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21.10.2019

Der SFB 1280 lädt ein:

Oliver Brock - A Robotics Perspective on the Study of Intelligence
Dept. of Computer Engineering and Microelectronics, Robotics and Biology Laboratory, TU Berlin mehr

 

Teilnehmer gesucht

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

Contact

Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Fakultät für Psychologie
AE Biopsychologie
IB 6-121 - Postfach 18
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

THINK will be built!

The neurocognitive research building THINK (Zentrum für Theoretische und Integrative Neuro- und Kognitionswissenschaft) is now finally approved by the Joint Science Commission that is constituted by the German Ministry of Science and Education as well as the local science ministries of all Federal States of Germany. The commission thus follows the advice of the Wissenschaftsrat (Central Science Commission of Germany).  THINK was even chosen as the best science building application of 2019 and will be funded with 89 million Euro.
This new center will be the future core point of research on the neuronal mechanisms of cognition, hybrid cognitive systems, and artificial intelligence in Bochum. It is the first German science building ever that was successfully applied from a speaker from psychology (Onur Güntürkün) and will house ca. 100 scientists who can run within 4,000m2 cutting edge research that span from philosophy of mind to single cell recording, and from technical applications to high field imaging. THINK is planned to be ready in 2024 and will be located on the north edge of the previous Opel car plant.

 

News & Views

Genetic Variation in Dopamine Availability Modulates the Self-reported Level of Action Control in a Sex-dependent Manner

Some people tend to postpone tasks, although being aware of the adverse effects accompanying procrastination. Our individual ability to tackle tasks directly instead of putting them off is highly dependent on our ability to initiate cognitive-, motivational- and emotional-control mechanisms, so-called metacontrol. Even though individual differences in these metacontrol mechanisms have far-reaching influence our personal and professional life, their genetic foundation is somewhat unknown. Biopsychologists and human geneticists from the Ruhr University Bochum and the University of Technology Dresden joined forces to explore the genetic foundations of interindividual differences in trait-like procrastination, measured as decision-related action control (AOD). The researchers investigated the individual AOD score as well as the genotype of 278 healthy adults. Here they were particularly interested in the tyrosine hydroxylase gene (TH gene). The expression of the TH gene influences the availability of neurotransmitters from the catecholamine family, including dopamine. Since dopaminergic signaling plays a significant role in various metacontrol processes, they aimed to examine whether genetically induced differences in the dopaminergic system are associated with interindividual differences in AOD. The analysis yielded a sex-dependent effect of TH genotype on AOD.
Interestingly, only in women, a genetic predisposition towards higher dopamine levels was associated with poorer action control and therefore the trait-like tendency to procrastinate. Additionally, the research group investigated whether differences in the morphology and functional connectivity of the amygdala that were previously associated with AOD happen to be related to differences in the TH genotype and thus to differences in the dopaminergic system. However, there was no significant amygdala volume or connectivity difference between the TH genotype groups. Therefore, this study is the first to suggest that genetic, anatomical, and functional differences affect trait-like procrastination independently.

Schlüter C, Arning L, Fraenz C, Friedrich P, Pinnow M, Güntürkün O, Beste C, Ocklenburg S & Genc E. Genetic variation in dopamine availability modulates the self-reported level of action control in a sex-dependent manner. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2019, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsz049

 

News & Views

The influence of sex and handedness on human cradling

Have you ever noticed that children are mostly carried on the left body side of the parent? This lateral preference in infant cradling has been scientifically investigated for 60 years, but influential factors underlying this bias have remained largely unknown due to inconsistent experimental designs and low sample sizes. Luckily, meta-analyses resolve such issues, so we analyzed the entire body of literatur on this topic and generated three major findings on the cradling bias: (1) approximately 69% of all adults prefer to cradle children on the left. (2) Right-handed people have a stronger left-sided preferences than left-handed people. And (3), women have a stronger left-sided preference compared to men. These findings complement recent hypotheses on motor and emotional biases on the laterality of social touch in humans. And if you find yourself holding a baby next time, pay attention to your holding side. It might just tell you something about your feelings!

 

News & Views

PhD Thesis Julian Packheiser

On Friday, the 28th of June 2018, Julian successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "The neuronal mechanisms and dynamics of extinction learning and renewal". Julian’s PhD thesis puts two bold hypotheses forward: First, consolidation of extinction is not required for extinction to occur. Julian was quite cautious to also remark that this is true for behavior analyses and must not necessarily apply for all aspects of neurobiology. Second, key events during extinction are not coded by highly specialized neurons but by cells of mixed-selectivity as they encode a large variety of parameters during an extinction learning paradigm. While the neural responses are highly distributed and diverse on the single unit level, the population response can be decoded into discrete neural archetypes. These and many more findings were pretty impressive. Even more impressive was Julian’s ability to then successfully master 90 minutes of savage grilling by Onur Güntürkün, Nikolai Axmacher, Oliver Wolf, and Jonas Rose. The committee was so impressed that they decided to award Julian’s PhD with a summa cum laude. Congratulations, Julian! We all are very proud of you! During the subsequent photo session three people took in parallel pictures from different locations. The result is funny: everybody looks somewhere else.

 

News & Views

How Foraging Works

Probably, none of us has ever experienced a serious and long-term shortage of food. But in principle evolution has endowed us and other vertebrates with mechanisms that alter our physiology, brain mechanisms, mental states, and behavior when environmental cues signal an upcoming scarcity of food. But what are these mechanisms? Biopsychologists now published a comprehensive theory on the mechanisms of foraging in the top tier theory-journal “Behavioral and Brain Sciences”.
The theory departs from the observation that both mammals and birds are extremely sensitive to a drop in the probability to find food and reliably react with an invigoration of food-related responses. During such a time these animals consume and/or hoard more food, get fatter, and build up a reserve against future starvation. This even happens when people are anxious to lose their job. In this paper it is argued that an anticipated long-term drop of resources has motivational effects called incentive hope that facilitates foraging effort by an altered release of dopamine - a neurotransmitter strongly involved in inducing incentive motivation. This increases the subjective value of food, promotes higher efforts to collect and consume it, and results in higher bodily or hoarded long-term energy storages. The paper shows that this hypothesis is computationally tenable, leading foragers in an unpredictable environment to search for and to consume more food items. Altogether, this theory bridges the troubled waters between ecology, psychology, and neurobiology. Twenty-three research groups have responded to the call to discuss this novel theory. Their comments are subsequently discussed and integrated into the body of their theory.

Anselme, P. and Güntürkün, O., How foraging works: Uncertainty magnifies food-seeking motivation, Behav. Brain Sci., Behav. Brain Sci., 2019, 42: e35, 1–59.

 

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