Nazife Ayyildiz
(Guest researcher in cooperation with Ankara university)

Frauke Beyer
(M.Sc. Medical radiation science)

  • During my PhD I have been investigating how obesity relates to changes in resting-state connectivity and brain morphology in older adults.

  • Within the CRC1052 “Obesity Mechanisms” I have focussed on genetic factors linked to obesity and their impact on brain structure.

  • I am also very interested in methods and the application of different software packages (nipype, FSL, GIFT) for data analysis.

Silke Friedrich

  • Scientific co-ordinator

Jana Grothe
(Medical student)

  • My main focus is the impact of lipid metabolism on hippocampus volume and microstructure in the context of age-related changes and subjective cognitive decline.

Laura Hesse
(Medical student)

Josefine Jentzsch
(Medical student)

Gesa Lewe
(Psychology student)

Simon M. Hofmann
(M.Sc. Brain and Cognitive Sciences)

  • My interests lie in computational approaches to cognition in complex environments.

  • I employ deep (recurrent) neural networks as signal processing tool for MRI and EEG (neural decoding), as well as to model agent-environment interactions and the corresponding cognitive processes.

  • By applying constraints to this dynamic system, which reflect aging or pathologies, the computational models serve as explanation of compensatory and maladaptive strategies.

  • Furthermore, I am interested in the development of ecological valid research paradigms that incorporate naturalistic, multi-sensory stimuli (e.g., movies, VR) to trigger natural responses in behavior and in the brain.

Evelyn Medawar
(Dual M.Sc. Brain and Mind Sciences)

  • I study the effects of an unconventional diet on food decision-making, brain structure and other cognitive processes implicated in choosing between food items. It has been shown that a change in diet affects our intestinal microbial composition and other metabolic markers, however, cognitive effects have not been fully investigated yet. We suggest that unconventional eaters manifest changes not only on a biological but also on a cognitive level (i.e. more self-control). We are interested in whether gut microbiotic status is predictive of brain activity in regions related to the adoption of an unconventional diet.

  • To do this, we are running multiple studies and analysing data in the context of meal choices a) in cafeterias b) in a smartphone environment c) in a dietary intervention study and d) cross-sectionally in the LIFE-Adult-Study.

  • Furthermore, I am interested in quality control of longitudinal studies and am collaborating in a MR scanner comparison study on T1-weighted images.

Ronja Thieleking
(M.Sc. Biophysics)

  • I am mainly interested in the effects of memory and attention on and the role of the hippocampus and amygdala in making food choices and thereby energy regulation and body weight status. To investigate these effects, we are running a dietary intervention study with functional, structural and diffusion-weighted MR imaging. Body weight status in general and obesity in specific are important factors for cognitive functions and brain structure - therefore, we further evaluate effects of bariatric surgery on these two domains.

  • Following more physics-related interests, I investigate the impact of scanner, sequence and preprocessing pipeline on diffusion imaging outcome parameters. To do so, I evaluate quantitative differences in the images of identical diffusion-weighted sequences collected on two Siemens 3T Magnetom MRI scanners, Verio and Skyra. This way, we want to find measures for the comparability of the scans.   

  • Working with diffusion-weighted images, I am also comparing different artefact removal tools on a quantitative level. The aim is to integrate a tool to address the Gibbs Ringing artefact in the standard preprocessing pipeline of diffusion-weighted images.

Kevin Thomas
(B.Sc. Psychology, Medical Student)

  • I am dealing with the human hypothalamus as one key mediator of mechanisms that, in fact, contribute to obesity. Therefore, we want to establish a unified, manual segmentation algorithm based on neuroanatomical landmarks to conduct volumetry analysis on 3T T1-weighted imaging data. Apart from that I also try to address changes in diffusion in this region of interest using DWI-images. Further research is supposed to give us some more insight into how single-nucleotide-polymorphisms of “obesity-genes” might be related to changes in human hypothalamus.

Emmy Töws
(Medical Student)

  • Metabolic disorders related to higher cardiovascular risk have become more prevalent in countries following Western lifestyle. These health problems have been associated with increased systemic inflammation parameters in the blood serum (Libby et al., 2009; Pradhan et al., 2001). In my project I aim to investigate if a high-fiber diet for a period of two weeks shows beneficial effects with respect to reducing inflammatory processes in the systemic circulation as well as in the mediobasal hypothalamus as opposed to a placebo intervention.

Charlotte Wiegank
(Medical Student)

  • Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet predicts healthier sleep  (St-Onge & Zuraikat, 2019). Yet, there is not much known about  potential mechanisms, mediating this bi-directional relation. In my  doctoral dissertation I further investigate gut-brain-communication, especially the impact of high fiber intake on  sleep quality. Therefore, we analyze several health-predictable metabolic markers (e.g. TMAO, Short Chain Fatty Acids etc.) and the  composition of the gut microbiome, with the aim to find out more about  potential mediators.

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