Human thinking and feeling is individually very variable. Approximately 50 percent of this variability is probably genetically determined and is due in no small part to minimal differences in genetic information, so-called polymorphisms.
Our Imaging Genetics lab uses modern methods of functional imaging and experimental psychology to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying human cognitive functions. We are particularly interested in the molecular components of excitatory brain synapses, whose main transmitter is glutamate, in their interaction with molecules of neuromodulatory transmitter systems, e.g. dopamine, adrenalin or serotonin. We work closely with the Human Genetics Department of the OVGU Magdeburg, the Institute for Molecular and Clinical Immunology, the Institute for Inflammation and Neurodegeneration, the DZNE Magdeburg and the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Charité Berlin and the University Hospital Göttingen.
Björn Schott studied medicine in Kiel, Magdeburg and London from 1995 to 2002. In 2004 he completed his doctorate as Dr. med. and in 2008 as Dr. rer. nat. He is a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy and his research focuses on the extent to which genetic and immunological factors affect learning and memory processes in humans and their disturbance in old age and in neurological and psychiatric diseases.
Constanze Seidenbecher studied biochemistry at the Martin-Luther-University Halle from 1983 to 1988 and received her doctorate at the Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg in 1996. In 2005, she was awarded the Venia legendi for Biochemistry at the Otto-von-Guericke University Medical Faculty, where she was appointed associate professor in 2015. Since 2004 she has also been responsible for the scientific organization and public relations at LIN.
Heads Prof. Dr. Constanze Seidenbecher +49-391-6263-92401 firstname.lastname@example.org PD Dr. Dr. Björn Schott +49-391-6263-92401 email@example.com Sekretary Carola Schulze +49-391-6263- 92311 firstname.lastname@example.org Postdocs Dr. Anni Richter +49-391-6263-93152 email@example.com Lejla Colic firstname.lastname@example.org PhD students Julius Heil +49-391-6263-93152 email@example.com Lea Knopf +49-391-6263-93152 firstname.lastname@example.org Matthias Raschick +49-391-6263-93152 email@example.com Clara Schietke +49-391-6263-93152 firstname.lastname@example.org Annika Schult +49-391-6263-93152 email@example.com Technical staff members Gusalija Behnisch +49-391-6263-93152 firstname.lastname@example.org Students Jaqueline Mertha Vanessa Wöhner
Synaptogenetics of human learning and memory
Synaptic plasticity mechanisms, which constitute the cellular basis of learning and memory processes, depend on a multitude of adapter and signaling proteins that are the core research subject of the Department of Neurochemistry and Molecular Biology. In our research group, we focus on the role of naturally occurring genetic variations of these proteins in human learning and memory (Barman et al., 2014; Schott et al., 2014)
Dopaminergic modulation of implicit and explicit learning
Action and valence are commonly confounded in studies of motivated learning, but they are, in fact, not independent. For example, it is much harder to suppress an action in order to obtain a reward, than to avoid a punishment. We could demonstrate that the difficulty in learning the association of response suppression and reward is particularly pronounced in carriers of a gene variant of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) that has previously been associated with risk for addiction (Richter et al., 2014; Samochowiec et al., 2014). Furthermore, gene variants associated with lower DRD2 expression could also be linked to individual variability of reward-related explicit memory formation (Richter et al., 2017).
MemAgIn: Age-related memory decline and chronic inflammation
We are part of the research alliance “Autonomy in Old Age” funded by the State of Saxony-Anhalt and the European Union. In our project “Immune Factors and Aging”, we collaborate with the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Immunology (Prof. Dr. B. Schraven, Prof. Dr. D. Reinhold) in an interdisciplinary attempt to elucidate the effects of chronic subclinical inflammation on cognitive decline in the elderly. We have further established a collaboration with the Institute of Inflammation and Neurodegeneration (Prof. Dr. I. R. Dunay), in which we use Toxoplasma gondii as a model for inflammation-dependent synaptic pathology (Lang et al., 2018).
Midline brain structures and human long-term memory
Midline brain structures like the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the precuneus are considered core regions of the so-called Default Mode Network (DMN), which is typically more active during resting conditions (“mind wandering”) than during attention-demanding tasks. It is well known, that the DMN plays an important role in social cognition (Barman et al., 2015), and we could demonstrate that the information flow to the DMN during social cognitive tasks is primarily regulated via inhibitory processes (Soch et al., 2017). Recently, we could further identify a parietal midline region, the dorsal precuneus, as a key structure in spatial long-term memory formation (Schott et al., 2018).
- Selected Publications
Barman A, Assmann A, Richter S, Soch J, Schütze H, Wüstenberg T, Deibele A, Klein M, Richter A, Behnisch G, Düzel E, Zenker M, Seidenbecher CI, Schott BH (2014). Genetic variation of the RasGRF1 regulatory region affects human hippocampus-dependent memory. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:260. Available from: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00260
Lang D, Schott BH, van Ham M, Morton L, Kulikovskaja L, Herrera-Molina R, Pielot R, Klawonn F, Montag D, Jaensch L, Gundelfinger ED, Smalla KH, Dunay IR (2018). Chronic Toxoplasma infection is associated with distinct alterations in the synaptic protein composition. Journal of Neuroinflammation 15:216. Available from: 10.1186/s12974-018-1242-1
Richter A, Barman A, Wüstenberg T, Soch J, Schanze D, Deibele A, Behnisch G, Assmann A, Klein M, Zenker M, Seidenbecher CI, Schott BH (2017). Behavioral and neural manifestations of reward memory in carriers of low-expressing versus high-expressing genetic variants of the dopamine D2 receptor. Frontiers in Psychology 8:654. Available from: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00654
Richter A, Guitart-Masip M, Barman A, Libeau C, Behnisch G, Czerney S, Schanze D, Assmann A, Klein M, Düzel E, Zenker M, Seidenbecher CI, Schott BH (2014). Valenced action/inhibition learning in humans is modulated by a genetic variant linked to dopamine D2 receptor expression. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 8:140. Available from: 10.3389/fnsys.2014.00140
Samochowiec J, Samochowiec A, Puls I, Bienkowski P, Schott BH (2014). Genetics of alcohol dependence: a review of clinical studies. Neuropsychobiology 70:77-94. Available from: 10.1159/000364826
Schott BH, Assmann A, Schmierer P, Soch J, Erk S, Garbusow M, Mohnke S, Pöhland L, Romanczuk-Seiferth N, Barman A, Wüstenberg T, Haddad L, Grimm O, Witt S, Richter S, Klein M, Schütze H, Mühleisen T, Cichon S, Rietschel M, Nöthen MM, Tost H, Gundelfinger ED, Düzel E, Heinz A, Meyer-Lindenberg A, Seidenbecher CI, Walter H (2014). Epistatic interaction of genetic depression risk variants in the human subgenual cingulate cortex during memory encoding. Translational Psychiatry 4:e372. Available from: 10.1038/tp.2014.10
Schott BH, Wüstenberg T, Lücke E, Pohl IM, Kizilirmak JM, Seidenbecher CI, Pollmann S, Richardson-Klavehn A (2018). Gradual acquisition of visuospatial associative memory representations via the dorsal precuneus. Human Brain Mapping, in press.
Soch J, Deserno L, Assmann A, Barman A, Walter H, Richardson-Klavehn A, Schott BH (2017). Inhibition of information flow to the Default Mode Network during self-reference versus reference to others. Cerebral Cortex 27:3930-3942. Available from: 10.1093/cercor/bhw206
- Third Party Funds
LSA/ESIF „Autonomie im Alter“ – „Immunfaktoren und Altern“ (mit B. Schraven & D. Reinhold, OVGU)
DFG „Einfluss von Stress auf die Kopplung von Aktion und Valenz beim instrumentellen Lernen“ (Forschungsstipendium A. Richter, Karolinska Institut)
LIN SpecialProject „Hippocampus-dependent versus striatum-dependent spatial learning - in latent toxoplasmosis – a cross-species investigation“
Promotions-Abschluss-Stipendium der Otto von Guericke-Universität (Lea Knopf)
Our lab offers internships, master theses and medical doctoral theses for motivated and scientifically interested students. If you are interested, please contact Björn Schott at bjoern.schott(at)lin-magdeburg.de.
- Become a test person?
Probands wanted for memory study
What is the study about?
It is about the question why some people can remember things better or react faster than others in certain situations. The scientists are investigating what influence certain messenger substances of the immune system have on these abilities.
Who can participate?
We are looking for healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 80 without psychiatric, neurological or severe chronic diseases. Interested parties should be right-handed. In addition, there should be no reasons against MRI, such as pacemakers, joint prostheses or retainers.
How can I register?
There are two ways to contact us: by e-mail at altersstudie(at)lin-magdeburg.de or by answering machine at 0391-626392291 (please give your name, date of birth and contact details for a callback).
Contact persons are Matthias Raschick and Annika Schult. Björn Schott is the study director.
How much time do the volunteers have to plan?
The volunteers should expect 3 hours each on 2 consecutive days.
On the first day, the respondent must complete questionnaires on health and MRI suitability as well as carry out small tests with various tasks on the computer that examine attention, memory, reaction time and ability to concentrate. In addition, a small amount of blood is taken from the participant.
The second day is followed by an MRI examination, which lasts about 50 minutes. The activation patterns in the brain are measured to solve a simple problem. This is followed by a few questionnaires and computer tests.
When and where does the experiment take place?
After an individual appointment at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Brenneckestr. 6 in Magdeburg.
What is the benefit of the test person?
The respondent receives feedback on his test results and can compare himself with his peers. In addition, the participant subsequently receives an MRI image of his brain. There is also an expense allowance of 56 euros.