Zimmer, Claus

Topology of brain networks in different psychiatric and neurological disorders

The main topic of our research group is the topology of brain networks at the system level in various psychiatric and neurological disorders. We are particularly interested in linking these changes to both underlying biological characteristics and cognitive-behavioral changes, i.e. we perform a three-level approach on brain disorders, where linking the levels of description is the most challenging part.
To illustrate our approach in Alzheimer’s disease (AD): Using functional MRI, we found reduced synchronized activity in posterior parts of the default mode network (DMN) and the executive attention network (EAN) in individuals at risk for AD. Complementary, the density of white-matter fibres in the posterior brain was reduced in AD mainly between regions overlapping with the DMN and EAN as detected by diffusion tensor imaging. Regarding the link between these network changes and cognitive deficits, in early AD patients, the direction and degree of inter-hemispherically dysbalanced metabolism of parietal EAN areas was negatively correlated with the direction and degree of spatial attention bias for visual stimuli. We also found decreases of perfusion and metabolism in the posterior DMN and EAN in AD using arterial-spin-labeling MRI techniques and positron emission tomography.
These studies in AD show how to study brain disorders such as major depression or multiple sclerosis within a three level framework. The overall aim of our research activities is to translate results in advanced imaging diagnostics.

Selected publications:

Otti et al: I know the pain you feel-how the human brain’s default mode predicts our resonance to another’s suffering. Neuroscience (in press)

Biswal et al: Toward discovery science of human brain function. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107(10):4734-9.

Plant et al: Automated detection of brain atrophy patterns based on MRI for the prediction of Alzheimer's disease. Neuroimage. 2010;50(1):162-74

Sorg et al: Impact of Alzheimer's disease on the functional connectivity of spontaneous brain activity. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2009;6(6):541-53

Stroh et al: Impact of magnetic labeling on human and mouse stem cells and their long-term magnetic resonance tracking in a rat model of Parkinson disease. Mol Imaging. 2009;8(3):166-78

Preibisch et al: Neuroanatomical correlates of visual field bias: a sensitive system for detecting potential threats? Brain Res. 2009;31;1263:69-77

Neufang et al: Sex Differences and the Impact of Steroid Hormones on the Developing Human Brain. Cereb Cortex. 2009; 19(2):464-73

Breckwoldt et al: Tracking the inflammatory response in stroke in vivo by sensing the enzyme myeloperoxidase. Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 2008;105(47):18584-9

Gündel et al: Altered cerebral response to noxious heat stimulation in patients with somatoform pain disorder. Pain. 2008;137(2):413-21

Neufang et al: Developmental changes in neural activation and psychophysiological interaction patterns of brain regions associated with interference control and time perception. Neuroimage. 2008;43(2):399-409

Sorg et al: Selective changes of resting-state networks in individuals at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007;104(47):18760-5