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New brain imaging lab

In December 2019, a new functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner lab was established at LMU Munich. The scanner is dedicated solely to research, including research-oriented teaching, and administered by the Munich Center for Neurosciences - Brain and Mind (MCN-LMU), conjointly with the LMU Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry.

State-of-the-art MRI scanner for research and training

The new Siemens 3-Tesla Magnetom Prisma scanner is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), as the result of a suc­ces­sful ‘large-research equipment’ application by Professors Hermann J. Müller (Psychology), Peter Falkai (Psychiatry), and Benedikt Grothe (Neurobiology).

The new fMRI imaging laboratory provides the infrastructure for basic research and re­search-oriented training (e.g., in the ENB-associated M.Sc. program in Neuro-Cognitive Psychology or LMU’s Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences – GSN-LMU), on the brain mechanisms underlying core psycho­logi­cal functions, and dysfunctions (including perception, attention, memory, cognitive control, social cognition, etc.), in children, adolescents, and adults (including older individuals), as well as neurological and psy­chiatric patients.

The aim of this research is to uncover how normal cognitive processes are implemented in the brain, in terms of both the brain structures and the dynamics of the neural networks involved, and how they may become dysfunctional in neuro-/ psychological and -psychiatric disorders. Understanding the underlying brain me­cha­nisms may explicate the relation between psychology and neuroscience and thus con­tri­bute to comprehensive psy­cho­logical theory building as well as fostering the de­ve­lop­ment of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

Another major goal is to link the new fMRI scanner with existing imaging and brain stimulation technologies (e.g., EEG, TMS) at LMU Munich. This also involves the build up of solid bridges between cognitive-neuroscientific data and the growing concepts of com­pu­tatio­nal neuroscience and artificial intelligence. 

Of note, an essential component of the new fMRI scanner lab is a core facility team (including a new W3-Professorship for Sensory and Cognitive Systems), supporting research scientists and students alike, from study design through implementation of the experimental set-up to data analysis. “This is a unique situation allowing us to involve advanced-level students in state-of-the-art neuroscientific research”, says Prof. Dr. Hermann J. Müller, director of the Elite Graduate Program „Neuro-Cognitive Psychology”.

Text: Elite Graduate Program "Neuro-Cognitive Psychology"