Dr. Dr. Lukas Krone has won the 2022 Young scientist Award of the European Sleep Research Society (ESRS)
The ESRS promotes Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine in Europe. The award is presented every biennially at the European Sleep Research Congress to four young scientists for outstanding scientific contributions. In his project together with the Universities of Oxford and Freiburg im Breisgau on the sleep-modulating effects of clozapine derivatives, Lukas Krone and his doctoral student Janine Traut were able to show systematic changes in the sleep architecture and sleep-related brain activity of mice by substances that have structural similarities to the antipsychotic clozapine.
Lukas Krone has been working since 2021 as an assistant physician and "clinician scientist" at the University Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the of the UPD. Previously, he completed his Ph. in medicine and neuroscience at the universities of Freiburg (Germany) and Oxford (United Kingdom). (UK). For his research on regulatory mechanisms of sleep of sleep, he has already received the Young Investigator Award of the the World Sleep Society in 2020 and the Young Investigator Award of the of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine.
New paper alert: Psychomotor slowing alters gait in schizophrenia
In this study, Nuoffer et al., from S.Walther's team observe that patients with schizophrenia have aberrant gait profiles across multiple parameters such as lower cadence, shorter stride length, poorer gait performance, and less regular gait in several conditions. Moreover patients with psychomotor slowing are specifically impaired when an adaptation of gait patterns is required, contributing to the deleterious effects of sedentary behaviours.
These gait impairments are associated with more severe hypokinetic movement disorders and negative symptoms.
Annekatrin Steinhoff receives SNSF Starting Grant
Dr. Annekatrin Steinhoff from the research department of the University Hospital for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy receives an SNSF Starting Grant (~ CHF 1.8 million) to become an assistant professor at the University of Bern and run a project on adolescent self-harm for a period of five years. The project will focus on the biopsychosocial processes associated with self-harm onset and maintenance.
New paper alert: How slow is slow ? Behavioral Mapping of Psychomotor Slowing in Psychosis
In this paper, Nadesalingam et al., from S. Walther's team established a behavioral mapping if psychomotor slowing in psychosis ( slower gait, lower activity levels, and slower finger movements). Wrist-based actigraphy and observer ratings were the only scale/measurement able to clearly disentangle patients with and without psychomotor slowing. Actigraphy may become the standard assessment of psychomotor slowing in neuroimaging studies and clinical trials.
New paper alert: Group-level brain activations during a finger-tapping task are reliable over 3-weeks
In this study, Wüthrich et al. from S. Walther's team, report the group-level test-retest reliability of an fMRI finger-tapping task. We examined overlap of activations across two sessions using Dice Similarity Coefficients and investigated amplitudes of activations by calculation of ROI-based Intraclass Correlation Coefficients in three sets of ROIs. The task included four different tapping conditions and 31 healthy adults were included in the analyses. We found good to excellent overlap and fair to good amplitude agreement in most contrasts and ROI-sets.
New paper alert: neurodevelopmental origin of catatonia in schizophrenia suggested by structural alreation of the motor cortex
In this work, S. Walther 's team demonstrated alteration in grey matter volume and cortical gyrification in the motor cortex as well as higher order cortical areas to be associated with the presence of catatonia in schizophrenia
New paper alert: Measuring catatonia motor behavior with objective instrumentation
In this study, Känel et al., from S. Walther's team, describe how actigraphy can be used to measure specific catatonia symptoms such as immobility/stupor and staring. This may aid the detection, staging, and monitoring of catatonia in clinical settings.
New paper alert: Study protocol for studuing Brain Stimulation and Group Therapy effect on gesture and Social Skills in Schizophrenia
In this Study protocol, Chapellier et al., from S. Walther's team describe the protocol of a Randomized, Sham-Controlled, Three-Arm, Double-Blind Trial using Brain Stimulation and Group therapy in order to enhance gesture and social skills performance.
Poster prize at the 22nd annual meeting of the Austrian Association of Psychiatry and Psychotherapie (ÖGPP) 28.-30.04.2022
In this work, Lydia Maderthaner and Sebastian Walther demonstrated that the subdomains of though disorders rely on different brain pattern alteration.
Successful workshop on attentional control and prospective memory
With financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation PD Dr. Jessica Peter and Prof. Dr. Matthias Kliegel brought together international and national experts as well as PhD students / Postdocs from Bern and Geneva to have a closer look into the interplay between attentional control and prospective memory. Thanks to everyone for the interesting talks and the lively discussions!
The left - but not the right - prefrontal cortex governs episodic memory formation
In this study, Orth et al., from J. Peter's team used transcranial direct current stimulation to enhance either left or right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity during an incidental learning task. Only stimulation of the left prefrontal cortex enhanced episodic memory formation of information deemed relevant. In addition, only stimulating the left prefrontal cortex enhanced memory formation for positive content.
Nonverbal social perception and social functioning
With this paper, Victoria Chapellier et al., from S. Walther's team, report on the association between deficits in nonverbal social perception in schizophrenia and poor social functioning, impaired functional capacity, blunted affect, avolition and reduced gesture expression.
Motor abnormalities and Schizophrenia
In this paper, Nadesalingam et al. from S. Walther's team, demonstrated that motor abnormalities are associated with poor global and social functioning as well as with poorer functional capacity (i.e., the more severe the motor abnormalities are, the worse are the functional outcomes)
Gesture representations of static and dynamic stimuli are associated with distinct processes contributing to poor social communication in schizophrenia
In this study, Pavlidou et al., from S. Walther team, explored the associations between task performance of static (pictures of hand gestures; PKT) and dynamic (point-light displays; PLD) gestural representations with symptom severity, as well as, motor and cognitive modalities in schizophrenia patients. Although, patients exhibited deficits in the processing of both stimuli, compared to controls, task performance of the dynamic PLDs static stimuli revealed strong associations with multisensory integration processes. This suggests distinct neural processes involved during the processing of static vs. dynamic gesture stimuli. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scog.2022.100240
Low physical activity in schizophrenia is related to motor abnormalities
A novel paper by Sebastian Walther and team reports on lower physical activity in patients with schizophrenia who also have parkinsonism or catatonia. These hypokinetic motor abnormalities are associated with poor physical health, even after correction for age or current medication.
Link paper: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.11.014
Eight year evaluation of the FETZ Bern
Description and evaluation of an early detection and intervention service for children,adolescents and adults (FETZ Bern) aged from eight to forty years in Bern, Switzerland. The FETZ Bern is the first early detection centre worldwide assessing children aged younger than twelve years as well as adolescents and young adults in one service. Considering that, developmental peculiarities are important in understanding and ultimately treating psychosis, the FETZ Bern, with its emphasis on developmental peculiarities, should be considered as a model for other similar services.
Bi-Temporal Anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation during Slow-Wave Sleep Boosts Slow-Wave Density but Not Memory Consolidation
Slow-wave sleep promotes long-term consolidation of episodic memories. This study aimed to modulate hippocampal activity during slow-wave sleep using bi-temporal anodal transcranial direct current stimulation. Stimulation increased slow-wave density but failed to improve memory retention across sleep. Stimulation may even impair retention of weakly encoded memories, presumably by inducing neuronal activity that benefits synaptic downscaling and thus forgetting over memory consolidation during sleep.
New paper on non-invasive brain stimulation and cognitive training
In this study, Krebs and colleagues compared the effect of alternating (tACS) and direct current stimulation (tDCS) on a computer-based cognitive training in healthy older adults. TDCS was able to increase the efficacy of the cognitive training but only in participants with low general cognitive performance at baseline.
New paper on the effects of cortisol administration on craving in patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD)
In this study, Soravia, Moggi and de Quervain could show that cortisol as well as repeated in-vivo exposure to alcohol reduced craving in patients with severe AUD. Adding cortisol to in-vivo exposure might therefore be a promising approach for reducing the strength of drug-associated memories and promote the consolidation of extinction memory in patients with severe AUD.
New Paper on Sleep Neurophysiology in Childhood Onset Schizophrenia
In this study, Markovic et al., examine sleep oscillatory activity as measured via EEG in children and adolescents diagnosed with childhood onset schizophrenia. Compared to age and sex matched controls, patients had diminished high frequency (beta) power over widespread cortical regions coupled with a pattern of hyperconnectivity across brain regions. This study demonstrates the utility of the sleep EEG in studying vulnerable populations and aiding in diagnosis.
New paper on the relationship between paranoia severity and the functional connectivity within the limbic system
In this study, Walther, Lefebvre et al observed that an aberrant increased in functional connectivity between amygdala and hippocampus is linked to paranoia severity in patients with schizophrenia, indicating poor emotion regulation.
New paper on soft signs and white matter in psychosis - not so soft after all
Discrete abnormalities in coordinating and sequencing movements are frequently found in psychosis. Previous studies associated these motor abnormalities with grey matter volume alterations. The novel paper by Viher and colleagues demonstrates alterations in major white matter tracts of the motor circuitry that are linked to neurological soft signs.
New paper on the relationship between structure and function of the cholinergic system
In this study, Peter et al., investigated the relationship between volume of the brain cholinergic system and an electrophysiological measure of central cholinergic signal transmission in healthy adults and patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). They found that patients with MCI had a smaller volume of the cholinergic system than healthy volunteers. More volume of the cholinergic system was associated with better cholinergic signal transmission - but only in healthy adults and not in patients with MCI.
New paper on gesture performance in major depressive disorder
Pavlidou et al., tested non-verbal communication skills in subjects suffering from depression. Patients with current depression performed hand gestures poorer than healthy subjects and these gesture deficits were associated with poor working memory abilities and lower social functioning.
Investigating the neurophysiology of implicit alcohol associations
Analyzing the pattern, timing and generators of Event-Related Potentials, Tschuemperlin and colleagues show that semantic and self-relevant information processing seems more effortful when patients with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) implicitly process positive alcohol associations, probably reflecting the highly ambivalent and personal nature of this topic in this patient group. Furthermore, male, but not female patients displayed an attenuation of emotional processing, thus underlining the importance of gender-sensitive research and treatment in AUD.
Study protocol on hippocampal hyperactivity in MCI
Klink and Peter published a protocol of a study that aims to reduce hippocampal hyperactivity with real-time fMRI neurofeedback in patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment.
New paper on the “addicted brain”
Rohde and colleagues showed in EEG study that impaired alcohol cue processing in patients with alcohol use disorders emerges early, at the stage of sensory processing. Such deficient initial processing seems crucial to understanding cue reactivity processes in the brain and in the subjective experience of craving.
Review on frequency-specific effects of transcranial alternating current stimulation
In a systematic review, Klink and Peter et al. summarized frequency-specific tACS effects on different cognitive functions in healthy volunteers.
Suicide prevention project funded
Dr. Anja Gysin-Maillart and Prof. Sebastian Walther receive 1.5 Million CHF funding from the Swiss Health Promotion to run a four-year project on suicide prevention. The project will test the outreach of an effective short-term psychotherapy (ASSIP) to patients who were previously unable to participate due to immobility or fear of stigma. ASSIP home treatment will implement this short psychotherapy in the patients’ homes and include their network of caregivers.
New paper on gesture in schizophrenia
Walther and colleagues discuss the history, nature, and severity of aberrant gesture processing in schizophrenia. This novel evidence suggests that gesture deficits in schizophrenia represent true apraxia, similar to phenomena in Parkinson’s disease.
Walther S, Mittal VA, Stegmayer K, Bohlhalter S (2020). Gesture deficits and apraxia in schizophrenia.
New paper on the ‘praxis network for gesture production’
New insights into the ‘the praxis network for gesture production’ were nicely observed by a recent work by P. Viher et al.
The praxis network was defined as ‘an undirected graph comprised of 13 bilateral regions of interest’ from which measures of local and global structural connectivity and tract integrity from Finsler geometry were derived.
Structural organization of the praxis network predicts gesture production: Evidence from healthy subjects and patients with schizophrenia.
Viher PV, Abdulkadir A, Savadijev P, Stegmayer K, Kubicki M, Makris N, Karmacharya S, Federspiel A, Bohlhalter S, Vanbellingen T, Müri R, Wiest R, Strik W, Walther S.
Cortex. 2020 Aug 27;132:322-333.
New paper on Catatonia
In a novel and original work by P. Viher et al. Catatonia was investigated using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI). Using the scalar measure of fractional anisotropy (FA), catatonia showed higher FA in many left lateralized WM clusters involved in motor behaviour compared to patients without catatonia, including the CC, internal and external capsule, superior longitudinal fascicle (SLF) and corticospinal tract (CST). These results are in line with the notion of an altered motor system in catatonia. Thus, the study provides evidence for increased WM connectivity, especially in motor tracts in schizophrenia patients with catatonia.
Altered diffusion in motor white matter tracts in psychosis patients with catatonia.
Viher PV, Stegmayer K, Federspiel A, Bohlhalter S, Wiest R, Walther S.
Schizophr Res. 2020 Jun;220:210-217.
New paper on ADHD and Addiction
Moggi and colleagues showed in a longitudinal study comprising almost 5’000 Swiss men that ADHD symptoms is a predictor for the late initiation of substance use and substance use disorder 5 years later, independently from comorbid conduct disorder and sensation seeking.
New opinion article by Annegret Habich et al.
In this article, Habich et al. address how age-related neurophysiological changes impact the brain's responsiveness to tDCS. Additionally, they propose protocol considerations to further boost cognitive gains from the stimulation.
New paper by Annegret Habich et al.
In the absence of beneficial group effects of tDCS on memory performance in young and elderly participants, Habich et al. demonstrate that the participants' baseline levels of cortical excitability may predict subsequent stimulation effects.
New paper by Krebs et al.
Krebs and Peter report that the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation on episodic memory depends on the level of education in patients with memory impairment.
Carole Wagnon received the Young Investigator Award
Carole Wagnon from the research group of PD Dr. Jessica Peter (Old Age Psychiatry and Psychotherapy) received the Young Investigator Award for Best Poster Presentation at the 6th Annual Brain Stimulation and Imaging Meeting. She presented the results of her PhD project on "Supporting incidental learning with transcranial direct current stimulation in healthy young individuals".
New paper by Sebastian Walther et al.
Psychomotor slowing is a major problem in depression and schizophrenia. The team of Prof. Walther presents the first transdiagnostic, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of rTMS on psychomotor slowing. Three weeks of inhibitory stimulation of the supplementary motor area led to 82% responders, while facilitatory stimulation of the same area had no responders at all. This pilot trial is now followed-up with the OCoPS study.
New paper by Ahmed Abdulkadir et al.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) and the University Psychiatry Department of the University of Bern published an article in Annual Review of Biomedical Data Science in which they present the state of the art of computerized brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analysis for diagnostic purposes. Saima Rathore, Ahmed Abdulkadir, and Christos Davatzikos critically evaluated the current clinical usefulness of automated MRI analysis in neuroradiology and highlight challenges and future perspectives of the field.
New paper by Katharina Klink et al.
This study directly compared the effect of transcranial alternating current stimulation to transcrancial direct current stimulation on associative memory performance in healthy older adults.
Inaugural lecture PD Dr. Jessica Peter
The inaugural lecture of PD Dr.phil. Jessica Peter will take place on March, 18 2020 at 5 p.m.
at the "Auditorium Wölfli" University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy,
Universitäre Psychiatrische Dienste Bern, Bolligenstrasse 111.
Neuroimaging fMRI course for 7T at Graduate School for Health Sciences (GHS)
Prof. PhD. Kay Jann of University of Southern California, Los Angeles (USA)
an expert in functional MRI at Ultra High Field (UHF) at 7T will share his expertise
in a dedicated course for GHS students at the "Functional Neuroimaging in Clinical Neuroscience at 3T and 7T"
organized by Prof PhD Andrea Federspiel.
SNF Mobility fellowship for innovative machine learning in aging neuroscience for APP researcher
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) awarded a two-year mobility fellowship to Dr. Ahmed Abdulkadir. This project will be conducted at the renowned University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) in Philadelphia, USA, in the Center for Biomedical Image Computing & Analytics (CBICA) headed by Prof. Christos Davatzikos.
The ambitious goal is to use large-scale MRI data and advanced machine learning to improve the identification and characterization of biological and clinical sub-types and stages in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, to yield more accurate prognoses.
New paper by Jessica Peter et al.
Dr. Jessica Peter et al. demonstrated that a reduction in negative mood via transcranial direct current stimulation improved memory performance in young adults but not in older adults.
Schizophrenia Bulletin paper
"Single Session Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Ameliorates Hand Gesture Deficits in Schizophrenia"
is the title of a novel and original paper of Prof. Dr. Sebastian Walther et.al.,
In this article the effect of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on hand gesture performance in Schizophrenia is nicely demonstrated.
Inaugural lecture of PD Katharina Stegmayer
The inaugural lecture of PD Dr. med. Katharina Stegmayer.will take place on August, 23 2019 at 16:30
at the "Auditorium Wölfli" University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy,
Universitäre Psychiatrische Dienste Bern, Bolligenstrasse 111.
Outstanding paper on Lancet Psychiatry by Prof. Sebastian Walther et al.
"Structure and neural mechanism of catatonia" by S. Walther, K. Stegmayer, E. Wilson and S. Heckers
is the title of the remarkable paper in Lancet Psychiatry, Vol 6, Issue 7, July 2019, pages 610-619.
In this paper the syndrome of Catatonia is discussed in light of novel evidence from brain imaging studies.
Dr. Jessica Peter receives funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has awarded a project grant of 551’830 SFr to Dr. Jessica Peter. The project will investigate the influence of reward on prospective memory (i.e., the ability to remember to carry out intentions with a certain delay) in elderly individuals with a special focus on the underlying neural correlates.
Large NIMH grant for Prof. Sebastian Walther
Large NIMH grant supports research on psychomotor disturbances in depression
Prof. Sebastian Walther (University of Bern), Prof. Stewart Shankman and Prof. Vijay Mittal (both Northwestern University) are the three principal investigators of an R01 grant awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) exploring motor behavior in depression. In the next five years the large-scale longitudinal project receives 2.4 million US Dollars direct costs plus 1 million USD of indirect costs. Project title: “An examination of psychomotor disturbance in current and remitted MDD – an RDoC Study”
Universitäre Psychiatrische Dienste (UPD)
new MRI magnets (7T and 3T) for research in Bern
Prof. Sebastian Walther has been awarded a project grant by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)
Prof. Sebastian Walther has been awarded a project grant by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) of 452’000 SFr. The randomized controlled trial will explore the combination of TMS and group psychotherapy to improve gesture behavior and social functioning in psychosis.
Project title: “Combined social cognitive remediation and neurostimulation to improve nonverbal communication in Schizophrenia: a longitudinal study on neurobiology, functional capacity, and social outcome”
Seminar Series "Multimodal Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation"
Eight international experts present novel combinations of brain stimulation techniques and neuroimaging methods to study the causal underpinnings of human cognition and behaviour.
Grant: Stiftung Synapsis Alzheimer Forschung Schweiz
Prof. Stefan Klöppel, Prof. Christoph Nissen, Dr. Marc Züst and Marina Wunderlin from the University Hospital of Old Age Psychiatry and Psychotherapy/ the University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy have received a grant of 300’000 Swiss francs from Stiftung Synapsis. The grant was awarded for the project ‘Improving slow wave sleep to enhance memory consolidation and new learning in individuals at risk for dementia’.
Successful Workshop on “Closing Loops in Cognitive Neuroscience”
Upon the invitation of two young researchers, international and local experts discussed recent advancements in neuroadaptive approaches during a 2-day workshop (21 – 22 January 2019).
Paper in European Psychiatry
Research from the University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy was published in 'European Psychiatry'. This cross-sectional study in young adults from the community revealed that help-seeking is mainly influenced by the mediation of quantity of mental problems/disorders and functional impairment. We found a significant gap in the treatment of mental problems/disorders with only 7% of individuals with any current axis-I problem/disorder being currently treated or in any help-seeking contact for their mental problems. Findings highlight the importance of future campaigns promoting help-seeking to focus on psychosocial functioning, aside from signs of mental illness.
SNF Scientific Exchange Grant
Dr. Chantal Michel from the University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy received a SNF Scientific Exchange Grant for her project 'Neurobiological Mechanisms of Auditory Verbal Hallucinations in Youth with Borderline Personality Disorder', funding her stay at the Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia.
Universitäre Psychiatrische Dienste (UPD)
Recent paper about Glucocorticoid and it' s effect on Salience Network...(read more)
Universitäre Psychiatrische Dienste (UPD)
Successful past Symposium at June 23th, 2018 in Bern/Inselspital