System Physiological Studies

Systems physiology studies

The scientific focus of the institute is on the study of brain networks that are important for motor function. The research focuses on both the healthy brain and people with movement disorders or neuropsychiatric diseases.

Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome

One research focus is Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome. Several project grants and collaborations have enabled us to establish a research focus on this:


"Multimodal investigations of functional interactions and plasticity in the neuronal network linking action observation and execution: a combined functional MRI, MEG and TMS approach". (Volkswagenstiftung; 2003-2006),

"Multimodal investigation of neuronal circuits involved in execution and inhibition of self-determined and externally guided movements in Tourette syndrome" (German Research Foundation MU 1692/2-1 and 2-2; 2006-2009).

Cooperation project in collaboration with Hartwig Siebner (Research Center for Functional and Diagnostic Imaging and Research, Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR), Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre) and Alfons Schnitzler (Institute for Clinical Neuroscience and Medical Psychology) (University of Düsseldorf)

"Intentional inhibition and self-control in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome" (DFG MU 1692/3-1; 2010-2014)

Collaborative project with the research groups of Patrick Haggard (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London) and Marcel Brass (University of Ghent).

"Psychophysical methods in the context of pharmacological and behavioural therapeutic approaches to the treatment of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome" (DFG MU 1692/4-1, 2015-2017).

Cooperation project with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Dresden (Veit Roessner, Christian Beste).

The aforementioned funding allowed the establishment of a national and international clinical and scientific focus on Tourette syndrome. To this end, the DFG established a cross-location research group (spokesperson: Alexander Münchau) at the University of Lübeck and the University of Dresden in 2018 and extended it into the second funding period in 2022 (DFG Research Group "Cognitive theory for Tourette syndrome - a novel perspective (TEC4Tic)" (FOR 2698).

Genetically determined movement disorders

Another research focus, in close cooperation with the Institute of Neurogenetics, is systems research in genetically determined neurological / neurogenetic diseases. Numerous preliminary studies on this topic enabled us, together with Prof Klein, to participate in the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 936 ‘Multi-Site Communication in the Brain’ with a project in each of the three funding periods

"Connectivity and plasticity in cortical motor networks in Parkin gene associated parkinsonism and dopa responsive dystonia" (1st funding period 2011-2015).

"Modulation of the action selection and error processing networks in genetic parkinsonism using rTMS and DBS". (2nd funding period 2015-2019).

"Characterization of action control networks in genetically determined parkinsonism" (3rd funding period 2019-2023).

Functional movement disorders

Patients with functional movement disorders exhibit abnormal movements that are incongruent with the symptoms of well-defined neurological disorders. Although functional movement disorders are very common, to date there are no uniformly valid treatment recommendations, which is why many patients do not experience satisfactory treatment of their symptoms. This is particularly unfortunate as effective treatment can sometimes lead to a complete reduction in symptoms. The reason for this is that functional movement disorders are not based on structural lesions in the nervous system. Rather, there is probably an abnormal interaction between different areas of the brain which leads to an impairment of motor function.

We are trying to understand the underlying processes in the brain that constitute functional movement disorders. In a large proportion of patients, we observe an increased attentional focus on the abnormal movements and, associated with this, a disturbed perception of self-generated movement. Recent scientific studies on this disorder confirm this view.

From a conceptual point of view, this requires therapeutic approaches in which the refocusing of attention is trained. Therefore, we initiated a clinical trial to investigate therapeutic options for functional movement disorders:

ReMAP-FMD: Metacognitive therapy and neuro-physiotherapy for the treatment of functional movement disorders - a randomised, observer-blinded feasibility study.

Further information can also be found under clinical trials.