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RG CLinical neuroscience of Motor Behavior (CLIMB)


Managing assistant medical director, Head of the Research Group

apl. Prof. Dr. Dusan Hirjak

Phone: +49 621 1703-2540


Research and Administrative Building, 4th Floor, Room 409


The working group "Clinical Neurosciences of Motor Behaviour" (CLIMB) deals with the elucidation of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the motor behavior and motor symptoms of psychiatric patients. The motor behavior of people with mental disorders is determined by a large number of influencing variables which interact in complex ways. The motor domain plays a particularly important role because it is visible from the outside, easy and precisely to measure, hereditary and of a quantitative nature. An overriding goal of the working group's activities is therefore to break down common (translational) and differing (disorder-specific) mechanisms of motor/behavioral abnormalities by correlating clinical and imaging parameters of psychiatric patients. A major focus of the working group is to answer questions regarding motor functions/systems (fine motor skills, gross motor skills, hyperkinesis, akinesia, and initiation/coordination of movement sequences) as well as their brain circuits in mental disorders using both structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This also involves the characterization of brain-associated pathomechanisms of genuine and pharmacogenic motor abnormalities in schizophrenic psychoses, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive and neurodevelopmental disorders with early onset (autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and Tourette's syndrome).

Motor dysfunction in terms of structural and functional changes of motor networks is located in the neurodevelopmental path between genetic vulnerability and manifest psychiatric disorder. Therefore, motor dysfunction seems to be an intermediate phenotype well suited for the investigation of the genetic basis of psychiatric disorders, as it can only be influenced by a few genetic and non-genetic (environmentally associated) factors. CLIMB also investigates the extent to which motor dysfunction can be used as a prognostic biomarker in first-episode or chronic schizophrenia patients in daily clinical routine. Last but not least, CLIMB wants to contribute to the differentiation of mental disorders by delineating neurobiologically reliable motor-associated parameters/networks/mechanisms and thus establish biologically meaningful treatment strategies. These research priorities are currently funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG HI 1928/2-1), among others. CLIMB  cooperates nationally and internationally with other scientists and is involved in national multicentre projects.

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