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


Teilnehmer gesucht

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

NMDA receptors in the avian amygdala and the premotor arcopallium mediate distinct aspects of appetitive extinction learning.

As it is well known to the avian scientific community, a small sector in the avian posterior ventral telencephalon encompasses inextricably intertwined subnuclei which are identified as being of amygdaloid (amygdala) or of somatomotor (arcopallium) nature. Within the SFB 1280, we scrutinized the functional roles of the avian amygdala and the premotor arcopallium in the course of appetitive extinction learning. Since extinction learning is crucially involved in the ability to flexibly acclimatize to the incessantly changing environment which is indispensable for the survival of living organisms, it is of great importance to comprehend the invariant properties of the neural basis of extinction learning. Therefore, we recruited pigeons as our animal model and locally blocked the NMDARs in the avian amygdala and the arcopallium prior to extinction training. We found out that the encoding of extinction memory entailed the activation of amygdaloid NMDARs, while the arcopallial NMDARs were engaged in the consolidation and subsequent retrieval of extinction memory. Furthermore, rendering inactivation in the premotor arcopallium also prompted a general perturbation in the motoric output. The double dissociation between arcopallium and amygdala discerned in the study imparts new insights on the two key components of the avian extinction network. Importantly, the resemblance of our results to the data procured from mammals indicates a shared neural mechanism underlying extinction learning moulded by evolution.


Gao, M., Lengersdorf, D., Stüttgen, M. C., & Güntürkün, O. (2018). NMDA receptors in the avian amygdala and the premotor arcopallium mediate distinct aspects of appetitive extinction learning. Behavioural Brain Research, 343(January), 71–82.


News & Views

The Book on the Lateralized Brain is out!

It started with occasional discussions during coffee (“one should finally write a book like that”) and ended, years later, with finally holding this book in hand. The textbook “The Lateralized Brain: The Neuroscience and Evolution of Hemispheric Asymmetries” by Sebastian Ocklenburg & Onur Güntürkün achieves many functions at the same time: It is an entertaining overview of twelve different areas of research on brain asymmetries; each chapter starting with a short story and proceeding with wit and colorful pictures. The book is also a resource for scientists who would like to find a timely overview on different aspects of lateralization with hundreds of references. Last but not least, this book tries to achieve a change of mind in the area of brain asymmetry research. For too long, this field saw itself outside of neurobiology, outside of the animal kingdom, and outside of a serious evolutionary scope. By embedding asymmetry research in these areas, this book works for a kind of science on left-right differences that thrieves for mechanistic explanations of open questions. And in the very end, it was also fun to write it; Sort of.


Ocklenburg, S. and Güntürkün, O., The Lateralized Brain: The Neuroscience and Evolution of Hemispheric Asymmetries, London: Academic Press, 2017.

News & Views

The Brains of Reptiles and Birds

Reptiles and birds are a fascinating group of animals that is most critical to understanding the evolution of vertebrate brains. Birds, who are in fact living dinosaurs, are the only class of vertebrates that can rival mammals with respect to their cognitive abilities. And they do so with brains that are vastly different from ours. This book chapter that was written by biopsychologists from Bochum reviews what we know about reptilian and avian brains in terms of quantitative analyses, structures, and systems. Brains evolved to produce behavior. Therefore, all anatomical and physiological information in this chapter is embedded into a functional framework and provides a rich summary on the current knowledge on archosaur brains.


Güntürkün, O., Stacho, M., Ströckens, F., 2017. The Brains of Reptiles and Birds. In: Kaas, J (ed.), Evolution of Nervous Systems 2e. vol. 1, pp. 171–221. Oxford: Elsevier.


News & Views


Lévy walks are a property of random movements often observed among foraging animals (and humans), and they might confer some advantages for survival in an unpredictable environment, in comparison with Brownian walks. In animals with a nervous system, specific neurotransmitters associated with some psychological states could play a crucial role in controlling the occurrence of Lévy walks. We argue that incentive motivation, a dopamine-dependent process that in vertebrates makes rewards and their predictive conditioned stimuli attractive, has behavioral effects that may favor their occurrence: incentive motivation is higher when food is unpredictable and it strongly underpins foraging activity. An individual-based computer model is used to determine whether changes in incentive motivation can influence the probability that Lévy walks occur among foraging agents. Our results suggest that they are produced more often under an unpredictable than a predictable food access, and more often in strongly rather than weakly motivated foragers exposed to an unpredictable food access. Also, our motivational framework indicates that the occurrence of Lévy walks are correlated with, but not causally linked to, the number of food items consumed and the ability to store fat reserves. We conclude that Lévy walks can confer some advantages for survival in an unpredictable environment, provided that they appear in foragers with a high motivation to seek food.


Anselme, P., Otto, T. & Güntürkün, O. (2018). Foraging motivation favors the occurrence of Lévy walks. Behavioural Processes, 147, 58-60.


News & Views

Transmitter Receptors Reveal Segregation of the Arcopallium/Amygdala Complex in Pigeons

The avian arcopallium/amygdala complex is the abyss of neuroanatomists. You think that the mammalian amygdala is complex? Then come and see the bird version. Here, a bewildering number of limbic (amygdala) and premotor (arcopallium) subnuclei are interwoven on smallest conceivable space. Neuroanatomists from Düsseldorf and biopsychologists from Bochum now took the challenge to map this area by a painstaking quantitative analysis of 12 different transmitter receptor binding sites,  combined with a detailed analysis of the cyto- and myelo-architecture. Their approach not only revealed newly discovered subregions but also resulted in a novel map of this most complex area of the bird pallium and striatum. After having accomplished this, the scientists compare the receptor architecture of the subregions to their possible mammalian counterparts and come to a novel interpretation of many of the scrutinized subregions.


Herold, C., Paulitschek, C., Palomero-Gallagher, N., Güntürkün, O. and Zilles, K. Transmitter receptors reveal segregation of the arcopallium / amygdala complex in pigeons (Columba livia), J. Comp. Neurol., 2018, 526: 439–466.


News & Views

Functional Connectivity Pattern of the Internal Hippocampal Network in Pigeons

The Hippocampus is a key structure to understand cognition. Unfortunately, we still lack proper knowledge on the interaction between the different hippocampal subregions in birds. To fill this gap, Biopsychologists from Bochum conducted a resting-state fMRI experiment in awake pigeons in a 7-T MR scanner. A voxel-wise regression analysis of blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) fluctuations was performed in 6 distinct hippocampal areas, to establish a functional connectivity map of the avian hippocampal network. This first such study in awake birds revealed the functional backbones of information flow within the pigeon hippocampal system. In summary, these findings uncovered a structurally otherwise invisible architecture of the avian hippocampal formation by revealing the dynamic blueprints of this network.


Behroozi, M., Ströckens, F., Helluy, X., Stacho, M. and Güntürkün, O., Functional connectivity of the pigeon hippocampal network: An rsfMRI study, Brain, Behav. Evol., 2017, 90: 62–72.


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