This year's OCC Retreat was held at the Institute of Psychology on July 7. The OCC PhD students presented the current state of their projects in talks and poster presentations. The contributions were of very high quality and especially the diversity of the covered topics was impressive. After the talks, everybody was eager to get outside to have a few drinks and BBQ in the green area surrounding the institute. The main sporting activity was "Viking chess" (Kubb), where OCC members and students mingled to conclude the evening in a relaxed atmosphere (see pictures here).
Neuroscience in School
In May, some of our OCC PhD students visited a fourth grade in the Kardinal-von-Galen Elementary School, Münster-Handorf. Together with their teacher, Babette Havers, the kids had learned about brain research during a two-week project. The teaching unit, including specifically designed material and the interactive robot "Herr Tie", was developed and made publicly available by the Hertie Foundation. The OCC organizes the school visits in Münster in collaboration with the Hertie Foundation. Using the material, the students learned about our sensory systems and tackled questions like "Why is the brain folded?" and "How do nerve cells communicate?". To conclude the project, our OCC experts visited the school for an intense question-and-answer session. They also gave an impression of their research and showed pictures illustrating their daily work. The project will continue during the next school year. Interested schools and teachers can contact the OCC coordinator.
A new paper with the title "Noninvasive stimulation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex enhances pleasant scene processing" has been published in the Journal Cerebral Cortex by our OCC PhD student Constantin Winker (Institute of Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, IBB). Together with his OCC colleagues Dr. Maimu Rehbein and Prof. Dr. Markus Junghöfer and in collaboration with Prof. Dean Sabatinelli from the University of Georgia, he shows in an MEG and fMRI study that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex tunes affective processing of emotional scenes in a valence-specific manner. This finding may suggest the ventromedial prefrontal cortex as alternative target for add-on therapies of affective disorders such as depression or generalized anxiety.