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IMHR Researchers

Dr. Georg Northoff (MD, PhD)

Georg Northoff, MD, PhD, is EJLB-CIHR Michael Smith Chair in Neurosciences and Mental Health and holds a Canada Research Chair for Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics at the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR).

He completed his initial training in medicine/psychiatry and philosophy in Germany. Dr. Northoff’s previous academic positions included Professorships at the University of Magdeburg, Germany, and Harvard University, U.S.A. With over 100 scientific publications, his current focus is predominantly on the self – having developed the concept of cortical midline structures. Experimental research within his unit focuses on the functional and biochemical mechanisms underlying our sense of self in both healthy subjects and psychiatric patients.

In addition to neuroimaging, he also focuses on neuroethical issues. Early on, he investigated issues related to personal identity in patients with deep brain stimulation and brain tissue transplantation. Another neuroethical focus is on the impact of emotions and empathy in the decision making involved in informed consent, which is of particular relevance regarding psychiatric patients.

Finally, these issues converge nicely with his deep standing interest in the discipline of neurophilosophy. He is considered one of the main founders from the European-continental side, as is illustrated by several papers and books including “Philosophy of the Brain” (2004). His latest book about the self is aimed at a general audience in which he frames the latest neuroscientific results and neurophilosophical reflections into the framework of a mystery novel.


Selected Publications:

  • Attentional modulation of emotional stimulus processing in patients with major depression--alterations in prefrontal cortical regions. 2009. Bermpohl F, Walter M, Sajonz B, Lücke C, Hägele C, Sterzer P, Adli M, Heinz A, Northoff G. Neurosci Lett 463(2):108-13.

  • The relationship between aberrant neuronal activation in the pregenual anterior cingulate, altered glutamatergic metabolism, and anhedonia in major depression. 2009. Walter M, Henning A, Grimm S, Schulte RF, Beck J, Dydak U, Schnepf B, Boeker H, Boesiger P, Northoff G. Arch Gen Psychiatry 66(5):478-86.

  • The resting brain and our self: self-relatedness modulates resting state neural activity in cortical midline structures. 2008. Schneider F, Bermpohl F, Heinzel A, Rotte M, Walter M, Tempelmann C, Wiebking C, Dobrowolny H, Heinze HJ, Northoff G. Neuroscience 157(1):120-31.

  • Culture-sensitive neural substrates of human cognition: a transcultural neuroimaging approach. 2008. Han S, Northoff G. Nat Rev Neurosci 9(8):646-54.

  • The trans-species concept of self and the subcortical-cortical midline system. 2008. Northoff G, Panksepp J. Trends Cogn Sci 12(7):259-64.

  • Neurophilosophical perspectives of neuroimaging in forensic psychiatry-giving way to a paradigm shift? 2008. Witzel J, Walter M, Bogerts B, Northoff G. Behav Sci Law 26(1):113-30.

  • Is our self based on reward? Self-relatedness recruits neural activity in the reward system. 2008. de Greck M, Rotte M, Paus R, Moritz D, Thiemann R, Proesch U, Bruer U, Moerth S, Tempelmann C, Bogerts B, Northoff G. Neuroimage 39(4):2066-75.

  • GABA concentrations in the human anterior cingulate cortex predict negative BOLD responses in fMRI. 2007. Northoff G, Walter M, Schulte RF, Beck J, Dydak U, Henning A, Boeker H, Grimm S, Boesiger P. Nat Neurosci 10(12):1515-7.

  • Neuroscience of decision making and informed consent: an investigation in neuroethics. 2006. Northoff G. J Med Ethics 32(2):70-3.

Other Publications