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Björn Rasch

Job: Professor - Dr. rer. nat.
Office: RM C-1.108
Rue P.A. de Faucigny 2
1700 Fribourg
Phone: +41 26 300 7637
eMail: bjoern.rasch@unifr.ch
Unit: Kognitive Biopsychologie und Methoden      


I am interested in the role of sleep for cognitive and affective brain functions. We already know that sleep after learning is beneficial for memory formation, but the exact mechanism are still not well understood. It is assumed that the beneficial effect of sleep on memory relies on a spontanous reactivation or replay of learned memories during slow-wave sleep (SWS). We are examining this mechanism by external cueing of memories during sleep, for example by using odors, sounds or words. In a series of publications we have now shown that cueing memories during sleep indeed enhances memory formation, even for newly learned vocabulary.

Furthermore, I am interested in the beneficial role of sleep on emotional memory formation and its possible application to clinical psychotherapy. In particular, we have shown that sleep after exposure therapy is beneficial for spider phobiacs, and we are currently examining the beneficial role of sleep for the processing of traumatic memories.

Finally, I would like to examine how sleep can be influences by psychological factors, e.g. believes, negative thoughts or hypnotic suggestions. We have just recently shown that listening to a hypnotic suggestion to sleep deeper before sleep indeed increases the amount of SWS in a subsequent midday nap in healthy young females, and I would like to replicate and extend this findings to other populations (e.g., males, kids, elderly etc.), night-time sleep / home sleep as well as patients with sleep disturbances.


I am teaching Cognitive Psychology I & II as well as Experimental Research Methods on the bachelor level. In addition, I am teaching more specialized topics on the master level (e.g. sleep and memory). Furthermore, bachelor as well as masterstudents who are doing research projects in my division participate in a Research Colloquium. Finally, I supervise bachelor and mastertheses as well as dissertation projects. 


Selected publications:

Cordi, C., Schlarb, A. & Rasch, B. (2014). Deepening sleep by hypnotic suggestion. Sleep. 37(6):1143-52.

Rihm, J., Diekelmann, S., Born, J., & Rasch, B. (2014). Reactivating Memories During Sleep by Odors: Odor-Specificity and Associated Changes in Sleep Oscillations. J Cogn Neurosci. (advanced online publication).

Rasch, B. & Born, J. (2013). About sleep’s role in memory. Physiological Reviews 93:681-766.

Kleim B, Wilhelm FH, Temp L, Margraf J, Wiederhold BK & Rasch B. (2013). Sleep enhances exposure therapy. Psychol. Med. 10:1-9.

Diekelmann, S., Büchel, C., Born, J. & Rasch, B. (2011). Labile or stable: opposing consequences for memory when reactivated during waking and sleep. Nature Neuroscience. 14(3):381-6.

Rasch, B., Spalek, K., Buholzer, S., Luechinger, R., Boesiger, P., Papassotiropoulos, A., de Quervain, D. (2009). A genetic variation of the noradrenergic system is related to differential amygdala activation during encoding of emotional memories. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.U.S.A. 106(45). 19191-6.

Rasch, B., Pommer, J., Diekelmann, S., & Born, J. (2008). Pharmacological REM sleep suppression paradoxically improves rather than impairs skill memory. Nature Neuroscience. 12(4). 396-397.

Rasch, B., Büchel, C., Gais, S., & Born, J. (2007). Odor cues during slow-wave sleep prompt declarative memory consolidation. Science, 315, 1426-1429.

CV and full publication list

Département de Psychologie / Departement für Psychologie - R. Faucigny 2 - 1700 Fribourg / Freiburg - Tel +41 26 300 7620 - Fax +41 26 / 300 9712 - psychologie [at] unifr.ch - uni