"I am very enthusiastic about the future of neuroscience in Magdeburg..." declared Saxony Anhalt Minister President Dr. Reiner Haseloff at his May 2011 inauguration. The Minister thereby paid an important tribute to, and provided an assurance of support for, a field of research that has been a defining priority of the Magdeburg Medical Academy since its founding in 1954.
At Magdeburg, the Departments of Neurology and Stereotaxy collaborate with regional and national research organizations such as the Center for Advanced Imaging (CAI) and the Center for Behavioral and Brain Sciences (CBBS). These associations are expected to contribute in important ways to the future of the neurosciences in Magdeburg. Interdisciplinary collaborations between research projects employing a molecular biological approach and research projects employing humans and animals could elevate Magdeburg to the stature of a center of excellence of renown.
The Center for Advanced Imaging is a center of excellence jointly formed by the University of Magdeburg Department of Neurology (the coordinating institution), the Center for Neuroscience (ZeN), and the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study Delmenhorst. The CAI has extensive laboratory imaging facilities. These include magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy systems for carrying out functional studies in humans and in animals (1.5 T, 3x 3T, 7T) as well as in tissue (2x4.7 T, 2x8.4T, 14.1T). It also has a whole-head MEG device with integrated EEG (248/96 channels). The scientific focus of the CAI is the investigation of the mechanisms that control higher brain functions in three areas: visual and auditory perceptual and selection processes, memory, and executive control and decision making.
The Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences (CBBS), which was established in 2007, is a network designed to take better advantage of synergies in a diverse research landscape. CBBS is an interdepartmental research structure, to which the Department of Neurology belongs. Three German-funded collaborative research centers, as well as a graduate school, are now also functioning parts of this network. Other partners include the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, the Faculty for Natural Science, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (IFF), the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems (MPI), and smaller companies and start-ups that operate within the university environment.
In addition to the study of memory and learning, the CBBS addresses neuroscientific and technical developments in the area of Neuroprosthetics. The aim of this division of the CBBS is to develop systems that can compensate for or replace lost sensory of motor functions when the losses originate from neural causes. A working group is the neurobiological mechanisms that that produce these impairments. Investigations are addressing questions related to the specification of relevant brain areas and the manner and order in which these areas operate.
Along with their regional and national partnerships, the Magdeburg Departments of Neurology and Stereotactic Neurosurgery maintain numerous international research collaborations. Collaborating groups include:
• The Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (ICN), University College London UK (Prof. Jon Driver). This project investigates multimodal (auditory-visual) attention processes using fMRI and EEG/MEG.
• The Functional Imaging Lab (FIL), University College London UK (Prof. R.J. Dolan). Prof. Emrah Düzel of our Department has his own working group at the FIL. He carries out fMRI experiments together with his colleagues in London and acquires data to analyze interactions between emotion, memory and reward with regard to dopaminergic brain structures.
• The Center for Neuroscience, UCSD/California (Professor Steven Hillyard), who holds the Leibniz Chair at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Magdeburg). Object based spatial attention processes are analyzed in healthy adults and in patients.
More on this topic can be found on the national and international collaborations page.
A milestone of paramount importance was the launching of the Magdeburg DZNE in 2009. This is one of eight nationwide Helmholtz research centers in the area of degeneration research. The DZNE was created following a multi-stage competitive selection process in which 23 universities participated. The aim of the research carried out by the DZNE is to find new treatments and preventative measures to combat the 200,000 new cases of degenerative dementia reported in Germany each year.