Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control

Systems Neurology

Our main goal is to understand the cerebral mechanisms that give rise to neurological diseases. The focus of our research is on movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, tremor, and dystonia. We aim to understand: (i) the pathophysiology of specific neurological symptoms, such as impaired dual tasking or motor inflexibility in Parkinson’s disease; (ii) the mechanisms underlying clinical differences between patients, for example in the response to treatment; (iii) the factors that modulate the expression of neurological symptoms, for example the effects of stress on Parkinson’s tremor.

We use a systems approach, focusing on the cortico-striatal circuit and on the interplay between the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. A better insight into the pathophysiology of neurological diseases helps to develop targeted interventions, and it may also help to understand the role specific brain systems in healthy behavior. The tools that we use are functional and structural MRI, neurophysiology, and brain stimulation techniques. For instance, we use transcranial alternating current stimulation (TACS) to manipulate tremor, while testing for system-level effects using fMRI.

Name: Rick Helmich
Telephone: 024-3610983
Fax: 024-3610989
Visiting address: Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Kapittelweg 29
6525 EN Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Postal address: Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
P.O. Box 9101
6500 HB Nijmegen
The Netherlands


lab website Rick Helmich

Grants & prizes

  • NWO VENI (€ 250.000). The noradrenergic basis of Parkinson’s tremor: a systems-level fMRI approach (2016)

  • Dutch Brain Foundation, Benny Vleerlaag Fonds (€ 105.000). The cerebral mechanisms underlying dyston¡c and essential tremor: a multimodal network approach. HA2016-02-01 (2016)

  • NWO Off Road (€ 125.000). Precision neuroscience for precision neurology: guiding personalized treatments for Parkinson’s tremor with individual neuroimaging (2016)

  • Prinses Beatrix Fonds (€ 249.853). How transient peripheral dysfunction leads to long-lasting maladaptive plasticity in the central nervous system: a randomized controlled trial in neuralgic amyotrophy (2016)

Key publications

  • Helmich RC. The cerebral basis of Parkinsonian tremor: a network perspective (2018). Mov Dis. 33(2):219-231.
  • Dirkx MF, Zach H, Bloem BR, Hallett M, Helmich RC. The nature of postural tremor in Parkinson disease (2018). Neurology, in press.
  • Nieuwhof F, Bloem BR, Reelick MF, Aarts E, Maidan I, Mirelman A, Hausdorff JM, Toni I, Helmich RC. Impaired dual tasking in Parkinson is associated with reduced focusing of cortico-striatal activity (2017). Brain. 140(5):1384-1398.
  • Dirkx MF, den Ouden H, Aarts E, Timmer M, Bloem BR, Toni I, & Helmich RC. Dopamine controls Parkinson’s tremor by inhibiting the cerebellar thalamus (2017). Brain. 140(3):721-734
  • Helmich RC, Hallett M, Deuschl G, Toni I, Bloem BR (2012). Cerebral causes and consequences of parkinsonian resting tremor: a tale of two circuits? Brain, 135 (Pt 11): 3206-26

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Research Theme 2:
Perception, Action and Decision-making

Research Group
Systems Neurology

Principal Investigator

Dr. Rick Helmich

Group members

Research Fellows
Roberta Terranova
Luca Angelini

Filip Grill

PhD Students
Kevin van den Berg
Dana Kristin Brinker
Martin Johansson
Hanneke Keijzer
Jorryt Tichelaar
Marlous Verhulst
Kirsten Kapteijns
Franziska Goltz

MSc and BSc Students
Eline Hagenberg
Lara Nootebos
Sander van Strien
Stijn Jansen
Dario Crippa

Research Assistants
Maaike Wessel
Anouk van der Heide
Puck Lange