Neurological Clinic, Jena University Hospital,
Psychological Head Memory Center,
Head of Research Group Neurocognition across the lifespan
phone: +49 3641 9-323474
on the assessment of underlying mechanisms of normal and pathological changes across the life span
on the efficacy of enhancement methods in healthy participants and participants at high risk for cognitive decline
1. Normal and pathological neuro-cognitive changes across the life span Across the life span significant changes in neuro-cognition are found, e.g., in the field of visual attention. The assessment of such changes in healthy participants allows the characterisation of normal aging processes and their neural bases. More severe changes, however, are induced by pathological developments, that can occur during diverse life span phases, but are most pronounced in late life. In the project “Aging and the effect of predictability and utility on perception” which is part of the DFG FOR “Active Perception” we combine the assessment of behavioral and neuronal data in healthy participants and patients with cognitive impairments. Our aim is a better differentiation of normal and pathological aging processes and their respective neural bases. We have a particular focus on patients with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, who are assessed at the Memory Clinic at JUH.
2. Neuro-cognitive enhancement in healthy participants and patients at risk for cognitive decline Non-invasive neuro-cognitive enhancement methods promise cognitive benefits in both healthy participants and patients at risk for cognitive decline. We assess the possibilities and limitations of different methods, such as computerized cognitive training, transcranial direct current stimulation and physical exercises. In the project “Age-dependent impact of physical activity on gut-brain axis in human” (PIs Kathrin Finke, Stefan Brodoehl, Andreas Stallmach), which is part of the JUH-headed and EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie funded ITN SmartAge, we analyze the effect of physical exercises on cognitive, neural and gut-brain barrier functions. These methods are applied in healthy participants and different patient groups, and we assess their efficacy by the use of clinically established and experimentally based diagnostic tools. As the individual response to such interventions is highly variable, it is central to identify a priori those individuals with the greatest probability for benefit. We thus investigate which cognitive and neuronal biomarkers might serve for such prediction.
3. Tele-medical cognitive computer therapy for survivors of severe sepsis Cognitive dysfunction is a major and debilitating problem in sepsis-survivors. Patients suffer from significant cognitive problems especially in the domains of attention and executive functions. So far, effective and feasible training strategies to improve cognitive deficits in those patients have not yet been evaluated. In the BMBF-funded project “Stratifying and treating sepsis-associated cognitive dysfunction” (STARDUsT; PIs Kathrin Finke, André Scherag Christian Geis) at the Center of Sepsis Control and Care (CSCC) we assess whether these defects can be influenced by specific home-based neuropsychological training. We will perform neuropsychological evaluation in post-sepsis patients that are included in the Mid-German Sepsis Cohort (MSC). MSC patients who are screened with cognitive dysfunction but no manifest dementia syndrome are included in a computerized home-based training (experimental vs. control training) provided by the company Synaptikon GmbH and supervised online by a psychologist. Training effectiveness is evaluated by comparison of pre- and posttest neuropsychological results.
4. Early diagnosis of dementia risk with telemedical devices Early identification of patients at risk for developing dementia is essential in order to identify potential treatable underlying causes of cognitive dysfunction in time and to define and initiate individually optimized treatment for each patient. Patients in the phase of „mild cognitive impairment“ (MCI) suffer from cognitive dysfunction that goes beyond normal aging effects, but who do not show severe impairments in daily life activities. They are at high risk for developing dementia in the following years. In specialized centers these patients can be identified based on sensitive neuropsychological assessment tools. However, access to such centers in rural areas, and especially for patients with chronic diseases and mobility restrictions is often hampered. In the project TELE-FRED (pilot installation for the tele-medical early diagnosis of dementia patients in rural areas in Thuringia) we want to foster the improvement of the inter-sectorial communication structure using new, tele-medically usable technologies. In co-operation with the University of Oxford (Nele Demeyere) and the tele-medical company MEYTEC Informationssysteme GmbH we want to improve the diagnosis of MCI with a tablet-based test (OCS-Plus) and virtual reality glasses with integrated eye movement measures (eyetracker). The aim is to make such sensitive diagnostic instruments accessible, and thereby to improve the early detection of patients with risk for developing dementia, in rural areas.
Assessment of Age-Related Cognitive Changes
Clinical neuropsychological standard procedures
Tablet-based cognitive assessment
Parameterized assessment based on psychophysical experiments and mathematical modelling based on theory of visual attention (TVA)
Penning MD, Ruiz-Rizzo AL, Redel P, Müller HJ, Salminen T, Strobach T, Behrens S, Schubert T, Sorg C, & Finke K. (In press) Alertness training increases visual processing speed in healthy older adults. Psychological Science.
Haupt, M., Ruiz-Rizzo, A. L., Sorg, C., & Finke, K. (2020). Right-lateralized fronto-parietal network and phasic alertness in healthy aging. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-10.
Menegaux, A., Bäuerlein, F. J., Vania, A., Napiorkowski, N., Neitzel, J., Ruiz-Rizzo, A. L., Müller, H. J., Sorg, C. & Finke, K. (2020). Linking the impact of aging on visual short-term memory capacity with changes in the structural connectivity of posterior thalamus to occipital cortices. NeuroImage, 208, 116440.
Demeyere, N., Haupt, M., Webb, S., Strobel, L., Milosevich, E., Moore, M. J., Wright, H., Finke, K. & Duta, M. The Oxford Cognitive Screen–Plus (OCS-Plus): a tablet based short cognitive screening tool for milder cognitive impairment.
Göttler, J., Kaczmarz, S., Nuttall, R., Griese, V., Napiórkowski, N., Kallmayer, M., Wustrow, I., Eckstein, H.H., Zimmer, C., Preibisch, C., Finke, K. & Sorg, C. (2020). The stronger one-sided relative hypoperfusion, the more pronounced ipsilateral spatial attentional bias in patients with asymptomatic carotid stenosis. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 40(2), 314-327.
Haupt, M., Ruiz-Rizzo, A. L., Sorg, C., & Finke, K. (2019). Phasic alerting effects on visual processing speed are associated with intrinsic functional connectivity in the cingulo-opercular network. Neuroimage, 196, 216-226.
Menegaux, A., Napiorkowski, N., Neitzel, J., Ruiz-Rizzo, A. L., Petersen, A., Müller, H. J., Sorg, C. & Finke, K. (2019). Theory of visual attention thalamic model for visual short-term memory capacity and top-down control: Evidence from a thalamo-cortical structural connectivity analysis. NeuroImage, 195, 67-77.
Ruiz-Rizzo, A. L., Sorg, C., Napiorkowski, N., Neitzel, J., Menegaux, A., Müller, H. J., Vangkilde, S. & Finke, K. (2018). Decreased cingulo-opercular network functional connectivity mediates the impact of aging on visual processing speed. Neurobiology of Aging. doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.09.014.
Haupt, M., Sorg, C., Napiórkowski, N., & Finke, K. (2018). Phasic alertness cues modulate visual processing speed in healthy aging. Neurobiology of Aging, 70, 30-39.
Künstler, E. C. S., Penning, M. D., Napiórkowski, N., Klingner, C. M., Witte, O. W., Bublak, P., & Finke, K. (2018). Dual task effects on visual attention capacity in normal aging. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1564.
Ruiz-Rizzo, A. L., Bublak, P., Redel, P., Grimmer, T., Müller, H. J., Sorg, C., & Finke, K. (2017). Simultaneous object perception deficits are related to reduced visual processing speed in amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of Aging, 55, 132-142.
Menegaux, A., Meng, C., Neitzel, J., Bäuml, J. G., Müller, H. J., Bartmann, P., Wolke, D., Wohlschläger, A.M., Finke, K. & Sorg, C. (2017). Impaired visual short-term memory capacity is distinctively associated with structural connectivity of the posterior thalamic radiation and the splenium of the corpus callosum in preterm-born adults. Neuroimage, 150, 68-76.
Neitzel, J., Ortner, M., Haupt, M., Redel, P., Grimmer, T., Yakushev, I., Drzezga, A., Bublak, P., Preul, C., Sorg, C. & Finke, K. (2016). Neuro-cognitive mechanisms of simultanagnosia in patients with posterior cortical atrophy. Brain, 139(12), 3267-3280.
Gögler, N., Willacker, L., Funk, J., Strube, W., Langgartner, S., Napiórkowski, N., Hasan, A. & Finke, K. (2016). Single-session transcranial direct current stimulation induces enduring enhancement of visual processing speed in patients with major depression. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.
Schubert, T., Finke, K., Redel, P., Kluckow, S., Müller, H.J., & Strobach, T. (2015). TVA-based assessment of multiple visual attention aspects in persons with video game experience: the role of personality traits and of training. Acta Psychologica, 157, 200-214.
Third Party Funding
Third Party Funding
EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network, ITN, “Gut-brain axis: Targets for Improvement of Cognition in the Elderly ” (SmartAge); 2021-2024. Project “Age-dependent impact of physical activity on gut-brain axis in human”
BMBF Center for Sepsis Control and Care (CSCC) project “Stratifying and treating sepsis-associated cognitive dysfunction” (STARDUsT); 2019-2020.
DFG Research Group FOR 2293 “Active Perception”. Project Fi 1424/2-2; “Aging and the effect of predictability and utility on perception“; 2020-2022.
DFG Research Group FOR 2293 “Active Perception”. Project Fi 1424/2-1 “Active Perception and functional connectivity in normal and pathological aging“; 2016-2019.
TMASGFF (Thuringian Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Family) “pilot installation for the tele-medical early diagnosis of dementia patients in rural areas in Thuringia” (TELE-FRED); 2018-2020.
EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network, ITN-2013-606901 “Individualized Diagnostics and Rehabilitation of Attentional Disorders” (INDIREA). Project “Structural and Intrinsic functional connectivity in relation to visual attention in healthy and pathological aging”; 2014-2017.
External Scientific Partners
LMU Munich, Psychology Prof. Hermann J. Müller, Dr. Adriana Ruiz-Rizzo, PD Markus Conci, PD Thomas Töllner
LMU Munich, Psychiatry Prof. Frank Padberg, PD Hasan Alkomeit
TUM Munich, Hospital Rechts der Isar, Neuro-Head-Center PD Christian Sorg
Oxford University, Experimental Psychology Prof. Anna Christina Nobre, Prof. Masud Husain, Dr. Nele Demeyere
University of Copenhagen, Center of Visual Cognition (CVC) Prof. Claus Bundesen, Prof. Thomas Habekost, Dr. Signe Vangkilde, Dr. Anders Petersen
Charité Berlin, Neurology PD Antje Kraft
Max-Planck-Institute for Educational Research Berlin Dr. Iris Wiegand
Bielefeld University, Excellence cluster CITEC Prof. Werner X. Schneider, Dr. Christian Poth
Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Psychology Prof. Torsten Schubert
MSH Medical School Hamburg, Psychology Prof. Tilo Strobach
Chemnitz University, Physics of Cognitive Processes Prof. Einhäuser-Treyer