THEMATIC AREA A

THEMATIC AREA A: MULTI-SITE COMMUNICATION AS A BASIS OF COGNITION

Projects in thematic area A investigate multi-site interactions in the nervous system subserving visual, auditory, tactile and pain perception, multisensory and sensorimotor integration, attention, as well as emotion and reward processing. Project A1 aims at modelling the large scale dynamics in the ferret and the human brain, based on data from the respective experimental projects. Projects A2 and A3 address multisensory interactions with a focus on visual-auditory and visual-tactile integration, using complementary approaches in animal and human studies. Projects A4, A5 and A6 have a common focus on multi-site interactions in pain perception, focussing on modulation of pain processing by attentional and contextual factors (A4), at network mechanisms of sensitisation and habituation (A5) and at the effects of contextual manipulation of anxiety and reward value (A6).
Project A1: Intrinsic and modulated dynamics in complex brain networks
Prof. Dr. Claus Hilgetag
Dept. of Computational Neuroscience, UKE

The goal of this theoretical project is to understand the dynamics of complex, large-scale brain networks on the basis of their structural topology. To that end, we advance a combined approach of connectivity databasing, graph-theoretical analyses of neural connectivity and computational modeling of neural network dynamics. In particular, we investigate brain dynamics that are altered by lesions, focal stimulation, or other kinds of neural modulation. Modeling is carried out for large-scale generic neural networks, the animal model of the ferret brain, as well as extensive connectivity data available in the SFB for the healthy and impaired human brain.
Project A2: Modulation of assembly dynamics in the ferret
Prof. Dr. Andreas Engel
Dept. of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, UKE  

This project aims at the modulation of multisensory networks by using electrical epicortical stimulation in the ferret. In the first funding period, we have investigated cortico-cortical as well as cortico-subcortical interactions using combinations of electrocorticographic and laminar probe recordings. These networks will now be modulated using electrical stimulation through an electrocorticographic grid. We will aim at demonstrating effects of electrical entrainment in both acute and chronically implanted ferrets. By manipulation of network dynamics we aim at testing the functional role of oscillations and functional connectivity and the relevance of different types of functional coupling. Furthermore, we will model the observed effects of electrical stimulation on assembly dynamics.
Project A3: Modulation of human multisensory networks by tACS 
Prof. Dr. Andreas Engel
Dept. of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, UKE
Prof. Dr. Peter König
Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrück  

This project aims at modulation of visuotactile multi-site interactions using transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) in combination with EEG recordings. tACS provides a promising approach for entrainment of cortical oscillations and modulation of frequency-specific coupling across cortical assemblies. Therefore, this approach has potential for probing the causal relevance of oscillatory coupling in perceptual and cognitive processes. The planned experiments will build on studies of multisensory networks carried out in the first SFB funding phase. We will aim at modulating resting and task-related functional connectivity in both intra- and interhemispheric networks in order to test hypotheses on the role of oscillations and functional connectivity. Modulation effects will be modeled in cooperation with other SFB projects.
Project A5: Characterizing and modulating cortico-pontine networks in headache and facial pain
Prof. Dr. Arne May
Dept. of Systems Neuroscience, UKE

The goal of this project is to investigate nociceptive processing focusing on the hierarchical role and structure of brainstem networks in the physiological and pathophysiological state, i.e., in different headache and facial pain syndromes as well as between the ictal and interictal state. Using pharmacological intervention (unspecific pain medication and headache-specific medication) we will modulate these hierarchical network patterns of nociceptive brainstem nuclei and eventually combine simultaneous brainstem fMRI and cortical EEG recordings to characterize cortico-pontine networks in pain transmission and control.
Project A6: Spino-cortical interactions underlying pain and pain modulation
Prof. Dr. Christian Büchel
Dept. of Systems Neuroscience, UKE

Previous studies have unequivocally demonstrated the power of the antinociceptive system in endogenously controlling pain. This system comprises interacting regions such as the rostral ventromedial medulla, the periaqueductal grey, the insula, and anterior cingulate cortex. The emphasis of the current project is on modulating this antinociceptive network pharmacologically in humans. In the first part of the project we will modulate this network using opioid analgesics (remifentanil) in an open-hidden paradigm. In the second part we will investigate a form of temporal contrast analgesia named „offset analgesia“.
Project A7: Manipulating adaptive evidence accumulation in cortical decision networks
Prof. Dr. Tobias Donner
Dept. of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, UKE

The slow accumulation of evidence about the state of the outside world is a key process in decision-making. Recent observations indicate that this process emerges from flexible interactions within networks of association cortex, critically depends on NMDA-receptors on recurrent synapses, and is adaptively shaped by neuromodulatory brainstem systems. We will test these hypotheses in the human brain. To this end, we will combine selective pharmacological interventions, MEG recordings of cortical network dynamics, and model-based data analyses.
Share by: