Prof. Dr. Emrah Düzel

Prof. Dr. Düzel is director at the Institute of Cognitive Neurology and Dementia Research (IkND) at the University Hospital Magdeburg and head of the work group "Clinical Neurophysiology and Memory" at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University College London

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Leipziger Str. 44
39120 Magdeburg

+49 (0) 391 / 67250-51
+49 (0) 391 / 67250-60

Curriculum Vitae

Emrah Düzel obtained his medical degree from the University of Bonn in 1993 and completed his M.D. thesis at the Department of Epileptology in Bonn. He conducted research fellowships on the electrophysiology of human memory at University of California, Davis, and the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and completed his clinical neurology training in 2001 in Magdeburg. Since 2005 he is at the University College London (UCL) Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and since 2008, he is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. Düzel also heads the Institute of Cognitive Neurology and Dementia Research at the University of Magdeburg and is a Honorary Principle at the UCL Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. Emrah Düzel conducts systems level research on the neuromodulatory and electrophysiological mechanisms of hippocampus-dependent memory in young and older adults and patients with various neurological disorders.

At the DZNE in Magdeburg, he coordinates plasticity-related intervention studies.


Dopamine Modulates Episodic Memory Persistence in Old Age.

Chowdhury R, Guitart-Masip M, Bunzeck N, Dolan RJ, Düzel E. J Neurosci. 2012 Oct 10;32(41):14193-14204.

Decoding oscillatory representations and mechanisms in memory.

Jafarpour A, Horner AJ, Fuentemilla L, Penny WD, Duzel E. Neuropsychologia. 2012 May 4. pii: S0028-3932(12)00153-4. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.04.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Spatial navigation training protects the hippocampus against age-related changes during early and late adulthood.

M. Lövdén, S. Schaefer, H. Noack, NC Bodammer, S. Kühn, HJ Heinze, E. Düzel, L. Bäckman, U. Lindenberger, Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Mar;33(3):620.e9-620.e22. Epub 2011 Apr 16.

Movement-related theta rhythm in humans: coordinating self-directed hippocampal learning.

Kaplan R, Doeller CF, Barnes GR, Litvak V, Düzel E, Bandettini PA, Burgess N. PLoS Biol. 2012 Feb;10(2):e1001267. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Cortical thickness changes following spatial navigation training in adulthood and aging.

E Wenger, S Schaefer, H Noack, S Kühn, J Mårtensson, HJ Heinze, E Düzel, L Bäckman, U Lindenberger, M Lövdén; Neuroimage. 2011 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]

A neoHebbian framework for episodic memory; role of dopamine-dependent late LTP

J Lisman, AA Grace, E Duzel; Trends Neurosci. 2011 Oct;34(10):536-47. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Novelty increases the mesolimbic functional connectivity of the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area (SN/VTA) during reward anticipation: Evidence from high-resolution fMRI.

RM Krebs, D Heipertz, H Schuetze, E Duzel, NeuroImage 2011, Jun 24, [Article in Press].

Hippocampal Theta-Phase Modulation of Replay Correlates with Configural-Relational Short-Term Memory Performance

Poch C, Fuentemilla L, Barnes GR, Düzel E, J Neurosci. 2011 May 11;31(19):7038-7042.

A common mechanism for adaptive scaling of reward and novelty.

N Bunzeck, P Dayan, RJ Dolan, E Duzel; Hum Brain Mapp. 2010 Sep.

Contextual novelty changes reward representations in the striatum.

Guitart-Masip, M., Bunzeck, N., Stephan, K.E., Dolan, R.J. & Duzel, E., J Neurosci 30, 1721-6 (2010).

Theta-coupled periodic replay in working memory.

Fuentemilla, L., Penny, W.D., Cashdollar, N., Bunzeck, N. & Duzel, E., Curr Biol 20, 606-12 (2010).

Basal forebrain integrity and cognitive memory profile in healthy aging.

Duzel, S., Munte, T.F., Lindenberger, U., Bunzeck, N., Schutze, H., Heinze, H.J. & Duzel, E., Brain Res 1308, 124-36 (2010).

Functional phenotyping of successful aging in long-term memory: Preserved performance in the absence of neural compensation.

Duzel, E., Schutze, H., Yonelinas, A.P. & Heinze, H.J., Hippocampus (2010).

Brain oscillations and memory.

Duzel, E., Penny, W.D. & Burgess, N, Curr Opin Neurobiol 20, 143-9 (2010).

NOvelty-related motivation of anticipation and exploration by dopamine (NOMAD): implications for healthy aging.

Duzel, E., Bunzeck, N., Guitart-Masip, M. & Duzel, S, Neurosci Biobehav Rev 34, 660-9 (2010).

Hippocampus-dependent and -independent theta-networks of active maintenance.

N Cashdollar, U Malecki, FJ Rugg-Gunn, JS Duncan, N Lavie, E Duzel; Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 1;106(48):20493-8. Epub 2009 Nov 16.

Personality traits are differentially associated with patterns of reward and novelty processing in the human substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area.

Krebs, R.M., Schott, B.H. & Duzel, E, Biol Psychiatry 65, 103-10 (2009).

Medial temporal theta state before an event predicts episodic encoding success in humans.

Guderian, S., Schott, B.H., Richardson-Klavehn, A. & Duzel, E, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106, 5365-70 (2009).

Functional imaging of the human dopaminergic midbrain.

Duzel, E., Bunzeck, N., Guitart-Masip, M., Wittmann, B., Schott, B.H. & Tobler, P.N., Trends Neurosci 32, 321-8 (2009).

Reward motivation accelerates the onset of neural novelty signals in humans to 85 milliseconds.

Bunzeck, N., Doeller, C.F., Fuentemilla, L., Dolan, R.J. & Duzel, E, Curr Biol 19, 1294-300 (2009).

Ageing and early-stage Parkinson's disease affect separable neural mechanisms of mesolimbic reward processing.

Schott, B.H., Niehaus, L., Wittmann, B.C., Schutze, H., Seidenbecher, C.I., Heinze, H.J. & Duzel, E, Brain 130, 2412-24 (2007).

Mesolimbic novelty processing in older adults.

Bunzeck, N., Schutze, H., Stallforth, S., Kaufmann, J., Duzel, S., Heinze, H.J. & Duzel, E, Cereb Cortex 17, 2940-8 (2007).

Absolute coding of stimulus novelty in the human substantia nigra/VTA.

Bunzeck, N. & Duzel, E, Neuron 51, 369-79 (2006).

Reward-related FMRI activation of dopaminergic midbrain is associated with enhanced hippocampus-dependent long-term memory formation.

Wittmann, B.C., Schott, B.H., Guderian, S., Frey, J.U., Heinze, H.J. & Duzel, E, Neuron 45, 459-67 (2005).

Areas of investigation/research focus

Figure:Activation of the Substantia Nigra through novelty (environmental photographs)
Figure:Activation of the Substantia Nigra through novelty (environmental photographs)Click on the magnifying glass for a large image.

Memory problemsa are an early symptom of Alzheimer's disease (AD) but they also often occur in healthy older people. Experimental and clinical data shows that cognitive and physical training can improve the memory function of healthy older people and might also improve the memory function in the early stage of AD.However, the specific prerequisites, neurobiological modes of action, and clinical conditions of training-dependent improvements have not been systematically studied yet.

In a large scale project we want to develop learning paradigms that stimulate memory areas in the brain (hippocampus and adjacent neocortical regions) by cognitive interventions and training and in this way produce plasticity. This project includes an intensive training of 400 participants for a period of four months and then continues on an intermittent follow-up on two years. Participants will walk on a treadmill while they navigate through a virtual reality environment. The aim of the intervention is to reduce the progression from healthy aging to MCI ("minimal cognitive impairment", a transitional stage), to dementia by the induction of plasticity in memory areas (hippocampus and surrounding cortex). In addition, we want to find out how the effect of this training through pre-clinical disorders of memory is impaired and which role is played by the integrity of the dopaminergic and cholinergic neuromodulatory system.

Dopamine regulates the motivational aspects of exploratory behaviours in response to novelty. It also regulates hippocampal long-term plasticity for novel information. Hence, we hypothesize that an age-related degeneration of dopaminergic midbrain regions (the substantia nigra / ventral tegmental area; SN/VTA) will constrain the efficacy of cognitive and exercise-related interventions. 

Some other projects we are working on:

  • Using MRI, we investigate the relationship between functional and structural SN/VTA integrity and hippocampal memory consolidation in healthy old adults, patients with minimal cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • We pursue functional imaging experiments in healthy adults to investigate how novelty, uncertainty and reward ‘energize’ behaviour.
  • To identify age-related functional and structural changes in hippocampal subfields using high field MRI (7-Tesla).

The cooperation partner's homepage can be found here.