Dr., Dipl.-Ing. Till Nierhaus

Till Nierhaus

Arbeitsbereich Neurocomputation and Neuroimaging

CCNB Laboratory Manager MRI and EEG

Habelschwerdter Allee 45
Raum JK 25/215
14195 Berlin

As part of the Somatosensory Group at the MPI in Leipzig we investigate neurophysiological processes underlying the cerebral processing of somatosensory stimuli.

The goal of my research is to identify neuronal correlates of somatosensory processing by means of non-invasive neuroimaging, mainly focussing on the functional role of background oscillatory activity (Nierhaus et al., 2009). Investigating the processing of imperceptible stimuli with EEG and resting-state fMRI revealed a modulatory role of the alpha rhythm for the access to a functional connectivity network subserving conscious experience (Nierhaus et al., 2015, J Neurosci). These neuronal correlates of imperceptible stimulus processing are now further investigated concerning attentional modulation (Forschack et al., 2017, J Neurosci), the effect of imperceptible stimulation patterns (regular vs. unregular) and their interaction with the processing of conscious stimuli (MPI Project Fivos Iliopoulos).

Another line of research deals with the effect of acupuncture (as complex somatosensory stimulation) on background oscillatory activity. In a first study we were able to show a point-specific effect of acupuncture stimulation on the central alpha rhythm (EEG) and fMRI based functional connectivity (Nierhaus et al. 2015, Frontiers). Different stimulation sites and protocols will be studied for further investigation of these effects.

My research projects include:

  • Neuronal Oscillatory Activity
  • Relationship of Background and Evoked Activity
  • Resting-state Functional Connectivity
  • Plasticity in Somatosensory Cortex


  • EEG / fMRI
  • Somatosensory Stimulation


Antonenko D, Nierhaus T, Meinzer M, Prehn K, Thielscher A, Ittermann B, Flöel A (2018) Age-dependent effects of brain stimulation on network centrality. Neuroimage, 176:71-82, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.04.038.

Apostolova I, Lange C, Mäurer A, Suppa P, Spies L, Grothe MJ, Nierhaus T, Fiebach JB, Steinhagen-Thiessen E, Buchert R (2018) Hypermetabolism in the hippocampal formation of cognitively impaired patients indicates detrimental maladaption. Neurobiol of Aging (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.01.002

Von Lautz AH, Herding J, Ludwig S, Nierhaus T, Maess B, Villringer A, Blankenburg F (2017) Gamma and Beta Oscillations in Human MEG Encode the Contents of Vibrotactile Working Memory. Front. Hum. Neurosci.  11:576. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00576

Gundlach C, Müller MM, Nierhaus T, Villringer A, Sehm B (2017) Modulation of somatosensory alpha rhythm by transcranial alternating current stimulation at mu-frequency. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 11:432. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00432.

Forschack N, Nierhaus T, Müller MM, Villringer A. (2017) Alpha-Band Brain Oscillations Shape the Processing of Perceptible as well as Imperceptible Somatosensory Stimuli during Selective Attention. J Neurosci.;37(29):6983-6994. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2582-16.2017.

Khalil A, Ostwaldt AC, Nierhaus T, Ganeshan R, Audebert H, Villringer K, Villringer A, Fiebach J. (2017) The relationship between changes in the temporal dynamics of the BOLD signal and hypoperfusion in acute ischemic stroke. Stroke, 48(4):925-931, doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.015566

Long X, Huang W, Napadow V, Liang F, Pleger B, Villringer A, Witt CM, Nierhaus T*, Pach D*. (2016) Sustained Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation Investigated with Centrality Mapping Analysis. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 10:510. (*equal contribution)

Nierhaus T, Pach D, Huang W, Long X, Napadow V, Roll S, Liang F, Pleger B, Villringer A and Witt CM (2016) Difficulties Choosing Control Points in Acupuncture Research. Response: Commentary: Differential Cerebral Response, Measured with Both an EEG and fMRI, to Somatosensory Stimulation of a Single Acupuncture Point vs. Two Non-Acupuncture Points. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 10:404. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00404

Gundlach C, Müller MM, Nierhaus T, Villringer A, Sehm B (2016) Phasic Modulation of Human Somatosensory Perception by Transcranially Applied Oscillating Currents. Brain Stimulation. 9(5):712-9. doi:

Hove MJ, Stelzer J, Nierhaus T, Thiel SD, Gundlach C, Margulies DS, Van Dijk KR, Turner R, Keller PE, Merker B (2016) Brain Network Reconfiguration and Perceptual Decoupling During an Absorptive State of Consciousness. Cereb Cortex. July 2016;26: 3116-3124. Epub 2015 Jun 23

Goltz D, Gundlach C, Nierhaus T, Villringer A, Müller M, Pleger B (2015) Connections between Intraparietal Sulcus and a Sensorimotor Network Underpin Sustained Tactile Attention. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(20), 7938-7949.

Nierhaus T, Forschack N, Piper S, Holtze S, Krause T, Taskin B, Long X, Stelzer J, Margulies D, Steinbrink J, Villringer A (2015) Imperceptible Somatosensory Stimulation Alters Sensorimotor Background Rhythm and Connectivity. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(15), 5917-5925.

Nierhaus T, Pach D, Huang W, Long X, Napadow V, Roll S, Liang F, Pleger B, Villringer A and Witt CM (2015) Differential cerebral response to somatosensory stimulation of an acupuncture point vs. two non-acupuncture points measured with EEG and fMRI. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 9:74. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00074

Scharinger M, Herrmann B, Nierhaus T, Obleser J (2014) Simultaneous EEG-fMRI brain signatures of auditory cue utilization. Front Neurosci. 8:137. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2014.00137.

Thiel SD, Bitzer S, Nierhaus T, Kalberlah C, Preusser S, Neumann J, Nikulin VV, van der Meer E, Villringer A, Pleger B (2014) Hysteresis as an implicit prior in tactile spatial decision making. PLoS One. 9(2):e89802. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089802.

Long X, Goltz D, Margulies DS, Nierhaus T, Villringer A (2014) Functional connectivity-based parcellation of the human sensorimotor cortex. Eur J Neurosci. 39(8):1332-42. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12473.

Iliopoulos F, Nierhaus T, Villringer A (2013) Electrical Noise Modulates Perception of Electrical Pulses in Humans: Sensation Enhancement via Stochastic Resonance. J Neurophysiol. 111(6):1238-48. doi: 10.1152/jn.00392.2013.

Nierhaus T, Gundlach C, Goltz D, Thiel SD, Pleger B, Villringer A (2013) Internal ventilation system of MR scanners induces specific EEG artifact during simultaneous EEG-fMRI. Neuroimage 74:70-6.

Ragert P*, Nierhaus T*, Cohen LG, Villringer A (2011) Interhemispheric Interactions between the Human Primary Somatosensory Cortices. PLoS ONE 6(2): e16150. (*equal contribution)

Telkemeyer S, Rossi S, Nierhaus T, Steinbrink J, Obrig H and Wartenburger I (2011) Acoustic processing of temporally modulated sounds in infants: evidence from a combined near-infrared spectroscopy and EEG study. Front. Psychology, 2:62. doi: 10.3389.

Telkemeyer S, Rossi S, Koch SP, Nierhaus T, Steinbrink J, Poeppel D, Obrig H, Wartenburger I (2009) Sensitivity of Newborn Auditory Cortex to the Temporal Structure of Sounds. The Journal of Neuroscience, Nov 25;29(47):14726-14733.

Bourayou R, Boeth H, Benav H, Betz T, Lindauer U, Nierhaus T, Klohs J, Wunder A, Dirnagl U, Steinbrink J (2008) Fluorescence tomography technique optimized for noninvasive imaging of the mouse brain. J Biomed Opt, Jul-Aug;13(4):041311.

Klohs J, Steinbrink J, Nierhaus T, Bourayou R, Lindauer U, Bahmani P, Dirnagl U, Wunder A (2006) Noninvasive near-infrared imaging of fluorochromes within the brain of live mice: an in vivo phantom study. Mol Imaging, Jul;5(3):180-7.


Huang W, Pach D, Napadow V, Park K, Long X, Neumann J, Maeda Y, Nierhaus T, Liang F, Witt CM (2012) Characterizing acupuncture stimuli using brain imaging with FMRI--a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature. PLoS ONE 7(4):e32960.

Nierhaus T*, Schön T*, Becker R, Ritter P, Villringer A (2009) Background and evoked activity and their interaction in the human brain. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Oct 27(8):1140-50. (*equal contribution)

Book chapters:

Nierhaus T, Margulies DS, Long X, Villringer A (2012). fMRI for the Assessment of Functional Connectivity. Neuroimaging - Methods, Prof. Peter Bright (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0097-3, InTech, Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/neuroimaging-methods/fmri-for-the-assessment-offunctional-connectivity.