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RG Neuroimaging of Addictive Behaviour


Head of the Research Group

apl. Prof. Dr. Sabine Vollstädt-Klein

Phone: +49 621 1703-3912

Fax: +49 621 1703-3505


Research and Administrative Building, 3rd Floor, Room 321



The Research Group „Neuroimaging of Addictive Behaviour“ investigates the neurobiological underpinnings of addictive behaviors using multimodal imaging. The RG is part of the Department of Addictive Behaviour and Addiction Medicine (Medical Director: Prof. Dr. Falk Kiefer). The research focus is the pathogenesis of addiction disorders, the identification of mechanisms that trigger relapse, neural addiction biomarkers and  the influence of genetic variation in addiction initiation and maintenance („Imaging Genetics“).

Addictive Behaviour is associated with impairments in higher cognitive functions including inhibitory control and decision making but also incapacities that relate to stress response, affective and emotional processing,  sensitivity to addiction (or drug) related stimuli , and irregularities in motivational and reward seeking behaviors. The investigation of the above mentioned domains is achieved not only using a wide range of well-established experimental paradigms but also with the validation and implementation of newly developed addiction related tasks within the group.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the imaging method mainly used with a focus on functional MRI, voxel-based morphometry (VBM), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Two 3-Tesla tomographs are available at the institute. In projects with external cooperation partners, positron emission tomography (PET) is applied. Additionally to imaging methods, neuropsychological and psychometric methods and questionnaires are developed and validated to examine addictive behavior.

Besides substance-related disorders (mainly alcohol, tobacco, opioid addiction), the RG is focusing on behavioral addictions in cooperation with the RG on internet and media addiction and the RG on pathological gambling. The projects do not only cover fundamental research, but also serve to improve and evaluate therapeutic interventions. Considering that heterogeneity is characterizing addictive behaviours, a further goal of the RG is to develop and apply multivariate statistical methods (e.g. pattern recognition, cluster analysis) to identify subgroups of addicted patients with individual treatment needs.

Zentralinstitut für Seelische Gesundheit (ZI) - https://www.zi-mannheim.de