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Neuroscience Center Zurich

Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Christian Baumann


Prof. Dr. Christian Baumann
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich


Topic: Sleep and Sleep Disorders



Reto Huber


Prof. Dr. Reto Huber
University Children’s Hospital Zurich and University Clinics for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Sleep wake regulatory mechanisms seem to be casually related to cortical plasticity. More specifically, wakefulness favours synaptic strengthening or synapse formation. On the other hand, sleep, in particular deep sleep, promotes synaptic weakening or synapse elimination, ensuring synaptic homeostasis. Cortical plasticity plays a key role for brain maturation. A large body of evidence indicates that aberrations in the trajectory of cortical plasticity are linked to the development of psychiatric disorders. We investigate mechanism underlying the interplay between sleep and wakefulness and how such mechanisms may impact the remodelling of cortical circuits during development and therefore might be related to the susceptibility of psychopathology.

Keywords: sleep regulation, cortical maturation, synaptic plasticity, high-density EEG, MRI, closed-loop stimulation

Topics: Sleep and Sleep Disorders, Development and Regeneration

Publications: PubMed





Dr. sc. nat. Salome Kurth, Junior Group Leader
Pulmonary Clinic, University Hospital Zurich; Sleep and Health, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Across the first years of life the human brain experiences its greatest anatomical and functional modifications. These are closely reflected in the electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded during sleep. We increasingly understand how these neuronal maturation processes are linked to sleep behavior. It is still unclear however, i) which parameters of infant sleep behavior represent a health risk for neurodevelopment and ii) whether early sleep patterns are a trait and thus persist throughout later life. Further, iii) associations between sleep and the gut bacteria remain understudied. Gut bacteria are increasingly recognized as a health marker, they evolve rapidly throughout the first months of life and seem to be linked to brain plasticity and behavior.

Supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, Sleep and Health, the Medical Faculty and the Forschungskredit at the University of Zurich as wll as the Olga Mayenfisch Stiftung and the Stiftung für Wissenschaftliche Forschung, we investigate the development of sleep across early human life. We examine interactions with brain activity, physiology, including gut bacteria and family context. We employ population-based measures, high spatial resolution EEG during sleep and behavioral testing.

We hope to improve understanding of the sleep-related risk factors for neurodevelopment and to identify predictors of brain connectivity and behavioral outcome. It is our vision that the identification of sleep-related risks in early life finds translation into novel approaches to reduce developmental disorders and ultimately improve mental health.

Keywords: Sleep during infancy and early childhood, sleep regulation, brain connectivity, neurodevelopment, gut bacteria, EEG, MRI

Topics: Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Publications: Google Scholar PubMed



Hans-Peter Landolt


Prof. Dr. sc. nat. Hans Peter Landolt

Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zürich

Research Focus: Sleep enables the brain to optimize higher cognitive functions such as learning and memory. My group focuses on the pre-clinical human neuropsychopharmacogenetics of CNS stimulants and hypnotics, and the neurochemical underpinnings of wakefulness and sleep. Along a molecule-to-human-to-medicine continuum, it aims at elucidating basic genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying sleep-related brain functions. Our research employs specific pharmacology, electro-encephalography, genotyping, brain imaging and neuro­cognitive testing to investigate the roles for neuromodulators, receptors and transporters in regulating sleep-associated waking functions. It is our vision that a basic understanding of the neuro­biological mechanisms underlying the detrimental and beneficial (i.e., antidepressant) effects of sleep loss will be translated into novel therapies that will improve brain functioning, general well-being, quality of life, and public health.

Keywords: Sleep-associated attentional, affective, and cognitive processes; individual vulnerability to sleep deprivation; disease- and age-related changes in sleep-associated brain functions

Topic: Sleep and Sleep Disorders, Neural Basis of Behavior

Publications: PubMed





Dr. Caroline Lustenberger
Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zurich

Research Focus: Identifying strategies to promote healthy ageing has gained considerable interest. Sleep represents a fundamental restorative process and is essential for our health. With increasing age, sleep quality can be greatly reduced and thus restorative processes less pronounced suggesting it to be a prime target to promote healthy ageing. Yet, efficient sleep interventions that can promote recovery processes of brain and body to promote the health span are not established because scientific insights in the causal role of specific sleep processes in these recovery processes are missing. My team’s research aims at identifying the role of brain activity during sleep in recovery processes of brain and body from young to old age. To do so, we will merge cutting-edge non-invasive (closed-loop) brain stimulation techniques to modulate sleep oscillations with advanced body (e.g. cardiovascular, metabolic) and brain assessments (e.g. EEG, cognitive functions) to delineate the causal role of sleep oscillations in these functions. Our findings might proof transformative for maintaining health up until old age and open completely new opportunities for modulating regenerative processes across the brain and body.

Keywords: sleep oscillations, high-density EEG, non-invasive closed-loop stimulation, memory consolidation, cognition, ageing, cardiovascular function and health, metabolic function and health, restoration

Topic: Sleep and sleep disorders, Cognitive Neuroscience

Publications: Google Scholar


Noain Daniela


Dr. Daniela Noain
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: What restorative and/or neuroprotective processes unfold in the sleeping brain? Is slow-wave sleep a key player to their regulation and execution? And, therefore, could slow-wave sleep modulation be used to influence the course of neuropathological processes? The focus of our research is exploring the role of slow-wave sleep in the levels of brain proteins that lead to neurodegeneration. Aiming at implementing translational and highly specific slow-wave sleep modulation strategies in transgenic rodent models of disease, we develop innovative techniques, such as closed-loop acoustic stimulation of slow oscillations. Our ultimate goal is providing tools for and proof that modulations of slow-wave sleep regulate protein clearance in the sleeping brain and, therefore, could be translated into novel non-invasive human therapies against Alzheimer and Parkinson Disease, the two most common protein aggregation-related neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: Slow-wave sleep, modulation of sleep-wake states, neurodegeneration, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, traumatic brain injury, brain clearance, behavioral testing.

Topic: Sleep and Sleep Disorders, Disorders of the Nervous System

Publications: PubMed Google Scholar



Ruth Tuura


Dr. Ruth O'Gorman Tuura
University Children's Hospital Zurich, Center for MR Research

Research Focus: Our research focuses on the application of advanced MRI methods for evaluating brain physiology, such as arterial spin labelling perfusion MRI, edited MR spectroscopy, diffusion tensor MRI, functional MRI, and quantitative MR Relaxometry, to studies of brain development in children and adolescents. This multimodal approach yields important insight into the complex pattern of physiological changes associated with typical and atypical brain development, but also with different brain states like sleep and wake states. Together with our clinical collaborators, we aim to improve our understanding of the neural correlates of atypical development, and identify neuroimaging biomarkers for outcome in infants and children at risk for neurodevelopmental impairment. We also support interdisciplinary clinical research across a range of specialties including neonatology, cardiology, radiology, paediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry

Keywords: neuroimaging, structural MRI, MRS, DTI, fMRI, perfusion MRI, development, sleep

Topics: Development and Regeneration” and “Sleep and Sleep Disorders”

Publications: Scopus



Werth Esther


Dr. sc. nat. Esther Werth
Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich
Research Focus: Sleep is a very sensitive marker of health problems. Most physical or mental diseases accompany changes in quantitative and qualitative patterns of sleep. Our recent research employs circadian (melatonin, core body temperature), homeostatic (EEG, slow wave activity) and behavioral (vigilance, activity) measures to study the pathophysiology of narcolepsy type 1 and idiopathic hypersomnia. A better understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of a sleep-wake disorder is always the most important step towards the development of tailored treatment strategies.

Keywords: sleep-wake disorder, vigilance, EEG, endogenous melatonin, core body temperature, rest-activity pattern

Topic: Sleep and Sleep Disorders, Disorders of the Nervous System

Publications: PubMed