My main goal is to alleviate suffering in patients affected by severe psychiatric diseases with a special focus on mood disorders. To that end, I conduct investigations on neurobiological causes of depression in patients with state of the art neuroscientific methods and try to improve currently available treatments.
Find a selection of recent and ongoing research projects below:
Psych-Effects.com – An international online study.
This study is conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Zürich (Katrin Preller and Team) as well as the NIMH (Carlos Zarate, Elizabeth Ballard and team). We investigate neurocognitive effects of psychedelics in an online study hosted on Gorrila.sc in users and control participants. Please feel free to take part and share the study.
The Brain’s Glucose Consumption During DBS in OCD (ongoing)
The main goal of this project is to reliably measure and map changes of the cerebral metabolic rate of glucose elicited by DBS stimulation. This will enable us to quantify short-time effects of DBS both directly around stimulation leads and in functionally connected cortical areas. The study applies functional PET – a novel PET method developed in our lab by Andreas Hahn and others. The results of this study will thus significantly enhance the understanding of mechanisms of DBS and their role in DBS treatment of OCD.
Evaluating global brain connectivity as an imaging marker for depression
Previous studies found that antidepressant treatment with ketamine normalized aberrant GBC changes in the prefrontal and cingulate cortices, warranting further investigations of GBC as a putative imaging marker. These results were obtained via global signal regression (GSR). This study is an independent replication of that analysis using a separate dataset. Reduced GBC was observed in individuals with MDD only at baseline in the anterior and medial cingulate cortices, as well as in the prefrontal cortex only after regressing the global signal. This underlines that resting state fMRI based connectivity measures are very attractive for future disease marker applications, yet have to undergo further development until they are ready for prime time clinical applications.
Multimodal Assessment of Neurobiological Markers for Psychiatric Disorders
The project aimed to identify biological and imaging parameters for major depressive disorders and to identify predictive markers for treatment response by using a multimodal, interdisciplinary and translational research approach. We aimed to detect neuronal correlates of response and remission in an antidepressant treatment study with 7 T structural and functional MRI, potentially harnessing advances in detection power and spatial specificity. We optimized response assessment by modeling the dynamic speed of response using a sigmoidal model with fMRI-data and corroborated the importance of anterior cingulate function in remission. Moreover, our results hint towards temporoparietal junction activity as a potential correlate of non-remission, but confirmation is needed.