Dr Henning Holle

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Faculty of Health Sciences


+44 (0) 1482 466152

White Rose DTP Deputy Director - Education, Childhood & Youth Pathway / Erasmus coordinator

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 in 2012.


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


Zhao W, Riggs K, Schindler I, Holle H. (2018). Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation over Left Inferior Frontal and Posterior Temporal Cortex Disrupts Gesture-Speech Integration. Journal of Neuroscience, 38(8):1891-1900. 

Swithenbank, S., Cowdell, F., & Holle, H. (2016). The role of auditory itch contagion in psoriasis. Acta Dermato Veneorologica), 96(6):728-31. doi: 10.2340/00015555-2320. 

Holle, H., Warne, K., Seth, A.K., Critchley, H.D., & Ward, J. (2012). Neural basis of contagious itch and why some people are more prone to it. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109(48), 19816-19821. 

Holle, H., Obleser, J., Rueschemeyer, S. A., & Gunter, T. C. (2010). Integration of iconic gestures and speech in left superior temporal areas boosts speech comprehension under adverse listening conditions. Neuroimage, 49(1), 875-884. 

Holle, H., & Gunter, T. C. (2007). The role of iconic gestures in speech disambiguation: ERP evidence. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(7), 1175-1192.

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

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 

Current PhD supervisions

  • Zoe Lewis (Primary Supervisor). 2015 - 2018. A multisensory approach to itch. Funded by the British Skin Foundation.
  • Elaine Hemingway (Primary Supervisor): Gesture as a stepping stone into rapid second language acquisition. Funded by the ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Programme.

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

  • 2019 - 2022: Psoriasis Association 3 year studentship (£85,500). An attentional bias approach to understanding and reducing the psychosocial burden of psoriasis. Holle (PI), George (Co-I) and Kleyn (Co-I)·         
  • 2018 – 2022. White Rose Doctoral Training Programme 1+3 studentship (80,000 pounds). Gesture as a stepping stone into rapid second language acquisition. Holle (PI), O’Connor (Co-I)
  • 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)