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Kernspinstudie zu Allgemeinwissen, Intelligenz und Persönlichkeit. Interessenten (ab 35 Jahren) können sich telefonisch (0234/32 21775) oder per eMail ( für die Studie anmelden. mehr


Teilnehmer gesucht

Studienteilnehmer (Männer) für Neuro-Studie zur Bewertung von #Selfies auf Facebook gesucht. mehr


Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Fakultät für Psychologie
AE Biopsychologie
GAFO 05/618
D-44780 Bochum

Phone: +49 234 - 32 28213
Fax: +49 234 - 32 14377


News & Views


When rodents are given a free choice between a variable option and a constant option, they may prefer variability. This preference is even sometimes increased following repeated administration of a dopamine agonist. The present study was the first to examine preference for variability under the systemic administration of a dopamine agonist, apomorphine (Apo), in birds. Experiment 1 tested the drug-free preference and the propensity to choose of pigeons for a constant over a variable delay. It appeared that they preferred and decided more quickly to peck at the optimal delay option. Experiment 2 assessed the effects of a repeated injection of Apo on delay preference, in comparison with previous control tests within the same individuals. Apo treatment might have decreased the number of pecks at the constant option across the different experimental phases, but failed to induce a preference for the variable option. In Experiment 3, two groups of pigeons (Apo-sensitized and saline) were used in order to avoid inhomogeneity in treatments. They had to choose between a 50% probability option and a 5-s delay option. Conditioned pecking and the propensity to choose were higher in the Apo-sensitized pigeons, but, in each group, the pigeons showed indifference between the two options. This experiment also showed that long-term behavioral sensitization to Apo can occur independently of a conditioning process. These results suggest that Apo sensitization can enhance the attractiveness of conditioned cues, while having no effect on the development of a preference for variable-delay and probabilistic schedules of reinforcement.


Anselme, P., Edeş, N., Tabrik, S. & Güntürkün, O. (2018). Long-term behavioral sensitization to apomorphine is independent of conditioning and increases conditioned pecking, but not preference, in pigeons. Behavioural Brain Research, 336, 122-134.


News & Views

PhD Thesis Martin Stacho

On Friday, the 25th of August 2017, Martin defended his PhD thesis entitled „ The canonical circuit of the avian forebrain “. Martin presented us a fantastic tour de force through the circuitry of the avian pallium and was able to embed his findings and ideas into a detailed framework of previous studies and theories (he concluded that pretty much all of them were (partly) wrong).  During the subsequent discussion the word most often used by the reviewers and Martin was “column”. We all are pretty sure that Martin was dreaming of columns the next night. Martin could nicely respond to all questions and successfully defended his ideas. It was just great! Obviously, the committee unanimously decided that he had performed extremely well and decided to award him the rarely awarded grade of a Dr. rer. nat. with summa cum laude. Afterwards, Martin proudly could wear his mortar board that was decorated with… (guess what?): of course columns!!!

Congratulations Martin! We are proud of you!


News & Views

Evidence for acoustic universals across terrestrial vertebrates

Writing over a century ago, Darwin hypothesized that vocal expression of emotion dates back to our earliest terrestrial ancestors. If this hypothesis is true, we should expect to find cross-species acoustic universals in emotional vocalizations. Previous studies suggest that acoustic attributes of aroused vocalizations are shared across many mammalian species, and that humans can use these attributes to infer emotional content. But do these acoustic attributes extend to non-mammalian vertebrates? In this study, a group of philosophers from Brussels and Bochum, Biopsychologists from Bochum and many animal vocalization specialists from all over the world asked human participants to judge the emotional content of vocalizations of nine vertebrate species representing three different biological classes—Amphibia, Reptilia (non-aves and aves) and Mammalia (see picture to get to know the animals used and to gain insight about their phylogenetic distance to humans in years). They found that humans are able to identify higher levels of arousal in vocalizations across all species. This result was consistent across different language groups (English, German and Mandarin native speakers), suggesting that this ability is biologically rooted in humans. Our findings indicate that humans use acoustic parameters that indicate a shift to higher frequencies to identify higher arousal vocalizations across species. These results suggest that fundamental mechanisms of vocal emotional expression are shared among vertebrates and could represent a homologous signalling system. This study attracted a huge amount of attention from media across the globe and even made it to the news outlet of the Science magazine (


Filippi, P., Congdon, J. V., Hoang, J., Bowling, D. L., Reber, S. A., Pašukonis, A., Hoeschele, M., Ocklenburg, S., de Boer, B., Sturdy, C. B., Newen, A. and Güntürkün, O., Humans recognize emotional arousal in vocalizations across all classes of terrestrial vertebrates: evidence for acoustic universals, Proc. R. Soc. B, 284: 20170990.


News & Views

The ontogeny of the lateralized avian magnetic compass

There is good evidence that some bird species can “see” the pole via their right eye and thus with their left brain hemisphere. This lateralization develops during the first winter and initially shows important plasticity. During the first spring migration, magnetic compass asymmetry can even be temporarily abolished by covering the right eye. In the present paper, biologists from Frankfurt and biopsychologists from Bochum used the migratory orientation of robins to analyze the circumstances under which the lateralization of magnetic compass orientation can be altered. It turned out that in young animals already a period of 1½ h in which the dominant right was occluded was sufficient to provide the left eye the ability for successful compass orientation. However, this effect was rather short-lived, as the right eye dominance recurred shortly thereafter again. In addition, training the left eye of robins to adjust to “unnatural” magnetic intensities was possible but was not transferred to the dominant right-eye system. Taken together, the asymmetry of magnetic compass orientation goes through stages of plasticity in the early life of birds. During this time many aspects can be altered and even the dominance direction can be altered, albeit only for short periods. This paper was awarded with the cover of this special issue of the journal “Symmetry”.


Gehring, D., Güntürkün, O., Wiltschko, W and Wiltschko, R., Lateralization of the avian magnetic compass: Analysis of its early plasticity, Symmetry 2017, 9: 77.


News & Views

Do ‘literate’ pigeons show mirror-word generalization?

Many children pass through a mirror stage in reading, where they write individual letters or digits in mirror and find it difficult to correctly utilize letters that are mirror images of one another (e.g., b and d). This phenomenon is thought to reflect the fact that the brain does not naturally discriminate left from right. Indeed, it has been argued that reading acquisition in humans involves a learning stage in which this default process is inhibited top-down. In the current study, we tested the ability of literate pigeons, which had learned to discriminate between 30 and 62 words from 7832 nonwords, to discriminate between words and their mirror counterparts. Subjects were sensitive to the left–right orientation of the individual letters, but not the order of letters within a word. This finding may reflect the fact that, in the absence of human-unique top-down processes, the inhibition of mirror generalization may be limited.


Scarf, D., Corballis, M. C., Güntürkün, O. and Colombo, M., Do ‘literate’ pigeons (Columba livia) show mirror-word generalization? Anim. Cogn., 2017, EPub, DOI 10.1007/s10071-017-1116-4.


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