Dr Henning Holle

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Faculty of Health Sciences

School of Life Sciences


+44 (0) 1482 466152

Dr Henning Holle's research is driven by a strong interest in the interaction of the senses. For his research, he uses behavioural and neuroscience techniques (e.g., TMS, fNIRS, EEG, fMRI).

After being awarded a Diploma in Psychology by the University of Trier in Germany in 2003, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, where he wrote his doctoral thesis on how gesture and language interact in the brain.

After completing this dissertation, he joined the Synaesthesia Group at the University of Sussex to work on a project on mirror-touch synaesthesia.

Dr Holle joined the University of Hull as a lecturer in psychology in 2012 and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2015.


Research Interests

  • The cognitive and neural processes underlying human language
  • Gesture-supported communication
  • Functional neuroimaging studies of acute itch
  • Reduction of itch via neural stimulation
  • Cross-modal modulation of itch


Jones, O., Schindler, I., Holle, H. (2017). 'Assessing Acute Itch Intensity: General Labelled Magnitude Scale is More Reliable than Classic Visual Analogue Scale'. Acta Dermato Veneorologica. 93(3), 375-376. [doi] [hydra]

Biau, E., Fernandez, L.M., Holle, H., Avila, C.,& Soto-Faraco, S. (2016). 'Hand gestures as visual prosody: BOLD responses to audio-visual alignment are modulated by the communicative nature of the stimuli'. Neuroimage. 132, 129-137. [doi] [hydra]

Swithenbank, S., Cowdell, F., & Holle, H. (2016). 'The role of auditory itch contagion in psoriasis'. Acta Dermato Veneorologica. 96(6), 728-731. [doi] [hydra]

Gunter, T.C., Weinbrenner, J.E.D., & Holle, H.. (2015). 'Inconsistent use of gesture space during abstract pointing impairs language comprehension'. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(80). [doi] [hydra]


Programmes taught on

Modules list

  • Neuroscience Techniques
  • Research Methods for Postgraduates
  • Third Year Research Project

Research PhDs

Dr Holle is always very interested to hear from students, based at Hull or elsewhere, who are keen to get involved in research relating to itch perception, touch or gesture.

He usually has a number of ongoing projects that require data collection. This research experience would suit students who are considering applying for PhD funding and wish to develop their research skills / publication record.

Completed PhDs 

  • Olivia Jones (Primary Supervisor). 2013 - 2017. Exploring the Process of Itch and its Dimensionality: Investigations Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Funded by the University of Hull.

Current PhD supervisions

  • Wanying Zhao (Primary Supervisor). 2014 - 2017. Exploring the role of inferior frontal and posterior temporal cortices in gesture-speech integration. Funded by the Chinese Science Council and the Hull-China Partnership.
  • Zoe Lewis (Primary Supervisor). 2015 - 2018. A multisensory approach to itch. Funded by the British Skin Foundation.

Teaching awards and accolades

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2013)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, University of Hull, 2015

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • Dipl. Psyc. (equivalent to MSc Psychology), University of Trier, Germany, 2003, Awarded Grade: Sehr Gut (highest grade possible)
  • Dr. rer. nat. in Psychology, University of Leipzig, Germany, 2007, Awarded grade: Summa cum laude (highest grade possible)

Awards and accolades

  • 2015 - 2018: British Skin Foundation 3 year studentship (£81,000). A multisensory approach to itch. Holle (PI) and Cowdell (Co-I)
  • 2014: EPS Undergraduate Research Bursary. Skarratt (PI), Holle (Co-I), Schindler (Co-I)
  • 2014: Research grant (£9,399). Auditory modulation of itch in psoriatic patients. Funding Body: Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance. Holle (PI) and Cowdell (Co-I)
  • 2013: Best Clinical Research Poster at the 7th World Congress of Itch, Boston, MA
  • 2013: EPS Undergraduate Research Bursary. Holle (PI) and Schindler (Co-I)
  • 2011: Travel grant from the Royal Society
  • 2010: Travel grant from the Guarantors of Brain
  • 2009: CNRS-COST grant for participation in the Cargèse III Summer School
  • 2008: Young Investigator Award of the German Society for Psychophysiology and its Applications (Jungwissenschaftlerpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychophysiologie und ihre Anwendungen)