Universitätsklinikum des Saarlandes und Medizinische Fakultät der Universität des Saarlandes
Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
Leitung: Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Riemenschneider
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Visuelle Neurowissenschaften

Arbeitsgruppe visuelle Neurowissenschaften


Research group leader

PD Dr. Emanuel Bubl

Telefon: ++49/6841 16 24100

Email: emanuel.bubl @uks.eu


Group members

Dr. Anna Bubl

Yumin Liang

Lisa Werner

Evelyn Friedel


Research focus

The search for valid and easy to assess biomarkers is of utmost importance in neuropsychiatry.

Visual contrast sensitivity is essentially modulated by systemic dopaminergic activity. Thus the assessment of visual contrast sensitivity is a way to probe the integrity of the systemic functioning of the dopaminergic system in the brain.

Visual contrast sensitivity can be assessment with psychophysical means when subjects are asked to consciously discriminate contrast differences (see figure 1).

Figure1: Example of Gabor stimuli used in the experimental set-up. The panel on the left illustrates a trial with no target stimulus (i.e., all stimuli have the same contrast). The panel on the right shows a trial with a high contrast target at ’10:30’ position (arrow not present in the experiments)


Another tool for the objective assessment of visual contrast sensitivity is the measurement of the pattern electroretinogram (see figure 2). This measurement does not depend on subjective conscious decisions and therefor is an objective marker of visual contrast information processing at the level of the retina.

Figure 2: Illustration of the measurement of the pattern electroretinogram in response to alternating checkerboard stimuli


In previous research we were able to show that reduced contrast gain at the level of the retina distinguished depressed patients form healthy controls with high sensitivity and specificity. Also we were able to show that this signal normalized following remission from depression. Thus altered contrast processing at the level of the retina might be a biomarker (state marker) of depressive states in humans.

Presently our research group concentrates on studying the specificity of this signal across different neuropsychiatric disorders and in response to different therapeutic interventions.




Selected publications

  1. Ebert D, Feistel H, Kaschka W, et al (1994) Single photon emission computerized tomography assessment of cerebral dopamine D2 receptor blockade in depression before and after sleep deprivation--preliminary results. BiolPsychiatry 35:880–885.
  2. Tebartz van Elst L, Greenlee MW, Foley JM, Lucking CH (1997) Contrast detection, discrimination and adaptation in patients with Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy. Brain 120 ( Pt 12):2219–2228.
  3. Bubl E, Tebartz Van Elst L, Gondan M, et al (2009) Vision in depressive disorder. World J Biol Psychiatry 10:377–384. doi: 10.1080/15622970701513756
  4. Bubl E, Kern E, Ebert D, et al (2010) Seeing gray when feeling blue? Depression can be measured in the eye of the diseased. Biol Psychiatry 68:205–208.
  5. Bubl E, Ebert D, Kern E, et al (2012) Effect of antidepressive therapy on retinal contrast processing in depressive disorder. Br J Psychiatry 201:151–158. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.100560
  6. Bubl E, Dörr M, Philipsen A, et al (2013) Retinal contrast transfer functions in adults with and without ADHD. PLoS ONE 8:e61728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061728
  7. Bubl E, Dörr M, Riedel A, et al (2015) Elevated Background Noise in Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Is Associated with Inattention. PLoS ONE 10:e0118271. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118271
  8. Bubl E, Kern E, Ebert D, et al (2015) Retinal dysfunction of contrast processing in major depression also apparent in cortical activity. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 1–8. doi: 10.1007/s00406-014-0573-x
  9. Tebartz van Elst L, Bach M, Blessing J, et al (2015) Normal Visual Acuity and Electrophysiological Contrast Gain in Adults with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Front Hum Neurosci 9:460. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00460

Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie

Universitätsklinikum des Saarlandes

Prof. Dr. med. M. Riemenschneider

Kirrberger Straße 100
D-66421 Homburg/Saar


Frau N. Dumont

Tel.: 06841/16-24202

Fax: 06841/16-24270



Tel.: 06841/16-24210


Tel.: 06841/16-24202

Für Notfälle außerhalb der Sprechstunde

Tel.: 06841/16-24100

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