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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



BioPsy-Colloquium, 29.06.17, 2 - 4 pm, GAFO 05/425
Lars Penke (Georg August University Göttingen): Recent findings on the genetic architecture of general intelligence and personality


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

In vivo measurement of T1 and T2 relaxation times in awake pigeon and rat brains at 7T

The majority of vertebrate models used in neuroscience are rodents (rats and mice), but increasingly bird species such as zebra finches and pigeons also are used. Whereas zebra finches as songbirds are an excellent model for vocal learning, pigeons typically are used to study mechanisms of learning and memory. However, pigeons also are increasingly tested with cognitive tasks assessing functions, such as sequence acquisition, equivalence learning, categorization, transitive inference, and even orthographic processing. In contrast to rodents, some bird species such as corvids additionally demonstrate high cognitive abilities that are equivalent to those of nonhuman primates. These include complex social interactions, future planning, tool and meta-tool use, mirror self-recognition, and physical problem-solving. To understand the functional and structural organization of the pigeon brain under different conditions, scientists of the Biopsychology Department of the Ruhr-University Bochum developed functional MRI protocols with high temporal resolution. Since transverse (T2) and longitudinal (T1) relaxation times play an important role in optimizing MRI parameters [e.g., contrast level, signal-to-noise ratio], they measured these values for the first time in awake pigeons and rats. The obtained T1 and T2 values for awake pigeons and rats and the optimized habituation protocol will augment future MRI studies with awake animals. The differences in relaxation times observed between species underline the importance of the acquisition of T1/T2 values as reference points for specific experiments.


Behroozi, M., Chwiesko, C., Ströckens, F., Sauvage, M., Helluy, X., Peterburs, J., & Güntürkün, O. (2017). In vivo measurement of T1 and T2 relaxation times in awake pigeon and rat brains at 7T. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.


News & Views

SFB 1280 Extinction Learning - accepted!

On May 25, 2017, the DFG Senate Commission for SFBs decided to establish a brand new SFB in Bochum: The SFB1280 Extinction Learning was thus officially established!

This is the first SFB that was born out of our Faculty and the third in Germany given to a Faculty of Psychology. We now have the means to study for four years the behavioral, developmental, neural, and clinical aspects of extinction learning. If successful, the SFB could run for up to 12 years in total. Countless insights, publications, careers, and positions will be born out of that.

The new SFB has 19 project teams. On board are psychologists, medical scientists, theoretical neuroscientists, and biologists from the RUB, and from Essen, Dortmund and Marburg.

more information: RUB news portal / DFG press release


News & Views

A reliable paradigm for measuring interhemispheric information transfer

While the two halves of the human brain are connected via white matter commissures, it is difficult to estimate the speed with which the hemispheres share their information.
For a long time, it was believed that a simple behavioral task would do the trick: In one condition, a stimulus is presented on one side while participants should react with the hand of the same side. In the other condition, the stimulus and reacting hand are on different sides. Hence, in the first condition both perception and reaction occur in the same hemisphere, while in the second condition, perception and reaction are processed in different hemispheres. Therefore, the difference in reaction time between the two conditions should reflect the transfer time between the two hemispheres, right? Well, kind of but not quite. For instance, this paradigm is not reliable - If you measure a person today and a week later, the results may vary!
Here, we tested an alternative approach. Instead of relying on reaction times, we calculated the difference in event-related potentials, using the same paradigm with an EEG system. Our results show that with this approach, transfer times measured today are comparable to transfer times measured one year later! Hence, this method allows us to get reliable estimates for the speed of interhemispheric information transfer.


Friedrich, P., Ocklenburg, S., Mochalski, L., Schlüter, C., Güntürkün, O., & Genc, E. (2017). Long-term reliability of the visual EEG Poffenberger paradigm. Behav Brain Res, 330, 85-91. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2017.05.019


News & Views

The neurochemistry of impulsive chicks

Hundreds of Millions of chicken are raised every year for food consumption. A major problem of crowded poultry farms is severe feather pecking - a detrimental behavior that is also shown by very young chicks. However, not all individuals do this. Why are some birds more aggressive than others?  A group of Behavioral Pharmacologists from Utrecht, Veterinary scientists from Wageningen and Biopsychologists from Bochum started to analyze the role of serotonin and dopamine in feather pecking. They had access to two groups of domestic chickens divergently genetically selected for Low Feather Pecking (LFP) and High Feather Pecking (HFP). Indeed, both lines differed both on their serotonin and their dopamine turnover in emotion-regulating and motor areas. Furthermore, HFP-chicks responded more actively in most behavioral tests conducted, and were more impulsive in their way of coping with challenges. Thus, a brain area-specific neurochemical profile may shift personality traits towards more bold but also more aggressive behavior in chicken.


Kops, M., Kjaer, J., Güntürkün, O., Westphal, K., Korte-Bouws, G., Olivier, B., Korte, S. and Bolhuis, J., Brain monoamine levels and behavior of young and adult chickens genetically selected on feather pecking, Behav. Brain Res., 2017, 327: 11-20.


News & Views

Pigeons sneaking a peek

A small number of species are capable of recognizing themselves in the mirror when tested with the mark-and-mirror test. This ability is often seen as evidence of self-recognition and possibly even self-awareness. Strangely, a number of species, for example cats, pigs and dogs, are unable to pass the mark test but can locate rewarding objects by using the reflective properties of a mirror.  Thus, these species seem to understand how a visual reflection functions but cannot apply it to their own image. Biopsychologists in Bochum tested this discrepancy in pigeons—a species that does not spontaneously pass the mark test. Indeed, we discovered that pigeons can successfully find a hidden food reward using only the reflection, suggesting that pigeons can also use and potentially understand the reflective properties of mirrors, even in the absence of self-recognition. However, tested under monocular conditions, the pigeons approached and attempted to walk through the mirror rather than approach the physical food, displaying similar behavior to patients with mirror agnosia. These findings clearly show that pigeons do not use the reflection of mirrors to locate reward, but actually see the food peripherally with their near-panoramic vision. A re-evaluation of our current understanding of mirror-mediated behavior might be necessary—especially taking more fully into account species differences in visual field. This study suggests that use of reflections in a mirrored surface as a tool may be less widespread than currently thought.


Ünver, E., Garland, A. and Güntürkün, O., Sneaking a peek: Pigeons use peripheral vision - not mirrors - to find hidden food, Anim. Cogn., 2017, 20: 677-688.


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