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Prof. Dr. Anna Katharina Braun

Early life adversities (ELA) are major risk factors in the etiology of major depressive disorder and highlight the role of ELA in the shaping of a disordered brain. Understanding the mechanisms mediating the transgenerational programming of ELA-induced behavioral and brain pathologies is essential to explain the generational persistence of human behaviors in families and populations exposed to ELA, and will contribute to optimize evidence-based, individually tailored protective and therapeutic interventions. Our overarching scientific objective is guided by the hypothesis that during critical developmental periods ELA “reprograms” gene expression via epigenetic modifications and thereby affects the development of synaptic circuits and synaptic plasticity, which are dysfunctional in vulnerable individuals. Another focus of our research is the investigation of the neurobiology of fatherhood and the importance of paternal care on the development of brain and behavior of his offspring.



  • Entwicklungsneurobiologie, neuronale Plastizität, Epigenetik, funktionelles Imaging
  • Einfluss frühkindlicher emotionaler Erfahrungen/Deprivation/Vernachlässigung auf die Entwicklung von Gehirn und Verhalten, Relevanz für die Entstehung, Prävention und Therapie psychische Erkrankungen
  • Zelluläre Mechanismen der erfahrungs- und lerninduzierten synaptischen Plastizität
  • Untersuchung pathologischer Effekte von sozio-emotionaler Deprivation auf die funktionelle Hirnreifung: Einfluß der väterlichen Fürsorge, Trennungsstress, Bindungsstörungen

My current research interests include the ontogeny of emotionally modulated juvenile learning events, the development of filial attachment, and the identification of epigenetic factors inducing "abnormal development of behavior and of synaptic connections in limbic brain circuits. We investigates mechanisms of information processing and storage at the cellular and synaptic level in the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system using a variety of methods, including quantitative morphology (light-, confocal- and electron-microscopy), functional imaging (2FDG, SPECT, molecular imaging), in vivo microdialysis and behavioral pharmacology. we have established a variety of animal models to identify the role of perinatal stress, neglect, trauma and emotional deprivation on the development of brain and behavior, in order to understand the impact of early life events on the aetiology of mental disorders. In particular we study the role of paternal care/deprivation on the development of brain and behavior.

Braun K, Seidel K, Holetschka R, Groeger, N, Poeggel G (2013) Paternal deprivation alters the development of catecholaminergic innervation in the prefrontal cortex and related limbic brain regions. Brain Struct Funct. 218:859-872

Xie L, Korkmaz K, Braun K, Bock J (2013) Early life stress-induced histone acetylations correlate with activation of the synaptic plasticity genes Arc and Egr1 in the mouse hippocampus. J. Neurochem. Feb 16. doi: 10.1111/jnc.12210.

Bock J, Poeggel G, Gruss M, Wingenfeld K, Braun K (2013) Infant cognitive training preshapes learning-relevant prefrontal circuits for adult learning: Learning-induced tagging of dendritic spines. Cereb Cortex. Jun 14.

Gos T, Schulkin J, Gos A, Joerg Bock, Poeggel G, Braun K (2013) Paternal deprivation affects the functional maturation of Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH)- and Calbindin-D28k-expressing neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) of the biparental Octodon degus. Brain Struct Funct (DOI: 10.1007/s00429-013-0617-4)

Sproewitz A, Bock J, Braun K (2013) Sex-specific positive and negative consequences of infant avoidance training on adult active avoidance learning in mice. Frontiers Behavioral Neuroscience, Volume 7, Article 143, doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00143

Kunzler J, Kreher U, Braun K, Bock J (2013) Early-life-stress and sex-specific sensitivity of the catecholaminergic systems in prefrontal and limbic regions of Octodon degus. Brain Struct Funct, accepted

Forschung • Kooperationen



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  • Poeggel, Prof. Gerd, Universität Leipzig
  • Segal, Prof. Menahem, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel
  • Brunner, Prof. Dr. Romuald, University Hospital of Heidelberg
  • Korkmaz, Prof. Kemal, Egde University, Türkei
  • Leshem, Prof. Micah, University Haifa, Israel
  • Gündel, Prof. Dr. Harald, University Hospital Ulm
  • Herpertz, Prof. Dr. Sabine C., University Hospital of Heidelberg
  • Nass, Prof. Richard, Indiana University, Indianapolis, USA
  • Herpertz-Dahlmann, Prof. Dr. Beate, University Hospital RWTH Aachen
  • Weinstock, Prof. Marta, Hebrew University Jerusalem, School of Pharmacy, Israel
  • Weller, Prof. Aron, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
  • Bock, PD Dr. Jörg, Institut für Biologie
  • Lubec, Prof. Gert, Universität Wien, Österreich
  • Schulkin, Prof. Jay, NIH, Washington, USA
  • Akirav, Prof. Dr. Irit, Haifa University, Isreal
  • Feldman, Prof. Ruth, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel
  • Gos, PD Dr. med. Tomasz, Medizinische Universität Gdansk
  • Krzyzanowska, Dr. med. Marta, Medizinische Universität Gdansk
  • Maroun, Prof. Dr. Mouna, Haifa University, Israel
  • Waller, Prof. Dr. Christiane, Klinikum Nürnberg


Top-5 Publikationen

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