Neurocybernetics and Rehabilitation



Prof. Dr. Catherine M. Sweeney-Reed, Habil., MBBS, BSc (Hons. Neurosciences), PhD (Cybernetics), MRCGP, DRCOG, DFFP, DCH, DTM&H:

- Neuromodulation: deep and transcranial electrical brain stimulation, brain–computer interface

- Motor learning, prospective memory, episodic memory, working memory

- Healthy participants and patients with essential tremor, Parkinson's disease, stroke, epilepsy

- Electrophysiology: intracranial recordings from the thalamus, EEG, MEG. imaging: 3T and 7T fMRI

Staff and students


Johanna Krüger (ehem. Schwertner), Medical doctoral student:

- Brain-computer interface driven functional electrical stimulation for motor rehabilitation following acute stroke. Stipendium received from OVGU.


Richard Krauth, Medical doctoral student:

- - "Kortikomuskuläre Kohärenz als Biomarker für motorische Rehabilitation nach Schlaganfall" (Corticomuscular coherence as a biomarker of motor rehabilitation post-stroke)


Amr Farahat, Research Assistant:

- Deep learning for EEG decoding and automatic feature discovery

- The role of the ventrointermediate nucleus of the thalamus in motor learning using 7T fMRI


Katharina Nikolai, Medical doctoral student:

- Transcranial electrical stimulation of the motor cortex during motor sequence learning


Clara Terlutter, Medical doctoral student:

- "Die Modulierung des impliziten motorischen Sequenzlernens mittels transkranieller Gleichstromstimulation des Kleinhirns mit geringer Stromdichte" (Modulation of implicit motor sequence learning using low current transcranial direct current stimulation of the cerebellum)


Laila Terzic, Medical doctoral student:

- The role of the VIM in motor learning in patients with essential tremor


Angela Voegtle, PhD student:

- The neural correlates of motor sequence learning


Bruno de Matos Mansur, PhD student:

- Neuromodulation during prospective memory processing


Viviana Villafañe Barraza, Research Assistant:

- Electrophysiological correlates of prospective memory



I-Chin Tsai, Research Assistant:

- Post-stroke rehabilitation using a brain-computer interface and functional electrical stimulation


Catharina Mohrbutter, Medical doctoral student:

- The role of biperiden in motor sequence learning


Luke Flanagan, Masters student:

- The r ole of the thalamus in prospective memory


Mahima Rebello, Research Assistant:

- The electrophysiological correlates of neuromodulation using transcranial electrical stimulation during working memo ry processing


Kamil Kiliç, Research Assistant:

- The electrophysiological correlates of neuromodulation using transcranial electrical stimulation during working memor y processing


Buse Uygun, Masters student:

- Modulation of functional connectivity using transcranial electrical stimulation during working memory processing




Angela Voegtle, Masters student, then Research Assistant:

- "The influence of transcranial direct current stimulation on working memory – A behavioral and electrophysiological analysis of single-session and repeated stimulation". 2018.


Franziska Röhner, Medical doctoral student:

- "Modulation der Arbeitsspeicherkapazität mittels transkranieller Hirnstimulation - ein Vergleich zwischen Gleich- und Wechselstromstimulation". (Modulation of working memory using transcranial electrical stimulation: A direct comparison between TACS and TDCS). Stipendium received from OVGU. 2020.


 Isabella Barclay, Bachelors student in Medical Sciences (Neuroscience) from the University of Exeter UK on research placement at OVGU:

- "The effects of prospective memory cue frequency on behavioural performance and event-related potentials". 2019.



Maxie Heidrich, Masters Student in Integrative Neuroscience:

- "The influence of transcranial electrical stimulation on electrophysiological correlates of working memory". 2020.


Viviana Villafañe Barraza, Masters student:

- "Brain oscillatory activity underlying prospective memory processing". 2021.


Joint supervison, Masters student (co-supervision with Prof. Rahim Hajji, Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal, as a part of the STACAMA study, in collaboration with Prof. Christian Apfelbacher, Institute of Social Medicine and Health Systems Research, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, and Prof. Michael Kabesch, University Children's Hospital Regensburg):

- "Teilnehmererfahrungen verschiedener COVID-19 Teststrategien bei Familien der STACAMA-Modellschulen - Eine Grounded Theory Studie auf Basis problemzentrierter Interviews" (Participant experiences of different COVID-19 test strategies in families from the STACAMA model schools: a grounded theory study based on problem-centred interviews). 2022.


Joint supervison, Masters student (co-supervision with PD Dr. Marcus Heldmann, University of Lübeck):

- "Modulation der Arbeitsgedächtniskapazität mittels transkranieller Hirnstimulation - ein Vergleich zwischen Mechanismen der phasensynchronisierten Wechsel- und Gleichstromstimulation" (Modulation of working memory capacity using transcranial brain stmiulation - a comparison between mechanisms of phase-sxnhcronized alternating and direct current stimulation). 2022.


 I-Chin Tsai, Masters student:

- "Impact of laterality of movement-associated brain activity on fMRI- and EEG-based movement detection during post-stroke recovery: impliactions for BCI-based rehabilitation". 2022.


External Collaborations

  • Prof. Robert T. Knight (University of California, Berkeley, USA)
  • Prof. Michael D. Rugg (University of Texas, Dallas, USA)
  • Prof. Slawomir J. Nasuto (University of Reading, UK)
  • Prof. Adriano Andrade (Universidade Federal de Uberlandia, Brasilien)
  • Prof. Jose del R. Millan (University of Texas, Austin, USA)
  • Dr. Serafeim Perdikis (University of Essex, UK)
  • Prof. Michael Sailer (Median Klinikum, Flechtingen, Germany)
  • Dr. Sabine Lindquist (Pfeiffersche Stiftungen, Magdeburg, Germany)
  • Prof. Richard B. Ivry  (University of California, Berkeley, USA)

Our Research

We aim to deepen our understanding of how the brain processes information with the goal of translating our findings into new approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of neurological disease. We employ a multimodal approach, including analysis of electroencephalographic (EEG) and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data, intracranial electrophysiological signals, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, as well as of the behavioural, clinical, and electrophysiological effects of deep and transcranial brain stimulation, and application of brain–computer interfaces (BCI).

Modulation of neural processing using electrical brain stimulation provides a means of evaluating the causal role of the neural correlates of cognition as well as of potentially enhancing behavioural performance and treating disease. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a well-established treatment for essential tremor and is also gaining attention as a treatment for pharmacoresistant focal epilepsy. We had the rare opportunity of recording intracranial electrical brain activity from the anterior and dorsomedial thalamic nuclei (ATN; DMTN) from patients receiving ATN-DBS to treat epilepsy. We provided evidence for an active processing role for the ATN in human episodic memory formation. Moreover, the oscillatory power in the theta frequency range predicted whether a memory would be successfully formed for a subsequent event and also predicted neural correlates of memory formation in the ATN and frontal cortex. We also detected interictal epileptiform discharges in the ATN and DMTN, supporting the hypothesis that both are involved in the propagation of focal epileptic activity.

Transcranial electrical brain stimulation has received growing attention in recent years as a means of improving working memory. Both transcranial direct current (TDCS) as well as alternating current stimulation (TACS) have been investigated. Direct comparison of the methods from the literature is challenging due to the diverse study paradigms and parameters. We are directly comparing these approaches keeping as many parameters constant as is possible given the fundamental differences between the methods. We are also examining the effects of applying TDCS in multiple sessions. Moreover, we are currently investigating the effects of modulation of motor sequence learning through TDCS to the cerebellum and the motor cortex and DBS to the ventral-intermediate nucleus of the thalamus, both on behavioural measures and electrophysiological correlates. These studies of motor learning are a part of a project investigating the effects of DBS to treat essential tremor. We are employing high resolution 7T fMRI and 3T structural MRI to establish whether the VIM has separate subregions engaged in motor learning and tremor. In addition, we are investigating the neural correlates of prospective memory and plan to extend this work to establishing whether performance can be modulated using transcranial electrical stimulation.

BCIs enable direct control of external devices using brain activity, with potential application in rehabilitation, when functional connectivity (FC) between the brain and musculature is impaired or absent, such as following stroke. BCI-controlled timing of functional electrical stimulation of arm musculature as a rehabilitation therapy for chronic stroke patients has been shown to improve arm mobility, putatively by facilitating re-establishment of brain–musculature FC. We are currently investigating this approach in the acute and subacute phases post-stroke, at a time when neural plasticity is deemed to be heightened.


Intrakranielle elektrophysiologische Aufzeichnungen des menschlichen Thalamus.

Figure: Intracranial electrophysiological recordings from the human thalamus. (A) Interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) from the anterior thalamic nucleus (ATN). (B) IEDs from the dorsomedial thalamic nucleus (DMTN) (Sweeney-Reed et al., J. Neurol., 2016). (C) Illustration of intracranial electrode location. The two most dorsal right-sided contacts in the ATN are superimposed on the pre-operative structural MRI scan: coronal view. Inset: sagittal view. (D) Memory encoding paradigm. (E) Theta power in the right DMTN was greater preceding successful than unsuccessful memory formation (p = 0.012) (Sweeney-Reed et al., NeuroImage, 2016).

Selected References

Terzic L, Voegtle A, Farahat A, Hartong N, Galazky I, Nasuto S, Andrade A, Knight RT, Ivry R, Voges J, Buentjen L. Sweeney-Reed CM. (2022). Deep brain stimulation of the ventrointermediate nucleus of the thalamus to treat essential tremor improves motor sequence learning. Human Brain Mapping. Accepted for publication.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Buentjen L, Voges J, Schmitt FC, Zaehle T, Kam J, Heinze H-J, Hinrichs H, Knight RT, Rugg MD. (2021). The role of the anterior nuclei of the thalamus in human memory processing. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. In press. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.02.046. IF 2021: 8.330. 15 Mar., 2021

Kheiroddin P, Gründl M, Althammer M, Schöberl P, Plail L, Cibali E, Schraml K, Scheiber J, Kiesewetter C, Kneissler A, Bartl C, Wallerstorfer D, Barth J-T, Roth SRC, Matei A, Fetz C, Buntrock-Döpke H, Gastiger S, Bodenschatz M, Konrad M, Niggel J, Pagel P, Judex G, Hubmann M, Sweeney-Reed CM, Ambrosch A, Wagner T, Burkovski A, Kabesch M. (2021). How to implement safe, efficient, and cost-effective SARS-CoV-2 testing in 1 urban and rural schools within one month. COVID. 1:717–27. doi: 10.3390/covid1040057.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Wolff D, Faßhauer H, Hörnschemeyer S, Haase A, Schomburg D, Niggel J, Kabesch M, Apfelbacher C. (2021). Feasibility of a surveillance programme based on gargle samples and pool testing to prevent SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in schools. Scientific Reports. 11: 19521. 30 Sept., 2021

Sweeney-Reed CM, Wolff D, Faßhauer H, Hörnschemeyer S, Haase A, Schomburg D, Niggel J, Kabesch M, Apfelbacher C. (2021). Pooltestverfahren mit Gurgelproben zur Vermeidung von Ausbrüchen von SARS-CoV-2 in Schulen (STACAMA). Ärzteblatt Sachsen-Anhalt. Sept., 2021

Sweeney-Reed CM, Wolff D, Niggel J, Kabesch M, Apfelbacher C. (2021). Pool testing as a strategy for avoidance of SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in schools (STACAMA): protocol for a feasibility study. JMIR Research Protocols. (Preprint). doi: 10.2196/preprints.28673.

Reichert C, Tellez Ceja IF, Sweeney-Reed CM, Heinze H-J, Hinrichs H, Dürschmid S. (2020). Impact of stimulus features on the performance of a gaze-independent brain-computer interface based on covert spatial attention shifts. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 14: 591777. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2020.591777. IF2021: 3.707. 1 Dec., 2020

Krueger J, Reichert C, Dürschmid S, Krauth R, Vogt S, Huchtemann T, Lindquist S, Lamprecht J, Sailer M, Heinze H-J, Hinrichs H, Sweeney-Reed CM. (2020). Rehabilitation nach Schlaganfall: Durch Gehirn–Computer-Schnittstelle vermittelte funktionelle Elektrostimulation (Brain–computer interface driven functional electrical stimulation for motor rehabilitation following stroke). Klinische Neurophysiologie. 51(3):144-55. doi: 10.1055/a-1205-7467. 29 Sept., 2020

Galazky I, Zaehle T, Sweeney-Reed CM, Neumann J, Heinze H-J, Voges J, Kupsch A, Hinrichs H. (2020). Neuronal oscillations of the pedunculopontine nucleus in progressive supranuclear palsy: Influence of levodopa and movement. Clin. Neurophysiol. 131(2):414-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2019.11.033. IF2020: 3.708. 12 Dec., 2019

Farahat A, Reichert C, Sweeney-Reed CM, Hinrichs H. (2019). Convolutional neural networks for decoding of covert attention focus and saliency maps for EEG feature visualization. Journal of Neural Engineering. (In press.) doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/ab3bb4. IF 2019: 4.551. 21 July, 2019

Buentjen L, Kupsch A, Galazky I, Frantsev R, Heinze HJ, Voges J, Hausmann J, Sweeney-Reed, CM. (2019).Long-term outcomes of semi-implantable functional electrical stimulation for central drop foot.Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation.16(1):72. doi: 10.1186/s12984-019-0542-8. IF 2017: 3.865. 11 June, 2019

Galazky I, Kaufmann J, Voges J, Heinze H-J, Hinrichs H, Sweeney-Reed CM. (Electronic publication ahead of print: 2019). Neuronal spiking in the pedunculopontine nucleus in progressive supranuclear palsy and in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. J Neurol. IF 2017: 3.783. doi: 10.1007/s00415-019-09396-9. 21 May, 2019

Eick C, Ahmadi K, Sweeney-Reed CM, Hoffmann M. (2019). Interocular transfer of visual memory - influence of visual impairment and abnormalities of the optic chiasm. Neuropsychologia. 129: 171-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.03.018. IF 2017: 2.888. 2 Apr., 2019

Krauth RSchwertner JVogt S, Lindquist S, Sailer M, Sickert A, Lamprecht J, Perdikis S, Corbet T, Millán JdR, Hinrichs H, Heinze H-J, Sweeney-Reed CM. (2019). Cortico-muscular coherence is reduced acutely post-stroke and increases bilaterally during motor recovery. Frontiers in Neurology. 10: 126.

Kizilirmak J, Schott B, Thuerich H, Sweeney-Reed CM, Richter A, Folta-Schoofs K, Richardson-Klavehn A. (2019). Learning of novel semantic relationships via sudden comprehension is associated with a hippocampus-independent network. Consciousness and Cognition. 69: 113-132.

Pawlitzki M, Sweeney-Reed CM, Bittner D, Lux A, Vielhaber S, Schreiber S, Friedemann P, Neumann J. (2018). CSF-Progranulin and Neurofilament light chain levels in patients with radiologically isolated syndrome - sign of inflammation. Frontiers in Neurology.12: 761.

Pawlitzki M, Sweeney-Reed CM, Meuth SG, Reinhold D, Neumann J. (2018). CSF macrophage migration inhibitory factor levels did not predict steroid treatment response after optic neuritis in patients with multiple sclerosis. PLoSone. 13(11): e0207726.

Röhner F, Breitling C, Rufener KS, Heinze H-J, Hinrichs H, Krauel K, Sweeney-Reed CM. (2018). Modulation of working memory using transcranial electrical stimulation: a direct comparison between TACS and TDCS.  Front. Neurosci. 12: 761.

Liebe T, Li M, Colic L, Munk MHJ, Sweeney-Reed CM, Woelfer M, Kretzschmar MA, Steiner J, von Düring F, Behnisch G, Schott BH, Walter M. (2018). Ketamine influences the locus coeruleus norepinephrine network, with a dependency on norepinephrine transporter genotype – a placebo controlled fMRI study. Neuroimage Clin. 20: 715-23.

Pawlitzki M, Übelhör J, Sweeney-Reed CM, Stephanik H, Hoffmann J, Lux A, Reinhold D. (2018). Lower serum zinc levels in patients with multiple sclerosis compared to healthy controls. Nutrients: 10(967): 1-9.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Nasuto SJ, Vieira M, Andrade AO. (2018). Empirical mode decomposition and its extensions applied to EEG analysis: a review. Advances in Data Science and Adaptive Analysis: 10(2): 1840001.

Borchardt V, Surova G, van der Meer J, Bola M, Frommer J, Leutritz AL, Sweeney-Reed CM, Buchheim A, Strauß B, Nolte, T, Olbrich, S, Walter, M. (2018). Exposure to attachment narratives dynamically modulates cortical arousal during the resting state in the listener. Brain and Behavior. 8(7): e01007.

Liebe T, Li S, Lord A, Colic L, Krause AL, Batra A, Kretzschmar MA, Sweeney-Reed CM, Behnisch G, Schott BH, Walter M. (2017). Factors influencing the cardiovascular response to subanesthetic ketamine: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 20(11): 909-18.

Sailer M, Sweeney-Reed CM, Lamprecht, J. (2017). Roboter- und gerätegestützte Rehabilitation der oberen Extremität. Akt Neurol. 44(08): 555-60.

Sailer M, Sweeney-Reed CM, Lamprecht, J. (2017). Robot-assisted and device-based rehabilitation of the upper extremity. Neurology International Open. 01(03): E242-6.

Pawlitzki M, Neumann J, Kaufmann J, Heidel J, Stadler E, Sweeney-Reed CM, Sailer M, Schreiber S. (2017). Loss of corticospinal tract integrity in early MS disease stages. Neurol. Neuroimmunol. Neuroinflamm. 4(6): e399.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Zaehle T, Voges J, Schmitt FC, Buentjen L, Borchardt V, Walter M, Hinrichs H, Heinze HJ, Rugg MD, Knight RT. (2017). Anterior thalamic high frequency band activity is coupled with theta oscillations at rest. Front. Hum Neurosci. 20(11): 358.

Li S, Demenescu LR, Sweeney-Reed CM, Krause AL, Metzger CD, Walter M. (2017). Novelty seeking and reward dependence-related large-scale brain networks functional connectivity variation during salience expectancy. Hum. Brain Mapp. 38(8): 4064-77.

Kopitzki K, Oldag A, Sweeney-Reed CM, Machts J, Veit M, Kaufmann J, Hinrichs H, Heinze HJ, Kollewe K, Petri S, Mohammadi B, Dengler R, Kupsch AR, Vielhaber S. (2016). Interhemispheric connectivity in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A near-infrared spectroscopy and diffusion tensor imaging study. Neuroimage Clin. 29(12): 666-72.

Oldag A, Neumann J, Goertler M, Hinrichs H, Heinze H-J, Sweeney-Reed CM, Kopitzki K. (2016). Near infrared spectroscopy and transcranial sonography to evaluate cerebral autoregulation in middle cerebral artery steno-occlusive disease. J. Neurol. 263(11): 2296-301.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Lee H, Rampp S, Zaehle T, Buentjen L., Voges J, Holtkamp M, Hinrichs H, Heinze H-J, Schmitt FC (2016). Thalamic interictal epileptiform discharges in deep brain stimulated epilepsy patients. J. Neurol. 263(10): 2120-6.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Zaehle T, Voges J, Schmitt F, Buentjen L, Kopitzki K, Richardson-Klavehn A, Hinrichs H, Heinze H-J, Knight RT, Rugg MD (2016). Pre-stimulus thalamic theta power predicts human memory formation. Neuroimage 138: 100–108.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Zaehle T, Voges J, Schmitt FC, Buentjen L, Kopitzki K, Richardson-Klavehn A, Hinrichs H, Heinze H-J, Knight RT, Rugg MD. (2016). Neuropsychological profile and pre-stimulus dorsomedial thalamic nucleus theta power associated with successful memory formation in deep brain stimulation patients. Data Br. 8: 557–561.

Borchardt V, Krause AL, Li M, van Tol MJ, Demenescu LR, Buchheim A, Metzger CD, Sweeney-Reed CM, Nolte T, Lord AR,Walter M. (2015).Dynamic disconnection of the supplementary motor area after processing of dismissive biographic narratives. Brain Behav.5(10): e00377.

Hausmann J, Sweeney-Reed CM, Sobieray U, Matzke M, Heinze H-J,Voges J, Buentjen L.(2015).Functional electrical stimulation through direct 4-channel nerve stimulation to improve gait in multiple sclerosis: a feasibility study. Neuroeng Rehabil.12(1): 100.

Körtvélyessy, P., Gukasjan, A., Sweeney-Reed, C.M., Heinze, H.-J., Thurner, L., Bittner, D.M. (2015). Progranulin and amyloid-β Levels: relationship to neuropsychology in frontotemporal and Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 46(2): 375-80.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Zaehle T, Voges J, Schmitt FC, Buentjen L, Kopitzki K, Hinrichs H, Heinze H-J, Rugg MD, Knight RT, Richardson-Klavehn A.  (2015). Thalamic theta phase alignment predicts human memory formation and anterior thalamic cross-frequency coupling. eLife 4: e07578.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Zaehle T, Voges J, Schmitt FC, Buentjen L, Kopitzki K, Esslinger C, Hinrichs H, Heinze H-J, Knight RT, Richardson-Klavehn A. (2014). Corticothalamic phase synchrony and cross-frequency coupling predict human memory formation. eLife 3: e05352.

Daly I, Faller J, Scherer R, Sweeney-Reed CM, Nasuto SJ, Billinger M, Müller-Putz G. (2014).Exploration of the neural correlates of cerebral palsy for sensorimotor BCI control. Front. Neuroeng. 7(20).

Daly I, Sweeney-Reed CM, Nasuto SJ. (2012). Testing for significance of phase synchronisation dynamics in the EEG. J Comput. Neurosci.34(3): 411-32.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Riddell PM, Ellis JA, Freeman JE,  Nasuto SJ. (2012). Neural correlates of true and false memory in mild cognitive impairment. PLoSOne 7(10):e48357.

Sweeney-Reed, CM, Nasuto, SJ. (2009). Detection of neural correlates of self-paced motor activity using empirical mode decomposition phase locking analysis. J. Neurosci. Meth. 184: 54–70.

Sweeney-Reed CM, Nasuto SJ. (2007). A novel approach to the detection of synchronisation in EEG based on empirical mode decomposition. Journal of Computational Neuroscience. 23(1): 79-111.

Andrade AO, Nasuto SJ, Kyberd P, Sweeney-Reed CM, van Kanijn FR. (2006). EMG signal filtering based on empirical mode decomposition. Biomedical Signal Processing and Control 1(1): 44-55.

Andrade AO, Nasuto SJ, Kyberd P, Sweeney-Reed CM. (2005). Generative topographic mapping applied to clustering and visualization of motor unit action potentials. Biosystems 82: 273-84.

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