Clinical Psychology and
Clinical Neuropsychology

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Prof. Dr. rer.soc. Thomas Elbert

Professor for Clinical and Neuropsychology

Phone: -4609
Fax: -2891
Room: EG 23
Office hours: on appointment

Research Interests


  • The development of cortical organization and reorganization across the life span
  • Posttraumatic alterations in cerebral organization
  • Psychotherapeutic interventions in trauma-spectrum and stress related-disorders
  • Mental health in conflict and crisis regions
  • Neural basis and behavioural treatment of tinnitus

Curriculum Vitae

Thomas Elbert studied Psychology, Mathematics and Physics at the universities of Munich and Tübingen (PhD, 1978). He is currently Professor of Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology at the University of Konstanz, Germany. He is also a member of the International Neuropsychological Symposium, the German Academy of Science and president of the Italian branch of vivo ( His more than 400 publications include methodological studies (e.g., applications of nonlinear systems theory to biological systems), investigations on the self-regulation of the brain, and on cortical organization, plasticity and their relation to behaviour and psychopathology. Based on progress in understanding the mechanisms of neuroplasticity, new treatment approaches for aphasia, tinnitus and focal dystonia have been developed in the Konstanz laboratory. Clinical psychological research has focused on the consequences of traumatic stress. Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), a culturally universal short-term intervention for the reduction of traumatic stress symptoms in survivors of organized violence, torture, war, rape, and childhood abuse was developed in collaboration with Dres. Frank Neuner and Maggie Schauer. This treatment has been field-tested in crisis regions in Africa and Asia. Associate Editorships (past and present) include Psychophysiology, J. Psychophysiology, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical engineering, BMC Neuroscience, BMC Psychiatry, Open Neuroscience, Scitizen and others.

Curriculum Vitae



  • Neuropsychology and Neurorehabilitation
  • Introduction to Clinical Psychology
  • Introduction to Psychopharmacology
  • Psychosomatics and Behavioral Medicine
  • Psychotraumatology


Complete list of publications / Scientometrics data


Selected recent publications in:

Traumatic stress studies

DeQuervain DJ, Kolassa I, Ertl V, Onyut PL, Neuner F, Elbert T, Papassotiropoulos A (2007). A deletion variant of the ?2b-adrenoceptor is related to emotional memory in Europeans and Africans. Nature Neuroscience. 1137-1139.


Elbert T, Rockstroh B, Kolassa I, Schauer M, Neuner F (2006). The Influence of Organized Violence and Terror on Brain and Mind – a Co-Constructive Perspective. In: Lifespan Development and the Brain: The perspective of Biocultural Co-Constructivism, Eds : P. Baltes, P. Reuter-Lorenz and F. Rösler. Cambridge University Press. 326-349.


Elbert T, Schauer M, Schauer E, Huschka B, Hirth M, Neuner F (2007). Trauma-related impairment in children – an epidemiological survey in Sri Lankan provinces affected by two decades of civil war and unrest. Child Abuse & Neglect (in press). Elbert T., Schauer, M. (2002). Psychological trauma: Burnt into memory. Nature. 419, 883.


Kolassa IT, Elbert T (2007). Structural and functional neuroplasticity in relation to traumatic stress. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 16, 326-329.


Kolassa IT, Wienbruch C, Neuner F, Schauer M, Ruf M, Odenwald M, Elbert T (2007). Altered oscillatory brain dynamics after repeated traumatic stress. BMC Psychiatry. 7-56.


Miller G, Elbert T, Rockstroh B (2005). Judging psychiatric disorders in refugees. The Lancet. 366,1604-1605.


Neuner F, Elbert T (2007). The mental health disaster in conflict settings: Can scientific research help? BMC Public Health. 7-275.


Neuner F, Schauer E, Catani C, Ruf M, Elbert T (2006). Post-Tsunami stress: A study of posttraumatic stress disorder in children living in three severely affected regions in Sri Lanka. J. Traumatic Stress. 19, 339-47.


Neuner, F., Schauer, M., Karunakara, U., Klaschik, C., Robert C., Elbert, T. (2004). Psychological trauma and evidence for enhanced vulnerability for PTSD through previous trauma in West Nile refugees. BMC Psychiatry. 4(1), 34.


Ray WJ, Odenwald M, Neuner F, Schauer M, Ruf M, Rockstroh B, and Elbert T (2006). Decoupling neural networks from reality: Dissociative experiences in torture victims are reflected in abnormal brain waves in left frontal cortex, Psychological Science. 17, 825-829.


Schaal S, Elbert T (2006). Ten years after the genocide: Trauma confrontation and posttraumatic stress in Rwandan adolescents. J. Traumatic Stress. 19, 95-105.


Narrative Exposure Therapy

Bichescu D, Neuner F, Schauer M, Elbert T (2007). Narrative Exposure Therapy of political imprisonment-related chronic trauma-spectrum disorders. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 45, 2212-2220.


Neuner, F., Schauer, M., Klaschik, C., Karunakara, U., Elbert, T. (2004). A comparison of narrative exposure therapy, supportive counseling, and psychoeducation for treating posttraumatic stress disorder in an African refugee settlement. J Consult Clin Psychol. 72(4), 579-587.


Ruf M, Schauer M, Neuner F, Schauer E, Catani C, Elbert, T (2007). KIDNET- Narrative Expositionstherapie für Kinder. In: Landolt M, Hensel T (Hrsg.). Traumatherapie mit Kindern. Göttingen: Hogrefe. 84-110.


Schauer M, Elbert T, Neuner F (2007). Interaktion von Neurowissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen und Psychotherapeutischen Einsichten am Beispiel von traumatischem Stress und dessen Behandlung mittels Narrativer Expositionstherapie. In: Becker, H.-P. Wunderlich (Hrsg.) Thieme-Verlag.


Schaal S, Elbert T, Neuner F (2008). Narrative Exposure Therapy versus group Interpersonal Psychotherapy – a controlled clinical trial with orphaned survivors of the Rwandan genocide.



Dohrmann K, Elbert T, Schlee W, Weisz N (2007). Tuning the tinnitus percept by modification of synchronous brain activity. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience. 25, 371-378.


Weisz N, Moratti S, Meinzer M, Dohrmann K, Elbert T (2005). Tinnitus perception and distress is related to abnormal spontaneous brain activity as measured by magnetoencephalography. PLoS Med. 2(6), e15.


Weisz N, Müller S, Schlee W, Dohrmann K, Hartmann T., Elbert T (2007). The neural code of auditory phantom perception. J. Neuroscience. 27, 1479-148.


Weisz N, Wienbruch C, Dohrmann K, Elbert T (2005). Neuromagnetic indicators of auditory cortical reorganization of tinnitus. Brain. 128(11), 2722-2731.



Löw A, Rockstroh B, Elbert T, Silberman Y, Bentin S (2006). Disordered semantic representation in schizophrenic temporal cortex revealed by neuromagnetic response patterns. BMC Psychiatry. 6-23.


Odenwald M, Neuner F, Schauer M, Elbert T, Catani C, Lingenfelder B, Hinkel H, Häfner H, Rockstroh B (2005). Khat use as risk factor for psychotic disorders: A cross-sectional and case-control study in Somalia BMC Medicine. 3-5.


Odenwald M, Hinkel H, Schauer E Neuner F, Schauer M, Elbert T, Rockstroh B (2007). Self-reported khat use and opinion about drug consumption among active armed forces and militia personnel in Somalia: a cross-sectional study. PLOS Medicine (in press).



Elbert T, Rockstroh B (2004). Reorganization of human cerebral cortex: the range of changes following use and injury. The Neuroscientist. 10, 2, 129-141.


Elbert T., Heim, S. (2001). Cortical Reorganization, a light and a dark side. Nature. 411, 139.


Meinzer M, Elbert T, Djundja D, Taub E, Rockstroh B (2007). Extending the Constraint-Induced Therapy approach to cognitive functions: Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy (CIAT) of chronic aphasia. NeuroRehabilitation. 22(4), 311-318.


Meinzer M, Elbert T, Wienbruch C, Djundja D, Barthel G, and Rockstroh B (2004). Intensive language training enhances brain plasticity in chronic aphasia. BMC Biology. 2-20.


Taub, E, Urswatte, G, Elbert, T (2002). New treatments in neurorehabilitation founded on basic research. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 3, 228-236.


Brain Imaging

Gratton G, Fabiani M, Elbert T, Rockstroh B (2003). Seeing right through you: Applications of optical imaging to the study of the human brain. Psychophysiology. 40, 487-491.


Jaillon F, Li J, Dietsche G, Elbert T, Gisler T (2007). Activity of the human visual cortex measured non-invasively by diffusing-wave spectroscopy. Optics Express. 15, 6643-6650.


Li J, Dietsche G, Skipetrov SE, Maret G, Elbert T, Rockstroh B, Gisler T (2005). Non-invasive detection of functional brain activity with Near-Infrared Diffusing-Wave Spectroscopy. Journal of Biomedical Optics. 10 (4) 44002, 1-12.


Miller GA, Elbert T, Sutton BP, Heller W (2007). Innovative clinical assessment technologies: Challenges and opportunities in neuroimaging. Psychological Assessment. 19(1), 58-73.


Citation Classics

Elbert T, Pantev C, Wienbruch C, Rockstroh B, Taub E (1995). Increased use of the left hand in string players associated with increased cortical representation of the fingers. Science. 270, 305-307.


Flor H, Elbert T, Wienbruch C, Pantev C, Knecht S, Birbaumer N, Larbig W, Taub E (1995). Phantom limb pain as a perceptual correlate of massive cortical reorganization in upper limb amputees. Nature. 375, 482-484.


Elbert T, Ray WJ, Kowalik ZBJ, Skinner JE, Graf, KE, Birbaumer N (1994). Chaos and Physiology: Deterministic Chaos in excitable cell assemblies, Physiological Reviews. 74, 1-47.


Pantev C, Bertrand O, Eulitz C, Verkindt C, Hampson S, Schuirer G, Elbert T (1995). Specific tonotopic organizations of different areas of human auditory cortex revealed by simultaneous magnetic and electric recordings. J. Electroenc. Clin. Neurophysiology. 94, 26-40.


Elbert T, Flor H, Birbaumer N, Knecht S, Hampson S,Taub E (1994). Extensive reorganization of the somatosensory cortex in adult humans after nervous system injury. Neuroreport. 5, 2593-2597.


Keil A, Müller MM, Ray WJ, Gruber T, Elbert T (1999). Human gamma band activity and perception of a gestalt. J Neuroscience. 19(16), 7152-7161.


Elbert T, Candia V, Altenmuller E, Rau H, Sterr A, Rockstroh B, Pantev C, Taub E (1998). Alteration of digital representations in somatosensory cortex in focal hand dystonia. Neuroreport. 16;9(16), 3571-3575.


Mühlnickel W, Elbert T, Taub E, Flor H (1998). Reorganization of auditory cortex in tinnitus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Aug 18. 95(17), 10340-10343.


Pulvermüller F, Genkinger B, Elbert T, Mohr B, Rockstroh B, Taub E (2001). Constraint-Induced therapy of chronic aphasia following stroke. Stroke. 32, 1621-1626.


Elbert T, Rockstroh B (1987). Threshold regulation : A key to the understanding of the combined dynamics of EEG and event-related potentials. J. Psychophysiology. 1, 317-333.


Co-editor: 'Psychophysiology', 'Journal of Psychophysiology', IEEE Transactions on Biomedical engineering', 'BMC Neuroscience', 'BMC Psychiatry', 'Open Neuroscience', 'Scitizen' and others.