Brain Café - 2015


Alzheimer, Parkinson and Co.: What genes can tell us?

Prof. Dr. Konstanze F. Winklhofer, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

In light of the demographic development towards a more aged population, there will be an increase in the case-numbers of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurodegenerative diseases. This will confront our society with enormous medical, psychosocial, and socioeconomic challenges. The causes of these illnesses are for the most part unknown, therefore, there are no causal therapeutic approaches. A milestone for fundamental research has been the identification of genes, which, when mutated, can lead to neurodegenerative diseases. Insights into these genes may allow for conclusions to be drawn about the pathological processes in the development of these diseases. This knowledge may then be used to develop new therapeutic strategies.

Download audio podcast (52 MB | 57:00 min) (in German)


Migraine - More than just a Headache

M. Sc. Biol. Anika Hunfeld, Department of Animal Physiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Migraines are not just headaches. Those who suffer from them experience attacks of pain that last for days. Additionally, they are more sensitive to light, smells, and sound. Even though 10% of the German population suffers from migraines, many aspects of this widespread disease are still controversial. We will look at some of these aspects and discuss them: How do migraines differ from other headaches? What is actually happening in my brain? Are they a disease of the brain?

Download audio podcast (30 MB | 36:55 min) (in German)


MRI and Multiple Sclerosis - From Research to Medical Practice

Prof. Dr. med. Carsten Lukas, Research Group NiRiMS, Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, St. Josef Hospital – University Clinic Bochum

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system. It most often develops in young adulthood between the ages of 20 and 40; in some cases it even begins in childhood. In Germany around 120.000 people have MS. The use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for mapping the disease-related changes in brain and spinal chord is one of the fundamental pillars in diagnosing the disease. New MRI techniques used in scientific research allow for a much more detailed picture of the pathogenesis of MS and may, in future, contribute to a more precise assessment of therapy. This talk will give an insight into everyday diagnostics in neuroradiology. It will also show to what extent MRI is already able to shed light on the complex clinical picture of Multiple Sclerosis.

Download audio podcast (40 MB | 44:12 min) (in German)



Dr. Sabine Seehagen, Department for Clinical Child and Youth Neuropsychology, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

“Why don’t you sleep on it!” is common advice regarding important decisions. In fact, it is scientifically proven that adult sleep supports cognitive processes, especially memory formation. But we know very little about how sleep affects the information processing of babies and toddlers. For example, can babies memorize better, if they have a long nap right after learning? The talk will give an overview of recent research findings on the role of sleep for learning and memorizing in the first year of life.

Download audio podcast (43 MB | 47:29 min) (in German)


I know how you feel: Neuropsychological changes to the ability for empathy in psychological afflictions

Dr. Patrizia Thoma, Clinical Neuropsychology, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Patients with psychological diseases like depression and alcohol addiction often have difficulty engaging in social contact with their fellow human beings. We know today, that this significantly contributes to the development and the perpetuation of psychological disorders. The problems patients experience are partly connected to changes in the structure and function of those parts of the brain responsible for being able to think and feel for other people. Goal of this talk is to present current neuropsychological findings in this area.

Download audio podcast (39 MB | 43:39 min) (in German)


The radically evil – Thoughts on the original sin

Dr. Gunda Werner, Chair of Dogma and Dogmatic Theory,
Faculty of Catholic Theology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

That man should know what he should do, but nevertheless does not – this motivated none other than Immanuel Kant to perform extensive deliberations on the radically evil. At the center of the deliberations is the conviction that man must be assigned guilt, so that there can be guilt. Man is responsible for what he does. Why then does he perform acts of evil? Is there a way out? Is there deliverance from evil, as Christians pray in the Lord’s Prayer? Attempts at a theological and philosophical approach to the topic.

Download audio podcast (29 MB | 31:44 min) (in German)

Prof. Dr. Dr. Theodor Payk, former director of the Bochum Center for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

“Evil” – a concept long since discussed in metaphysics, philosophy, human and cultural sciences – manifests itself in the condemnable acts and thoughts of man, who must otherwise adhere to socially mandatory and codified norms and rules. How and why does evil emerge? Where does it come from, and: is it part of the “human condition”? Is it even to be found in the brain, meaning: are there neuroscientific clues to neurobiological substrates for harmful, destructive and “malicious” behavior? Attempts at an anthropological and neuropsychological approach.

Download audio podcast (30 MB | 32:53 min) (in German)


The Evolution of the Brain – Or: What do Neurosciences and Star Wars have in common?

Dr. Martin Pyka, Mercator Research Group “Structure of Memory”, Faculty of Psychology

The human brain is possibly the most complex organ evolution has produced. But which paths and detours led to its development? How strongly does it differ from other mammalian brains? After a short introduction to the comparative analysis of neural networks, we will look at the often surprising mechanisms by which life-forms and their central nervous systems change from generation to generation. We will find out that nature’s way of problem-solving differs fundamentally from our own methods of finding solutions. It is all the more fascinating to find the many parallels between the evolution of the brain on the one hand and the development of culture and science on the other.

Download audio podcast (45 MB | 48:16 min) (in German)


Life after Brain damage: What is happening to me? Where do I receive Information? Who will explain to me what is happening?

Prof. Dr. Boris Suchan, Clinical Neuropsychology, Faculty of Psychology

For most people stroke or craniocerebral injury comes out of the blue, which is why the need for help after such a blow is most pressing. But where do we find this help? Physiotherapy sessions are quickly arranged, but how do we cope with the events psychologically? The Ruhr University’s Team for Clinical Neuropsychology has developed an online guidebook for this kind of situation and has conducted a scientific evaluation. Prof. Dr. Boris Suchan from the Faculty of Psychology will introduce the guidebook and answer question of our guests.

Download audio podcast (447 MB | 54:15 min) (in German)


Learning to walk again with the help of a Robot Suit.
Does this work?

Dr med. Matthias Sczesny-Kaiser, Neurological Clinic, Berufsgenossenschaftliches Universitätsklinikum Bergmannsheil

Stroke, craniocerebral injury, paraplegia and a host of other impairments of nerves and muscles can lead to, among other things, the paralysis of the legs, which in turn inhibits a person's independence. A consistent conventional neurorehabilitation can considerably improve walking ability, but in most cases it cannot completely restore it. Across the globe medical engineers and biomechanics are attempting to develop robot suits, which aid in the rehabilitation process. Is this development wise? How does the nervous system react to robot-aided training? Can a robot be "better" than "human" physiotherapy? What are the success stories of this approach to date?