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Felix Ströckens (Biopsychologie, RUB):
Quantitative analysis of neuronal cells in specific brain areas of different avian orders - Comparison of species with high cognitive abilities and species with lower cognitive skills
Monday, 01.06.2015, 1 - 3 pm, GAFO 05/425


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

Martina Manns becomes an Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports

Martina Manns becomes an Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports. This journal is a young online, open access journal from Nature Publishing Group. It publishes scientifically valid primary research from all areas of the natural and clinical sciences and is already the 5th among all multidisciplinary research journals. Martina will bring in her expertise in Cognitive Neuroscience and Developmental Biopsychology to ensure publication of scientifically valid and technically sound research.


News & Views

ZEIT Akademie: Unser Gehirn – wie wir Lernen, Denken und Fühlen

Wir sind unser Gehirn; es steuert unsere Handlungen und Gefühle. In 4 DVDs und einem Begleitbuch mit Abbildungen und weiterführender Literatur gibt Onur Güntürkün einen weit gefächerten Einblick in die Hirnforschung. Mit vielen Experimenten führt er die Zuschauer in 10 Kapiteln durch die Neurowissenschaft. Am Ende jeder Lektion diskutieren dann ZEIT-Redakteur Ulrich Schnabel und Onur Güntürkün über die Implikationen dieser Befunde. Zuerst wird der Aufbau des menschlichen Gehirns erläutert und das Prinzip der neuralen Übermittlung erklärt. Dann werden Fragen besprochen wie z. B.: Wie nehmen wir die Welt wahr? Wie lernen und wieso vergessen wir? Was ist Intelligenz und lassen sich Gedanken steuern? Wie und wieso erleben wir Emotionen? Unterscheidet sich das Denken von Männern und Frauen und wenn ja, warum? Warum haben unsere Gehirnhemisphären unterschiedliche Funktionen? Diese Inhalte werden mit Erkenntnissen der Störungen des Gehirns, sowie seiner Veränderung während der gesamten Lebensspanne verknüpft.


News & Views

Starry Starry Night

Birds can rely on a variety of cues for orientation during migration and homing. Celestial rotation provides the key information for the development of a functioning star and/or sun compass. This celestial compass seems to be the primary reference for calibrating the other orientation systems including the magnetic compass. Thus, detection of the celestial rotational axis is crucial for bird orientation. Now, Biologists from Oldenburg and Biopsychologists from Bochum used operant conditioning to demonstrate that homing pigeons can principally learn to detect a rotational centre in a rotating dot pattern and examined the behavioural response strategies of pigeons in a series of experiments. Initially, most pigeons applied a strategy based on local stimulus information such as movement characteristics of single dots. One pigeon seemed to immediately ignore eccentric stationary dots. After special training, all pigeons could shift their attention to more global cues, which implies that pigeons can learn the concept of a rotational axis. The ability to precisely locate the rotational centre was strongly dependent on the rotational velocity of the dot pattern and it crashed at velocities that were still much faster than natural celestial rotation. The study thus suggest that the axis of the very slow, natural, celestial rotation could be perceived by birds through the movement itself, but that a time-delayed pattern comparison should also be considered as a very likely alternative strategy.

Alert, B., Michalik, A., Helduser, S., Mouritsen, H., Güntürkün, O., Perceptual strategies of pigeons to detect a rotational centre – A hint for star compass learning? PLoS ONE, 2015, 10(3): e0119919.


News & Views

A Common Neural Code for the Processing of Odd Sounds

Imagine a regular sequence of sounds: ba – ba – ba – ba- ba… And then think of an odd sound in between:  ba – ba – ta – ba- ba… Neuroscientists will record a strange evoked potential from your auditory cortex as soon as you hear the “ta”. This potential is known as mismatch negativity (MMN) and it depends on the activation of NMDA-receptors. MMNs were recorded from the brains of humans, other primates and rodents and are seen as a cortex-specific neural component that guides attention switches to changes in the environment. Now, psychiatrists from Newcastle (Australia) and Biopsychologists from Bochum investigated if an MMN-like potential can also be recorded from the auditory-cortex equivalent forebrain structure in pigeons.  Indeed, an MMN-like field potential was recorded and blocked with NMDA-receptor blocker. These results are suggestive of similar auditory sensory memory mechanisms in birds and mammals that are either homologue from a common ancestor300 million years ago or resulted from convergent evolution.

Schall, U., Müller, B. W., Kärger, K., Güntürkün, Electrophysiological mismatch response recorded in awake pigeons from the avian functional equivalent of the primary auditory cortex, NeuroReport, 2015, 26: 239-244.


News & Views

Patrick Anselme studies the beauty of unpredictability in the Biopsychology lab

Last week Patrick Anselme departed from Belgium and arrived with his own DFG-grant in Bochum to start his research project. So, what is he planning to do? His research agenda starts with a simple observation: In order to survive, humans and other animals must maximise energy intake. However, sometimes strange things happen: animals start preferring an unpredictable food option which provides a lower reward rate. Thus, they gamble; But why? Do animals sometimes prefer the unpredictable since they might obtain reward sooner? Or do they try to maximize reward? In fact, both factors might be combined in gambling: individuals try to maximize gains, and unpredictability keeps their interest upright. In his project, Patrick plans to understand if the motivation to maximize reward and the unpredictability of reward can control choices in pigeons. In addition, he plans to see how dopamine determines sensitivity to these two factors since dopamine is chiefly recruited by rewards, but is also sensitive to unpredictability.
Good luck, Patrick, and welcome to the Biopsychology!!


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