The programme combines opportunities for outstanding research with excellent teaching, in order to ensure that students are highly qualified for a successful career in relevant areas of Neuroscience. Students choose a research topic that falls within the scope of one of the following four modules.
Researchers from the fields of audition, speech, language, linguistics, and neurology provide students with a unique opportunity to investigate auditory and linguistic principles from a theoretical as well as an experimental perspective. We provide strong methodological support, utilising behavioural and neuroimaging techniques such as event-related brain potentials (ERPs), magnetoencephalography (MEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Cutting-edge research on verbal communication is actively monitored and researchers are regularly invited to Leipzig to present their work. The teaching part of this module covers courses on hearing, psycholinguistics, the neural basis of language, speech production, auditory language comprehension and attention, emotional speech comprehension, linguistic topology, and understanding typological distribution.
This module teaches the scientific basis of psychology, social and affective neuroscience. The areas of scientific enquiry covered in this module include psychology, social cognition, empathy, self-other discrimination, plasticity of “Theory of Mind”, and the brain’s default network. Another important aspect of this module is the analysis of the causes underlying psychopathologies of social cognition, early child development and culture, and the investigation of memory processes that allow us to function in the future.
In this module, students are taught how innovative questions can be asked and how state-of-the-art techniques can be used in the attempt to understand the brain both in its normal and diseased state. The “classical” anatomical way to study the brain’s microstructure by cutting and staining postmortem brains is becoming increasingly complemented by non-invasive neuroimaging techniques used in vivo. Current research draws on powerful techniques such as functional and structural MRI, EEG, MEG, and NIRS. The teaching part of this module covers the foundations of Neuroscience, sensory and motor systems, brain and behaviour, and psychiatric and neurological disorders of the brain.
This module comprises two topics:
(i) The physical principles of modern neuroimaging techniques, biophysical tissue properties that are exploited for generating image contrast, as well as signal processing strategies involved. In addition to state-of-the-art imaging technology including a 7T whole-body MRI scanner and a 306-channel MEG system, well-equipped electronics and radio-frequency workshops are available for methods-oriented research projects.
(ii) Signal processing, which includes topics such as image analysis and visualization concepts, statistical evaluation, morphometry and connectivity analyses, spatio-temporal modelling, cognitive modelling and theoretical models of brain function.
Fundamental knowledge covering all four modules is imparted during the first two years in the form of lectures, courses, and seminars run at the MPIs and the UL. This provides a comprehensive foundation for students’ research in Neuroscience, and opens up horizons for potential interdisciplinary approaches.