Brain Café - 2017



Prof. Dr. Georg Juckel, Ärztlicher Direktor des LWL-Universitätsklinikum Bochum, Direktor der Klinik für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Präventivmedizin

Inflammatory factors and the activation of our immune system can play a crucial role in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Psychoneuroimmunology researchers examine the interplay of stress and the release of cytonkines as well as the activation of immune competent cells with mental disorders. It is known that illnesses like burnout and depression or schizophrenic diseases can be regarded as autoimmune diseases as well. This realization is important for the development of new treatments for these severe illnesses.

Download audio podcast (96 MB | 41:48 min)



PD Dr. Kerstin Hellwig, Klinik für Neurologie, St. Josef-Hospital Bochum, Clinic of Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Two thirds of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients are women and the disease is diagnosed most often between the age of 20 and 40. New findings suggest that the number of MS-diagnoses increases in women, while the prevalence in men remains constant. The reasons for that are fully understood. It is assumed that environmental factors cause the disorder. Important questions will be addressed, regarding e.g. the short- and long-term influence of a pregnancy on MS or the right hormone management. The talk will give an overview over the specifics of MS in women.

Download audio podcast (29,2 MB | 34:22 min)


Living (brain-) dead?
Philosophical questions about the brain death criterion and the transplantation medicine

Alexa Nossek, Institute of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Many people decide to donate their organs after their death. But how do you decide when a person is really dead? The brain death criterion has been a matter of debate for some years. Some people feel skeptical about it. The first part of this talk deals with the medical and legal issues of the brain death criterion. The second part discusses the definition of death (What does someone's death mean?) and the death criterion (How can we determine someone's death?). The question whether the brain death criterion is a viable death criterion will also be addressed. The last part highlights the ethical dimension and deals with the practical consequences for organ transplantations.

Download audio podcast (24,9 MB | 34:36 min) (in German)


Challenges for the auditory system
Echo cancellation in the auditory system as a crucial component for sensory perception

Dr. Ida Siveke, General Zoology and Neurobiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

An exhilarating conversation at a cocktail party is a huge challenge for our auditory system: The ear receives a lot of varying auditory information from different sources. All acoustic sources need to be processed at once to locate their origin. Reflections from the walls create additional illusions and echoes. The brain needs to separate all the sound impressions to recognize the echoes as such. Neuronal studies have shown that a complex circuit in the brainstem, consisting of inhibitory and excitatory neurons, suppress the echoes and filter out the relevant signals. This process provides us with our precise perception and enables us to understand our conversation partner at the next party.

Download audio podcast (82 MB | 35:59 min) (in German)


To the brain and back again:
A journey through theoretical neuroscience

Dr. Fabian Schönfeld, Theory of Neural Systems, Institut für Neuroinformatik, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Neuroscience has many faces: Anatomy, psychology and biology – concepts that everyone has a grasp of. We would like to invite you to unknown waters and join us on our journey through the theoretical neuroscience: Virtual rats, learning machines and computer clusters are our tools to explore the brain. They help us to understand how the brain turns the chaos of sensory impressions it is faced with into the highly developed performance we accept as a given.

Download audio podcast (20 MB | 30:20 min) (in German)


Are mental disorders specifically human? Similarities and differences in the mind of humans and animals

Prof. Dr. Martin Brüne, Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Preventive Medicine, LWL University Hospital, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Even Charles Darwin wondered if mental disorders appeared in animals and which factors would be crucial for that. Although we cannot ask animals directly how they feel, behavioural observations and neurobiological tests provide indications that animals change their mood and behaviour similar to humans with mental disorders. This analogy is used in the pharmacological research. But there are also forms of expression and symptoms in human mental disorders that cannot be simulated in animals. Which conclusions can we draw from this comparison? Does the view on mental disordered animals change our view of humans and animals? And is there any therapeutic benefit?

Download audio podcast (96 MB | 41:48 min) (in German)


The Implementation of Neuroscientific Methods as a turning point in Intelligence Research

Dr. Erhan Genc, Biopsychology, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Everybody has a distinctive conception of intelligence and an opinion on how much the intelligence of someone contributes to his success in life. This talk starts with a definition of intelligence and explains how we can make it quantifiable for research purposes. Subsequently follows a description of the influence of genetic and environmental parameters on the human intelligence. At last we will illustrate the importance of neuroscientific methods for intelligence research. Therefore we will explain different research methods and discuss recent findings. Hereby the audience gets an impression on how human intelligence is related to the structural and functional architecture of the brain.


The sick memory - from Freud to Alzheimer

Prof. Dr. Nikolai Axmacher, Neuropsychology, Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Remembering and memory are vital for our autobiographical identity; at the same time, loss of memory is one of the most common neuropsychological symptoms. This lecture will start by describing the function of healthy forgetting and will then focus on forms of pathological forgetfulness. It will become clear that memory may be affected for a variety of reasons: the suppression of autobiographical conflicts, the experience of psychological trauma, or, in a most dramatic way, as part of Alzheimer's disease. Even though memory is fragile and an easily impaired psychological capability, there is cause for hope that innovative therapeutic approaches may in the future be able to treat even complex memory deficits.

Download audio podcast (136 MB | 59:42 min) (in German)