Brain Café - 2013


For a Moment Making Everything out of Nothing: What Attention Can Tell Us About the Brain.

Dr. Marlies Pinnow, Team Motivation, Biopsychology

More and more, faster and faster, everything all at once daily life is constantly wearing out our attention. And yet, like all psychological functions it also needs some relaxation and rest sometimes. But does attention actually exist or which processes lie behind it? Which areas of the brain are related to different concentration performances? Do people differ in their ability to be attentive and which factors influence this ability? Is it possible to train these functions? Dr. Marlies Pinnow will give answers to these and further exciting questions.

Download audio podcast (90 MB | 65:17 min) (in German)


Feeling fat: Body image and its depiction in the brain of anorexia nervosa patients

Prof. Dr. Boris Suchan, Neuropsychology

Anorexia nervosa is one of the most widely known eating disorders. One of the features of this illness: patients misjudge their body measurements. Until now only very little is known about the reasons for this phenomenon. In his talk Prof. Boris Suchan explain this phenomenon using neuroscientific research approaches. For several years we have known that there are specialized areas in the brain which are responsible for the visual processing of the body. These areas are connected with the misjudgment of body images in patients with anorexia nervosa and how these areas can be altered in their functions through therapeutic interventions.

Download audio podcast (132 MB | 57:49 min) (in German)


Brain Activity during State of Rest and State of Sleep

PROF. DR. Sen Cheng, Mercator Research Group "Structure of Memory"

Everybody likes to lay back and have a break sometimes. But what does our brain do during these breaks? Does it also take a rest? Current research is suggesting the contrary. Even during rest and sleep the brain remains active. Information is being received and processed. Memories are being recalled and strengthened. Brain activity during states of rest plays an important role for learning and memory. Therefore it may not be such a far-fetched idea to rather go to sleep than continue learning the night before an important exam.

Download audio podcast (69 MB | 50:18 min) (in German)


Can you speed up your mind by eating fish?

Prof. Dr. Irmgard Dietzel-Meyer, Molecular Neurochemistry, Faculty of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Sometimes you think: "How much could I achieve if I were faster?" If we were able to think faster, we could manage university more easily; several accidents would be prevented due to shorter reaction times. In the end the speed of our mind is determined by the electric processes which control the signal transmission in our nervous system. In the first part of the Brain-Café session on the 26th July the biophysical processes will be explained, which determine the speed of neurons responding to environmental stimuli. We are literally "energized" by sodium ions, which we ingest daily with common salt. The influence of the trace element iodine on this "current", which is ingested through seafish and afterwards embedded into thyroid hormones, and the resulting effects on the functioning of neurons and muscle cells will be discussed in the second part of the lecture.

Download audio podcast (69 MB | 49:50 min) (in German)


Therapy in the 21st century: Are Brain Tumors Curable?

Prof. Dr. Uwe Schlegel, Director of the University Hospital of Neurology, Knappschaftskrankenhaus, Medical Faculty

In the last 20 years various progresses in the therapy of brain tumors have been made. A lot of brain tumors can be treated with operations, radiation- and chemotherapy and a considerable prolonging of live time together with the improvement of quality of life can be achieved today. Even some malignant brain tumors are curable today. New ways of therapy like the inhibition of the tumor's vascularization, an "immunization" against components of a tumor and "targeted therapies" against certain biological features of the tumor are currently being analyzed. Especially in Germany fundamental basics of the biology of brain tumors have been discovered in recent years, which will promote new developments in therapy.

Download audio podcast (73 MB | 53:01 min) (in German)


Showing the Invisible Brain Activity and Visual Perception

PD Dr. Dirk Jancke, Optical Imaging Lab, Institut für Neuroinformatik

Are you sure that you always see what there actually is to see? We take vision for granted, because a lot of processes in the neural network of our brain happen automatically and remain unnoticed by our consciousness. Optical illusions can uncover these processes. They reveal the complex interactions between neural cells which happen in every millisecond and which create far more than only a simple copy of incoming light stimuli.
In his lecture PD Dr. Dirk Jancke will give insights into the complex processes of neuronal activities and information processing. He shows that our brain takes and has to take a lot into consideration to be able to cover the complexity of the world visually.


Learning under Stress: Does this work? And if so, how?

PD Dr. Lars Schwabe, Cognitive Psychology, Faculty of Psychology

Everybody knows stress. Whether in school, at university, or at the office, for many of us stress is part of everyday life. But did you know that stress can have influence on how and how much we learn and remember?
Do we become forgetful due to stress? Do we learn more or less under pressure or simply differently? How does stress influence learning and memory processes in our brain? In his lecture Dr. Lars Schwabe will answer these and further exciting questions.

Download audio podcast (68 MB | 49:16 min) (in German)


Learning and forgetting in a healthy brain

Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan, Neurophysiology, Faculty of Medicine

When we learn we store what we have learned in our brain. That is to say we store this information in our neurons. How is it possible for us to be able to create so many memories, which sometimes last for a lifetime? Does forgetfulness mean that our brain is no longer healthy? This lecture will explain the physiology of memory formation.


General Basics of Stem Cell Research, Current Controversies and Perspectives for Neuroscience

Prof. Dr. Andreas Faissner, Cellmorphology and Molecular Neurobiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology

Research in the area of Stem cell biology has shown a dramatic increase for several years now. The importance of this scientific field is also reflected in the awarding the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine 2012 to J.B. Gurdon and S. Yamanaka two stem cell researchers. The analysis of embryonic as well as tissue-specific stem cells concerns fundamental research and has led to rapid progress in the field. Furthermore, questions about the keeping, reproduction and application of stem cells provide numerous references to biotechnology and medical applications. But the possibilities of expansion and manipulation of stem cells also raise general questions, which extend into several fields of ethics, jurisdiction and social policy and which have been subject of controversial debate throughout Europe for years.

Download audio podcast (98 MB | 53:22 min) (in German)