Institute of Physiology - Department of Physiological Genomics

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Professor Kolb

Research Interests

  • Motor systems
  • Cerebellar physiology and pathophysiology
  • Motor learning via associative processes or non-associative processes (adaptation, habituation)
  • Lesion induced plasticity in cerebellar systems
  • Motor rehabilitation
  • Neuro cybernetics, modeling of Neural Networks
  • Acupuncture points and skin resistance
  • Readyness potential and Philosophy


  • Classical conditioning of different types of withdrawal reflexes, of postural reflexes
  • Classical conditioning of a precision grip task (comparable to picking a raspberry)
  • Habituation of startle and withdrawal reflexes
  • Micro injection of specific drugs to temporarily inactivate circumscribed regions of the nervous structures
  • Multi-electrode approach to study electrical properties of cortical structures (e.g. cerebellar cortex)
  • Spread of excitation in cortical structures (e.g. cerebellar cortex)
  • Multi-electrode approach to study electrical properties of the skin resistance relatable to acupuncture points
  • EEG-techniques, evoked potential recording

Main Research area: Physiology and Pathophysiology of the Cerebellum; Motor learning

In addition to surgical intervention for cerebellar tumor patients suffer subsequently from characteristic and substantial restrictions in the motor system depending on the size and the localization of the resectioned tumor, e.g. lower limb ataxia or dysdiadochkinesia (upper extremities). Plastic processes in the central nervous system may lessen the initial impairments with the crucial aspect related to the remaining functions for any renewal of motor learning.

Although the existence of plastic processes in the cerebellum is still under discussion, there is increasing consensus that intactness of specific areas in the cerebellum is necessary for the ability to achieve plastic processes.

We have shown that patients with circumscript lesions are still able to establish a certain amount of motor learning, suggesting that motor learning is essential for reacquisition of motor functions, lost in the course of tumor resection, ischemia, or hemorrhage.

The aim of our group was to characterize the involvement of the cerebellum in motor learning, using electrophysiological and biomechanic approaches. On the basis of the physiological results employing different paradigms (tests for associative and non-associative learning) it should be possible to develop rehabilitation programs to reduce problems related to ataxia or dysdiadochkinesia. The success of motor learning is quantified by comparison between the results obtained in patients with the cerebellar disorders and those of healthy control subjects.