Brain Café - 2019

06.11.2019

HOW INTENTIONAL FORGETTING MAKES US MORE PRODUCTIVE.

Prof. Dr. Annette Kluge, Lehrstuhl Arbeits-, Organisations- & Wirtschaftspsychologie, Fakultät für Psychologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Routines - for example, in the manufacturing of devices - help us to work effectively. But what happens when a work process changes and the learned routine no longer leads to the desired result? This question is dealt with by a research group of the priority program "Intentional Forgetting in Organizations" at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. They examine how relearning works in a working context and how best to forget about previous ways of working. The lecture should also illuminate and under what circumstances wilful forgetting succeeds best.

09.10.2019

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SYNAPSES FIRE?

Juniorprof. Dr. Andreas Reiner, NG Cellular Neurobiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Our brain is a unique organ made up of nearly 100 billion nerve cells. But how do these cells communicate with each other? The lecture will give an insight into the fascinating world of the molecules and the cells that make our brain a powerful computer. Based on current research examples, Andreas Reiner will explain how the signal transmission and signal processing at individual synapses can be investigated, how they adapt to changing conditions, and why this is important for our understanding of diseases and learning processes.

Download audio podcast (40,8 MB | 44:35 min)

04.09.2019

Neurorehabilitation: How the chip in the brain conquers paralysis

Dr. Christian Klaes,
Emmy Noether research group leader, Department for Neurosurgery, University Medical Center Knappschaftskrankenhaus Bochum

Quadriplegics are paralyzed from the neck down and rely on intensive help in everyday life. Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) in conjunction with robotic systems offer patients a way to become more autonomous. In our research group, we are exploring new ways to improve BCI, thereby improving the quality of life of paralyzed patients. The talk will also look at how we use virtual reality to test different scenarios and robotic systems, and use modern machine learning techniques to optimize the interpretation of the neural data.

Download audio podcast (40,8 MB | 44:35 min)

26.06.2019

How Pigeons help us to understand a complex learning behaviour: Extinction learning

Dr rer nat Roland Pusch, Faculty for Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum

We can easily put new information into our memories - and we can learn that past learning content is no longer valid. Once acquired contents are not forgotten, but temporarily overridden by a new learning process. The Collaborative Research Centre 1280 at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum deals with this so-called extinction learning. In my talk, I introduce this learning concept and use selected experiments from the Department of Biopsychology to explain how we explore the complex processes of extinction learning - with the help of domestic pigeons.

Download audio podcast (89,7 MB | 39:13 min)

22.05.2019

CAN STRESS CHANGE OUR GENOME?

Dr Vanessa Lux, AE Genetic Psychology, Faculty for Psychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Everybody has experienced that stress gets under their skin. The new research field of epigenetics has now shown that stress can also influence the way genes are transcribed in our cells. At least if this stress is experienced in certain sensitive phases of our development. The basis is molecular changes in the chromatin, the material that makes up the genetic material. But how stable are those epigenetic changes? Are they possibly the basis for mental illness? And can they even be inherited? Vanessa Lux explains what epigenetics is and how and when stress alters the genome. She also gives an outlook on what we can expect in the future from epigenetic stress research.

10.04.2019

INHERITED DISEASES - FROM SYMPTOMS TO DIAGNOSIS IN HUMAN GENETICS

Dr Wanda M. Gerding, Department of Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Ruhr-University Bochum

Some brain diseases - such as Huntington's disease - are codified in the patient's genome. How do you detect these genetic diseases? The Diagnostic Laboratory of the Department of Human Genetics at the Ruhr University Bochum carries out analyses on the most diverse genetic diseases. In her lecture, Dr Wanda Gerding takes a "virtual tour" through the lab and shows different methods of analysis and the daily practice in human genetics (not just) for brain diseases.

13.03.2019

THE INFLUENCE OF SLEEP ON MEMORY AND MENTAL WELL-BEING

Dr Lorena Deuker, Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department for Neuropsychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

About one third of our adult life is spent in our sleep. During sleep, we are restricted or not at all receptive to external stimuli, so this condition poses a potential threat to attacks. Nevertheless, almost all higher-developed organisms sleep. This indicates that sleep brings an evolutionary advantage. What exactly this advantage includes has not yet been finally clarified. It is increasingly considered as an established fact that sleep is crucial for memory formation. It also plays a role in almost all psychiatric disorders as a cause or as an accompanying effect. In this lecture current insights of neuroscience regarding sleep and memory are presented and the connection with psychiatric disorders is discussed. The last section discusses how sleep quality can be improved in everyday life based on current research results.

Download audio podcast (32,7 MB | 45:45 min)

20.02.2019

REPAIR OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM: NEW APPROACHES FROM RESEARCH

Univ.-Prof. Dr Dietmar Fischer, Department of Cell Physiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Damage to the nervous system due to accident or illness often leads to permanent disabilities. An injury to the optic nerve, for example, can lead to permanent blindness and damage to the spinal cord can lead to life-long paraplegia. The reason for this is a regeneration weakness of the severed nerve fibres; they cannot grow together again. The Department of Cell Physiology is developing new therapies to facilitate or improve these regenerative processes. Their latest research results will be presented in the lecture.

23.01.2019

THE DRUMMING BRAIN – HOW DRUMMING ALTERS THE BRAIN

Dr. rer. nat. Lara Schlaffke, AG Neuroplastizität, Neurologische Klinik und Poliklinik, BG Universitätsklinikum Bergmannsheil GmbH

As a rule, people can perform fine motor tasks with either the left or the right hand very well. Professional drummers however possess the extraordinary ability to play different rhythms at very high speed with both arms and legs. Neuroscientists call this ability hand decoupling. Through years of training the musicians alter their brain structure- and function. That is, why drummers are a good example to study the mechanisms of hand decoupling in the brain. The presentation will discuss which aspects of the normal brain play an important role in motor function and which changes, by contrast, are found in the brains of drummers.

Download audio podcast (19,3 MB | 26:35 min)