System Physiological Studies

The Institute’s main focus is on motor system research both in healthy people and patients with movement disorders and neuropsychiatric diseases. 

This focus developed in recent years, inter alia, through a project sponsored by the Volkswagenstiftung called ‘Multimodal investigations of functional interactions and plasticity in the neuronal network linking action observation and execution: a combined functional MRI, MEG and TMS approach’, in which a multimodal approach including behavioral studies, fMRT-, MEG-, and TMS-examinations investigated the question of which brain regions are important in the observation of movement.

A series of project grants by the German Research Foundation (DFG) contributed to this development as well.

These included the projects ‘Multimodal investigation of neuronal circuits involved in execution and inhibition of self-determined and externally guided movements in Tourette syndrome’ (DFG MU 1692/2-1 and 2-2), in collaboration with H.R. Siebner (Research Center for Functional and Diagnostic Imaging and Research, Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR), Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre) and the 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), in cooperation with the research groups of P. Haggard (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London) and M. Brass (University of Ghent); and ‘Psychophysical Methods in the Context of Pharmacological and Behavioural Therapeutic Approaches for the Treatment of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome’ (DFG MU 1692/4-1) in cooperation with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Dresden (V. Roessner, C. Beste).

The above-mentioned grants allowed the establishment of a national and international clinical and scientific focus on Tourette’s Syndrome. For this purpose, the DFG set up a Research Unit (spokesperson: A. Münchau) at the University of Lübeck and the University of Dresden in 2018 (DFG Research Group ‘Cognitive theory for Tourette syndrome - a novel perspective (TEC4Tic)’ (FOR 2698).

Thanks to the very close and mutually beneficial cooperation with the Institute of Neurogenetics, the focus on systems research in genetically determined neurological / neurogenetic diseases could be established.  This has led to numerous studies, including studies on phenotype-genotype relationships in patients with primary focal dystonia, myoclonus dystonia, the so-called rapid-onset dystonia parkinsonism, paroxysmal dystonia and genetically determined Parkinson's syndromes. As a result, the study ‘Connectivity and plasticity in cortical motor networks in Parkin gene associated parkinsonism and dopa responsive dystonia’ developed and has been included as an independent project in the SFB 936 ‘Multi-Site Communication in the Brain’ in the first funding period. In the second funding period of the SFB 936, A. Münchau along with C. Klein were head of the subproject ‘Modulation of the action selection and error processing networks in genetic parkinsonism using rTMS and DBS’. During the third funding period, A. Münchau and C. Klein are involved in the project ‘Characterization of action control networks in genetically determined parkinsonism’.

By establishing the Centre for Rare Diseases (Zentrum für Seltene Erkrankungen, ZSE) at the University of Lübeck and the UKSH, campus Lübeck, the field of rare diseases has been structurally anchored into the university framework. In addition to and interlocked with the studies already mentioned, system physiological examinations for defined rare neurological / neurogenetic diseases represent another focus of the Institute. In this context, the DysTract Consortium, the German Network for Translational Research and Treatment of Dystonic Diseases, was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).