Dr. Patricia Linortner received her PhD in Neuroscience / Brain Ageing (Medical University of Graz) and her Master's Degree in Psychology (Specialization: Biological- and Neuropsychology; University of Graz & University of Salzburg).

In her PhD research, she used MRI/fMRI to study motor- and cognitive disturbances that can be observed in people with (pronounced) age-related cerebral white matter hyperintensities.

Honors & Awards

  • Wilhelm Auerswald Award (5th best PhD Thesis at an Austrian Medical University in 2015), Society of Physicians of Vienna (2016)
  • Recognition Award (PhD Thesis), Dr. Maria Schaumayer Foundation (2015)
  • Scientific Talk Award, Austrian Society of Neurology (2010)
  • Travel Award (Conference Funding), Styrian Brain Research Initiative (2010)
  • Best Poster Award (Co-Author), Berlin Brain-Computer Interfaces Conference (2009)
  • Dr. Maria Schaumayer Prize (Master Thesis), Dr. Maria Schaumayer Foundation (2009)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, MedizinischeUniversitat Graz (2015)
  • Research Fellowship, FMRIB Centre, University of Oxford (2010)
  • Master of Science, Universitat Graz (2009)
  • fMRI Visiting Fellowship, MGH/HMS/MIT Martinos Center (2008)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Aging associated changes in the motor control of ankle movements in the brain NEUROBIOLOGY OF AGING Linortner, P., Jehna, M., Johansen-Berg, H., Matthews, P. M., Schmidt, R., Fazekas, F., Enzinger, C. 2014; 35 (10): 2222-2229


    Although age-related gait changes have been well characterized, little is known regarding potential functional changes in central motor control of distal lower limb movements with age. We hypothesized that there are age-related changes in brain activity associated with the control of repetitive ankle movements, an element of gait feasible for study with functional magnetic resonance imaging. We analyzed standardized functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 102 right-foot dominant healthy participants aged 20-83 years for age-associated effects using FSL and a meta-analysis using coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation. For the first time, we have confirmed age-related changes in brain activity with this gait-related movement of the lower limb in a large population. Increasing age correlated strongly with increased movement-associated activity in the cerebellum and precuneus. Given that task performance did not vary with age, we interpret these changes as potentially compensatory for other age-related changes in the sensorimotor network responsible for control of limb function.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.04.013

    View details for Web of Science ID 000339735100008

    View details for PubMedID 24836898

  • Differences and similarities in the evolution of morphologic brain abnormalities between paediatric and adult-onset multiple sclerosis MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS JOURNAL Pichler, A., Enzinger, C., Fuchs, S., Plecko-Startinig, B., Gruber-Sedlmayr, U., Linortner, P., Langkammer, C., Khalil, M., Ebner, F., Ropele, S., Fazekas, F. 2013; 19 (2): 167-172


    Paediatric-onset multiple sclerosis (pMS) is multiple sclerosis (MS) occurring before the age of 18 years and may present and develop differently from adult-onset MS (aMS). Whether there are also differences regarding the accrual of brain changes is largely unknown.We compared the evolution of the T2- and T1-lesion load (LL), the black hole ratio (BHR), and annualised brain volume change (aBVC) between 21 pMS patients (age at onset: 14.4±2.3 years) and 21 aMS patients (age at onset: 29.4±6.5 years) matched for disease duration (pMS: 1.0±1.8 years; aMS: 1.6±1.7 years, p=0.27). Follow-up was for 4.2±3.7 years in pMS and 3.1±0.6 years in aMS. Clinical comparisons included the course of disability assessed with the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score and annualised relapse rate (ARR).At baseline, pMS and aMS had similar EDSS, T1-LL, BHR, whereas T2-LL was higher in aMS (aMS: 9.2±11.6 ccm; pMS: 4.1±6.2 ccm, p=0.02). The change of T2-LL and T1-LL during the observation period was similar in both groups. At follow-up, disability was lower in pMS (EDSS score in pMS: 0.9±0.9; aMS: 1.7±1.3, p=0.04), despite a significantly higher accrual of destructive brain lesions (BHR in pMS: 23.7±23.7%; aMS: 5.9±4.0%, p=0.02) and a similar rate of brain volume loss.Our observation of a morphologically more aggressive disease evolution paralleled by less disability in pMS than in aMS (defined using EDSS) suggests a higher compensatory capacity in pMS. This fact may obscure the need for treatment of pMS patients with disease modifying treatments (DMTs) based solely on clinical observation.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1352458512448107

    View details for Web of Science ID 000315607100008

    View details for PubMedID 22717380

  • Driving Cessation and Dementia: Results of the Prospective Registry on Dementia in Austria (PRODEM) PLOS ONE Seiler, S., Schmidt, H., Lechner, A., Benke, T., Sanin, G., Ransmayr, G., Lehner, R., Dal-Bianco, P., Santer, P., Linortner, P., Eggers, C., Haider, B., Uranues, M., Marksteiner, J., Leblhuber, F., Kapeller, P., Bancher, C., Schmidt, R. 2012; 7 (12)


    To assess the influence of cognitive, functional and behavioral factors, co-morbidities as well as caregiver characteristics on driving cessation in dementia patients.The study cohort consists of those 240 dementia cases of the ongoing prospective registry on dementia in Austria (PRODEM) who were former or current car-drivers (mean age 74.2 (±8.8) years, 39.6% females, 80.8% Alzheimer's disease). Reasons for driving cessation were assessed with the patients' caregivers. Standardized questionnaires were used to evaluate patient- and caregiver characteristics. Cognitive functioning was determined by Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the CERAD neuropsychological test battery and Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR), activities of daily living (ADL) by the Disability Assessment for Dementia, behavior by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) and caregiver burden by the Zarit burden scale.Among subjects who had ceased driving, 136 (93.8%) did so because of "Unacceptable risk" according to caregiver's judgment. Car accidents and revocation of the driving license were responsible in 8 (5.5%) and 1(0.7%) participant, respectively. Female gender (OR 5.057; 95%CI 1.803-14.180; p = 0.002), constructional abilities (OR 0.611; 95%CI 0.445-0.839; p = 0.002) and impairment in Activities of Daily Living (OR 0.941; 95%CI 0.911-0.973; p<0.001) were the only significant and independent associates of driving cessation. In multivariate analysis none of the currently proposed screening tools for assessment of fitness to drive in elderly subjects including the MMSE and CDR were significantly associated with driving cessation.The risk-estimate of caregivers, but not car accidents or revocation of the driving license determines if dementia patients cease driving. Female gender and increasing impairment in constructional abilities and ADL raise the probability for driving cessation. If any of these factors also relates to undesired traffic situations needs to be determined before recommendations for their inclusion into practice parameters for the assessment of driving abilities in the elderly can be derived from our data.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0052710

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313618800128

    View details for PubMedID 23300746

  • White matter hyperintensities alter functional organization of the motor system NEUROBIOLOGY OF AGING Linortner, P., Fazekas, F., Schmidt, R., Ropele, S., Pendl, B., Petrovic, K., Loitfelder, M., Neuper, C., Enzinger, C. 2012; 33 (1)


    Severe white matter hyperintensities (WMH) represent cerebral small vessel disease and predict functional decline in the elderly. We used fMRI to test if severe WMH impact on functional brain network organization even before clinical dysfunction. Thirty healthy right-handed/footed subjects (mean age, 67.8 ± 7.5 years) underwent clinical testing, structural MRI and fMRI at 3.0T involving repetitive right ankle and finger movements. Data were compared between individuals with absent or punctuate (n = 17) and early confluent or confluent (n = 13) WMH. Both groups did not differ in mobility or cognition data. On fMRI, subjects with severe WMH demonstrated excess activation in the pre-supplementary motor area (SMA), frontal, and occipital regions. Activation differences were noted with ankle movements only. Pre-SMA activation correlated with frontal WMH load for ankle but not finger movements. With simple ankle movements and no behavioral deficits, elderly subjects with severe WMH demonstrated pre-SMA activation, usually noted with complex tasks, as a function of frontal WMH load. This suggests compensatory activation related to disturbance of frontosubcortical circuits.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.06.005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000297934700026

    View details for PubMedID 20724032

  • Self-Paced Operation of an SSVEP-Based Orthosis With and Without an Imagery-Based "Brain Switch:" A Feasibility Study Towards a Hybrid BCI IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON NEURAL SYSTEMS AND REHABILITATION ENGINEERING Pfurtscheller, G., Solis-Escalante, T., Ortner, R., Linortner, P., Mueller-Putz, G. R. 2010; 18 (4): 409-414


    This work introduces a hybrid brain-computer interface (BCI) composed of an imagery-based brain switch and a steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP)-based BCI. The brain switch (event related synchronization (ERS)-based BCI) was used to activate the four-step SSVEP-based orthosis (via gazing at a 8 Hz LED to open and gazing at a 13 Hz LED to close) only when needed for control, and to deactivate the LEDs during resting periods. Only two EEG channels were required, one over the motor cortex and one over the visual cortex. As a basis for comparison, the orthosis was also operated without using the brain switch. Six subjects participated in this study. This combination of two BCIs operated with different mental strategies is one example of a "hybrid" BCI and revealed a much lower rate of FPs per minute during resting periods or breaks compared to the SSVEP BCI alone ( FP=1.46+/-1.18 versus 5.40 +/- 0.90). Four out of the six subjects succeeded in operating the self-paced hybrid BCI with a good performance (positive prediction value PPVb > 0.70).

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TNSRE.2010.2040837

    View details for Web of Science ID 000282984700009

    View details for PubMedID 20144923

  • Does conscious intention to perform a motor act depend on slow cardiovascular rhythms? NEUROSCIENCE LETTERS Pfurtscheller, G., Ortner, R., Bauernfeind, G., Linortner, P., Neuper, C. 2010; 468 (1): 46-50


    Slow oscillations around 0.1 Hz are characteristic features of both the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. Such oscillation have been reported, e.g. in blood pressure, heart rate, EEG and brain oxygenation. Hence, conscious intention of a motor act may occur only as a result of brain activity changes in frontal and related brain areas, or might be entrained by slow oscillations in the blood pressure. Twenty-six subjects were asked to perform voluntary, self-paced (at free will) brisk finger movements. Some subjects performed self-paced movements in relatively periodic intervals of around 10s at the decreasing slope of the slow 0.1-Hz blood pressure oscillation. Our study reveals the first time that self-paced movements, at least in some subjects, do not stem from "free will" based on brain activity alone, but are influenced by slow blood pressure oscillations.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.10.060

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272754200011

    View details for PubMedID 19861147

  • Discrimination of motor imagery-induced EEG patterns in patients with complete spinal cord injury. Computational intelligence and neuroscience Pfurtscheller, G., Linortner, P., Winkler, R., Korisek, G., Müller-Putz, G. 2009: 104180-?


    EEG-based discrimination between different motor imagery states has been subject of a number of studies in healthy subjects. We investigated the EEG of 15 patients with complete spinal cord injury during imagined right hand, left hand, and feet movements. In detail we studied pair-wise discrimination functions between the 3 types of motor imagery. The following classification accuracies (mean +/- SD) were obtained: left versus right hand 65.03% +/- 8.52, left hand versus feet 68.19% +/- 11.08, and right hand versus feet 65.05% +/- 9.25. In 5 out of 8 paralegic patients, the discrimination accuracy was greater than 70% but in only 1 out of 7 tetraplagic patients. The present findings provide evidence that in the majority of paraplegic patients an EEG-based BCI could achieve satisfied results. In tetraplegic patients, however, it is expected that extensive training-sessions are necessary to achieve a good BCI performance at least in some subjects.

    View details for DOI 10.1155/2009/104180

    View details for PubMedID 19421415