Dynamic Neuroimaging and Intervention in Psychiatry

The work group uses imaging techniques (fMRI, DTI, volumetry, resting-state) in order to elucidate the neuronal basis of key symptoms of psychiatric diseases. One of the current interests of research regards the systematic investigation of the biological underpinnings of positive-symptoms in patients with schizophrenia and their first-degree relatives. Another important goal is to investigate functional patterns of memory processes in patients with schizophrenia and affective disorders. Moreover, work-group is managing projects concerned with the investigation of emotion processing in affective disorders (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia) by means of fMRI, MRI, as well as neuropsychological tests. Herein physiological parameters are monitored via biofeedback-devices and can subsequently be linked to psychometrical assessments of emotion perception and cognitive performance. The scientific approach that is persued by the work-group is complemented by investigations regarding the influence of biological markers, i.e. certain genes, and their effect on brain function and associated clinical symptoms, respectively.

Furthermore, the work-group is involved in investigating the effect of biofeedback-therapy, yoga and sports- and activity on clinical symptoms and cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders. Moreover, the investigation of effects of resource activation and self-esteem intervention during group therapy on symptoms of depression is also a topic of the work group intervention research. Aside from exploring therapeutic effects on clinical and cognitive disorders, it is also of interest to monitor the impact of the aforesaid methods on biological markers (e.g. neurochemical markers, fMRI-patterns and physiological variables).


Particular focus areas include:

  • Neuronal correlates of cognition and emotions in affective disorders and schizophrenia
  • Effects of physical exercise (Yoga, aerobic endurance training) on cognitive performance, clinical symptoms and physiological parameters
  • Effects of Biofeedback-Therapy on affective symptoms
  • Psychotherapy effects regarding interventions involving self-esteem and resource activation strategies

Selected current projects:

  • Neuronal and genetic correlates of schizophrenia
  • Structural- and functional changes in bipolar disorders as correlate of memory deficits
  • Emotion recognition and -processing in affective disorders and in schizophrenia
  • Effects of aerobic endurance training on cognitive performance, clinical symptoms and physiological parameters
  • Effects of Ashtanga-Yoga in patients with affective disorders
  • Effects of Biofeedback-Therapy on affective symptoms

Group members:

Viola Oertel (Group leader)

Kirsten Zabel (MD-student)

Marco Trettin (MD-student)

Ceylan Balaban (MD-student)

Miriam Bieber (MD-student)

Esra Görgülü (MD-student)

Jannis Dvorak (MD-student)

Marie Hilke (MD-student)

Angelo Schleussner (Member)



  • Translational Psychiatry Research Group and Department of Clinical Medicine (Prof. A. Carvalho), Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil
  • Centre for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (Ass.-Professor G. Alves), Rio de Janeiro, Brasilien
  • Prof. Dr. Daniela Roesch-Ely (Klinik für Psychiatrie, Universität Heidelberg)
  • Institut für Sportpsychologie (Prof. F. Hänsel), Technischen Universität Darmstadt
  • School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands (Prof. D. Linden)
  • Department of Neurocognition (Dr. V. van de Ven), University of Maastricht, Niederlande


Selected publications:

Oertel, V., Knoechel, C., Rotarska-Jagiela, A., Schönmeyer, R., Lindner, M., van de Ven, V., Haenschel, C., Uhlhaas, P., Maurer, K., Linden, D.E.J. Reduced laterality as a trait marker of schizophrenia – evidence from structural and functional neuroimaging”. Journal of Neuroscience 2010, 30:6: 2289-2299.

Oertel-Knöchel, V. Reinke, B., Hornung, A., Knöchel, C., Matura, S., Knopf, M., Prvulovic, D., O’Dwyer, L., Lindner, M., Rau, A., Hampel, H., Haenschel, C., Linden, D.E.J. Autobiographical memory in bipolar disorder: a fMRI-study. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 2012, Apr;200(4):296-304

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Knöchel, C., Matura, S., Rotarska-Jagiela, A., Prvulovic, D., Haenschel, C., Hampel, H., Linden, D.E.J. Association between psychotic symptoms and cortical thickness reduction across the schizophrenia spectrum. Cerebral Cortex, 2013, Jan;23(1):61-70.

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Knöchel, C., Matura, S., Rotarska-Jagiela, A., Magerkurth, J., Prvulovic, D., Haenschel, C., Hampel, H., Linden, D.E.J. Cortical-basal ganglia imbalance in schizophrenia patients and unaffected first-degree relatives. Schizophrenia Research, 2012 Jul;138(2-3):120-7.

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Reinke, B., Alves, G., Jurcoane, Al., Wenzler, S., Prvulovic, D., Linden, D.E.J., Knöchel, C. Frontal white matter alterations are associated with executive cognitive function in euthymic bipolar patients. Journal of Affective Disorders 2014 Feb;155:223-33.

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Reinke, B., Feddern, R., Knake, A., Knöchel, C., Prvulovic, D., Pantel, J., Linden, D.E.J. Episodic memory impairments in bipolar disorder are associated with functional and structural brain changes. Journal of Bipolar Disorders, 2014 Dec;16(8): 830-45.

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Mehler, P., Steinbrecher, K., Tesky, V., Thiel, C., Ademmer, K., Banzer, W., Hänsel, F., Schmitt, A., Malchow, B., Prvulovic, D. Effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive performance and individual psychopathology in depressive and schizophrenia patients. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2014 Oct;264(7): 589-605.

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Knöchel, C., Matura, S., Stäblein, M., Prvulovic, D., Maurer, K., Linden, D.E., van de Ven, V. Association between symptoms of psychosis and reduced functional connectivity of auditory cortex. Schizophr Res. 2014 Dec;160(1-3):35-42.

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Lancaster, T.M., Knöchel, C., Stäblein, M., Storchak, H., Reinke, B., Jurcoane, A., Kniep, J., Prvulovic, D., Mantripragada, K., Tansey, K.E., O’Donovan, M.C., Owen, M.J., Linden, D.E. Schizophrenia risk variants modulate white matter volume across the psychosis spectrum: evidence from two independent cohorts. Neuroimage Clin. 2015 Mar 13;7:764-70.

Oertel V, Kraft D, Alves G, Knöchel C, Ghinea D, Storchak H, Matura S, Prvulovic D, Bittner RA, Linden DEJ, Reif A, Stäblein M. Associative Memory Impairments Are Associated With Functional Alterations Within the Memory Network in Schizophrenia Patients and Their Unaffected First-Degree Relatives: An fMRI Study. Front Psychiatry. 2019 Feb 19;10:33.

Alves GS, Knöchel C, Paulitsch MA, Reinke B, Carvalho AF, Feddern R, Prvulovic D, Sudo FK, Pantel J, Reif A, Oertel V. White Matter Microstructural Changes and Episodic Memory Disturbances in Late-Onset Bipolar Disorder. Front Psychiatry. 2018 Oct 9;9:480.

Sarlon, J., Plaszczyk, S., Engel, S., Oertel-Knöchel, V. Electrophysiological parameters as biomarkers for psychiatry: Intra-individual variability and influencing factors. Int J Psychophysiol. 2017 Nov 18.

Stäblein M, Storchak H, Ghinea D, Kraft D, Knöchel C, Prvulovic D, Bittner RA, Reif A, Oertel-Knöchel V. Visual working memory encoding in schizophrenia and first-degree relatives: neurofunctional abnormalities and impaired consolidation. Psychol Med. 2019 Jan;49(1):75-83.

Dvorak J, Hilke M, Trettin M, Wenzler S, Hagen M, Ghirmai N, Müller M, Kraft D, Reif A, Oertel V. Aberrant brain network topology in fronto-limbic circuitry differentiates euthymic bipolar disorder from recurrent major depressive disorder. Brain Behav. 2019 May 7:e01257.

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Hänsel, F. Aktiv für die Psyche. Sport- und Bewegungsinterventionen bei psychisch kranken Menschen. Springer Verlag Heidelberg, 2016. Originalarbeit.

Oertel-Knöchel, V., Matura, S. (Hrsg). Bewegung und Sport gegen Burnout, Depressionen und Ängste. Springer-Verlag Heidelberg, 2017. Originalarbeit.