BFNL sequence learning





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Nadja Freund & Jonas Rose (University of Tübingen):
Bipolar disorder in animal models.
Capacity and control of working memory.
Monday, January 26, 1 - 3 pm, GAFO 05/425



Gesucht werden Tutoren für das Begleitseminar zur Vorlesung „Evolution und Emotion“ im Sommersemester 2015. Weitere Informationen gibt es hier.


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

Pigeons as a model species for cognitive neuroscience

They fly over hundreds of kilometers straight to their home. They memorize hundreds of abstract symbols, work for hours on problems without any sign of fatigue, manage logical problems like transitive inference, are in several respects cognitively on par with monkeys, have an unbelievably high frustration threshold during behavioral studies… and do all this for just a handful of grain. Pigeons have remarkable asymmetries of brain function, a reasonably well-charted nervous system and breast muscles that taste so well when served with wild mushrooms and a rich red wine gravy. In a recently published paper, Biopsychologists from Bochum have concocted a review of all the merits of pigeons as experimental animals for cognitive neuroscience. A sort of memorial that was long overdue.

Güntürkün, O., Stüttgen, M. C., Manns, M., Pigeons as a model species for cognitive neuroscience, e-Neuroforum, 2014, 5: 86-92.


News & Views

PhD Thesis – Daniel Lengersdorf

On Friday the 12th of December 2014 Daniel Lengersdorf defended his PhD thesis entitled „ Function of the pigeon nidopallium caudolaterale and hippocampus in context-dependent extinction learning under appetitive conditions”. At its core, Daniel’s thesis opens a new path on the analysis of the possibly invariant properties of the neural fundaments of extinction learning in birds and mammals. With a set of ingeniously designed behavioral experiments, Daniel managed to show the specific contribution of the avian “prefrontal cortex” and the bird hippocampus on extinction learning and on context-dependent extinction memory retrieval. In addition, Daniel was able to show the contribution of ‘prefrontal’ NMDA-receptors for these functions. In his defense, Daniel successfully managed to answer all questions that were put forward by the committee. All in all, a great performance! Therefore, the committee unanimously decided to award him the title Dr. rer. nat. Congratulations Daniel! We are truly proud of you.



News & Views

Die Gedanken sind frei

Die Neurowissenschaft ist zur Leitwissenschaft geworden. Neurowissenschaftlern wird daher vieles zugetraut. Manchmal zu vieles. Sie sollen möglichst schnell die Mechanismen des Gehirns verstehen und dadurch alle Krankheiten des Gehirns heilen; sie sollen die Organisation von Schulen „hirngerecht“ organisieren, bei der Lösung gesellschaftlicher Probleme beratend zur Seite stehen und bei vielen wissenschaftlichen Kontroversen das letzte Wort haben. Diese übertriebenen Erwartungen entstanden z. T. durch überhöhte Ankündigungen von Regierungen (z. B. „Decade of the Brain“) sowie Verlautbarungen einzelner Neurowissenschaftler in Form scheinbar wissenschaftlich gesicherter Aussagen (z. B. die Aussagen zur Willensfreiheit). Um längerfristig einem Vertrauensverlust zu begegnen, organisiert die Hertie-Stiftung zusammen mit der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung eine Vortragsreihe, bei der einmal im Monat ein Neurowissenschaftler zu einem aktuellen Thema der Hirnforschung einen öffentlichen Vortrag hält. Darin sollen die gesellschaftlichen Zuschreibungen, die tatsächliche Erkenntnislage und die möglichen wissenschaftlichen Grenzen der Neurowissenschaft bezüglich eines konkreten Themas vorgestellt werden. Am 22. Oktober 2014 hielt Onur Güntürkün an der Frankfurter Universität den Vortrag zum Thema „Denken“. Sein Vortrag mit dem Titel „Die Gedanken sind frei – aber werden sie das auch bleiben?“ erschien am 29.10.2014 in der FAZ.

Die Gedanken sind frei – aber werden sie das auch bleiben? FAZ, 29.10.2014


News & Views

Habilitation – Sebastian Ocklenburg

Sebastian Ocklenburg successfully habilitated on the 12th of November 2014 in the Faculty of Psychology for the field of “Cognitive Neuroscience”. His written thesis already had impressed everybody by its clear focus on cerebral asymmetries and its breadth within this area of analysis. Now, he performed equally well with his oral presentation on why white matter matters. Sebastian’s presentation was absolutely lucid and perfect. He could subsequently answer all emerging questions in the best possible way. Altogether, this was a very strong presentation and the committee unanimously decided that Sebastian Ocklenburg should be awarded with the habilitation of the Faculty of Psychology.





News & Views

Neurons in the pigeon nidopallium caudolaterale signal the selection and execution of perceptual decisions

In the recently published paper we focused on the investigation of generality in neural mechanisms underlying perceptual decision making across species. Therefore, we recorded single-neuron activity in the pigeon nidopallium caudolaterale (NCL). This area is a non-laminated associative forebrain structure thought to be functionally equivalent to mammalian prefrontal cortex. The freely moving subject performed a well established visual categorisation task. Whereas the majority of NCL neurons unspecifically upregulated or downregulated activity during stimulus presentation, ~20% of neurons exhibited differential activity for the sample stimuli and predicted upcoming choices. Moreover, neural activity in these neurons was ramping up during stimulus presentation and remained elevated until a choice was initiated. This response pattern is similar to that found in monkey prefrontal and parietal cortices in saccadic choice tasks. In addition, many NCL neurons coded for movement direction during choice execution and differentiated between choice outcomes (reward and punishment). By means of these results we further implicate the NCL to be involved in the selection and execution of operant responses, an interpretation resonating well with the results of previous lesion studies. The resemblance of the response patterns of NCL neurons to those observed in mammalian cortex suggests that, despite differing neural architectures, mechanisms for perceptual decision making are similar across classes of vertebrates.

Lengersdorf, D., Pusch, R.,  Güntürkün, O., Stüttgen, M.C. (2014). Neurons in the pigeons nidopallium caudolaterale signal the selection and execution of perceptual decisions. Eur J Neurosci, 40, 3316-3327.


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