Sebastian Engels Fotografie
22. February 2024
New Video Portrait: Fasci­nat­ing Brain

Brigitte Röder and her research on neuroplasticity

The new video portrait intro­duces Hector Fellow Brigitte Röder, Profes­sor of Biolog­i­cal Psychol­ogy and Neuropsy­chol­ogy at Univer­sität Hamburg and Visit­ing Profes­sor at the LV Prassad Eye Insti­tute in Hyder­abad, India, and her research. She was honored with the Hector Science Award in 2017 and has been an active member of the Hector Fellow Academy ever since then.

Brigitte Röder dedicates her research to the mecha­nisms of the human brain and its neuro­plas­tic­ity. The passion­ate scien­tist inves­ti­gates how the brain devel­ops and adapts through learn­ing processes, depend­ing on the experi­ences an individ­ual has. Why do children learn differ­ently from adults? Which mecha­nisms in the brain are decisive for this? When, how and in what environ­ment do we learn best? And what are the conse­quences if children do not find ideal learn­ing condi­tions? These are the questions that drive Brigitte Röder and her team at the Univer­sity of Hamburg as they search for expla­na­tions. A central finding of their research empha­sizes the crucial role that child­hood experi­ences play in the forma­tion of brain networks along­side genetic precon­di­tions. Through exper­i­ments with test subjects, measur­ing for exemple electri­cal currents on the surface of the head, the researchers are trying to estab­lish links between human behav­ior and changes in the brain.

Brigitte Röder and the research team at Univer­sität Hamburg assume that there are "sensi­tive periodes" in the devel­op­ment of the brain during which children learn partic­u­larly easily. Rashi Pant's doctoral project, which was super­vised by Brigitte Röder, also dealt with this topic. The young researcher is now an alumna of the Hector Fellow Academy. In order to inves­ti­gate these "sensi­tive periods", Brigitte Röder and her team of scien­tists have devel­oped a unique research model that examines people who are born blind and only regain their sight in adult­hood through an opera­tion. This allows the researchers to examine an unusual child­hood experi­ence. The Indo-German collab­o­ra­tion with the LV Prasad Eye Insti­tute, an eye clinic and research facil­ity for eye diseases in Hyder­abad, India, is exemplary in this respect.

The passion­ate scien­tist is actively involved in the dialog between science and the public. She is the scien­tific host of the Hector Fellow Academy's 2024 sympo­sium entitled "Why do children and adults learn differ­ently?". This will take place on July 11, 2024 at 6 p.m. at Univer­sität Hamburg (main build­ing (ESA 1), lecture hall A) and via livestream. Regis­tra­tion is already open.

To intro­duce the Hector Fellow Academy and its members to a larger audience, we regularly publish video portraits. They present the members of the Academy as well as inter­est­ing insights into their ongoing research projects.