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A critical evaluation of Neurofeedback (NFT) efficacy”


Christine Blume wins Young Investigators Award 2017

Copyright: Scheinast

On the “Day of the University”, which we celebrated on 31st May 2017, the university also awarded the Young Investigators Awards to young scientists in the categories „Law & Economics“, „Arts & Humanities“ and „Natural & Life Sciences“. Thirty-seven young researchers from the „Natural and Life Sciences“ had submitted their abstracts. Prior to the “Day of the University” they had been evaluated and ranked by professors from the various fields. The best six candidates had then been invited to present their research during a six minute presentation, which was followed by a short discussion with the scientific committee. The announcement of the winners and award presentation ceremony took place during a ceremony in the afternoon in presence of the Austrian Federal President Alexander van der Bellen and the chancellor of the university. Christine Blume from the CCNS has won the YIA for her abstract entitled “A clue to consciousness? Significance of circadian rhythms in severely brain‐injured patients.“


Publication: Circadian Rhythms in Brain-Injured Patients

Could Fixing the Body Clock Help People Regain Consciousness?

MINNEAPOLIS – For people with severe brain injuries, researchers have found that the rhythm of daily fluctuations in body temperature is related to their level of conciousness, according to a preliminary study published in the April 19, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our study suggests that the closer the body temperature patterns of a severely brain injured person are to those of a healthy person’s circadian rhythm, the better they scored on tests of recovery from coma, especially when looking at arousal, which is necessary for consciousness,” said study author Christine Blume, PhD, of the University of Salzburg in Austria.

Circadian rhythms, which are rhythmic variations in body functions brought about by the body’s internal clock, are the daily cycles that tell us when to sleep, wake or eat. This biological clock also regulates many of the body’s other functions including temperature. It is set by environmental cues, like periods of daylight and dark.

In healthy people, daily variations in body temperature closely follow the sleep-wake cycle, the 24-hour daily sleep pattern controlled by the body’s internal clock. Other studies have found that disruptions to the sleep-wake cycle may affect various aspects of health like the immune system and short-term memory. During a normal sleep-wake cycle, the body’s core temperature fluctuates and can drop one to two degrees during the early morning hours.

For this study, researchers monitored 18 people with severe brain injuries, those with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome and those in a minimally conscious state. Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, also known as a vegetative state, is when someone has awakened from a coma, is opening his or her eyes and having periods of sleep, but remains unresponsive. A minimally conscious state is when someone shows signs of awareness.

For one week, researchers continually monitored the body temperatures of participants with external skin sensors. With that temperature data, they were able to determine the length of the circadian rhythm for each person. Length of temperature cycles of participants ranged from 23.5 to 26.3 hours.

Researchers also evaluated the level of consciousness for each person with the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised, measuring things like response to sound and ability to open eyes with or without stimulation. They found that those who scored better on that scale had body temperature patterns that more closely aligned with a healthy 24-hour rhythm.

“This is the first time an association has been found between circadian variations in body temperature and arousal in brain-injured patients. Importantly, arousal is essential for conciousness,” said Blume. “Circadian variations are something doctors should keep in mind when diagnosing patients. The time of the day when patients are tested could be crucial. Also, doctors may want to consider creating environments for patients that mimic the light patterns of night and day to help achieve a normal sleep-wake cycle. The hope is that this may help bring a person with a severe brain injury closer to consciousness.”

The researchers tested bright light stimulation on eight participants for one week and found positive effects in two patients. Blume said that larger studies are needed to test the hypothesis that bright light is indeed beneficial for patients.

Blume suggests that future studies look at the relationship between body temperature rhythms and other body rhythms like hormone patterns and rest-activity cycles.

To learn more about brain injury, visit

The American Academy of Neurology is the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 32,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Incoming new internships:

Mohamed S. Ameen


JMN – Joint Master in Neuroscience
Faculte des Sciences de la Vie
Université de Strasbourg



Neurofeedback Publication in BRAIN


Recently, Schabus et al. (2017) were able to publish the results of several years of research on neurofeedback in the Lab for Sleep and Consciousness Research at the University of Salzburg in the prestigious scientific journal BRAIN. They had investigated the efficacy of neurofeedback for the treatment of primary insomnia. From the results of their study the authors concluded that for the treatment of this disorder, neurofeedback does not have specific efficacy that goes beyond unspecific placebo effects. They did not find an advantage of neurofeedback compared to a placebo feedback condition. In the latter condition participants received neurofeedback too, however that was unsystematic and did not include the EEG frequency range, which was assumed to be efficacious for the treatment of primary insomnia. The authors conclude that on the basis of the obtained results neurofeedback cannot be recommended as an alternative to cognitive behavioural therapy, which is the current (non-pharmacological) standard-of-care treatment.


Fulbright Grant for Kerstin Hödlmoser

CCNS member Kerstin Hödlmoser received a “Fulbright Research Grant”. In 2018 Kerstin will stay for four month at the University of California, Berkeley and conduct her research at the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory with Matthew Walker (project: “Sleep to remember…but also to forget: A combined fMRI and EEG approach to investigate sleep-dependent motor adaptation”).

FWF Video






Festival of Austrian Science from 15th to 17th May 2017





3rd Symposium on Sleep, Cognition, and Consciousness

in Kaprun/Austria from 2nd to 5th March 2017



Confirmed Speakers:
Robert Bodizs
Oliviero Bruni
Christian Cajochen
Srivas Chennu
Thanh Dang-Vu
Julien Doyon
Steffen Gais
Wolfgang Klimesch
Lucia Melloni
Nayantara Santhi
Philippe Peigneux
Gio Piantoni
Lucia Talamini
Eus Van Someren
Nathan Weisz


Latest Publications:


In press and accepted:

Wislowska, M., del Giudice, R., Lechinger, J., Wielek, T., Heib, D., Pitiot, A., Pichler, G., Michitsch, G., Donis, J. and Schabus, M. (accepted). Night and day variations of sleep in patients with disorders of consciousness. Scientific Reports. (Impact factor: 5.525)



Blume, C., Lechinger, J., Nayantara, S., del Giudice, R., Gnjezda, M.-T., Pichler, G., Scarpatetti, M., Donis, J., Michitsch, G., & Schabus, M. (2017). A clue to consciousness? Significance of circadian rhythms in severely brain-injured patients. Neurology. DOI: (Impact factor: 8.092)

Schabus, M., Griessenberger, H., Gnjezda, M.-T., Heib, D. P. J., Wislowska, M., & Hoedlmoser, K. (2017). Better than sham? A double-blind placebo-controlled neurofeedback study in primary insomnia. Brain, 140 (2), 1-12. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awx011 (Impact factor: 10.545)



Wislowska, M. & Schabus, M. (accepted). What can we learn about brain functions from sleep EEG? Insights from sleep of DOC patients. In C. Schnakers, & S. Laureys (Eds), Coma and Disorders of Consciousness. London, UK: Springer-Press.

Wislowska, M., Heib, D.P.J., Griessenberger, H., Hoedlmoser, K. & Schabus, M. (2016). Individual baseline memory performance and its significance for sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Sleep Spindles & Cortical Up States: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 0, 1-12.

Blume, C., del Giudice, R., Lechinger, J., Wislowska, M., Heib, D.P.J., Hoedlmoser, K. & Schabus, M. (2016). Preferential processing of emotionally and self-relevant stimuli persists in unconscious N2 sleep. Brain and Language. DOI: 10.1016/j.bandl.2016.02.004.

del Giudice, R., Blume, C., Wislowska, M., Wielek T., Heib, D.P.J., & Schabus, M. (2016). The voice of anger: oscillatory EEG responses to emotional prosody. Plos One, 11(7), e0159429. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159429.

Blume, C., Santhi, N., & Schabus, M. (2016). ‘nparACT’ package for R: A free software tool for the non-parametric analysis of actigraphy data. MethodsX, 3, 430-435.

del Giudice, R., Blume, C., Wislowska, M., Lechinger, J., Heib, D.P.J., Pichler, G., Donis, J., Michitsch, G., Gnjezda, M.-T., Chinchilla, M., & Machado, C. (2016). Can self-relevant stimuli help assessing patients with disorders of consciousness?. Consciousness and Cognition, 44, 51-60.

Thul, A., Lechinger, J., Donis, J., Michitsch, G., Pichler, G., Jordan, D., Ilg, R., & Schabus, M. (2016). EEG entropy measures indicate decrease of cortical information processing in Disorders of Consciousness. Clinical Neurophysiology, 127, 1419–1427.

Lechinger, J., Wielek, T., Blume, C., Pichler, G., Michitsch, G., Donis, J., Gruber, W., & Schabus, M. (2016). Event-related EEG power modulations and phase connectivity indicate the focus of attention in an auditory own name paradigm. Journal of Neurology, 263(8), 1530-1543.


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