Research topics

Neurobiology of schizophrenia

The principal investigator: Tomáš Kašpárek
Research team: Martin Jáni, Jan Lošák, Libor Ustohal, Jitka Huttlová...
Collaboration: Yuh-Man Sun (BÚ LF MU), Zora Kikinis (Harvard University), Martin Bareš (1.NK FNUSA), Radek Mareček (MAFIL CEITEC), Lubomír Vojtíšek (MAFIL CEITEC), Zenon Starčuk (UPT AV ČR), Jana Pistovčáková (FÚ LF MU), Jana Rudá (FÚ LF MU), Eva Dražanová (UPT AV ČR), Hana Kotolová (VFU Brno), Kateřina Horská (VFU Brno)


The aim of the group is to identify the neuropathological processes in schizophrenia, evaluate its relations to behaviour changes, clinical symptoms, the course of the illness and response to therapy. The main methodology includes multimodal brain imaging, behavioural and psychological tests. The interconnection with clinical facilities of the department enables detailed description of clinical parameters of the subjects. We have also launched cooperation focusing on cellular models of the illness, developing cytokine evaluation. In the previous projects we studied morphological and functional connectivity brain changes in patients with first episodes of schizophrenia (using DTI tractography of cerebellar tracts, fMRI during motor response timing), relation to disorders in movement sequencing, influence of antipsychotics on brain structure and function in MR imaging in developmental model schizophrenia (Poly I:C rat model).


      • White matter changes and immune dysregulation markers in schizophrenia
      • Social cognition, structural and functional neuroanatomy in schizophrenia
      • hIPSCs neurons and astroglia in relation to response to clozapine

Imaging markers of neuropathology for objective diagnostics

The principal investigator Tomáš Kašpárek
Research team: Elis Bartečků, Pavel Theiner, Irena Komárková, Andrea Cejpková, Libor Ustohal, Elis Bartečků, Pavla Linhartová...
Collaboration: Daniel Schwarz (IBA LF MU), Radek Mareček (MAFIL CEITEC), Lubomír Vojtíšek (MAFIL CEITEC), Petr Kudlička (MAFIL CEITEC), Martin Lamoš (MAFIL CEITEC), Hugo Schnack (UMC Utrecht)


The aim of the project is to search for imaging markers of serious mental illnesses, mainly schizophrenia (cortical pathology evaluation, changes in connectivity), borderline personality disorder, eating disorders and malnutrition. We use infrastructure of University hospital Brno (MRI, PET/MRI) and MAFIL-CEITEC (3T MRI), methodologically we use a morphometric approach (VBM, DBM, volumetry), white matter tracts analysis (DTI, TBSS), functional imaging (fMRI - functional maps, effective and functional connectivity), spectroscopy (P-MRS). We cooperate with a Dan Schwarz group on application of machine learning algorithms for classification of subjects based on multimodal brain imaging and with CEITEC-MAFIL group on development and implementation of advanced methods of image processing.


    • Cortical pathology of schizophrenia
      • Machine learning for automatic diagnostics
      • Energetic metabolites in brain cortex and nutrition state in Eating disorders
      • Morphology of brain areas connected with emotion processing in Borderline personality disorders

Biomarkers in affective disorders

The principal investigator: Elis Bartečků
Research team: Jana Hořínková, Alena Damborská, Sylvie Fedorová, Šimon Ondruš, Petra Štrocholcová, Pavel Křenek
Collaboration: Miloš Keřkovský (Klinika radiologie a nukleární medicíny FN Brno), Marek Dostál (Klinika radiologie a nukleární medicíny FN Brno), Julie Dobrovolná (Ústav patologické fyziologie LF MU), Ondřej Peš (Biochemický ústav LF MU), Katarína Kostolanská (Biochemický ústav LF MU), Marek Michalec (Oční klinika FN Brno)


The specific pathophysiological processes underlying the development of various symptoms of the depressive disorder have yet not been unravelled. Several factors – metabolic, inflammatory, hormonal - may be involved in the pathophysiological process. It is highly probable that these changes are succeeded by changes in the structure and function of brain and nerve tissue. The above mentioned biomarkers may be of a prognostic values as to following course of the disorder. Long-term patient and healthy control recruitment is being performed at this stage, the data acquired can also be used in other research topics.


      • Profile and cognitive deficit changes and its influence on the quality of life
      • Brain morphology changes as a biomarker and prognostic factor
      • Biochemical markers (markers of low-grade inflammation, adipokines, markers based on plasma/serum proteins and their modifications)
      • Stress and cortisol and cortisone level changes in hair
      • Optic coherence tomography as a possible biomarker in depressive disorder

Functional dynamics of the brain in psychiatric disorders

The principal investigator: Alena Damborská
Research team: Jana Hořínková, Elis Bartečků, David Ondráček, Jiří Kutý, Sylvie Fedorová
Collaboration: Martin Lamoš (MAFIL CEITEC), Maria Rubega (University of Padova), Cristina Berchio (University of Geneva), Camille Piguet (Geneva University Hospitals)


The main research aim is to study organisation and dynamics of large-scale neural networks of human brain in patients with serious psychiatric disorders, mainly affective disorders and borderline personality disorders. Department infrastructure (High-density EEG) is used for imaging of brain electrical activity. The analytical approach includes evoked potentials and functional EEG microstates

Completed projects

  • Deep brain targets for neurostimulation in affective disorders

Virtual reality in psychiatry

The principal investigator: Robert Roman
Research team: Elis Bartečků
Collaboration: Filip Škola (FI MU)


Manipulation with sensory information in Virtual reality enables to study integration of multimodal information used by brain to create perception of reality. The aim of the research is to reveal potential markers of disrupted multimodal stimuli processing and body perception in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, eating disorders and in patients with dissociative symptoms (anxiety, depersonalization/derealization disorder, dissociative disorder, borderline-personality disorder). We use the equipment of the Department of Psychiatry, i.e. VR headset Oculus Rift S.


      • Determination of new possible biomarkers of psychiatric symptoms including depersonalization and ipseity disturbance using Virtual reality paradigms.

Emotion regulation and borderline-personality disorder

Principal investigator: Mgr. Bc. Pavla Linhartová, Ph.D.
Research team: Mgr. Adéla Látalová, MUDr. Elis Bartečků, Ph.D., Mgr. Tomáš Svěrák, Ph.D., MUDr. Pavel Theiner, Ph.D., Ing. Matyáš Kuhn, Mgr. Jiří Kutý, prof. MUDr. Tomáš Kašpárek, Ph.D.
Collaboration: Ing. Martin Lamoš, Ph.D. (MAFIL CEITEC MU), Mgr. Jan Širůček, Ph.D. (Institut výzkumu dětí, mládeže a rodiny, Fakulta sociálních studií MU), Dr. Christian Paret, Ph.D., prof. M.D. Christian Schmahl, Ph.D. (Central Institute for Mental Health, Mannheim, Německo)


The group deals with the topic of emotion regulation, mainly in patients with borderline-personality disorder in whom the emotion regulation disorder is one of the basic symptoms. Department of Psychiatry University Hospital Brno and FM MU is one of the few departments in the Czech Republic that is engaged in the therapy and research of borderline-personality disorder. We deal with mapping of emotion regulation correlates on behavioural and neuronal level (using mainly functional magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography) and relation of disturbed emotion regulation with other mental functions (e.g. cognitive functions or self-control). We also focus on new therapeutic methods in emotion regulation disorders, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation or fMRI neurofeedback of amygdala.

Current projects

      • Influence of emotions on inhibition ability and its neural correlates
      • Neural correlates of emotion processing and regulation in patients with borderline-personality disorder
      • Behavioural and neural correlates of influence of dialectic behaviour therapy in patients with borderline-personality disorder

Real-time fMRI neurofeedback

Principal investigator: Mgr. Bc. Pavla Linhartová, Ph.D.
Research team: Mgr. Adéla Látalová, Mgr. Martin Jáni, MUDr. Elis Bartečků, Ph.D., MUDr. Robert Roman
Collaboration: Ing. Martin Lamoš, Ph.D., Ing.  Tomáš Slavíček (MAFIL CEITEC MU), Dr. Christian Paret, Ph.D., prof. M.D. Christian Schmahl, Ph.D. (Central Institute for Mental Health, Mannheim, Německo)


The group deals with an innovative method of real-time fMRI neurofeedback, which was introduced at the Department of Psychiatry University Hospital Brno and FM MU as first in the Czech Republic with collaboration with CEITEC MU and Central Institute for Mental Health in Mannheim Germany.  During fMRI neurofeedback a BOLD signal from a certain brain area is processed during magnetic resonance imaging.  The current level of brain activity is then presented to the person lying in the magnetic resonance and the task is to try to influence his/her brain activity using neurofeedback. fMRI neurofeedback can be used to affect symptoms in various psychiatric, neurological and other diseases.

Current projects

      • Methodological aspects of fMRI neurofeedback of amygdala
      • fMRI neurofeedback of different brain areas in healthy subjects
      • fMRI neurofeedback of amygdala for emotion regulation training in patients with emotion regulation disorders

Neurostimulation in psychiatry

Principal investigators: Libor Ustohal, Tomáš Svěrák
Research team: Martin Horký, Adam Fiala, Zuzana Hogenbuchová, Pavla Linhartová, Pavel Theiner
Collaboration: Berthold Lagguth (Psychiatrische Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie der Universität Regensburg am  Bezirksklinikum), Martin Lamoš (MAFIL CEITEC MU), Tomáš Skřont (PO FNO), Matyáš Kuhn

Contact: (Libor Ustohal),

The aim of the research group is to use neurostimulation techniques (mainly repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation - rTMS) in psychiatry. We try to affect the symptoms that often persist despite psychopharmacological treatment and significantly decrease patients´ quality of life. rTMS is combined with other neuroimaging methods such as neuronavigation, electroencephalography and magnetic resonance imaging in order to increase effectiveness and individualisation of treatment. At the same time, the measured data are used to search for markers of good treatment response. Using different stimulation parameter designs we try to intensify the treatment, create new maintenance protocols and make stimulation accessible for wider range of patients. Currently we aim to follow on past projects and continue in attempt to improve negative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia and increase emotion regulation and decrease impulsivity in patients with attention disorder with hyperactivity.


      • Randomized controlled study on repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with attention disorder with hyperactivity
      • Comparison of tolerance and effectiveness of 10Hz and theta-burst stimulation protocol of transcranial magnentic stimulation in treatment of negative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia (double blinded study)

Research on first episodes of psychotic disorders

Principal investigators: Libor Ustohal, Michaela Mayerová
Research team: Marie Obdržálková, Anna Doláková, Kateřina Žáková
Collaboration: Hana Kotolová (FaF VFU Brno), Kateřina Horská (NL FN Brno a FaF VFU Brno), Jan Juřica (LF MU), Daniela Ježová (SAV, Bratislava), Nataša Hlaváčová (SAV, Bratislava)

Contact: (Libor Ustohal)

The scope of the research group includes initial stages of psychotic disorders, mainly schizophrenia, focusing on acquisition of data which may be used for better prediction of individual long-term course of the disorder, response to therapy, functional capacity and quality of life. We therefore focus on various markers linked to the disease and its treatment, we collaborate mainly with pharmacologists and specialists on research on stress, and others.


      • FES2 – The course of initial stages of schizophrenia – 2nd generation: clinical management and functional capacity




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