Forschungsschwerpunkt Translationale Neurowissenschaften Mainz


Research group „Neurodegeneration and normal aging”

Changes associated with healthy cognitive aging mainly affect cognitive domains related to frontal brain areas such as executive functions, working memory, attention, and psychomotor functions. Besides these normal alterations in cognitive performance, the likelihood of developing cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases also increases with advanced age. Empirical studies have shown that the usual objective criteria for Alzheimer’s pathology (i.e. CERAD criteria) are not sufficient to explain the clinical phenotype of Alzheimer’s dementia. For a better understanding of the development of cognitive dysfunction or dementia syndromes it is thus important to consider pathogenetic vulnerability factors (i.e. cerebral amyloidosis, cerebrovascular lesions, ApoE4) as well as individual resilience (especially education and intelligence as so called ‘cognitive reserve’).

Recent findings using amyloid imaging suggest that cognitive healthy elderly with severe cerebral amyloidosis have more efficient resistance- or compensation mechanisms against cognitive decline than age matched cognitive healthy elderly with less cerebral amyloid burden. It has become of pivotal interest in neurodegenerative research to get a better understanding of the prerequisites of these compensatory mechanisms in elderly with brain functional- and structural changes, but normal cognitive performance. On the one hand it could explain clinical phenotypes of cognitive dysfunction or dementia by determining the interaction of objective pathology and individual resilience and/or vulnerability. On the other primary or secondary preventive strategies can be applied.

The focus of our research group is structural (and functional) imaging of the connectivity of the brain as modulator of healthy and pathological cognitive aging. We investigate the association of age, cognitive performance, and structural (in future also functional) connectivity. Furthermore, we determine the relationship between these interactions and several intrapersonal factors. It is known that intrapersonal factors such as ApoE status, education, general intelligence, physical – and social activities can modulate the cognitive aging process. Finally we examine the impact of these vulnerability- or resilience factors on the manifestation and development of early neurodegenerative diseases (especially Alzheimer’s disease).

Several analysis methods based on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) i.e.) can be used to reconstruct and investigate structural connectivity of the brain. These include fibertractography and track based spatial statistics (TBSS). A newly implemented method to determine functional connectivity depicts functional MRI in a resting condition (resting state fMRI). Besides connectivity analyses, we also apply volume based analysis methods including volume measurement of the hippocampus and determination of cortical thickness. These analyses are used as surrogate brain markers of the aging process as well as to evaluate effective compensatory mechanisms. Further objectives of our research group aim to improve fiber-tracking and hippocampal volumetric methods.


Head of group:

Prof. Dr. Andreas Fellgiebel


Deputy Head of imaging group:

Dipl.-Psych. Dominik Wolf


Team members:

Dr. rer. soc. Dipl.-Psych. Armin Scheurich

Dipl.-Psych. Dominik Wolf

MSc Psychology Irene Lelieveld

Dipl.-Psych. Lisa Zschutschke

MA Florian Fischer

Dr. med. Katharina Geschke


Former Team members:

Dr. med. Igor Yakushev

Dr. rer. Physiol. Ingrid Schermuly

Carsten Weibrich

Dipl.-Psych. Christine Ploch (geb. Wolf)

Dipl.-Gerontol. Nina Laux


Recent publications:

Wolf, D., Fischer, F.U., Fesenbeckh, J., Yakushev, I., Lelieveld, I.M., Scheurich, A., Schermuly, I., Zschutschke, L., Fellgiebel, A. (2012). Structural integrity of the Corpus Callosum predicts long-term transfer of Fluid intelligence related training gains in normal aging. Human Brain Mapping, doi: 10.1002/hbm.22177.


Fischer, F., Scheurich, A., Wegrzyn, M., Schermuly, I., Bokde, A., Klöppel, S., et al. (2012). Automated Tractography of the Cingulate Bundle in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Multi-Center DTI Study. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 36:84-91.


Bastin, C., Yakushev, I., Bahri, M.A., Fellgiebel, A., Eustache, F., Landeau, B., Scheurich, A., Feyers, D., Collette, F., Chételat, G., Salmon, E. (2012). Cognitive reserve impacts on inter-individual variability in resting-state cerebral metabolism in normal aging. Neuroimage, 63:713-722.


Yakushev, I., Müller, M.J., Buchholz, H.G., Lang, U., Rossmann, H., Hampel, H., Schreckenberger, M., Fellgiebel, A. (2012). Stage-dependent agreement between cerebrospinal fluid proteins and FDG-PET findings in Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Alzheimer Res, 9:241-247.


Fellgiebel, A., Wolf, D.O., Kolodny, E., Müller, M.J. (2012). Hippocampal atrophy as a surrogate of neuronal involvement in Fabry disease. J Inherit Metab Dis, 35:363-367.


Geschke, K., Fellgiebel, A., Laux, N., Schermuly, I., Scheurich, A. (2012). Quality of Life in Dementia: Impact of Cognition and Insight on Applicability of the SF-36. Am J Geriat Psychiat,  doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e31824877f3.


Geschke, K., Scheurich, A., Schermuly, I., Laux, N., Böttcher, A., Fellgiebel, A. (2012). Hausarztbasierte Demenzversorgung: Effektivität früher psychosozialer Beratung der Angehörigen. Dtsch med Wochenschr, 137:2201-2206.


Riepe, M.W., Fellgiebel, A. (2012). Demenzleitlinien: was in der Praxis ankommen sollte. Dtsch med Wochenschr, 137:1499-1504.


Fellgiebel, A., & Yakushev, I. (2011). Diffusion tensor imaging of the hippocampus in MCI and early Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD, 26 Suppl 3:257–262.


Fellgiebel, A., Yakushev, I. (2011). Diffusion tensor imaging of the hippocampus in MCI and early Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis, 26:257-262.


Schermuly, I., Wolf, D., Lieb, K., Stoeter, P., & Fellgiebel, A. (2011). State dependent posterior hippocampal volume increases in patients with major depressive disorder. Journal of affective disorders, 135:405–409.


Yakushev, I., Gerhard, A., Müller, M.J., Lorscheider, M., Buchholz, H.G., Schermuly, I., Weibrich, C., Hammers, A., Stoeter, P., Schreckenberger, M., Fellgiebel, A. (2011). Relationships between hippocampal microstructure, metabolism, and function in early Alzheimer’s disease. Brain Struct Funct, 216:219-262.


Yakushev, I., Fellgiebel, A. (2011). Horizontal versus longitudinal axis of the hippocampus: metabolic differentiation as measured with high-resolution PET/MRI. J Nucl Med, 52:329-330.


Fellgiebel, A., Keller, I., Martus, P., Ropele, S., Yakushev, I., Böttcher, T., Fazekas, F., Rolfs, A. (2011). Basilar artery diameter is a potential screening tool for Fabry disease in young stroke patients. Cerebrovasc Dis, 31:294-299.



02. November 2017
NIC meeting
Renee Visser (University Camebridge) presents her work on “Imaging the dynamic nature of emotional memory” in the NIC meeting on Thursday, November 2nd at 12am. ...more
19. October 2017
NIC meeting
Benjamin Meyer (NIC) will present his new study investigating  “The neural networks of instructed fear” in the NIC meeting on Thursday, October 19th at 12 in the seminar room....more
14. September 2017
NIC meeting
Christian Paret (Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim) will give a talk on “Real-time fMRI neurofeedback from the amygdala: Feasibility, clinical application and brain mechanisms” in the NIC meeting on Thursday, September 14th....more