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A06 – Testing for causality: cerebellar and prefrontal contribution to fear extinction

Michael Nitsche, Diane Ruge

In this project we will explore the specific interaction between the anterior network (hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex) and the cerebellum during extinction (study 1), develop non-invasive brain stimulation protocols suited for targeted modulation of extinction-relevant areas identified in that study (study 2), apply these to explore the causality of respective physiological interactions for extinction (study 3), and reveal cellular mechanisms of respective target structures for extinction by combining pharmacology (relevance of serotonin) and stimulation (study 4).

Guiding questions of A06:

  • Does the cerebellum interact with anterior parts of the extinction network with regards to synchronization of activity, including oscillatory activity, during fear extinction?
  • What is the specific role of intrinsic cerebellar versus cerebellar-anterior network interactions during fear extinction- true interaction or modulatory role of the cerebellum?
  • Does intervention with non-invasive brain stimulation of respective target areas combined with serotonergic enhancement result in optimized fear extinction due to plasticity modulation?
Michael A. Nitsche

Michael A. Nitsche

Projektleiter A06


Fatemeh Yavari

Fatemeh Yavari

Postdoc A06


Vuk Markovic

Vuk Markovic

Doktorand A06


10 project-relevant publications

Klimke A, Nitsche MA, Maurer K, Voss U (2016) Case Report: Successful Treatment of Therapy-Resistant OCD With Application of Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS). Brain Stimul. 9(3): 463–465.

Kuo H-I, Paulus W, Batsikadze G, Jamil A, Kuo M-F, Nitsche MA (2016) Chronic Enhancement of Serotonin Facilitates Excitatory Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation-Induced Neuroplasticity. Neuropsychopharmacology. 41(5): 1223–1230.

Monte-Silva K, Kuo M-F, Hessenthaler S, Fresnoza S, Liebetanz D, Paulus W, Nitsche MA (2013) Induction of late LTPlike plasticity in the human motor cortex by repeated non-invasive brain stimulation. Brain Stimul. 6(3): 424–432.

Mungee A, Kazzer P, Feeser M, Nitsche MA, Schiller D, Bajbouj M (2014) Transcranial direct current stimulation of the prefrontal cortex: a means to modulate fear memories. Neuroreport. 25(7): 480–484.

Nitsche MA, Paulus W (2001) Sustained excitability elevations induced by transcranial DC motor cortex stimulation in humans. Neurology. 57(10): 1899–1901.

Nitsche MA, Kuo M-F, Karrasch R, Wachter B, Liebetanz D, Paulus W (2009) Serotonin affects transcranial direct current-induced neuroplasticity in humans. Biol Psychiatry. 66(5): 503–508.

Polania R, Nitsche MA, Korman C, Batsikadze G, Paulus W (2012) The importance of timing in segregated theta phasecoupling for cognitive performance. Curr Biol. 22(14): 1314–1318.

Polania R, Nitsche MA, Paulus W (2011) Modulating functional connectivity patterns and topological functional organization of the human brain with transcranial direct current stimulation. Hum Brain Mapp. 32(8): 1236–1249.

Polania R, Paulus W, Nitsche MA (2012) Modulating cortico-striatal and thalamo-cortical functional connectivity with transcranial direct current stimulation. Hum Brain Mapp. 33(10): 2499–2508.

Voss U, Holzmann R, Hobson A, Paulus W, Koppehele-Gossel J, Klimke A, Nitsche MA (2014) Induction of self awareness in dreams through frontal low current stimulation of gamma activity. Nat Neurosci. 17(6): 810–812.