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Functional Neuroimaging

Functional Imaging

The research group uses modern imaging techniques, in particular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to investigate pathological changes in the brain, innovative therapies for neurological and psychiatric diseases, and mechanisms of neuroplasticity and prevention, with a focus on research into the effects of endurance sports on the brain. The research group cooperates with the German Sport University Cologne (DSHS) and the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE).

Brain Pathophysiology

Systemic studies on the pathophysiology of neurological and psychiatric diseases are a focus of the research group, especially studies focusing on the neurobiology of neurodegenerative diseases. 

In the field of extrapyramidal motor disorders, the group of Professor Boecker was the first to use 11C-flumazenil PET to detect syndromally relevant GABAergic deficits in essential tremor patients (Boecker H et al. J Nucl Med, 2010). Given the GABAergic pharmacological profiles of many substances applied in essential tremor (Boecker H et al. Ann Neurol, 1996; Boecker H. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep, 2013), these imaging data offer relevant explanations for tremorlytic therapies. 

Another focus is functional MRI in Parkinson’s patients. These studies aim is to characterize central functional deficits in motor (Martin JA et al. Neuroimage Clin, 2019; Boecker H & Brooks DJ. Ann Neurol, 2011), cognitive (Granert O et al. J Nucl Med, 2015), visual (Boecker H et al. Arch Neurol, 2007) and pain-processing networks (Petschow C et al. PLoS One, 2016). 

In the case of Alzheimer’s dementia (Alves GS et al. Curr Alzheimer Res, 2017), biomarker-supported studies of early forms of the disease are being conducted in cooperation with the DZNE (Franzmeier N et al. Mol Psychiatry, 2019; Franzmeier N et al. Brain, 2018; Jessen et al. Alzheimers Res Ther, 2018; Müller S et al. Sci Rep, 2017), in particular in patients with subjective memory decline (DELCODE, PI Prof. Frank Jessen). Prof. Boecker is responsible for PET imaging at the DZNE (https://www.dzne.de/forschung/forschungsbereiche/klinische-forschung/forschungsgruppen/boecker/forschungsschwerpunkte/).

Innovative CNS Treatment

The research group focuses on the central mechanisms of action of various neuromodulatory therapies using functional neuroimaging. In addition to lesional stereotactic approaches (Samuel M et al. Brain, 1997; Boecker H et al. Ann Neurol, 1997) and deep brain stimulation (May A, et al. J Neurosci, 2006; Haslinger B, et al. Neuroimage, 2005; Haslinger B, et al. Neuroimage, 2003), a new focus of the research group is in the field of MRI-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS). Prof. Henning Boecker is co-applicant of the DFG-funded large-scale equipment proposal (30406441), which has made the Bonn location the first in Germany to establish this innovative new therapeutic option for patient care. Currently, the effects of MRgFUS on tremor networks in Essential Tremor and Parkinson’s patients are being investigated using fMRI and accompanying tremor recordings (Purrer-V et al., Nervenarzt, 2019).

Plasticity, Prevention & Resilience

One focus of the research group is to investigate the preventive and neuromodulatory effects of endurance sports on the brain. The team has implemented functional neuroimaging in sports interventions at the Bonn site, partly in cooperation with the German Sport University (DSHS) Cologne. In addition to studies on the effects of exercise on pain processing (Schmitt A et al. Eur J Pain, 2020; Scheef L et al. Pain, 2012) and executive control mechanisms (Pensel M et al. Sci Rep, 2018), the working group is interested in the mechanisms of affective modulation (Schmitt A et al. Neural Plast, 2020; Schmitt A et al. Brain Plast, 2019; Schmitt et al. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci; 2019; Boecker H et al, NeuroImage, 2016; Boecker H et al., Cereb Cortex. 2008). Prof. Boecker is editor of the first textbook on the emerging new role of functional neuroimaging in the training sciences (https://www.springer.com/de/book/9781461432920).

Body-Brain Interactions

This subject area is currently being developed.

Head: Univ.-Prof. Dr. H. Boecker

Tel.: +49 228 287 15980
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Curriculum vitae
Publications
Detailed information about Prof. Boecker

Angelika Maurer
Research Associate
Tel.: 0228 287 15970
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Curriculum Vitae
Publications

Dr. Neeraj Upadhyay
Research Associate
Tel.: 0228 287 15984
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Curriculum Vitae
Publications

Christian Hüppe
Grade: magna cum laude (doctoral supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker)
Adopted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bonn 2009.

Phillip Ditter
Grade: magna cum laude (doctoral supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker)
Adopted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bonn 2009.

Nadine Zimmermann
Grade: magna cum laude (doctoral supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker)
Adopted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bonn 2012.

Gunther Weyer
Grade: magna cum laude (doctoral supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker)
Adopted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bonn 2013.

Ahmed Othman
Grade: magna cum laude (doctoral supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker)
Adopted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bonn in 2014.

Christine Schendzielorz
Grade: magna cum laude (doctoral supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker)
Adopted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bonn in 2018.

Max Pensel
Grade: magna cum laude (doctoral supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker)
Adopted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bonn in 2019.

Markus Koppenhöfer
Grade: magna cum laude (doctoral supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henning Boecker)
Adopted by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bonn in 2019.

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