Our brain works using electricity. Information between neurons is passed by action potentials in the form of electrical currents along their membranes. Intact electric signalling is very important for the functioning of the brain. Various neurological and psychiatric disorders are thought to occur from pathological processes with regards to electric signal propagation between neurons. Devices to non-invasively interfere with electric activity in the brain show promise as treatment option in diseases ranging from depression to stroke.
Prof. Alexander Opitz's lab works on improving non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) technologies based on electromagnetic fields. Computational models to estimate the electric field distribution during transcranial magnetic (TMS), transcranial electric (TES) stimulation are integrated with neuronavigation systems to improve targeting approaches of specific brain circuits. This is combined with studies of the biophysical and physiological foundations of NIBS with the hope that a better understanding can be translated into improved stimulation protocols for clinical applications.
Currently, the response to NIBS protocols can vary strongly across individuals making personalized interventions a promising venue. Prof. Opitz's lab is working to identify individual anatomical and functional predictors for the response to NIBS. Biomedical imaging technologies like MRI and EEG can provide insights into brain processes of individuals that can help tailor stimulation approaches. Prof. Opitz envisions that improved technology and better understanding of brain physiology will lead to personalized NIBS therapies to tackle brain disorders, such as depression, which are currently putting a large strain on individuals and society.
Diploma, Physics, Eberhard Karls University, Tuebingen, 2011
PhD, Computational Neuroscience, Georg August University, Goettingen, 2014
Publications & Awards
Opitz A, Falchier A, Yan CG, Yeagle E, Linn G, Megevand P, Thielscher A, Ross DA, Milham MP, Mehta A, Schroeder C (2016) Spatiotemporal structure of intracranial electric fields induced by transcranial electric stimulation in humans and nonhuman primates. Scientific reports 6: 31236.
Opitz A, Fox MD, Craddock RC, Colcombe S, Milham MP (2016) An integrated framework for targeting functional networks via transcranial magnetic stimulation. NeuroImage 127: 86-96.
Opitz A, Paulus W, Will S, Antunes A, Thielscher A (2015) Anatomical determinants of the electric field during transcranial direct current stimulation. NeuroImage 109:140-159.
Opitz A, Zafar N, Bockermann V, Rohde V, Paulus W. (2014) Validating computationally predicted TMS stimulation areas using direct electrical stimulation in patients with brain tumors near precentral regions. Neuroimage: Clinical 4:500-507.
Opitz A, Legon W, Rowlands A, Bickel WK, Paulus W, Tyler WJ (2013) Physiological observations validate finite element models for estimating subject-specific electric field distributions induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation of the human motor cortex. NeuroImage 81:253-264.
Windhoff M, Opitz A, Thielscher A (2013) Electric field calculations in brain stimulation based on finite elements: an optimized processing pipeline for the generation and usage of accurate individual head models. Hum Brain Mapping 34:923-935.
Opitz A, Windhoff M, Heidemann RM, Turner R, Thielscher A (2011) How the brain tissue shapes the electric field induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation. NeuroImage 58:849-859.