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Arno Villringer

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Arno Villringer
Born1958 (age 65–66)
AwardsPater Leander Fischer Award, German Society of Laser Medicine (2005), endowed professorship (by Deutsche Forschungs Gemeinschaft) at Charité – Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (1996), Gerhard Hess Award, DFG (1993), DFG foreign exchange scholarship (1986)
Scientific career
FieldsMedicine, neurology, stroke research, brain plasticity
InstitutionsMax Planck Institute (professor, director), University of Leipzig (Professor), Charité - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Honorary professor)

Arno Villringer (born 1958, Schopfheim, Germany) is a Director at the Department of Neurology [1] at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences[2] in Leipzig, Germany; Director of the Department of Cognitive Neurology at University of Leipzig Medical Center;[3] and Academic Director of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain [4] and the Mind&Brain Institute,[5] Berlin. He holds a full professorship at University of Leipzig and an honorary professorship at Charité, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. From July 2022 to June 2025 he is the Chairperson of the Human Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society.[6]

Academic career and achievements[edit]

Arno Villringer studied medicine at the University of Freiburg (German: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) from 1977 to 1984, graduating with a Doctor of Medicine (summa cum laude) higher degree in 1984. After a fellowship at the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School in 1985, he worked in Munich, Germany, becoming a board certified neurologist in 1992, and gaining his professorial degree (Habilitation) at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1994.[7] From 1993 to 2007, he worked at the Department of Neurology at the Charité, Berlin, first as a consultant, and later as head of the Department of Neurology at the Benjamin Franklin Campus. Since 2006 he has been Academic Director of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain [4] and the Mind&Brain institute (since 2010),[5] since 2007 he has been Director of the Department of Neurology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany,[1] and director of the Department of Cognitive Neurology at the University of Leipzig Medical Center.[7]

Research foci[edit]

Research interests[edit]

  • Neurocognition of vascular risk factors and the path from risk factors to stroke and dementia
  • Mind Brain Body interactions
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Conscious and unconscious processing in the somatosensory system
  • Diverse research methods including behavioral and neurocognitive testing, neuroimaging (MRI, EEG, MEG, fNIRS, EEG/fMRI), neurostimulation (TDCS, TMS, TACS, focused ultrasound), brain computer interfaces, and virtual reality.[1]

Arno Villringer is the author of more than 600 academic articles (as of 2022) with more than >56000 citations, and an h-index of 116 (Google Scholar, August 2022) [8]

Pioneering work[edit]

Perfusion imaging[edit]

Arno Villringer pioneered magnetic resonance perfusion imaging of the brain by demonstrating that susceptibility contrast agents such as GdDTPA may be employed in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).[9] The susceptibility-based contrast mechanism later became relevant for the Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) signal in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Optical imaging[edit]

In 1993, Villringer showed feasibility of noninvasive functional near-infrared spectroscopy and imaging (fNIRS, fNIRI) of the human brain[10][11] followed by > 50 publications establishing /validating fNIRS. Physiology empowered brain imaging: Since 1992 his research focus has been on neurophysiological mechanisms underlying brain function and plasticity, using multi-modal brain imaging, e.g., signatures of neuronal inhibition in functional brain imaging,[12][13] combined fNIRS/fMRI to establish relationship between BOLD and deoxy-Hb concentration in fMRI,[14] combined EEG/fMRI to show fMRI correlates of background rhythms [15][16] and simultaneously assess neuronal spiking and fMRI.[17]

Brain plasticity, development of vascular risk factors, stroke[edit]

Villringer currently pursues the hypothesis that (maladaptive) brain plasticity is crucial for the development of vascular risk factors leading to stroke and for the (lack of) recovery after stroke, and that brain plasticity can be beneficially modified. For this purpose, he employs multi-modal brain imaging to understand basic neurophysiological mechanisms underlying human brain plasticity in cortical and subcortical brain areas, and their interaction. Behavioral correlates include sensorimotor function, reaction to stress, and emotions. The clinical applications are (i) prevention of vascular risk factors (obesity, hypertension) and subsequent stroke, and (ii) recovery after stroke.

Expert activities/board memberships[edit]

  • 1999–present: German Competence Network Stroke, Berlin, Germany (Coordinator) [18]
  • 2005–present: International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course, Berlin: Member of Faculty [19]
  • 2008–present: Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases (LIFE), Germany: Board of Directors
  • 2010–2016: Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) AdiposityDiseases: Steering Committee
  • 2010–2018: Max Planck International Research Network on Aging (MaxNetAging), Rostock, Germany: Member
  • 2011–present: Dialogforum Depression, Berlin, Germany: Initiator
  • 2011–present: Research Initiative MPS-UCL, Berlin, Germany: Computational Psychiatry and Aging Research: Principal Investigator [20]
  • 2012–2019: NeuroCure, Research Cluster of Excellence (German Excellence Initiative), Berlin, Germany: Principal Investigator [21]
  • 2013–2021: Collaborative Research Center 1052 of the German Research Foundation [Sonderforschungsbereich der DFG] “Obesity Mechanisms”, Leipzig, Germany: Steering Committee [22]
  • 2013–2020: Spokesperson, International Max Planck Research School IMPRS NeuroCom, Leipzig, Germany [23]
  • 2018–present: International Max Planck Research School IMPRS COMP2PSYCH: Faculty Member [24]
  • 2018–present: Research Training Group 2386, Extrospection. External Access to Higher Cognitive Processes: Faculty Member [25]
  • 2018–present: Spokesperson of the Max Planck School of Cognition (Germany-wide, 15 universities, 10 Max Planck Institutes) [26]
  • 2020–present: Board Member, International Max Planck Research School IMPRS NeuroCom, Leipzig, Germany [23]
  • 2021–2022: Deputy Chairperson, Human Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society
  • 2022–2025: Chairperson of the Human Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society (comprising 22 Max Planck Institutes) [6]
  • 2022–2025: ex officio member of the Senate of the Max Planck Society


Memberships in scientific arganizations[edit]

  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurologie (Germany Neurological Society)
  • German Neuroscience Society](Founding Member, 1992)
  • German Stroke Society Deutsche Schlaganfall-Gesellschaft (Founding Member, 2001)
  • International Organization for Human Brain Mapping OHBM (Founding Member)
  • Society for Neuroscience (SfN)
  • International Society of Intracranial Hemodynamics (Phoenix, Founding Member, 1992)
  • International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM)


  • Pater Leander Fischer Award, German Society of Laser Medicine (2005)[27]
  • Gerhard Hess Award, DFG (1993)
  • DFG foreign exchange scholarship (1986)


  1. ^ a b c "Department of Neurology".
  2. ^ "Home".
  3. ^ "Unser Team".
  4. ^ a b "Berlin School of Mind and Brain: Bodies and committees".
  5. ^ a b "Berlin School of Mind and Brain: MindBrainBody Institute".
  6. ^ a b "The Human Sciences Section".
  7. ^ a b c "Curriculum Vitae".
  8. ^ "Arno Villringer".
  9. ^ Villringer, Arno; Rosen, Bruce R.; Belliveau, John W.; Ackerman, Jerome L.; Lauffer, Randall B.; Buxton, Richard B.; Chao, Yong-Sheng; Wedeenand, Van J.; Brady, Thomas J. (1988). "Dynamic imaging with lanthanide chelates in normal brain: Contrast due to magnetic susceptibility effects". Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 6 (2): 164–174. doi:10.1002/mrm.1910060205. PMID 3367774. S2CID 41228095.
  10. ^ Villringer, A.; Planck, J.; Hock, C.; Schleinkofer, L.; Dirnagl, U. (1993). "Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS): A new tool to study hemodynamic changes during activation of brain function in human adults". Neuroscience Letters. 154 (1–2): 101–104. doi:10.1016/0304-3940(93)90181-j. PMID 8361619. S2CID 45676442.
  11. ^ Villringer, A.; Chance, B. (1997). "Non-invasive optical spectroscopy and imaging of human brain function". Trends in Neurosciences. 20 (10): 435–442. doi:10.1016/s0166-2236(97)01132-6. PMID 9347608. S2CID 18077839.
  12. ^ Wenzel, Rüdiger; Wobst, Petra; Heekeren, Hauke H.; Kwong, Kenneth K.; Brandt, Stephan A.; Kohl, Matthias; Obrig, Hellmuth; Dirnagl, Ulrich; Villringer, Arno (2000). "Saccadic Suppression Induces Focal Hypooxygenation in the Occipital Cortex". Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. 20 (7): 1103–1110. doi:10.1097/00004647-200007000-00010. PMID 10908044. S2CID 33827135.
  13. ^ Blankenburg, Felix; Taskin, Birol; Ruben, Jan; Moosmann, Matthias; Ritter, Petra; Curio, Gabriel; Villringer, Arno (2003). "Imperceptible Stimuli and Sensory Processing Impediment". Science. 299 (5614): 1864. doi:10.1126/science.1080806. PMID 12649475. S2CID 33732258.
  14. ^ Kleinschmidt, Andreas; Obrig, Hellmuth; Requardt, Martin; Merboldt, Klaus-Dietmar; Dirnagl, Ulrich; Villringer, Arno; Frahm, Jens (1996). "Simultaneous Recording of Cerebral Blood Oxygenation Changes during Human Brain Activation by Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy". Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. 16 (5): 817–826. doi:10.1097/00004647-199609000-00006. PMID 8784226. S2CID 10720551.
  15. ^ Moosmann, Matthias; Ritter, Petra; Krastel, Ina; Brink, Andrea; Thees, Sebastian; Blankenburg, Felix; Taskin, Birol; Obrig, Hellmuth; Villringer, Arno (2003). "Correlates of alpha rhythm in functional magnetic resonance imaging and near infrared spectroscopy". NeuroImage. 20 (1): 145–158. doi:10.1016/s1053-8119(03)00344-6. PMID 14527577. S2CID 39614622.
  16. ^ Ritter, Petra; Moosmann, Matthias; Villringer, Arno (2009). "Rolandic alpha and beta EEG rhythms' strengths are inversely related to fMRI-BOLD signal in primary somatosensory and motor cortex". Human Brain Mapping. 30 (4): 1168–1187. doi:10.1002/hbm.20585. PMC 6870597. PMID 18465747.
  17. ^ Ritter, Petra; Freyer, Frank; Curio, Gabriel; Villringer, Arno (2008). "High-frequency (600 Hz) population spikes in human EEG delineate thalamic and cortical fMRI activation sites". NeuroImage. 42 (2): 483–490. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.05.026. PMID 18586526. S2CID 25810037.
  18. ^ "Kompetenznetz Schlaganfall | Competence Network Stroke".
  19. ^ "Arno Villringer | International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course".
  20. ^ "About the Centre".
  21. ^ "Structure - NeuroCure | Cluster of Excellence".
  22. ^ "SFB 1052 Mechanismen der Adipositas - Sfb1052 Mechanismen der Adipositas". www.sfb1052.de.
  23. ^ a b "Home".
  24. ^ "Imprs Comp2Psych".
  25. ^ "Berlin School of Mind and Brain: RTG 2386".
  26. ^ "People".
  27. ^ Pater-Leander-Fischer-Preis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Lasermedizin an Berliner Neurologen (Pater Leander Fischer Award for Berlin neurologists) "IDW press release".

External links[edit]