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PD Dr. Frauke Nees

We investigate central mechanisms – in particular learning and memory processes as well as reward processing – which play a key role in the development and maintenance of mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder, addiction, or neurological like transient global amnesia or somatic diseases like chronic pain.

We specifically focus on

  • the identification of neuronal (functional and structural brain imaging), psychological (personality, behavior), and genetic correlates in the context of multimodal approachest
  • he investigation of patient groups compared to healthy individuals, also along the life span, such as adolescents, who are in a developmental episode, that is risk period for specific disorders
  • the identification of risk and resilience factors and can thus represent a starting point for the development of new treatment methods
Collaborative Research Center 1158, project B03: „Role of learning, stress and underlying brain circuits involving prefrontal-limbic interactions in the development of chronic back pain“ – Recent studies suggest a role of emotional learning for the development of chronic pain, yet, less is known about these processes and the associated structural and functional brain changes. The project aims to elucidate the neuronal correlates of aversive and appetitive learning processes in the course from acute to chronic back pain and to investigate the role of stress to determine risk and resilience factors.

Selection of recent publications

  1. Nees, F., Rüddel, H., Mussgay, L., Kühl, L.K., Römer, S. & Schächinger, H. (2010). Alteration of delay and trace eyeblink conditioning in fibromyalgia patients. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(4), 412-418.
  2. Pohlack, S.T., Nees, F., Ruttorf, M., Witt, S., Nieratschker, V., Rietschel, M., & Flor, H. (2011). Risk variant for schizophrenia in the neurogranin gene impacts on hippocampus activation during contextual fear conditioning. Molecular Psychiatry, 16(11), 1072-1073.
  3. Nees, F., Diener, C., Smolka, M. & Flor, H. (2012). The role of context in the processing of alcohol-relevant cues. Addiction Biology, 17(2), 441-451.
  4. Nees, F., Tzschoppe, J., Patrick, C.J., Vollstädt-Klein, S., Steiner, S., Poustka, S., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G., Büchel, C., Conrod, P.J., Garavan, H., Heinz, A., Lathrop, M., Mann, K., Artiges, E., Paus, T., Poline, J.-B., Robbins, T.W., Rietschel, M., Smolka, M., Spanagel, R., Ströhle, A., Struve, M., Loth, E., Schumann, G. & Flor, H., the IMAGEN consortium (2012). Determinants of early alcohol use in healthy adolescents: the differential contribution of neuroimaging and psychological factors. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37(4), 986-995.
  5. Nees, F., Witt, S., Lourdusamy, A., Vollstädt-Klein, S., Steiner, S., Poustka, L., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G., Büchel, C., Conrod, P.J., Frank, J., Gallinat, J., Garavan, H., Heinz, A., Ittermann, B., Loth, E., Mann, K., Artiges, E., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., Smolka, M., Struve, M., Schumann, G.*, Rietschel, M.* & Flor, H.*, the IMAGEN consortium (2013). Genetic risk for nicotine dependence in the cholinergic system and activation of the brain reward system in healthy adolescents. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(11), 2081-2089
  6. Rance, M., Ruttorf, M., Nees, F., Schad, L.R. & Flor, H. (2014). Real-time fMRI feedback of the anterior cingulate and posterior insula cortex in the processing of pain. Human Brain Mapping, 35(12), 5784-5798.
  7. Tzschoppe, J.*, Nees, F.*, Banaschewski, T., Barker, G., Büchel, C., Conrod, P.J., Garavan, H., Heinz, A., Loth, E., Mann, K., Martinot, J.-L., Pausova, Z., Smolka, M., Gallinat, J., Struve, M., Schumann, G., Rietschel, M., & Flor, H., the IMAGEN consortium (2014). Aversive learning in adolescents: modulation by amygdala-prefrontal and amygdala-hippocampal connectivity and neuroticism. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39(4), 875-884. *joint first authorship
  8. Whelan, R., Watts, R., Orr, C.A., Althoff, R., Artiges, E., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G.J., Bokde, A.L.W., Büchel, C., Carvalho, F.A., Conrod, P.J., Flor, H., Fauth-Bühler, M., Frouin, V., Gallinat, J., Gan, G., Gowland, P., Heinz, A., Ittermann, B., Lawrence, C., Mann, K., Martinot, J.-L., Nees, F., Ortiz, N., Paillère-Martinot, M.-L., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., Rietschel, M., Robbins, T.W., Smolka, M.N., Ströhle, A., Schumann, G. & Garavan, H., & the IMAGEN Consortium. (2014). Neuropsychological profiles of current and future adolescent alcohol misusers. Nature, 512(7513), 185-189.
  9. Cacciaglia, R., Pohlack, S., Flor, H., & Nees, F. (2015). Dissociable roles for hippocampal and amygdalar volume in human fear conditioning. Brain Structure Function, 220(5), 2575-2586.
  10. Ewald, A., Becker, S., Heinrich, A., Banaschewski, T., Poustka, L., Bokde, A.U., Büchel, C., Bromberg, U., Cattrell, A., Conrod, P.J., Desrivières, S., Frouin, V., Papadopoulos-Orfanos, D., Gallinat, J., Garavan, H., Heinz, A., Walter, H., Ittermann, B., Gowland, P., Paus, T., Martinot, J.-L., Smolka, M., Vetter, N., Whelan, R., Schumann, G., Flor, H., & Nees, F., the IMAGEN consortium (2016). The role of Cannabinoid Receptor 1 in adolescents` processing of facial expressions. European Journal of Neuroscience, 43, 98-105.

Context Column