Our organism constantly integrates information about the internal state with external environmental cues to adapt behavioural and autonomic responses to ensure physiological homeostasis. The Translational Neurocircuitry Group investigates how the human brain represents, integrates and prioritizes these internal and external signals to initiate adequate behavioural and physiological responses with a special focus on circuit-level models, metabolic mechanisms and human cognition.
Our groups’ main research focus concerns the physiological pathways by which internal bodily signals are communicated to the brain to interact with reward processing and motivated behaviour. In this regard, we examine the identity of neural systems in the regulation of food intake and pathophysiological consequences of overeating in obesity and its related disorders. Our group therefore not only complements, but also extends the basic research currently being pursued at the Institute on metabolic processes with studies on human physiology as well as clinical diseases and pertaining states.
Our research strategy requires a highly interdisciplinary approach combining theoretical and experimental work along with an infrastructure that supports prospective validation studies in humans. Our aim of investigating the interplay of body and brain and its link with human behavior and cognition is realized through the use of recent technological advances to probe neurocircuitry in vivo. These include diffusion and functional MRI (fMRI) of the brain as well as the spinal cord, quantitative MRI delivering markers for neuroinflammation, PET, EEG as well as neuromodulatory techniques such as transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation or pharmacological interventions.