RG Systems Neuroscience in Psychiatry (SNiP)


Dipl.-Psych., Physician, Head of the Research Group

Prof. Dr. Dr. Heike Tost

Phone: +49 621 1703-6508, -6510


Research and Administrative Building, 4th Floor, Room 418


The work group Systems Neuroscience in Psychiatry conducts a broad range of projects dedicated to the examination of the genetic and environmental risk mechanisms of mental disorders in humans using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Specifically, the group focuses on the identification of intermediate neural mechanisms by combining multimodal neuroimaging, genome-wide genetic association data, environmental assessment, and cutting-edge data acquisition and analysis techniques. One research priority is the characterization of structural and functional intermediate phenotypes for genetic risk in carriers of candidate and genome-wide supported genetic risk variants, rare copy number variants, and in populations at high genetic risk for psychiatric illness such as unaffected first-grade relatives (projects: NGFN+ MooDS, BMBF-UFN, INTEGRAMENT, BCCN, EU-AIMS). The studies include the development of complex analysis methods for genetic association data in neuroimaging space (e.g., gene set enrichment analysis, voxel-wise GWAS, gene fine mapping approaches, graph theory methods). A second focus is on the examination of the effects of social environmental risk factors for mental health (e.g., urbanization, ethnic minority background) on the processing of social stress and social interactions (projects: EU-GEI, KFO 256, PEZ, EU-AIMS). A third focus is on the examination and modulation of plasticity processes in prefrontal neural circuits in health and schizophrenia using rTMS, established learning paradigms, and pharmacological challenge (projects: SFB 636, BMBF-UFN). To conduct these studies, the group has developed sophisticated multimodal data acquisition protocols in the MRI environment, including the implementation of hyperscanning to study real-time social neural interactions (projects: KFO 256, EU-GEI), the combination of fMRI-TMS and fMRI-EEG (projects: SFB 636, EU-NEWMEDS), virtual reality environments (project: BCCN), and the development of fMRI test batteries and analysis strategies with established statistical quality criteria for pharmacological research (projects: EU-NEWMEDS, EU-AIMS).