Brain Products Young Scientist Award 2018 presented to Matthias Sperl, M.Sc.

by Dr. Alex Kreilinger
Scientific Consultant (Brain Products)


Young Scientist Award sponsored by Brain Products, handed to Matthias Sperl (left) by Jens Grunert (right) at the PuG 2018 in Giessen, Germany.

The annual meeting 2018 of the German Society for Basic and Applied Psychophysiology (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychophysiologie und ihre Anwendung, DGPA) took place in Gießen, Germany from May 31 to June 02. As usual, the so-called Psychologie und Gehirn (PuG) conference was well-attended, this time by more than 800 researchers.

Just as in previous years, Brain Products sponsored the “Brain Products Young Scientist Award”. The award is  granted to a young researcher for an outstanding publication in the field of EEG-based psychophysiology research as elected by an independent jury, appointed by the managing board of the DGPA. The award was given to Matthias Sperl, M.Sc. from the Department of Psychology, Personality Psychology and Assessment, at the University of Marburg, under the supervision of Prof. Erik Mueller.

In his publication “ Fear extinction recall modulates human frontomedial theta and amygdala activity“, published in Cerebral Cortex; doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx353 he applies combined measurements of fMRI and EEG to investigate the effects of fear extinction. For further information, please read the original abstract below:


Human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) studies, as well as animal studies, indicate that the amygdala and frontomedial brain regions are critically involved in conditioned fear and that frontomedial oscillations in the theta range (4–8 Hz) may support communication between these brain regions. However, few studies have used a multimodal approach to probe interactions among these key regions in humans. Here, our goal was to bridge the gap between prior human fMRI, EEG, and animal findings. Using simultaneous EEG–fMRI recordings 24 h after fear conditioning and extinction, conditioned stimuli presented (CS+E, CS−E) and not presented during extinction (CS+N, CS−N) were compared to identify effects specific to extinction versus fear recall. Differential (CS+ vs. CS−) electrodermal, frontomedial theta (EEG) and amygdala responses (fMRI) were reduced for extinguished versus nonextinguished stimuli. Importantly, effects on theta power covaried with effects on amygdala activation. Fear and extinction recall as indicated by theta explained 60% of the variance for the analogous effect in the right amygdala. Our findings show for the first time the interplay of amygdala and frontomedial theta activity during fear and extinction recall in humans and provide insight into neural circuits consistently linked with top-down amygdala modulation in rodents.

Congratulations on winning the “Brain Products Young Scientist Award 2018”, Matthias, and best wishes for your future!

©Brain Products GmbH 2018