The International Research Training Group “Brain-behavior relationship of emotion and social cognition in schizophrenia and autism” (IRTG 1328) is formed by German and American scientists of the RWTH Aachen University with the University Hospital Aachen, the Research Center Jülich (all within the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance, JARA) and the University of Pennsylvania and is funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG). The major aims of the German-American IRTG are interdisciplinary and international scientific co-operation and the support of young scientists with aspiration to cutting-edge research. Three basic principles shape the profile of the IRTG: excellence, innovation and international co-operation. To make allowance for the various aspects of the complex clinical disorders of schizophrenia and autism, scientists from a widespread area of disciplines are involved, including medicine, psychology, biology, physics and computer science, among them some of the world’s leading experts in the respective fields. The excellence of faculty and trainees and the international character of the enterprise combine to provide a uniquely inspiring research environment. The IRTG offers a study program that structures an internationally collaborative doctoral process under joint mentorship of a German and an American supervisor. The participants of the IRTG apply advanced brain imaging techniques, including structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI and fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG), computational modeling of brain dysfunction, receptor distribution and microstructural, architectonic brain mapping, to study the neurobiological basis of emotion processing in schizophrenia and autism.

The IRTG 1328 represents the only structured doctoral program in Germany that is explicitly focused to the neural basis of two clinically and socio-economically highly relevant psychiatric disorders, schizophrenia and autism.

Multisensory interactions and their brain correlates

Audio-visual interactions within the cortical hierarchy was the title of a talk given by Dr. Ute Noppeney (MPI for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen) on 04 March. To interact effectively with our environment, the human brain integrates information from multiple senses into a coherent percept. Dr. Noppeney presented recent neuroimaging findings concerning the underlying physiological mechanisms of these multisensory interactions. She gave a comprehensive but detailed introduction into this highly ambitious field of research. The talk stimulated lively discussions among students and interested guests.

New insights from schizophrenia research
Tuesday, 22 January 2008 00:00

Neuropsychology and schizophrenia was the title of a highly interesting talk given by Prof. Ulrich Ettinger (Centre for Neuroimaging Studies, King´s College, London) on 22 January. Prof. Ettinger presented neuropsychological findings like deviations in anti-saccade eye movements in schizophrenia patients and pointed out their relevance for a better understanding of schizophrenia. Furthermore, he gave insight into cutting-edge research concerning the role of high-risk genes in the genesis of schizophrenia.

UROP International offers internships for North American undergraduate students

A new undergraduate research internship program ( UROP International) is run by RWTH Aachen University in Germany, one of Europe's leading universities of technology and recently distinguished by Germany's Excellence Initiative.

UROP International at RWTH Aachen University will give participants the chance to work closely with faculty on exciting new research projects while also broadening their cultural horizons through German language instruction, activities, and excursions. Students have a wide selection of internships to choose from in Medicine, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, and many other departments. The IRTG 1328 offers two internships: Olfactory-visual interactions in Schizophrenia and Deep Brain Stimulation in Parkinson´s Disease and Tourette´s Syndrom. Program dates are May 19 to July 27, 2008. Participants must be enrolled at a US or Canadian university, have completed at least two years of their degree program, and still have undergraduate status upon return. Application deadline: January 31, 2008. A scholarship of € 1850 will cover living expenses for the participants.

More information and details for application are available on the website.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for details.

Precise localization of cerebral activation

On 08 November, Dr. Simon Eickhoff (Research Center Jülich) gave a workshop on the SPM Anatomy Toolbox. The Toolbox integrates data from cytoarchitectonic mapping studies and allows for a better anatomical localization of functional brain activation. Dr. Eickhoff presented this fascinating interdisciplinary approach by giving demonstrations of its application. Afterwards the students were given the opportunity to apply the Toolbox to their own fMRI data sets.

Aversive and appetitive predictions and their neural correlates

On 18 December, Professor Christian Büchel (University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf) gave a talk on his fascinating work, including neurobiological correlates of prediction of aversive and positive events. He presented interesting new results from his research on the human reward system as well as on the perception of pain and its neural correlates. The students were afterwards given the opportunity to discuss with Prof. Büchel in an informal and friendly atmosphere.

Concepts for giving better presentations

Giving good and interesting talks not only depends on the content but also on the mode of presentation. On December 3 and 4, the students of the IRTG 1328 attended a soft skills workshop which was given by Dr. Katharina Kettner. Here, the students learned how to present their scientific work in a structured and interesting way. The workshop included theoretical considerations as well as practical exercises. Every student gave a talk on his or her research topic which was tape-recorded and discussed afterwards. The good and constructive feedback helped the students to improve their presentation skills and will be of great use for further presentations.


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