Team

Ayça Akan
(lab rotation, master student at Berlin School of Mind and Brain)

  • My main research interest is cognitive neuroscience, and I highly value interdisciplinary research that connects philosophy, social perspectives, human biology and human psyche.

  • Currently I am conducting a systematic review on how lifestyle interventions for obesity affects human gut microbiome under OMEGA Lab (pre-registered protocol).

  • Furthermore, I am a passionate advocate for good scientific practices, and currently conducting a meta research study on Western Blot visualization practices under Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and writing a paper on replication crisis in neuroscience under Boğaziçi University, Turkey.


Frauke Beyer
(Postdoc)

  • 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.


Anne-Kathrin Brecht
(master student in cooperation with University of Osnabrück)


Silke Friedrich

  • Project coordinator CRC1052

  • Study assistant


Ole Goltermann

(lab rotation, doctoral candidate at Max Planck School of Cognition)

  • I am a trained psychologist and a PhD student at the Max Planck School of Cognition. In the first year of my PhD, I will work in the OMEGA lab in Leipzig, the Language and Genetics department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, and at the Institute of Systems Neuroscience at UKE Hamburg. My main research interest lies in explaining and predicting individual behavior and cognition using computational models. In the OMEGA lab, I am investigating which brain features are used as information sources in deep learning models predicting brain age, a potential biomarker of brain health.

Josefine Jentzsch
(Medical student)


Hannah Sophie Heinrichs
(master student in cooperation with Technical University of Dresden)

  • I am a master student specialized in cognitive neuroscience and statistical modeling.

  • When modeling with multi-dimensional data such as MRI and DTI data, I am particularly fascinated with statistical inference, statistical computing and developing reproducible workflows for state-of-the art modeling approaches.

  • My current research is centered around the evaluation of longitudinal changes in anthropometric, endocrinological and diffusion-weighted MR data from a longitudinal controlled intervention study. Specifically, I am investigating changes in hypothalamic microstructure and white matter coherence.

  • As an advocate of open science, I am always trying to find new tools and better ways to improve the transparency and computational reproducibility of my research, and to promote open science principles.


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

  • Explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) for neuroscience

  • Application of deep (recurrent) neural networks as signal processing tool for MRI and EEG (neural decoding), as well as model of cognitive processes in agent-environment interactions (encoding).

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


Laurenz Lammer
(medical student at University Leipzig)

  • I am interested in the application of concepts from social epidemiology to the study of neurological diseases.

  • My research focuses on social isolation as a potentially modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia.

  • I am intrigued by the challenges and opportunities of the use of Bayesian statistics for Neuroscience and Epidemiology.

  • Moreover, I am interested in the practical implementation of concepts from Philosophy of Science and Medicine to improve research practices.


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.


Marie Meemken
(researcher, Dr. rer. medic.)

  • After my Masters studies in Neurocognitive Psychology, I moved to Leipzig for a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the IRTC ‘AdiposityDiseases’ at the University Medical Center. Here, I focussed on cognitive measures of learning and reinforcement processing in people with overweight or obesity. I am fascinated with the different perspectives on human health and behaviour. As part of the Leipzig Research Centre for Civilization Diseases (LIFE), I now investigate the pathophysiology of Long COVID symptoms using MR imaging.


Anne Stoye
(master student in cooperation with University Halle)

  • I am a master student in nutritional science and just started working with neuroscientific data.

  • My main interest is in the relationship between diet and changes in the brain. Therefore, I wrote my master thesis on the impact of a plant-based diet on brain ageing.


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.


Emmy Töws
(Medical Student at University Leipzig)

  • 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.

Meghedi Vartanian
(M.Sc. Clinical Psychology)

  • Meghedi Vartanian is a PhD student in OMEGA Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI). She completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Clinical Psychology from University of Tehran within the quota for exceptional talents. Currently, she focuses her research objectives on obesity and eating behavior. In her studies, she will investigate food cue reactivity among participants with obesity before and after attending a neurocognitive behavioral intervention.

  • Besides her academic activities, her clinical work includes holding group therapy sessions, helping people to raise their awareness about the brain and its function in daily life to promote a healthy relationship with their body.


Charlotte Wiegank
(Medical Student at University Leipzig)

  • 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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