are among the most intelligent birds in the avian kingdom.

Corvids are capable of cognitive feats that almost resemble those of humans. Neuroscientists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) intend to find out how their brain manages to fulfil such complex tasks – although its structure is completely different than that of the human brain. For a year, the researchers have been training two jackdaws in a complex behavioural experiment, where the birds learn to remember what they did where and when. The underlying processes in the brain are to be determined through subsequent neurophysiological analyses. An article on the research conducted by the work group Avian Cognitive Neuroscience, headed by Dr. Jonas Rose, has been published in the RUB’s science magazine Rubin.

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12.04.2019 Career platform for female neuroscientists launched at RUB

Logo Neuronexxt

The network aims to raise the international visibility and facilitates networking with female researchers.

At RUB, a new worldwide network for female researchers in neuroscience has been launched. The digital platform “Neuronexxt – Network for Women in Neuroscience” aims to raise the visibility of women in this research area and shall provide a tool to find female experts for neuroscientific topics.

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02.04.2019 Bevacizumab may cause cognitive impairment

Brain tumour treatment with Bevacizumab may affect the function of the hippocampus.

Glioblastoma is the most common kind of brain tumour in adults. It is a very aggressive form of cancer; patients with this diagnosis have a median post-diagnosis survival of 15 months. Especially in the US, the drug Bevacizumab is used to treat glioblastomas. The drug is not chemotherapy in the classical sense, but involves therapy with an antibody that is designed to stop cancer growth. Evidence from a large-scale therapy study indicates that glioblastoma patients treated with Bevacizumab may develop cognitive impairment. A team of scientists from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) therefore investigated how Bevacizumab affects brain cells. The researchers describe their results in the journal "Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience" published online on 26 March 2019.

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27.03.2019 How nerve cells control misfolded proteins

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s or Parkinson’s disease are associated with misfolded and aggregated proteins. Researchers have discovered a new mechanism used by cells to protect themselves.

Researchers have identified a protein complex that marks misfolded proteins, stops them from interacting with other proteins in the cell and directs them towards disposal. In collaboration with the neurology department at the Ruhr-Ubiversität’s St. Josef-Hospital as well as colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, an interdisciplinary team under the auspices of Professor Konstanze Winklhofer at Ruhr-Universität Bochum has identified the so-called Linear Ubiquitin Chain Assembly Complex, Lubac for short, as a crucial player in controlling misfolded proteins in cells.

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14.02.2019 Controlling and visualising receptor signals in neural cells

This new tool is a true two-in-one solution. In future, it might help to study a number of diseases.

Using a novel optogenetic tool, researchers have successfully controlled, reproduced and visualised serotonin receptor signals in neural cells. To this end, they modified a photosensitive membrane receptor in the eye, namely melanopsin. The team from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, headed by Dennis Eickelbeck and Professor Stefan Herlitze, described its project in the journal Nature Communications Biology on 14 February 2019.

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23.01.2019 A muscle protein promotes nerve healing

Damaged fibres in the brain or spinal cord usually don’t heal at all. Neuroscientists from Bochum have high hopes for new methods based on gene therapy.

Typically, damaged nerve fibres of the central nervous system (CNS) in the brain, the optic nerve and spinal cord don’t have the ability to regenerate. One of the pivotal reasons is that nerve fibres don’t produce any proteins that are necessary for their regeneration, or that they don’t produce enough of those proteins. The team at the Department for Cell Physiology headed by Professor Dietmar Fischer showed that, under certain conditions, a protein is formed in injured nerve cells of the CNS that had previously only been described in muscle cells. In experiments, the muscle LIM protein promoted the regeneration of damaged nerves. The research team published their article in the journal “Cell Reports” on 22 january 2019.

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16.01.2019 Neurofeedback controls learning success

Self-regulation of brain rhythms frees resources facilitating learning

Our brains filter the gigantic amounts of information that flow over us in a highly efficient way. Neuronal alpha oscillations in the range of 10 Hz are one of these. They reduce processing in a certain brain region a provide resources for upcoming information. Alpha oscillations can be easily influenced by neurofeedback training. A team from the Neural Plasticity Lab at the Institute of Neuroinformatics at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) and the Department of Neurology at the RUB Hospital Bergmannsheil has discovered that participants can self-regulate their learning success in a perceptual learning task by altering their alpha osciallations. They report on the work in the journal Nature Communications on 16 January 2019.

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16.01.2019 Klinische Neuropsychologie - Ambulanz und Weiterbildung aus einer Hand (in german)

Als einzige deutsche Hochschule bietet die Ruhr-Universität bei dieser Weiterbildung Theorie und Praxis unter einem Dach.

Die neuropsychologische Hochschulambulanz der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) ist von der Psychotherapeutenkammer NRW ab Januar 2019 auch als Weiterbildungsstätte für alle theoretischen Grundlagen anerkannt worden. Damit verbindet die RUB bei der Weiterbildung zum Neuropsychologen auf einzigartige Weise Theorie und Praxis in einem ganzheitlichen, kompakten Konzept.

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11.01.2019 Stiftungsprofessur für Riechforscher (in german)

Hanns Hatt an der Mainzer Universität. Dort erklärt der Bochumer Riechforscher im Sommersemester 2019, wie der Geruchssinn funktioniert.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. habil. Hanns Hatt vom RUB-Lehrstuhl für Zellphysiologie besetzt im Sommersemester 2019 die Stiftungsprofessur der Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. Er will dort einem breiten Publikum das Thema „Die Macht der Düfte: Alles über das Riechen und wie es unser Leben bestimmt“ vermitteln.

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Press releases 2018

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19.12.2018 Das therapeutische Potenzial von Duftrezeptoren (in German)

Duftrezeptoren kommen in allen Geweben des Körpers vor und können dabei unterschiedliche Signalwege aktivieren. Das löst viele verschiedene Wirkungen in den Zellen aus.

Zellwachstum, Hormonregulation und das Freisetzen von Botenstoffen sind nur drei von vielen Prozessen, die Riechrezeptoren im Körper kontrollieren. Wie es ihnen gelingt, in so vielfältige Funktionen des Körpers einzugreifen, beschreibt ein Übersichtsartikel in der Zeitschrift „Nature Reviews Drug Discovery“. Der Duftforscher Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. habil. Hanns Hatt, Ruhr-Univesität Bochum, veröffentlichte ihn gemeinsam mit Dr. Sung-Joon Lee, Korea University, und Prof. Dr. Inge Depoortere, Catholic University of Leuven, am 30. November 2018.

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19.12.2018 How the brain reacts to loss of vision

Going blind affects all senses, and disrupts memory ability.

If mice lose their vision immediately after birth due to a genetic defect, this has a considerable impact, both on the organisation of the cerebral cortex and on memory ability. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in a study published online in the journal “Cerebral Cortex” on 7 December 2018.

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17.12.2018 Neues Trainingskonzept gegen Demenz (in german)

Mit einer Kombination aus körperlichem und geistigem Training will das Projektteam kognitiven Beeinträchtigungen vorbeugen.

Eine Demenz ist nicht heilbar, es ist aber möglich, ihren Verlauf zu verlangsamen: An diesem Punkt setzt das neue Forschungsprojekt „go4cognition“ an, an dem Forscher des BG Klinikum Duisburg, der Ruhr-Universität Bochum und der Hamburger Fernhochschule beteiligt sind. Ein interdisziplinäres Team aus Spezialistinnen und Spezialisten verschiedener Institutionen – unter anderem Neuropsychologen, Sportwissenschaftler, Ärzte, Pflegewissenschaftler und Softwareentwickler – will darin ein System entwickeln, das die geistigen Fähigkeiten der Studienteilnehmer mit einer Demenz-Vorstufe verbessert oder zumindest auf dem aktuellen Niveau hält.

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13.12.2018 Förderung - Chorea Huntington (in german)

Förderung von Diagnostik, Therapie und Forschung

Das Katholische Klinikum Bochum, Universitätsklinikum der RUB, erhält eine Förderung über 5 Millionen Euro vom Land Nordrhein-Westfalen. Ziel ist, die Diagnostik, Therapie und Erforschung der Huntington-Erkrankung weiter zu verbessern.

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07.12.2018 Neue DFG-Forschungsgruppe - Szenarien der Vergangenheit (in german)

Wenn wir uns an etwas zu erinnern versuchen, rufen wir ein Szenario auf. Es wird erst konstruiert, während wir zurückdenken, meinen Forscher.

Hab ich die Kaffeemaschine zu Hause ausgeschaltet? Diese einfache Frage setzt in unserem Gehirn komplexe Prozesse in Gang, die dazu führen, dass wir ein Szenario konstruieren, in dem die Handlung vorkommt, an die wir uns zu erinnern versuchen. Solche Prozesse sind wenig erforscht, aber unverzichtbar für unseren Alltag. Ihnen auf die Spur zu kommen ist Ziel einer neuen Forschungsgruppe unter Leitung von Prof. Dr. Sen Cheng vom Institut für Neuroinformatik der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), die die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ab 1. Juli 2019 für drei Jahre fördert.

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04.12.2018 Glutamate receptor affects the development of brain cells after birth

It had been previously assumed that this protein is only relevant in adults. But this is not the case.

The researchers headed by Dr. Alexander Jack and Professor Petra Wahle from the Developmental Neurobiology research group published their findings in the journal Molecular Neurobiology on 12 November 2018.

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30.11.2018 Switch for the regeneration of nerve cell insulation

Disorders such as multiple sclerosis cause the insulation layer of neural pathways to degenerate. New findings might facilitate a novel approach for pharmacological therapy.

An international research team has discovered a mechanism that regulates the regeneration of the insulating layer of neurites. This insulation coating, also referred to as myelin sheath, is crucial for rapid signal transmission among cells. Damages to the myelin sheath, such as are caused by multiple sclerosis, can considerably inhibit the function of the nervous system. In the journal “Glia”, the team headed by Dr. Annika Ulc, Dr. Simon van Leeuwen and Professor Andreas Faissner from Ruhr-Universität Bochum describes their findings together with colleagues from Edinburgh, Münster and Hanover.

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23.11.2018 Malwettbewerb für Schüler und Schülerinnen (in German)

Wo sitzen eigentlich Stolz, Liebe und Wut?

Eine Ausstellung in der Universitätsbibliothek der RUB zeigt, wie Kinder sich ihre Gefühle vorstellen. Die Ausstellung basiert auf einem Malwettbewerb, ausgerichtet von der International Graduate School of Neuroscience und dem Sonderforschungsbereich 874 für Schülerinnen und Schüler der 3. und 4. Klasse an Bochumer Grundschulen. Das Thema lautete: „Gefühlsdetektive – Spurensuche im Kopf: Wo sitzen eigentlich Stolz, Liebe und Wut?“.

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12.11.2018 Forschungspreis - Mit Stammzellen die Duchenne-Muskelerkrankung verstehen (in german)

Das Forschungsteam der RUB will die Grundlagen der Erbkrankheit untersuchen. Dafür bekommt es 50.000 Euro.

Patienten mit Duchenne-Muskeldystrophie leiden von Kindheit an unter Muskelschwäche und werden selten über 30 Jahre alt. Die Krankheit besser zu verstehen ist Ziel von Prof. Dr. Beate Brand-Saberi, Privatdozent Dr. Holm Zähres und Prof. Dr. Katrin Marcus. Dem Forschungsteam der RUB wurde am 10. November 2018 der mit 50.000 Euro dotierte Forschungspreis der Deutschen Duchenne-Stiftung verliehen.

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05.11.2018 The reasons for hemispheric dominance in the brain

The mechanisms are much more complex than hitherto assumed.

The left and the right hemispheres specialise in different tasks. However, it has not yet been fully understood how one hemisphere assumes dominance over the other when it comes to controlling specific functions. Biopsychologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum describe their latest findings in the journal Cell Reports, published online on 30 October 2018.

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29.10.2018 Why people have lateral preferences when kissing and hugging

Typically, a person initiates a hug with the right hand. Similar preferences are present in other forms of social touch. The question of right resp. left-handedness plays a role in the process. But there is more to it.

When touching others in a social context, for example kissing or hugging, people often have a lateral preference; they will, for example, tend to tilt their head to the right rather than to the left when kissing. There are many theories as to the causes. In a review article published in the journal “Neuroscience und Biobehavioral Reviews”, researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf and Victoria University of Wellington have compiled existing data, which they utilise to verify the theories. The article was published online in October 2018.

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25.10.2018 Biomarkers facilitate early detection of glaucoma

This eye disease often leads to blindness – which might be prevented by early intervention.

Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have identified new potential biomarkers that may facilitate early detection of glaucoma in patients. Moreover, they ascertained that the mutation of a certain gene in mice causes intraocular pressure elevation. This, in turn, is one of the main risk factors for glaucoma.

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17.10.2018 Zwei neue Forschungsprojekte zum Gedächtnis in Bochum (in german)

Die beiden Projekte wollen bislang unbekannte neuronale Grundlagen des Arbeitsgedächtnisses aufdecken und widersprüchliche Befunde zum Einfluss von Stress auf das Gedächtnis in Einklang bringen.

Mit dem Einfluss von Stress auf das Langzeitgedächtnis und mit den neuronalen Grundlagen des Arbeitsgedächtnisses beschäftigen sich zwei neue Forschungsprojekte am Institut für Kognitive Neurowissenschaft der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). Die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft und die Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research finanzieren sie im Rahmen des Förderprogramms „Open Research Area for the Social Sciences“. Insgesamt fließen rund eine Million Euro an die RUB.

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15.10.2018 Was im Gehirn passiert, wenn sich die Sinne schärfen (in german)

Übung macht den Meister – zum Beispiel, wenn es darum geht, feine Unterschiede sehen oder hören zu können. Das klappt aber nur, weil Nervenzellen Teamplayer sind.

Neue Erkenntnisse über das sogenannte perzeptuelle Lernen beschreibt die Gruppe aus Großbritannien, Deutschland, Italien und den USA in der renommierten Zeitschrift Nature Communications vom 12. Oktober 2018.

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12.10.2018 Oscillations provide insights into the brain’s navigation system

Brain oscillations that can be measured using depth electrodes provide insights into the human navigation system. The method may open up new approaches for early Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

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05.10.2018 How the brain learns during sleep

Sleep helps to consolidate memories. Researchers from Bochum and Bonn have investigated how exactly this works. Even things that we forget are not immediately gone.

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17.09.2018 Pflanzenwirkstoff beschleunigt Heilung verletzter Nerven (in German)

Trotz intensiver Forschung ist es in den vergangenen 30 Jahren nicht gelungen, die Behandlung von Nervenverletzungen wesentlich zu verbessern. Das könnte sich jetzt ändern.

Schäden an Nerven heilen sehr langsam oder gar nicht, oft bleiben dauerhafte Lähmungen zurück. Bisher gibt es kein wirksames Medikament, das die Heilung verbessert oder beschleunigt. Neurobiologen der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) um den neu auf den Lehrstuhl für Zellphysiologie berufenen Prof. Dr. Dietmar Fischer haben jetzt eine mögliche Wirkstoffklasse ausgemacht: Bei Mäusen und Ratten konnten sie zum ersten Mal zeigen, dass ein Wirkstoff aus dem Mutterkraut nach einer Verletzung des Ischiasnervs die Nervenfunktion deutlich verbessert. In einem neuen Projekt, das im Oktober 2018 startet, wollen sie untersuchen, ob die Substanz auch bei anderen Verletzungsarten oder Nervenschmerzen wirksam ist. Das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) fördert das Vorhaben mit rund 1,25 Millionen Euro für zunächst drei Jahre. Ziel ist es, ein Medikament zu entwickeln.

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07.09.2018 This is how the brain forgets on purpose

Two brain regions apparently play a pivotal role in forgetting.

Researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the University Hospital of Gießen and Marburg, in collaboration with colleagues from Bonn, the Netherlands, and the UK, have analysed what happens in the brain when humans want to voluntarily forget something. They identified two areas of the brain – the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus – whose activity patterns are characteristic for the process of forgetting. They measured the brain activity in epilepsy patients who had electrodes implanted in the brain for the purpose of surgical planning. The team headed by Carina Oehrn and Professor Nikolai Axmacher outlines the results in the journal Current Biology, published online on 6 September 2018.

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04.09.2018 Hanns Hatt bleibt Präsident der Union der Akademien (in German)

Der RUB-Biologe Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. habil. Hanns Hatt hat am 1. September 2018 seine zweite Amtszeit als Präsident der Union der deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften angetreten. Er wurde im April im Amt bestätigt und hat es für die kommenden drei Jahre inne. Eine erneute Wiederwahl ist nicht möglich.

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04.09.2018 Suppressed memories in severely traumatised refugees

Heavily traumatised people such as refugees fleeing war, torture and natural catastrophes may not necessarily develop posttraumatic stress disorder, a new study reveals.

Researchers worked with a group of refugees – half suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the others not – and asked them to suppress neutral memories. Results showed that participants who struggled to control these thoughts were more likely to show symptoms of PTSD. The research raises the question of whether the ability to control memories protects against developing PTSD or if the condition causes an impairment in an individual’s ability to control their memories?

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29.08.2018 Brain Day - Hirnforschung zum Anfassen (in German)

Milliarden Nervenzellen arbeiten in unseren Köpfen auf Hochtouren. Wie sie dabei unser Leben beeinflussen, erklären Neurowissenschaftler einmal im Jahr der breiten Öffentlichkeit.

Die Hirnforscher der RUB laden zum Brain Day ein. Am 19. September 2018 dreht sich alles um aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse aus den Neurowissenschaften. Zwischen 13 und 17 Uhr erwarten die Gäste im Veranstaltungszentrum der RUB Vorträge, Präsentationen und Mitmach-Aktionen rund um die neuesten Themen aus der Hirnforschung.

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29.08.2018 Wie sich das Gehirn von Huftieren entwickelt (in German)

Meist wird die Hirnentwicklung an Nagetieren untersucht. Von diesen kann man aber nicht einfach auf alle Säugetiere schließen.

Huftiere müssen sofort nach ihrer Geburt mit ihren Herden ziehen und kommen daher mit nahezu komplett ausgereifter Wahrnehmung und Motorik auf die Welt. Über ihre Gehirnentwicklung ist bislang wenig bekannt. Denn diese ist überwiegend an unreif geborenen Spezies, beispielsweise Nagetieren, erforscht worden. Neue Einblicke in die Entwicklung des zentralen Nervensystems bei Huftieren hat ein Team der Ruhr-Universität Bochum um Laura Ernst und Prof. Dr. Petra Wahle aus der Arbeitsgruppe Entwicklungsneurobiologie gemeinsam mit Kollegen aus Heidelberg und Spanien sowie vom Regionalverband Ruhr Grün gewonnen. Die Ergebnisse sind in der Zeitschrift „Brain Structure and Function“ vom 9. August 2018 beschrieben.

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24.08.2018 Wie sich das Gehirn nach einem Schlaganfall repariert (in German)

Mit einer neuen Mikroskopietechnik haben die Forscher erstmals Veränderungen einer bestimmten Struktur in der Umgebung der Nervenzellen sichtbar gemacht.

Wie sich die Hirnstruktur verändert, wenn sich das Gehirn nach einem Schlaganfall wieder regeneriert, haben Wissenschaftler der Universität Duisburg-Essen (UDE) und der RUB untersucht. Mit neuartiger Mikroskopietechnik beobachteten sie die Netze, die die Nervenzellen umschließen. Das Team von der Medizinischen Fakultät der UDE und vom RUB-Lehrstuhl für Zellmorphologie und Molekulare Neurobiologie beschreibt die Ergebnisse im Journal of Matrix Biology, online veröffentlicht am 6. August 2018.

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21.08.2018 How brains of doers differ from those of procrastinators

Procrastination is the thief of time. Not everyone finds this fact deterring. Two different brain areas might be the reason for this.

Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have analysed why certain people tend to put tasks off rather than tackling them directly. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they identified two brain areas whose volume and functional connectivity are linked to an individual’s ability to control their actions. The research team headed by Caroline Schlüter, Dr. Marlies Pinnow, Professor Onur Güntürkün, and Dr. Erhan Genç from the Department of Biopsychology published the results in the journal Psychological Science on 17 August 2018.

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16.07.2018 Olfactory receptors have more functions than merely smell perception

Olfactory receptors can be found in all types of human tissue, and they may become of great interest in the field of medical science.

Numerous studies to date have shown that olfactory receptors are relevant not only for smell perception, but that they also play a significant physiological and pathophysiological role in all organs. An overview of receptors detected so far and of the functions they fulfil within the human body is provided by Prof Dr Dr Dr habil. Hanns Hatt and Dr Désirée Maßberg from the Department for Cellphysiology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, published in the journal Physiological Reviews; online preview available on June 13, 2018.

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12.07.2018 Why the left hemisphere understands language better than the right

New imaging technologies facilitate insights into the microstructure of critical areas of the brain that had not been possible in the past.

Nerve cells in the brain region planum temporale have more synapses in the left hemisphere than in the right hemisphere – which is vital for rapid processing of auditory speech, according to the report published by researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Technische Universität Dresden in the journal “Science Advances”. There has already been ample evidence of left hemisphere language dominance; however, the underlying processes on the neuroanatomical level had not yet been fully understood.

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14.06.2018 Proteinsequenz fördert Verzweigung von Nervenzellen (in German)

Dieses Molekül könnte helfen, Zellersatztherapien zu entwickeln.

Das Gehirn ist besonders sensibel gegenüber Erkrankungen und Verletzungen, daher bemüht sich die regenerative Medizin um Therapien für den Ersatz von Nervenzellen. Forscher der RUB und der Technischen Universität Dortmund fanden nun heraus, dass eine kurze Sequenz des Proteins Tenascin-C Nervenzellen dazu anregen kann, neue Verzweigungen zu bilden. Sie beobachteten die Effekte, nachdem sie das Eiweißmolekül zu kultivierten Maus-Nervenzellen hinzugegeben hatten. Das Team identifizierte auch einen möglichen Signalweg, der die verzweigungsfördernde Wirkung des Peptids erklären könnte.

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08.06.2018 Virtual brain gives insights into memory deficits in depression

The consequences of long-lasting depressive episodes could be more far reaching than previously thought.

During a depressive episode the ability of the brain to form new brain cells is reduced. Scientists of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum examined how this affects the memory with a computational model. It was previously known that people in an acute depressive episode were less likely to remember current events. The computational model however suggests that older memories were affected as well. How long the memory deficits reach back depends on how long the depressive episode lasts. The team around the computational neuroscientist Prof Dr Sen Cheng published their findings in the journal Plos One on 7th June 2018.

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05.06.2018 Effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation on the brain

The procedure facilitates reorganisation of connections between neurones which could be useful for therapies.

Researchers of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have gained new insights on the question of how transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) effects functional interconnectivity of neurones. For visualisation, they employed fluorescent dyes which provide information on the activity of neurones by light. Using this technique, they showed in an animal model that TMS predisposes neuronal connections in the visual cortex of the brain for processes of reorganisation.

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18.05.2018 Sonderforschungsbereich 874 wird weiter gefördert (in German)

Drei Sonderforschungsbereiche gehen in die dritte Förderphase - Plasmaforscher, Tunnelbauexperten und Neurowissenschaftler freuen sich.

Die Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) freut sich dreifach: Die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft hat beschlossen, drei Sonderforschungsbereiche für ihre jeweils dritte und letzte Förderperiode weiter zu finanzieren. Die Verbünde drehen sich um die Nutzung von Hochleistungsplasmen, maschinellen Tunnelbau und die Verarbeitung von Sinneseindrücken im Gehirn. Somit waren alle Anträge der RUB erfolgreich. Außerdem wurde ein neuer Sonderforschungsbereich/Transregio zum Thema Oxidkatalyse an den Universitäten Bochum und Duisburg-Essen bewilligt.

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17.05.2018 Smarter brains run on sparsely connected neurons

These findings sound paradoxical at first glance, but they do reconcile previously conflicting results.

The more intelligent a person, the fewer connections there are between the neurons in his cerebral cortex. This is the result of a study conducted by neuroscientists working with Dr Erhan Genç and Christoph Fraenz at Ruhr-Universität Bochum; the study was performed using a specific neuroimaging technique that provides insights into the wiring of the brain on a microstructural level.

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09.05.2018 Stress helps unlearn fear

New findings on extinction learning may prove useful for therapies.

Stress can have a positive effect on extinction learning, which causes previously learned associations to dissolve. According to the findings of cognitive psychologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, stress causes extinction learning to occur independent of context. This might prove useful for example in therapies for anxiety disorders. Dr Shira Meir Drexler, Prof Dr Oliver Wolf, and assistant professor Dr Christian Merz from the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience in Bochum outline their findings in the journal Behavior Therapy.

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03.05.2018 Biopsychology - Crocodiles Listen to Classical Music in MRI Scanner

Imaging technology has been successfully deployed to record activities of a reptilian brain for the first time.

What happens in a crocodile’s brain when it hears complex sounds? An international research team headed by Dr Felix Ströckens from the Department of Biopsychology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) has provided the answer to this question. In a first, the researchers examined a cold-blooded reptile using functional MRI. They were thus able to determine that complex stimuli triggered activation patterns in the crocodile’s brain that are similar to those in birds and mammals – a deep insight into evolution. The results were published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” on April 25, 2018.

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02.05.2018 Was Schnurrhaare so empfindlich macht (in German)

Entscheidend sind nicht die Tasthaare selbst, sondern etwas anderes.

Eine bestimmte Art von Nervenzellen in der sechsschichtigen Großhirnrinde verleiht Schnurrhaaren von Tieren ihre besondere Empfindlichkeit. RUB-Forscher zeigten bei Mäusen, dass das Zusammenspiel von Zellen in der sechsten Schicht des Kortex mit einer anderen Hirnregion, dem Thalamus, entscheidend dafür ist, dass Nager ihre Umgebung mit den Tasthaaren so gut beurteilen können. François Pauzin und Prof. Dr. Patrik Krieger von der Abteilung Systemische Neurowissenschaften beschreiben die Arbeiten in der Fachzeitschrift Cell Reports vom 1. Mai 2018.

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26.04.2018 How chronic psychosis develops

A glutamate receptor may play an important role.

What happens at the molecular level in the brain, when a psychosis becomes chronic? This question has been investigated by neuroscientists of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. They were able to show that the neurotransmitter glutamate is involved in the development of the disease – so far, however, medication has been primarily directed against the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Prof Dr Denise Manahan-Vaughan and Dr Valentina Dubovyk from the Department of Neurophysiology have published the results of their animal model study in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience on 10 April 2018.

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04.04.2018 Lichtenberg-Professur (in german)

Wie Kinder die Welt sehen - Wir wissen noch erstaunlich wenig über die Entwicklung des kindlichen Gehirns. Sarah Weigelt geht dem auf den Grund.

Wie sehen Kinder die Welt? Um diese Frage kreist die Forschung von Prof. Dr. Sarah Weigelt. Die Volkswagenstiftung fördert ihre Arbeit mit einer Lichtenberg-Professur, die für eine Dauer von fünf Jahren mit knapp 1,4 Millionen Euro dotiert ist.

An der Fakultät für Psychologie besetzt Weigelt eine Professur für Entwicklungsneuropsychologie mit dem Projekttitel „Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience: The developing visual brain“.

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23.03.2018 Roboterarm mit dem Gehirn bewegen (in German)

In der virtuellen Welt untersuchen Forscher die Grundlagen für die Mensch-Maschine-Zusammenarbeit.

Für Patienten, die nach einem Unfall oder einer Erkrankung halsabwärts gelähmt sind, wäre es ein ungeheurer Gewinn an Eigenständigkeit: ein Roboterarm, der sich steuern lässt wie ein eigenes Körperteil. Die Emmy-Noether-Nachwuchsforschergruppe von Dr. Christian Klaes arbeitet daran, diesen Traum wahr zu machen.

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08.03.2018 How the brain might compensate stress during learning

Friend or foe, chequered or striped – the brain divides everything around us in categories. How the brain manages this task under pressure.

When people have to assess a situation within seconds, it helps them to draw on learned categories. Psychologists from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum examined with the help of electroencephalography (EEG) how well category-learning works in a stressful episode. They published their research on a mechanism, the brain may compensate stress with, in the “Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience”.

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08.03.2018 Wenn Maschinen Menschen überflügeln (in german)

Möchten wir Maschinen haben, die intelligenter sind als wir?

Neuroinformatik möchte einerseits das menschliche Gehirn verstehen, andererseits Algorithmen entwickeln, die menschliche geistige Fähigkeiten nachbilden oder gar übertreffen. Die jüngsten Erfolge des Maschinellen Lernens zeigen, dass es zunehmend gelingt, den Menschen zu überflügeln, zum Beispiel bei dem Spiel „Go“, bei bestimmten Computerspielen oder der Erkennung von Objekten in Fotos.

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05.03.2018 Wenn Zebrafinken Liebeslieder hören (in German)

Was im Gehirn von Zebrafinken bei der Wahl des Paarungspartners passiert.

Ob ein Zebrafinken-Weibchen ein Männchen als Paarungspartner wählt, hängt ganz vom Balzgesang des Männchens ab. Welche Gehirnregionen entscheiden, ob das Liebesgezwitscher zur Wahl des Partners führt, haben Forscher der Universiteit Antwerpen, der McGill University in Montreal und der Ruhr-Universität Bochum untersucht. Sie analysierten die Hirnaktivität der Vögel mit funktioneller Kernspintomografie und identifizierten eine entscheidende Region, die wie ein Knotenpunkt fungiert.

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21.02.2018 Zwei rivalisierende Theorien in einem Modell vereint (in German)

Computermodelle helfen, das Gedächtnis zu verstehen.

Schon lange diskutieren Hirnforscher darüber, ob ein bestimmter Teil des menschlichen Gedächtnisses aus zwei getrennten Systemen besteht oder nicht. Ein neues Computermodell von Bochumer Neuroinformatikern zeigt auf, wie die gegensätzlichen Theorien zusammengeführt werden könnten. Das Team um Prof. Dr. Sen Cheng und Dr. Jing Fang stellt die Ergebnisse im Fachmagazin „Neural Computation“ vor.

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24.01.2018 Feelings determine from which side we embrace each other

Why male hugs are the exception.

In emotionally charged situations, we tend to hug each other from the left side more often than in neutral contexts. Biopsychologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), headed by Julian Packheiser, Noemi Rook and assistant professor Dr Sebastian Ocklenburg, established this fact by evaluating more than 2,500 hugs.

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22.01.2018 Umfangreiche Richtlinien für Multiple-Sklerose-Therapie veröffentlicht (in German)

Seit 1993 kommen immer wieder neue Medikamente gegen die Krankheit auf den Markt. Sie alle sind mit Chancen und Risiken verbunden. Ein Überblick fehlte bislang.

Für die medikamentöse Behandlung der Multiplen Sklerose (MS) hat ein internationales Team 20 Richtlinien zusammengestellt. Sie machen Chancen und Risiken, mit denen diese Substanzen verbunden sind, transparent und sollen Betroffene so dabei unterstützen, die passende Arznei für den jeweiligen Fall auszuwählen.

Die Richtlinien erarbeiteten 27 Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler um Prof. Dr. Xavier Montalban von der Universitätsklinik Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona und Prof. Dr. Ralf Gold vom Bochumer Universitätsklinikum St. Josef-Hospital. Sie sind in den Fachzeitschriften „Multiple Sclerosis Journal“ und „European Journal of Neurology“ erschienen.

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Press releases 2017

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20.12.2017 Antidepressant may help combat the course of multiple sclerosis

Researchers have tested the treatment efficacy of a well-known drug for an entirely different disease.

The antidepressant clomipramine may also alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), specifically in its progressive form, i.e. when it occurs without relapses or remissions. As yet, drugs for this type of MS have been virtually non-existent. Researchers collaborating with Prof V. Wee Yong, PhD, from the University of Calgary and Dr Simon Faissner from Ruhr-Universität Bochum screened 1,040 generic therapeutics and, based on preclinical studies, identified one that is suitable for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. They published their results in the journal “Nature Communications” from December 19, 2017.

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22.12.2017 How odours are turned into long-term memories

The scent of grandma’s Christmas biscuits or the cologne of your first love – some odours are like keys to a door into the past.

The neuroscientists Dr Christina Strauch and Prof Dr Denise Manahan-Vaughan from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have investigated which brain area is responsible for storing odours as long-term memories. Some odours can trigger memories of experiences from years back. The current study shows that the piriform cortex, a part of the olfactory brain, is involved in the process of saving those memories; the mechanism, however, only works in interaction with other brain areas. The findings have been published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

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22.11.2017 „Wir sollten unseren bisherigen Forschungsansatz überdenken“ (in German)

Ein Team von Hirnforschern blickt über die wissenschaftliche Routine hinaus – und fordert eine bessere Vernetzung in der eigenen Disziplin.

„Wenn wir verstehen wollen, wie das Zusammenspiel von Molekülen unser Verhalten prägt, müssen wir unseren bisherigen Forschungsansatz überdenken.“ So lautet das Fazit eines Übersichtsartikels, den ein Team von Hirnforschern in der Fachzeitschrift „The Neuroscientist“ veröffentlicht hat. Sie fordern einen ganzheitlicheren Ansatz in der Neurowissenschaft.

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29.09.2017 Gamers have an advantage in learning

Video games are apparently better than their reputation.

Neuropsychologists of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum let video gamers compete against non-gamers in a learning competition. During the test, the video gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas that are relevant for learning. Prof Dr Boris Suchan, Sabrina Schenk and Robert Lech report their findings in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

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26.09.2017 Pigeons better at multitasking than humans

Unlike hitherto assumed, cognitive ability does not necessary require a complex mammalian cerebral cortex. A small bird brain is fully sufficient.

Pigeons are capable of switching between two tasks as quickly as humans – and even more quickly in certain situations. These are the findings of biopsychologists who had performed the same behavioural experiments to test birds and humans. The authors hypothesize that the cause of the slight multitasking advantage in birds is their higher neuronal density.

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07.09.2017 Ein Blick ins Gehirn (in German)

Es ist alles eine Frage der Nerven. Behaupten die Neurowissenschaftler. Und erklären es einmal im Jahr der Öffentlichkeit.

Die Hirnforscher der RUB laden zum Brain Day ein. Am 13. September 2017 dreht sich alles um aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse aus den Neurowissenschaften. Zwischen 13 und 17 Uhr erwartet die Gäste im Veranstaltungszentrum der RUB ein buntes Programm unter anderem mit Vorträgen und Präsentationen.

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30.08.2017 Standardmethoden könnten Ergebnisse verfälschen (in German)

Hirnnervenzellen sind Sensibelchen. Nur auf natürliche Signale reagieren sie normal. Neurowissenschaftler müssen daher vielleicht umlernen.

Wenn Neurowissenschaftler Nervenzellen bei ihrer Arbeit untersuchen, nutzen sie normalerweise ein standardisiertes Verfahren, bei dem die Zellen mit künstlichen Aktionspotenzialmustern elektrisch stimuliert werden. Das ist möglicherweise ein Fehler, wie das Team von Prof. Dr. Patrik Krieger von der Abteilung für Systemische Neurowissenschaften in der Medizinischen Fakultät der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) feststellt. Die Forscher haben statt der künstlichen Aktionspotenzialmuster natürliche Erregungsmuster verwendet und damit andere Ergebnisse erzielt. Ihre Studie veröffentlichten sie in der Fachzeitschrift Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.

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24.08.2017 How the emotions of others influence our olfactory sense

Whether something smells good or bad, does not solely depend on one’s own nose.

The emotional facial expression of others influences how positive or negative we perceive an odour. The basis of this effect seems to be the activity of a brain area that is relevant for smelling and is activated even before we perceive an odour. This is what neuropsychologists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum found out. They published their findings in the Journal Scientific Reports.

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19.07.2017 Behandlung gegen Spinnenangst wirkt auch gegen andere Ängste (in German)

Wer sich seiner Angst vor Spinnen stellt, dem kann danach auch keine Schabe mehr was.

Spinnen machen vielen Menschen Angst, und wer Angst vor Spinnen hat, fürchtet sich oft auch vor anderen Tieren wie Ratten, Schlangen oder Schaben. Forscherinnen und Forscher der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) haben nun festgestellt, dass sich der Erfolg einer Behandlung gegen Spinnenangst auch auf andere zuvor furchteinflößende Tiere auswirkt: Personen, die ihre Angst vor Spinnen durch ein Konfrontationstraining reduziert hatten, fürchteten auch Schaben deutlich weniger. Das Team berichtet im Journal „Neuropsychopharmacology“.

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22.06.2017 For rodents, seeing is believing

Spatial cognition or visual sense – which one are rats more likely to use when they have to navigate an unfamiliar location?

It’s never easy to orientate oneself in a new place – that applies to rats as well. Researchers from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have examined how the brains of rats cope with the challenge. They wanted to find out whether rats rely most on what they see, or on their directional sense when navigating through space. The results of the study of neurophysiologist Prof Dr Denise Manahan-Vaughan, computational neuroscientist Prof Dr Laurenz Wiskott and their co-workers were recently published in "Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience”.

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12.05.2017 Der Duftstoff Hedion beeinflusst menschliches Verhalten (in German)

Ob Menschen – so wie Tiere – über Pheromone kommunizieren, ist umstritten. Eine Studie von Riech- und Verhaltensforschern der Universitäten Bern, Köln und Bochum könnte der Forschung neuen Antrieb geben.

Eine neue Studie legt nahe, dass der blumige Duftstoff Hedion menschliches Verhalten beeinflusst. In verhaltensökonomischen Laborstudien von Forschern der Universitäten Bern, Bochum und Köln verstärkte Hedion reziproke Verhaltensweisen nach dem Motto „Wie du mir, so ich dir“. Diese Ergebnisse sind auch deshalb von Bedeutung, da Hedion zuvor als erster Duft identifiziert wurde, der einen menschlichen Pheromonrezeptor (VN1R1) erregt. Dadurch wird eine Aktivierung einer Gehirnregion hervorgerufen, die an der Hormonsteuerung beteiligt ist, bei Frauen ist der Effekt sogar zehnmal stärker als bei Männern.

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20.04.2017 What fish and pigeons can teach us about handedness

Even though they don’t have any hands, they have something in common with humans.

Left-right differences in the brain are not unique to humans. This has been proved in studies with various species, for example with pigeons at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. In a review article published in the journal Neuron, biopsychologists Prof Dr Dr h. c. Onur Güntürkün and assistant professor Dr Sebastian Ocklenburg have compiled evidence that supports this claim and enables novel conclusions how asymmetries in humans originate.

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22.03.2017 New rare muscle disorder discovered

It took painstaking research by medical professionals from Bochum until the cause of this disease was discovered. Still, many questions pertaining to the underlying mechanisms have remained open.

A new rare muscle disorder has been identified by researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). This hereditary disease is caused by a defect in the BICD2 gene that manifests itself in altered cellular transport processes in skeletal muscle cells. Patients suffer from muscle weakness in the legs, an unsteady gait and permanent risk of stumbling. BICD2 had been known as a disease trigger, but only for disorders originating in the nervous system. A BICD2 syndrome that manifests itself in altered skeletal muscles had never before been described.

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15.03.2017 Cell environment changes are associated with certain eye diseases

Ischemic disorders of the retina are a frequent cause of blindness. The surrounding cellular protein scaffold might play a crucial role in this process.

In case of ischemic injury to the retina, changes occur in the protein scaffold in the environment of retinal cells, the so-called extracellular matrix. Various eye diseases, such as glaucoma, are associated with such ischemic events. Researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum describe how the extracellular matrix is affected by these processes in the journal “Scientific Reports”.

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03.03.2017 Wenn verschiedene Gehirne sprechen (in german)

Mühelos erzeugt das Gehirn gesprochene Worte. Die zugrunde liegende Hirnaktivität sieht aber bei jedem Menschen etwas anders aus. Warum?

Kein Gehirn ist wie das andere. Bei manchen Menschen ist es ein bisschen größer oder ein bisschen schwerer als bei anderen, manche haben mehr graue, andere mehr weiße Substanz. In wissenschaftlichen Studien werfen Hirnforscher am Ende der Datenerhebung üblicherweise alle Gehirne in einen Topf und bilden einen Mittelwert. Nicht so Patrick Friedrich. Der Doktorand in der Arbeitseinheit für Biopsychologie interessiert sich für die Unterschiede zwischen den Gehirnen verschiedener Personen. Aber nicht nur auf anatomischer Ebene. Mit der funktionellen Kernspintomografie erfasst er auch Unterschiede in der Hirnaktivität.

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23.02.2017 Symposium - Roboter in der Medizin (in german)

Hilfsmittel mit den Gedanken steuern oder trotz Querschnittslähmung wieder gehen: keine Zukunftsmusik, sondern Realität.

Was Robotertechnologien in der medizinischen Therapie leisten können, hat ein außergewöhnliches Symposium am Berufsgenossenschaftlichen Universitätsklinikum Bergmannsheil gezeigt. International renommierte Experten und Wissenschaftler stellten am 21. Februar 2017 modernste robotergestützte Verfahren vor, die schon heute in der Behandlung von querschnittsgelähmten Patienten spektakuläre Erfolge erzielen.

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17.02.2017 The reasons for our left or right-handedness

Unlike hitherto assumed, the cause is not to be found in the brain.

It is not the brain that determines if people are right or left-handed, but the spinal cord. This has been inferred from the research results compiled by a team headed by private lecturer Dr Sebastian Ocklenburg, Judith Schmitz, and Prof Dr H. C. Onur Güntürkün. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and from South Africa, the biopsychologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have demonstrated that gene activity in the spinal cord is asymmetrical already in the womb. A preference for the left or the right hand might be traced back to that asymmetry.

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17.01.2017 Researchers discover severe side effects of approved medication

The therapeutic antibody alemtuzumab is used for multiple sclerosis patients with active disease. It can apparently worsen the illness in some cases.

The multiple sclerosis (MS) therapy alemtuzumab can trigger severe, unpredictable side effects. This was the finding by a team led by Prof Dr Aiden Haghikia and Prof Dr Ralf Gold from the Department of Neurology of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum at St. Josef’s Hospital. In the journal Lancet Neurology, the scientists report on two patients for whom the infusion of alemtuzumab significantly worsened symptoms. The team also describes a treatment that successfully curbed the harmful side effects.

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11.01.2017 Our senses can’t learn under stress

Stress is part of our everyday lives – while some thrive on it, it makes others sick. But what does stress do to our senses?

When we train them, we can sharpen our senses thereby improve our perceptual performance. The stress hormone cortisol completely blocks this important ability. In the current issue of “Psychoneuroendocrinology” neuroscientists of the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) report on this finding.

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