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Recent developments in neuropsychiatry research are poised to produce a paradigmatic shift in behavioral neuroscience. In particular, advances in brain imaging techniques and their applications will further impact integration of neurobiological with behavioral measures and thus fundamentally change diagnosis, therapy and prevention of psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Emotion dysfunction is a core symptom in schizophrenia and autism, and may result in impaired social interactions. Within the framework of the International Research Training Group (IRTG), emotion processing therefore is a useful focus to examine the basic pathophysiological mechanisms. Research on the dysfunctional processing of emotion will be studied in informative populations of patients and healthy people by means of behavioral, structural and functional brain imaging. Modulation of function will be examined by means of behavioral and pharmacological intervention in order to investigate neural reorganization. Information is thus gained concerning the brain mechanisms of (i) emotion and the interaction with cognitive functions, such as memory and language, and (ii) the role of dysfunctional systems in schizophrenia and autism including developmental aspects.

The participants of the IRTG intend to apply advanced brain imaging techniques including structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI and fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG), receptor distribution and microstructural, architectonic brain mapping; all dedicated to studying emotion processing. In collaboration with partners from Computer Science, Linguistics and Brain Imaging, the latter located in the Research Center J├╝lich, we will further develop tools for measuring and analyzing brain activity related to emotion processing within the framework of the Brain Imaging Center West.

In all of these areas, partner scientists are working at University of Pennsylvania who will be involved in joint projects, promote the students during their mobility period, and jointly supervise their dissertations. An extensive exchange and rotation program for students, researchers and professors will be the basis for this IRTG.

Please find more detailed information about the IRTG and the German-American cooperation in research and doctoral training in the following publication:

Schneider F & Gur RC, The International Research Training Group on Brain-Behavior Relationship of Normal and Disturbed Emotions in Schizophrenia and Autism as an Example of German-American Cooperation in Doctoral Training. Higher Education in Europe, Vol. 33, No. 1, April 2008.

Starting date: 01 April 2006
End of the first funding period: 30 September 2010