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News

24.11.2016

Stellenausschreibung

Studentische Hilfskraft (7 STd./ Woche) für die Tierpflege mit Tauben gesucht. mehr

07.12.2016

2. Klausurnachbesprechung E&E

Am Mittwoch den 7.12.2016, besteht um 14:00 Uhr die Möglichkeit zur Klausureinsicht für die E&E Klausur im Biopsychologie-Seminarraum (Gafo 05/ 425).
Studenten, die daran teilnehmen wollen, schicken bitte eine E-mail mit Namen & Matrikelnummer an: sebastian.ocklenburg@rub.de

19.12.2016

Vortragsankündigung

BioPsy-Colloquium,Monday, 19.12.16, 10 - 12 am, GAFO 05/425
Patrick Ring (University of Kiel): Risk and time preferences of problem gamblers

Contact

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

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

Email: biopsychologie@rub.de
Homepage: http://www.bio.psy.rub.de


News & Views

Biopsychology at the SFN Meeting 2016

With more than 28.000 researchers in attendence, the Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) is the largest gathering of neuroscientists anywhere in the world. This year, it took place at the San Diego Conference Center in California and the Biopsychology lab was well represented with 12 poster presentations, covering diverse topics ranging from optogenetics in pigeons to the epigentics of handedness development in humans. The 4 hour poster presentations were well received by the worldwide neuroscientific community and lead to many fruitful discussions about the cutting edge research performed in the Biopsychology lab.

 

News & Views

The genetics of handedness

90% of the population is right-handed, but the development of this trait is not well understood. Here, a team of researchers from the biopsychology lab and the human genetics lab at the Faculty of Medicine investigated the role of genes contributing to the differentiation of the left-right axis during embryogenesis for handedness development. The team identified a haplotype on SETDB2 for which homozygous individuals showed a significantly lower lateralization quotient for handedness than the rest of the cohort after correction for multiple comparisons. Moreover, direction of handedness was significantly associated with genetic variation in this haplotype. This effect was mainly, but not exclusively, driven by the sequence variation rs4942830, as individuals homozygous for the A allele of this single nucleotide polymorphism had a significantly lower lateralization quotient than individuals with at least one T allele. These findings further confirm a role of genetic pathways relevant for structural left-right axis differentiation for functional lateralization. Moreover, as the protein encoded by SETDB2 regulates gene expression epigenetically by histone H3 methylation, our findings highlight the importance of investigating the role of epigenetic modulations of gene expression in relation to handedness.

 

Ocklenburg S, Arning L, Gerding WM, Hengstler JG, Epplen JT, Güntürkün O, Beste C, Akkad DA., Left-Right Axis Differentiation and Functional Lateralization: a Haplotype in the Methyltransferase Encoding Gene SETDB2 Might Mediate Handedness in Healthy Adults. Mol Neurobiol. 2016 Nov;53(9):6355-6361.

 

News & Views

Speech reseach? There's an app for that

Traditionally, research on language lateralization is conducted in psychological labs, but recently the use of smartphones as test devices is on the rise. Here, a team of researchers from the Biopsychology lab and the Bergen fMRI group used a Apple iOS app to investigate the heritability of language lateralization assessed with the dichotic listening task, as well as the heritability of cognitive control processes modulating performance in this task. Overall, 103 families consisting of both parents and offspring were tested with the non-forced, as well as the forced-right and forced-left condition of the forced attention dichotic listening task, implemented in the iDichotic smartphone app, developed at the University of Bergen, Norway. The results indicate that the typical right ear advantage in the dichotic listening task shows weak and non-significant heritability. In contrast, cognitive factors, like attention focus and cognitive control showed stronger and significant heritability. These findings indicate a variable dependence of different aspects of a cognitive function on heritability and implicate a major contribution of non-genetic influences to individual language lateralization.

This study was also highlighted on the RUB news page!


Ocklenburg, S., Ströckens, F., Bless, J.J., Hugdahl, K., Westerhausen, R., Manns, M., Investigating heritability of laterality and cognitive control in speech perception, Brain and Cognition, 2016, 109: 34-39.

 

News & Views

Investigating the brains of left- and right-handers

Handedness is thought to originate in the brain, but identifying its structural correlates in the cortex has yielded surprisingly incoherent results. One idea proclaimed by several authors is that structural grey matter asymmetries might underlie handedness.
In the present study, a team from the Biopsychology lab investigated this idea using a new voxel-based morphometry toolbox. While there were several significant left-right asymmetries in the overall sample, no difference between left- and right-handers reached significance after correction for multiple comparisons. These findings indicate that the structural brain correlates of handedness are unlikely to be rooted in macroscopic grey matter area differences that can be assessed with VBM. Future studies should focus on other potential structural correlates of handedness, e.g. structural white matter asymmetries.


Ocklenburg, S., Friedrich, P., Güntürkün, O., Genc, E., Voxel-wise grey matter asymmetry analysis in left- and right-handers, Neuroscience Letters, 2016, 633: 210-214.

 

News & Views

If you recognize this as English, you may be a pigeon

According to a new study published by biopsychologists from Bochum and the University of Otago (New Zealand), pigeons are able to discriminate English words from non-words. And they do this by orthographic rules that are identical to those used by humans. This enormous ability demonstrates that orthographic knowledge is no privilege of humans or primates but can be mastered by an animal with just 2.5 gram of brain. To demonstrate this feat, scientists first taught the birds top peck on words (e.g. DONE) shown on a monitor to obtain food. Pecking on non-words (e.g. DNOE) was not rewarded. Slowly the animals learned more and more English words (depending on the individual between 26 and 58) and discriminated them from non-words (about 8,000). Then came the real test: Pigeons were confronted with entirely new English words and non-words. The animals spontaneously discriminated successfully between the two groups of stimuli. Thus, they had learned what is typical for an English word. But how did they do this? A deeper analysis demonstrated that pigeons used two strategies. One was to use the frequency of bigrams in English. The word DONE has three bigrams: DO, ON, and NE. Their average bigram frequency is much higher than those of DN, NO, and OE in the non-word DNOE. The second strategy was the Levenshtein distance between two words which is the minimum number of single-character edits (i.e. insertions, deletions or substitutions) required to change one word into the other. Also humans utilize these two strategies for these kinds of decisions. The brains of birds and humans are vastly different. If still both species use the same strategy, it is likely that evolutionary selection pressure to identify regularities of input statistics are the relevant force that shaped brains during evolution. Whatever the genetically determined general outline of the brain of an animal was, its internal computations had to have the blueprint to solve these tasks. Within one week after its appearance, this paper was among the top 99.95% of all 6,365,760 scientific publications registered so far with respect to international media attention.


Scarf, D., Boy, K., Über Reinert, A., Devine, J., Güntürkün, O. and Colombo, M., Orthographic Processing in Pigeons (Columba livia), PNAS 2016, 113: 11272-11276.

 

News & Views

PhD Thesis Rena Klose

On Wednesday, the 24th of August 2016, Rena defended her PhD thesis entitled „ How visual asymmetry starts in pigeons: Characterizing Melanopsin as a potential inducer “. It was just awesome. Rena had tons of data to show, was able to answer each and every question (even the extremely vague ones) and flabbergasted the reviewers by the breadth, ingenuity, and complexity of her experiments and conclusions. Accordingly, the committee unanimously decided that she had performed extremely well and decided to award her the title of a Dr. rer. nat. with magna cum laude. Afterwards everybody could enjoy a party. On the picture Rena is depicted with the whole lab that had good reasons to celebrate one more great scientist from the Biopsychology.


Congratulations Rena! We are proud of you!

 

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