Empowering the Future of Neuroscience

Empowering the Future of Neurosceince

Sommerauer Group

My research group „Sleep and prodromal Parkinson’s disease“ focusses on sleep-wake alterations in established Parkinson’s disease and sleep disorders as a marker of prodromal Parkinson’s disease.

Patients with isolated REM sleep behaviour disorder exhibit increased muscle activity during REM sleep and acting out of (typically violent) dream content. These patients are at high risk to convert to Parkinson’s disease in the next decade and REM sleep behaviour disorder is therefore considered a highly specific marker of prodromal Parkinson’s disease. In the last two years, we could establish a local cohort of 80 patients with isolated REM sleep behaviour disorder at the Department of Neurology of the University Hospital Cologne. The patients are subjected to continuous longitudinal follow-up and deep phenotyping including clinical, neuropsychological, biochemical, and imaging assessments. The local cohort participates in multiple national and international collaborative projects including genetics and microbiome studies.

We also want to uncover mechanisms and interplay of sleep-wake disorders in Parkinson’s disease and their relevance to the disease. Alterations of REM and nonREM sleep cannot only influence daytime vigilance but the course of the disease – likewise malfunction of neurotransmitter systems impacts sleep. Such interplay might eventually start a detrimental cycle. We use multimodal imaging with Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron Emission Tomography to assess different neurotransmitter in vivo.

What are we offering?

We have established a large cohort of subjects with prodromal PD having emerging motor and non-motor symptoms. We offer deep-phenotyping of these patients including cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and laboratory sleep and gait analysis.

What are we interested in for collaboration?

We seek collaborators with expertise in modelling of biological data to add another level to our assessments tools.

What platforms, analysis tools or facilities do we use and can share?

We are experienced in multimodal human imaging and can provide gait assessment tools.

Discover our homepage here.

To learn more about Dr. Michael Sommerauer, follow him on ORCID or Pubmed.


  • Clinical phenotyping
  • Neuropsychological assessments
  • Video-polysomnography including quantitative analysis of sleep parameters
  • Multimodal imaging with PET and MRI

5 selected publications

  1. Seger A, Ophey A, Heitzmann W, Doppler CEJ, Lindner MS, Brune C, Kickartz J, Dafsari HS, Oertel WH, Fink GR, Jost ST, Sommerauer M (*shared last authorship). Evaluation of a Structured Screening Assessment to Detect Isolated Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder. Mov Disord. 2023 Apr 18. doi: 10.1002/mds.29389. Online ahead of print.
  2. Röthenbacher A, Cesari M, Doppler CEJ, Okkels N, Willemsen N, Sembowski N, Seger A, Lindner M, Brune C, Stefani A, Högl B, Bialonski S, Borghammer P, Fink GR, Schober M, Sommerauer M. RBDtector: an open-source software to detect REM sleep without atonia according to visual scoring criteria. Sci Rep. 2022 Dec 3;12(1): 20886.
  3. Doppler CEJ, Kinnerup MB, Brune C, Farrher E, Betts M, Fedorova TD, Schaldemose JL, Knudsen K, Ismail R, Seger AD, Hansen AK, Stær K, Fink GR, Brooks DJ, Nahimi A, Borghammer P, Sommerauer M. Regional locus coeruleus degeneration is uncoupled from noradrenergic terminal loss in Parkinson’s disease. Brain. 2021 Oct 22;144(9): 2732-2744.
  4. Horsager J, Andersen KB, Knudsen K, Skjærbæk C, Fedorova TD, Okkels N, Schaeffer E, Bonkat SK, Geday J, Otto M, Sommerauer M, Danielsen EH, Bech E, Kraft J, Munk OL, Hansen SD, Pavese N, Göder R, Brooks DJ, Berg D, Borghammer P. Brain-first versus body-first Parkinson’s disease: a multimodal imaging case-control study. Brain. 2020 Aug 24; awaa238.
  5. Knudsen K, Fedorova TD, Hansen AK, Sommerauer M, Otto M, Svendsen KB, Nahimi A, Stokholm MG, Pavese N, Beier CP, Brooks DJ, Borghammer P. In vivo staging of pathology in REM Sleep Behavior Disorder – a multi-modality imaging study. Lancet Neurol, 2018 Jul;17(7): 618-628.