Brain Café - 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)


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We can easily put new information into our memories - and we can learn that past learning content is no longer valid.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)



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)



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.



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)