Experimental Psychopathology and Neurophysiology
The Section Experimental Psychopathology employs experimental approaches from cognitive neuroscience to investigate psychopathological phenomena. The section’s core theme is the investigation of cognitive disorders in patients with schizophrenia. However, it has to be emphasized that the section is also a competence platform within the Centre for Psychosocial Medicine, which allows to address a wide spectrum of disorders in cooperation with other departments within the centre. The Section Experimental Psychopathology was founded by Professor Christoph Mundt and developed by Manfred Spitzer (now Professor at Ulm) during the early 90ies. Matthias Weisbrod leads the section since 1996. Attached to the section are 1.5 research and 0.25 secretary posts. In addition there are several externally funded researchers as well as hospital doctors and psychologists, who participate in the section in addition to their clinical work.
We employ the following methods:
- Neuropsychological Testing
- Cognitive Electrophysiology (EEG, ERP, Source Modelling, Q-EEG)
- Peripheral Neurophysiology (EDA)
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
- Magnetoencephalography (MEG) in cooperation with the Section Biomagnetism at the Department of Neurology
- Structural and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) in cooperation with the Department of Neuroradiology
Regarding cognitive disorders in schizophrenic patients we investigate impairments at several levels of information processing. On a basic level we address early visual information processing and motor processes. On a higher level an important focus is on executive function, attention and working memory. These cognitive capacities are investigated with above mentioned methods. The results from this work are employed to develop specific training programs and pharmacologic treatment options for cognitive disorders. We now offer a specialty clinic (PAKT) for psychiatric patients with cognitive disturbances, especially for patients with schizophrenia.
In addition we employ methods from population and molecular genetics to disentangle the influence of genetic factors on psychopathologic, neuropsychological and neurophysiological disturbances in patients with schizophrenia. The Heidelberg twin study is based in the Section Experimental Psychopathology.
In cooperation with the Department for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry we investigate the role of maturation in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and the physiological, psychological and psychiatric correlates of headache in children and adolescents. Together with the Department for Psychosomatic Medicine we investigate the neurophysiological basis of eating disorders. Within the Department of Psychiatry collaborations address affective and obsessive-compulsive disorders.