Methods and Labs
Neuroimaging and brain stimulation

State-of-the art brain imaging and stimulation techniques enable us to elucidate the contributions of specific brain regions and networks to the processes and disorders under investigation.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigate the activity and connectivity of brain areas under resting state conditions (resting state fMRI) as well as the responses to experimental stimuli, ranging from neutral images or sounds to pleasant touch and unpleasant pain stimuli. Quantitative magnetic resonance spectroscopy (q-MRS) allows us to determine the concentration of specific neurotransmitters that are of particular importance for the activity and communication of brain areas. In addition, voxel-based morphometry (VBM) provides us with important insights into the structure of the brain, for example the size of individual brain regions. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) allows us to examine the fiber connections between brain regions.

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Automatisch generierte BeschreibungFunctional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a non-invasive imaging method that measures changes in blood flow in the brain. It uses the special properties of near infrared light to determine the concentration of oxygen in the blood and thus indirectly the activity of nerve cells. fNIRS is a modern method in neuroscience to measure the activity of cortical, i.e. superficial, brain regions. Compared to fMRI, fNIRS is more mobile and allows its use in a variety of natural situations. . It even provides opportunities to test multiple people simultaneously, allowing the assessment of the synchronization of brain activity between individuals.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) are non-invasive neuromodulatory techniques that are based on the application of electrical currents to the scalp to modulate brain activity. In tDCS, a constant, low current is used, while in tACS an oscillating current is used. tDCS and tACS are used in clinical applications and in basic research to investigate the causal role of cortical brain regions. For instance, the prefrontal cortex can be stimulated to test whether it plays a significant role in emotion regulation.


MRI research is carried out on two research MRI scanners (Siemens Magnetom Prisma, 3 Tesla with 64-channel coil) at the RUB Research Department of Neuroscience (RDN) in Bochum and the Leibniz Institute for Work Research at TU Dortmund University (IfADo). In addition, there is access to 3-Tesla MR scanners at the University Hospital Knappschaftskrankenhaus Bochum and the University Hospital Essen through collaborations in the context of ongoing studies by professors Elsenbruch and Icenhour.

Two fNIRS devices (NIRSport 2 Wireless) and a stimulator with 4 channels (Neurocare) are in use at the Department of Social Neuroscience (Prof. Dirk Scheele).


In our experimental studies, we collect various psychophysiological measures that provide information about the activity of the autonomic nervous system and possible changes induced by emotional and cognitive processes.