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Peter Weiss-Blankenhorn

Prof. Dr. Peter Weiss-Blankenhorn

Deputy Director

Head of the Motor Cognition group


Research Interests:

  • Pathophysiology of apraxia (motor cognition)
  • Interaction of apraxia with other cognitive deficits after stroke (neglect, aphasia)
  • Pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease


Pathophysiology of apraxia (motor cognition)

My work on apraxia as a deficit of motor cognition aims at elucidating the pathophysiology of apraxic deficits in imitating gestures (Dafsari et al., 2019) and in using objects and tools (Kleineberg et al., 2018). For this purpose, we conduct neuropsychological studies in stroke patients and functional imaging studies in healthy participants utilizing lesion mapping and connectivity analyses, respectively. These clinically motivated studies are complemented by investigations relating apraxic deficits to cognitive models or mechanisms, like the mirror neuron system (Binder et al., 2017). Recently, we adopted non-invasive brain stimulation, e.g., transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to modulate apraxic (imitation) deficits in patients left hemisphere stroke with the aim to expedite their recovery (Ant et al., 2019).

Interaction of apraxia with other cognitive deficits after stroke (aphasia, neglect)

Despite the fact that stroke patients usually suffer from a multitude of cognitive deficits, research into the relationship and interactions between different neuropsychological deficits after stroke remains sparse. Since apraxia is commonly observed after left hemisphere stroke, patients with apraxia often also suffer from aphasia, as the left hemisphere in right handers is not only the motor dominant hemisphere, but also the dominant hemisphere for language. Therefore, we elucidated the interaction of apraxia and aphasia with respect to apraxic deficits in imitation (Achilles et al., 2019) and pantomiming (Weiss et al., 2016) using statistical lesion mapping in large cohorts of stroke patients. In a similar vein, the common and differential mechanisms underlying attentional deficits and apraxia were examined with component analyses in patients with right (Ubben et al., 2020) and left (Timpert et al., 2015) stroke, respectively.

Pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease

After the initial studies on motor control in Parkinson’s disease (PD; Weiss et al. 1997), the focus was on clinical investigations examining different stimulation sites for deep brain stimulation (DBS) in PD (Volkmann et al., 1998 & 2001) or the genetic underpinnings of early-onset PD (Hedrich et al., 2004). In a series of behavioral and imaging studies, we explored the patho-physiology of PD by utilizing the effects of DBS on grasping (Fellows et al., 2006), bladder control (Herzog et al., 2006) and sensory gating (Herzog et al., 2008). Furthermore, we contributed an important investigation elucidating the mechanisms underlying DBS-mediated improvements of gait in PD (Weiss et al, 2015). Finally, using functional imaging we revealed compensatory processes during emotional processing in PD (Moonen et al., 2017).

PD STN-DBS gaitCopyright: Figure originally published in Weiss et al., (2015).

Selected publications:

  • Achilles EIS, Ballweg CS, Niessen E, Kusch M, Ant JM, Fink GR, Weiss PH (2019). Neural correlates of differential finger gesture imitation deficits in left hemisphere stroke. NeuroImage: Clinical 23:101915.
  • Ant JA, Niessen E, Achilles EIS, Saliger J, Karbe H, Weiss PH, Fink GR (2019). Anodal tDCS over left parietal cortex expedites recovery from stroke-induced apraxic imitation deficits: a pilot study. Neurological Research and Practice, 1:38.
  • Binder E, Dovern A, Hesse MD, Ebke M, Karbe H, Saliger J, Fink GR, Weiss PH (2017). Lesion evidence for a human mirror neuron system. Cortex, 90:125-13.
  • Dafsari HS, Dovern A, Fink GR, Weiss PH (2019). Deficient body structural description contributes to apraxic end-position errors in imitation. Neuropsychologia, 133:107150.
  • Hedrich K, Djarmati A, Schäfer N, Hering R, Wellenbrock C, Weiss PH, Hilker R, Vieregge P, Ozelius LJ, Heutink P, Bonifati V, Schwinger E, Lang AE, Noth J, Bressman SB, Pramstaller PP, Riess O, Klein C (2004). DJ-1 (PARK7) mutations are less frequent than Parkin (PARK2) mutations in early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Neurology, 62:389-394.
  • Herzog J, Weiss PH, Assmus A, Wefer B, Seif C, Braun PM, Herzog H, Volkmann J, Deuschl G, Fink GR (2006). Subthalamic stimulation modulates cortical control of urinary bladder in Parkinson’s disease. Brain, 129:3366-3375.
  • Herzog J, Weiss PH, Assmus A, Wefer B, Seif C, Braun PM, Pinsker MO, Herzog H, Volkmann J, Deuschl G, Fink GR (2008). Improved sensory gating of urinary bladder afferents in Parkinson’s disease following subthalamic stimulation. Brain, 131:132-145.
  • Kleineberg NN, Dovern A, Binder E, Grefkes C, Eickhoff SB, Fink GR, Weiss PH (2018). Action and semantic tool knowledge - effective connectivity in the underlying neural networks. Human Brain Mapping, 39(9):3473-3486.
  • Moonen AJH, Weiss PH, Wiesing M, Weidner R, Fink GR, Reijnders JSAM, Weber WM, Leentjens AFG (2017). An fMRI study into emotional processing in Parkinson's disease: does increased medial prefrontal activation compensate for striatal dysfunction? PLoS One, 12(5):e0177085.
  • Timpert DC, Weiss PH, Vossel S, Dovern A, Fink GR (2015). Apraxia and spatial inattention dissociate in left hemisphere stroke. Cortex, 71:349-58.
  • Ubben SD, Fink GR, Kaesberg S, Kalbe E, Kessler J, Vossel S, Weiss PH (2020). Deficient allo-centric visuospatial processing contributes to apraxic deficits in sub-acute right hemisphere stroke. Journal of Neuropsychology, 14(2):242-259.
  • Volkmann J, Allert N, Voges J, Weiss PH, Freund H-J, Sturm V (2001). Safety and efficacy of pallidal or subthalamic nucleus stimulation in advanced PD. Neurology, 56:548-551.
  • Volkmann J, Sturm V, Weiss P, Kappler J, Voges J, Koulousakis A, Lehrke R, Hefter H, Freund HJ (1998). Bilateral high-frequency stimulation of the internal globus pallidus in advanced Parkinson’s disease. Annals of Neurology, 44: 953-961
  • Weiss PH, Herzog J, Pötter-Nerger M, Falk D, Herzog H, Deuschl G, Volkmann J, Fink GR (2015). Subthalamic nucleus stimulation improves Parkinsonian gait via brainstem locomotor centers. Movement Disorders, 30(8):1121-1125.
  • Weiss P, Stelmach GE, Hefter H (1997). Programming of a movement sequence in Parkinson’s disease. Brain, 120:91-102.
  • Weiss PH, Ubben SD, Kaesberg S, Kalbe E, Kessler J, Liebig T, Fink GR (2016). Where language meets meaningful action: a combined behavior and lesion analysis of aphasia and apraxia. Brain Structure & Function, 221:563-576.



Institut für Neurowissenschaften und Medizin (INM-3)
Forschungszentrum Jülich
52425 Jülich


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Fax: +49 2461 61-1518