The THINK research center will conduct interdisciplinary research into the neuronal mechanisms of cognition, develop artificial and hybrid cognitive systems, and investigate the interaction between humans and technical systems in the working world of the future and in neurorehabilitation. The key features of THINK facilitate novel research paradigms, which includes two-fold integration and focus on behavior, provide state-of-the-art shared laboratories and equipment, foster interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, promote excellent junior research groups and drive knowledge transfer.
With this 2022 Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) Biopsychology RUB will become a major research hub for the study of bird and mammal brain similarities. Mammals and birds evolved vastly different forebrains. While mammals have a cortex and can reach large brain weights, bird brains are very small and are constituted by seemingly homogeneous nuclear clusters. These glaring anatomical differences cast a dim prospect on avian cognition. However, the last years showed that several avian taxa are cognitively on par with apes and show abilities like planning, theory-of-mind, and mirror-self-recognition. How is that possible?
Unlearning, relearning or extinction learning – these all belong to what we would generally call forgetting and what is the subject of our research. We can easily learn and store new information. However, we are equally able to learn that once acquired information is no longer valid, and cease to respond to it. While the initial acquisition of knowledge is well studied, the process of extinction is far less understood. Extinction involves both forgetting as well as a new learning process that is different and far more complex than the initial learning event.
For centuries, humans have been fascinated by migratory animals being able to find their way over thousands of kilometres with a precision unobtainable for unaided human navigators. The central aim of SFB 1372 is to achieve a comprehensive and multidisciplinary understanding of magnetoreception and vertebrate navigation all the way from the biophysical mechanisms to the natural behaviour of navigating animals, covering every step in between.
The joint Research Training Group (RTG) is based at Ruhr-University Bochum and Osnabrück University. Methodologically, it connects philosophy of mind and cognition with empirical research in cognitive science. The main goal of the RTG is to identify deficits in traditional conceptions of the human mind and to refine and enhance the existing conceptions by drawing on new developments in cognitive science that have not yet made their way into the prevailing philosophical approaches.
Despite spectacular progress in artificial intelligence and machine learning, the information processing capabilities of animal and human brains still far surpass man made machines. This pertains particularly with respect to the robustness and flexibility of neurobiological information processing and its energy efficiency compared to digital computing devices.
The Research Center One Health – from Molecules to Systems investigates the fundamental mechanisms of health and disease, starting from the molecular level right through to higher-level systems. The ecosystem serves as a context for also considering the complex interrelationships between environmental health, animal health and human health, in keeping with the “One Health” concept. After all, humans can only stay healthy in an intact environment.
To enable cognitive representations of sensory processes, sensory information derived from our senses (e.g. audition, vestibulation, olfaction/taste, somatosensation, nociception and vision) must, following its initial perception at the level of the sensor, be integrated at the level of the cortex. The transduction of this sensory information, during first-order cortical integration, is followed by increasingly complex higher order processing, which enables the fine-tuning of the sensory percept such that behaviour and memory result.