Dr. phil. Til Ole Bergmann (PhD)
Department of Neurology & Stroke
Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research
Institute for Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology
University Hospital Tübingen,
Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen
Otfried-Müller-Straße 25, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
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I am a biological psychologist / cognitive neuroscientist interested in the function of neuronal oscillations in cognition,
in particular in the organization of information processing and the gating of synaptic plasticity in the wake and sleeping human brain.
My methodological focus is on the simultaneous combination of electrophysiology with transcranial brain stimulation as well as neuroimaging techniques.
Check out our Preview on Randolph Helfrich's excellent paper on the role of precise phase alignment in slow oscillation to spindle phase-amplitude coupling (PAC) for memory conslidation during sleep, now available online in Neuron. We argue that PAC may even play a more general role for synaptic plasticity.
Bergmann TO & Born J (2018) Phase-amplitude coupling – a general mechanism for memory processing and synaptic plasticity? Neuron,doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2017.12.023.
Open PhD position
PhD Position (65% TV-L, 3 years) – Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research and Department of Neurology & Stroke, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen, Germany
The position has been filled.
DFG project funding granted
Project: The sensorimotor µ-rhythm as cholinergically controlled pulsed inhibition (DFG Project No. 362546008) granted
Summary: The most pronounced neuronal oscillation observable in the electroencephalography (EEG) of the awake and healthy human brain is the 8-14 Hz alpha oscillation.
In the sensorimotor cortex, serving as the model region in this project, it is called the mu-rhythm. Initially thought to simply reflect cortical idling, alpha/mu oscillations
are nowadays believed to actively gate information flow in the brain. The influential Pulsed Inhibition Hypothesis assumes that the alpha/mu oscillation is asymmetric and composed
of recurring bouts of inhibition, which become stronger with increasing amplitude, thereby rhythmically suppressing neural processing in task-irrelevant cortical regions. However,
the proposed asymmetric and inhibitory nature of the oscillation has never been directly demonstrated. Moreover, alpha/mu oscillations must be under top-down control of attention,
since the mere anticipation of an upcoming stimulus already modulates their amplitude. Yet, also the neuronal implementation of its top-down control is still unknown. It has been
hypothesized that cortico-cortical projections from the prefrontal cortex modulate the local release of acetylcholine from ascending basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in the
sensory cortices via axo-axonal synapses. Acetylcholine is known to regulate the de /synchronization of neuronal activity. Therefore, prefrontally mediated transient changes in
the cholinergic modulation of local sensory alpha/mu oscillations and thus cortical excitability may represent the neural mechanism, underlying the attentional gating of perception
as well as resulting stimulus-induced synaptic plasticity. I will test the hypotheses of pulsed inhibition and a prefrontally controlled cholinergic alpha modulation for the model case
of the sensorimotor mu-rhythm. The combination of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the primary motor cortex with concurrent EEG assessment of the sensorimotor mu-rhythm allows
to noninvasively study cortical excitability and intra-cortical inhibition in an amplitude and phase-dependent manner in the human brain. The project is composed of two major parts.
Firstly, I will use real-time EEG-triggered single- and paired-pulse TMS to study the neural mechanisms mediating fluctuations in phase and amplitude of the spontaneous sensorimotor
mu-rhythm and their implication for the induction of synaptic plasticity. Secondly, I will employ (anti )cholinergic pharmacological interventions and a virtual lesion approach using
repetitive TMS to uncover the neural mechanisms mediating top-down control of the mu-rhythm in the context of a tactile spatial attention task. Together the project is expected to provide
fundamentally new insights into the neurophysiological underpinnings of the alpha/mu oscillations, their role in gating information processing and synaptic plasticity, and the prefrontal and
cholinergic mechanisms of their attentional top-down control.
Our new position paper on guiding transcranial brain stimulation by EEG/MEG is now available online in Clinical Neurophysiology:
Thut G, Bergmann TO, Fröhlich F, Soekadar SR, Brittain JS, Valero-Cabré A, Sack A, Miniussi C, Antal A, Siebner HR, Ziemann U, Herrmann CS. (2017). Guiding transcranial brain stimulation by EEG/MEG to interact with ongoing brain activity and associated functions: A position paper. Clinical Neurophysiology, doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2017.01.003.
Our new book chapter on the neuronal oscillations underlying memory consolidation during sleep is now available in the book Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory Consolidation, edited by Nikolai Axmacher and Björn Rasch:
Bergmann TO & Staresina BP (2017) Neuronal Oscillations and Reactivation Subserving Memory Consolidation. In Axmacher N & Rasch B (Eds.), Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory Consolidation, Springer Heidelberg: 185-207.
Our conceptual opinion paper on the combination of non-invasive transcranial brain stimulation (NTBS) with neuroimaging and electrophysiology is now available online in NeuroImage:
Bergmann TO, Karabanov AN, Hartwigsen G, Thielscher A, Siebner HR (2016). Combining non-invasive transcranial brain stimulation with neuroimaging and electrophysiology: current approaches and future perspectives. NeuroImage, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.02.012
Our chapter on modeling the effects of non-invasive transcranial brain stimulation is now available online in Progress in Brain Research:
Hartwigsen G, Bergmann TO, Herz D, Angstmann S, Karabanov AN, Raffin E, Thielscher A, Siebner HR (2015). Modeling the effects of non-invasive transcranial brain stimulation at the biophysical, network and cognitive level. Progress in Brain Research, 222:261-287.
Our TMS-EEG paper, showing that TMS-locked and spontaneous alpha oscillations in the visual cortex are modulated in the same (and opposite to the N40 TEP component) by top-down visual attention, is now available online in The Journal of Neuroscience:
Herring JD, Thut G, Jensen O, Bergmann TO (2015). Attention modulates TMS-locked alpha oscillations in the visual cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(43):14435-14447.
Our concurrent TDCS-MEG paper on the attempt to transcranially modulate alpha and gamma oscillations in the visual cortex is now available online in NeuroImage:
Marshall T, Esterer S, Herring JD, Bergmann TO & Jensen O (accepted). On the relationship between cortical excitability and visual oscillatory responses – a concurrent tDCS-MEG study. NeuroImage, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.09.069.
Our DTI-MEG paper on the relationship of structural (superior longitudinal fasciculus, SLF1) and functional (top-down attentional alpha and gamma power modulation) hemispheric asymmetry, is now available online in PLoS Biology:
Marshall T, Bergmann TO & Jensen O (2015). Fronto-parietal structural connectivity mediates the top-down control of neuronal synchronization associated with selective attention. PLoS Biology, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002272.
Our iEEG paper on hierarchical phase-power coupling of neocortical slow oscillations, thalamo-cortical spindles and hippocampal ripples, as demonstrated via intracranial recordings in the human hippocampus during Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, is now available online in Nature Neuroscience:
Staresina BP*, Bergmann TO*, Bonefond M, van der Meij R, Jensen O, Deuker L, Elger CE, Axmacher N, Fell, J. (accepted). Hierarchical nesting of slow oscillations, spindles and ripples in the human hippocampus during sleep. Nature Neuroscience, doi:10.1038/nn.4119. (*contributed equally)
Our opinion paper on the potential of TMS-EEG measurements in stroke recovery is now available online in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience:
Sato S, Bergmann TO, Borich M (2015). Opportunities for concurrent transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroencephalography to characterize cortical activity in stroke. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.9(250): doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00250.
Our fMRI-TMS-MEG paper on the role of frontal eye fields in top-down regulation of oscillations in covert attentuon is now available online in The Journal of Neuroscience:
Marshall TR, O'Shea J, Jensen O, Bergmann TO (2015). Frontal eye fields control attentional modulation of alpha and gamma oscillations in contralateral occipito-parietal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(4): 1638-1647.
Our TiNS paper on temporal coding by alpha-gamma phase-power coupling is now available online:
Jensen O, Gips B, Bergmann TO, Bonnefond M (2014). Temporal coding organized by coupled alpha and gamma oscillations prioritize visual processing . Trends in Neurosciences, published online ahead of print.
This intensive three-day toolkit course will provide in-depth knowledge on transcranial magnetic stimulation
(TMS) and transcranial current stimulation (tDCS/tACS). The course will cover both basic and advanced topics, including
multimodal applications of non-invasive brain stimulation (with a focus on TMS/tDCS and EEG). The course involves a series
of lectures, discussions, and hands-on training of stimulation application, data acquisition and data analysis.
Keynote speakers are Gregor Thut (Glasgow), Jacinta O’Shea (Oxford), Rogier Mars (Oxford), and Alexander Sack (Maastricht).
The fee for senior participants is € 300. The (PhD) student fee is € 150. Registration fee includes coffee/tea and Dutch sandwich lunches.
Organizers: Dr. Lennart Verhagen and Dr. Til Ole Bergmann
Project: Transcranial brain stimulation investigations on the role of oscillatory phase in neuronal processing
Summary: Recently there has been surge in the interest on slow neuronal oscillations (delta, theta and alpha activity)
in both animals and humans. While these oscillations often correlate with behaviour, it is unknown to what extent they play
a causal role for neuronal processing. The aim of this proposal is to gain insight into the mechanist role of slow oscillations
by using transcranial stimulation in humans in order to induce and perturb neuronal oscillations. This will be done in the
context of a set of experiments where we combine electroencephalography (EEG) with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
or transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS). Our first aim is to determine the conditions for when oscillatory
activity induced by transcranial stimulation can be considered similar to naturally occurring neuronal oscillations. The
second aim is to demonstrate that neuronal oscillations play a causal role for routing of information between brain
networks. Finally, a recent theoretical framework published by our group predicts that different information is encoded at
different phases of the oscillatory cycles ('phase coding'). We will test this hypothesis by perturbing perception in a
phase-dependent manner. We expect our studies to provide novel insight into the causal role of slow oscillations. This
insight is important for understanding how neuronal processing is timed and the routing between regions. Further, this
insight can potentially be used to augment human performance by controlling brain states using transcranial stimulation.
WORKSHOP on "Transcranial Brain Stimulation Techniques in Biological Psychology"
June 6.-7. 2012, Jena, Germany
To promote the use of transcranial brain stimulation techniques in biological psychology
I am organizing, in collaboration with
young scientists workshop
in the run-up to the 38th conference on "Psychology and the Brain"
in Jena, Germany. Please see the preliminary programme
for more information and click here to register!
Abstract: Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and
transcranial direct/alternating current stimulation (tDCS/tACS) are an important approach in
cognitive neuroscience to investigate brain functions. The ability to experimentally manipulate
local neuronal activity before or during the performance of a certain cognitive task allows for the
investigation of causal structure-function relationships that go beyond the mere correlative
approach of neuroimaging and electrophysiology. The workshop addresses PhD students and
postdocs interested in learning how to use TMS/tDCS. In addition to talks providing the necessary
background knowledge about technical and physiological mechanisms as well as experimental
paradigms, practical demonstrations will allow participants to gather first hands-on experience
with the techniques.
Please also note the corresponding symposium during the conference itself!
SYMPOSIUM on "Transcranial Brain Stimulation in Biological Psychology"
June 8.-10. 2012, Jena, Germany
During the 38th conference on "Psychology and the Brain"
I will chair a symposium on the use of transcranial brain stimulation techniques in biological psychology.
Speakers: Til Ole Bergmann (Nijmegen), Manuela Ruzzoli (Barcelona), Daniela Balslev (Tübingen), Christoph Kaller (Freiburg), Gesa Hartwigsen (Leipzig).
Please see abstracts for details.
Summary: Transcranial brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and
transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are important tools to study causal structure-function relationships
beyond the correlational nature of functional neuroimaging. We will introduce a variety of techniques and experimental
approaches that can be used in biological psychology to tackle a wide range of research questions. Example studies will
be presented, ranging from basic neurophysiological research on neuronal oscillations and cortical excitability via
visual perception, proprioception and visuospatial attention to complex cognitive functions such as language processing
and planning. The symposium will complement a young scientists methods workshop on transcranial brain stimulation
techniques which will be held in the run-up to the conference.