Translational Developmental Neuroscience Lab

In our lab, we apply new methods and knowledge from various scientific fields such as molecular biology, endocrinology, experimental psychology and magnetic resonance (MR) physics to study young patients with mental health problems. We believe that understanding the underlying principles of human development and the neural mechanisms associated with psychiatric disorders will help to develop new preventive and therapeutic interventions. Our research interests can be grouped into two main fields of interest:
Within the research field of eating disorders, our research group focusses on experiments concerning the interplay between neuronal circuits, the serotonin system and the changing endocrinological situation of patients with anorexia nervosa (AN; especially in the underweight condition). In order to tease apart effects which are secondary to malnutrition (and hypoleptinaemia) and stable traits that may be linked to the predisposition for AN all our studies include patients with acute AN and weight-recovered AN patients.

With regard to Schizophrenia, our group uses clinical, neurophysiological, genome-wide SNP, DNA methylation and multi-modal imaging data from large-scale multicenter studies on schizophrenia to test new concepts of data reduction and multivariate data analysis. We aim to identify associations between heritable risk-factors and biomarkers of Schizophrenia.

Furthermore, within the field of Autism spectrum disorders, we are currently using fMRI to investigate the neural underpinnings of deficits in social and reward processing in HFA adults.