News 2016

Paper published

Annegret-Meermeier

A new paper with the title "The influence of image content in oculomotor learning" has been published in the  Journal of Vision by our OCC PhD student Annegret Meermeier (Institute of Psychology). Together with her colleagues Dr. Svenja Gremmler and Prof. Dr. Markus Lappe, she describes an eye-tracking study investigating the effect of stimulus characteristics on low-level adaptation mechanisms for eye movements. More information ...

New OCC PhD Student

Ilona Schneider
© Ilona Schneider

We welcome Ilona Schneider as a new member of the OCC PhD program. She is part of the Laboratory for Molecular Psychiatry led by Prof. Dr. Weiqi Zhang (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy). The PhD committee is completed by WWU colleagues Prof. Dr. Ricarda Schubotz (Institute of Psychology) and Prof. Dr. Dr. Udo Dannlowski (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy).

Talk by Prof. Dr. Andreas Daffertshofer (University of Amsterdam)

Motor control, aging, and more
Andreas Daffertshofer New
© Andreas Daffertshofer

We are very glad to welcome Prof. Dr. Andreas Daffertshofer from the University of Amsterdam as our next speaker in the OCC Colloquium Series.

  • Time: November 16 , 2016 (Wed), 16:15 h
  • Location: Lecture Hall, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Building A9, 2nd Floor, Room 120.074

Abstract:
World-famous pianist Vladimir Horowitz completed his final recording four days before his death. The recording consisted of a repertoire Horowitz had never recorded before. In terms of well-tempered bimanual coordination, Horowitz was certainly more an exception than the rule. In fact, for most of us playing the piano is a major hurdle – irrespective of age – as moving our hands and fingers accurately and independently is no easy feat. Does this difficulty stem from a spillover of activity from one side to the other side of the body? Does this mean that bilateral brain activation must be considered the primary vehicle of control for all limb movements, unilateral and bilateral, from head to toe? If so, one may pose that all movements should be viewed as essentially bilateral. In fact, this hypothesis may derive from the notion that structural symmetry yields an omnipresent cross talk between left and right hemispheres of the central nervous system. In the current lecture it will be discussed how a symmetric, bilateral mode may be considered such an archetype for brain network organization. Breaking that symmetry during, e.g., unimanual performance hence requires a suppression of co-activation in homologous areas through active inhibition. This might be realized via a functional interaction that – on a neuronal level – has to be even better timed and tempered than Horowitz’ splendid piano playing. Functional interaction capitalizes on the underlying neuro-physiological structure, which, in Horowitz’ case presumably underwent substantial, age-related changes rendering his performance even more impressive – after all he died at the age of 86.

10th Anniversary Otto Creutzfeldt Center

Otto Creutzfeld
© Mary Creutzfeld

The Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience was founded in October 2006. A symposium with founding members and illustrious invited guests marked the beginning of this unique interdisciplinary endeavor for collaboration in the neurosciences at the WWU Münster. We will celebrate the anniversary with a ceremonial act and a workshop on October 25th and 26th. Prof. Dr. med. Dr. h.c. Wolf Singer, a student of Otto Creutzfeldt's, will give a public talk in German on Tuesday evening reflecting on the contributions by Otto Creutzfeldt (see picture on the left) and the modern pursuit of his research ideas. On Wednesday, influential speakers from the different fields contributing to the OCC will present their findings in English for a neuroscientifically interested audience (Biology: Prof. Dr. Jaap Koolhaas; Clinical Neuroscience: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Herta Flor; Neurophysiology: Prof. Dr. Ulf Eysel). Most importantly, the OCC PhD students will have a chance to display and discuss their own work during a poster presentation on the same day. You can find more information in the program flyer (online version  here).

Paper published in Journal of Vision

by Annegret Meermeier, Svenja Gremmler, & Markus Lappe
Annegret Meermeier Jov
© Creative Commons

Title
The influence of image content in oculomotor learning

Abstract

During the perception of a scene, we shift our focus of maximal visual acuity, the fovea, to targets of interest. These shifts are called saccades and happen so fast, that they are even too short for online visual control. Saccades are thus planned before they are executed. If we induce an artificial error to the saccade, i.e. by shifting the target while the eyes are in flight, the planning of the next saccade will be adjusted to minimize this error. This process of oculomotor learning is called saccadic adaptation. Whereas in everyday life we make saccades to look a things, in the lab saccades are mostly studied using simple point targets. We found that saccadic adaptation is more complete towards a meaninful image of a human in comparison to a spatial frequency and luminance matched noise stimulus, if only presented shortly. Thus the process of saccadic adaptation, which has been considered an automatized and stereotypic process, can be influenced by top down image understanding and maybe target value.
DOI: 10.1167/16.8.17


Talk by Prof. Dr. Anne Giersch (University Hospital of Strasbourg)

Predicting visual events in time: What is impaired in patients?
Anne Giersch
© Anne Giersch

The OCC Colloquium Series of the summer semester is coming to a close. We are very glad to welcome Prof. Dr. Anne Giersch from the University Hospital of Strasbourg as our last speaker.

  • Time: June 29, 2016 (Wed), 16:15 h
  • Location: Lecture Hall, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Building A9, 2nd Floor, Room 120.074
Abstract
At a clinical level patients with schizophrenia display a disturbed sense of continuity. Experimentally, they are impaired in explicitly discriminating stimuli in time and in judging order at the sub-second level. Despite these impairments, we showed that patients do distinguish events in time at an automatic level, even when unaware of any asynchrony. Yet this automatic processing would be disturbed also. The results suggest healthy volunteers follow and anticipate events automatically in time, whereas patients would be stuck with the first event in a sequence of two. We will present new results suggesting that patients can expect single events in time as accurately as controls. They would have difficulties, however, at predicting sequences of visual events, or at facing different types of uncertainties regarding the incoming event. We will discuss to which amount these difficulties participate or reveal their difficulty to be tuned with the external world, and to experience it as a continuous, stable environment, and to which amount this might impact on their ability to feel as one continuous self.

New OCC Member - Prof. Dr. med. Patricia Ohrmann

Patricia Ohrmann
© Patricia Ohrmann

We have one more addition to the OCC membership: Prof. Dr. med. Patricia Ohrmann. Since 2002 Prof. Ohrmann is Head of the research group Cognitive Neuropsychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. She uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to investigate emotional and cognitive processes in neuropsychiatric disorders.

New OCC Member - Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sarah Schimke

Sarah Schimke
© Sarah Schimke

We are glad to welcome Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sarah Schimke as our first new OCC member in the year 2016. Sarah Schimke is working in the field of psycholinguistics and is specifically interested in the acquisition and use of second languages. She applies behavioral measures (eye tracking, reading times etc.), but is also planning to utilize neurocognitive methods in the future to investigate the neural processes underlying second-language performance.

Talk by Prof. Dr. David Melcher (University of Trento)

It’s about time: the role of temporal windows in organizing visual perception
David Melcher
© Privat

We are very glad to welcome Prof. Dr. David Melcher from the University of Trento as our next speaker in the OCC Colloquium Series.

  • Time: June 1, 2016 (Wed), 16:15 h
  • Location: Lecture Hall, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Building A9, 2nd Floor, Room 120.074

Abstract
A basic idea in cognitive neuroscience is that perceptual and cognitive processes take time to complete, as measured for example by reaction times or ERPs. More recently, there has been converging evidence that perceptual systems also have an inherent temporal structure that is present even prior to stimulus presentation. Here, I will present recent work from my lab investigating how these temporal windows may create capacity limits in perception and working memory and how perceptual cycles influence our subjective interpretation of events. These studies, using behavioral measures, EEG, MEG and eyetracking, suggest a link between neural oscillations, visual perception, oculomotor planning and working memory. Overall, this work points to a critical role of the brain’s time frames in organizing and aligning perception, cognition and action.

Talk by Prof. Dr. Karl Gegenfurtner (University of Gießen)

The interaction between vision and eye movements
Gegenfurtner

The next speaker in the OCC Colloquium Series is Prof. Dr. Karl Gegenfurtner from the University of Gießen.

  • Time: April 20, 2016 (Wed), 16:15 h
  • Location: Lecture Hall, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Building A9, 2nd Floor, Room 120.074

Abstract
The existence of a central fovea, the small retinal region with high analytical performance, is arguably the most prominent design feature of the primate visual system. This centralization comes along with the corresponding capability to move the eyes to reposition the fovea continuously. Past research on perception was mainly concerned with foveal vision while the eyes were stationary. Research on the role of eye movements in visual perception emphasized their negative aspects, for example the active suppression of vision before and during the execution of saccades. But is the only benefit of our precise eye movement system to provide high acuity of small regions at the cost of retinal blur during their execution? In my talk I will compare human visual perception with and without eye movements to emphasize different aspects and functions of eye movements. I will show that the interaction between eye movements and visual perception is optimized for the active sampling of information across the visual field, and for the calibration of different parts of the visual field.

Thesis Defense Christiane Ahlheim

Ahlheim Foto

We are very glad to announce that our OCC PhD Student Christiane Ahlheim has successfully defended her thesis entitled "Neural signatures of statistical structure in observed actions". The thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Ricarda Schubotz (Institute of Psychology). The other members of the Defense Committee were Prof. Dr. Pienie Zwitserlood (Institute of Psychology) and Prof. Dr. Karen Zentgraf (Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences).

Talk by Prof. Dr. Martin Lotze (University of Greifswald)

fMRI and TMS studies on brain representation changes due to active, passive, imagined and somatosensory primed motor training
Lotze

As the first speaker in this summer semester's OCC Colloquium, we are glad to welcome Prof. Dr. Martin Lotze from the University of Greifswald.

  • Time: April 13, 2016 (Wed), 16:15 h
  • Location: Lecture Hall, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Building A9, 2nd Floor, Room 120.074
Abstract
How plastic is the brain for training and what training serves best for what outcome? On what spatial dimension can we observe plasticity? What is the role of motivation, shaping, feedback during training? What makes a trained subject an expert? How can we train a damaged brain? What makes a plastic process maladaptive, for instance for learning pain? How can we predict who is responsible for such maladaptive plasticity? How can representative cohorts help to solve these questions? Our team uses structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), behavioral strategies and transcranial magnetic stimulation to find approaches for answers to some of these research questions. In my talk I will center on recent studies on motor training in healthy young volunteers and brain lesioned patients.

Thesis Defense Dominik Grotegerd

Dominik Grotegerd

Congratulations to Dominik Grotegerd! He has successfully defended his PhD Thesis entitled "Softcomputing-Methoden zur multivariaten Analyse funktionaler MRT-Daten psychiatrischer Patienten". The thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Dr. Udo Dannlowski (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, WWU). The other members of the PhD Committee were Prof. Dr. Volker Arolt (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, WWU) and Prof. Dr. Norbert Sachser (Department of Behavioural Biology, WWU).

Thesis Defense Benjamin Zipser

Benjamin-zipser

Benjamin Zipser has successfully defended his PhD thesis with the title "Dimensions of individuality in cavies, guinea pigs, and mice". The thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Norbert Sachser (Department of Behavioural Biology, WWU). The other members of the PhD Committee were Prof. Dr. Sylvia Kaiser (Department of Behavioural Biology, WWU) and Prof. Dr. Volker Arolt (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, WWU). Congratulations!

Talk by Prof. Dr. Eric-Jan Wagenmakers (University of Amsterdam)

Bayesian benefits for the pragmatic researcher
Eric-jan-wagenmakers

We are happy to announce the next OCC Colloquium talk by Prof. Dr. Eric-Jan Wagenmakers from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Apart from his work on neurocognitive modeling, Prof. Wagenmakers has made major contributions to the development of proper statistical methods for the analysis of research data.

  • Time: January 27, 2016 (Wed), 16:15 h
  • Location: Lecture Hall, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Building A9

Thesis Defense Jens Buschert

Jens-buschert

We would like to congratulate Jens Buschert to the defense of his PhD thesis entitled "Differential susceptibility, adult neurogenesis, and translational validity - The application of mouse models in psychiatric research". The thesis was supervised by Prof. Dr. Weiqi Zhang (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, WWU). The other members of the PhD Committee were Prof. Dr. Sylvia Kaiser (Department of Behavioural Biology, WWU) and Prof. Dr. Norbert Sachser (Department of Behavioural Biology, WWU).

Talk by Dr. Marcel Bastiaansen (NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences)

Fast dynamics in the brain's language network: unification or prediction?
Marcel-bastiaansen

Continuing the OCC Colloquium series in the year 2016, we are very glad to announce the talk by Prof. Dr. Marcel Bastiaansen from NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, Breda, The Netherlands. Prof. Bastiaansen is studying language networks with brain imaging techniques (especially EEG).

  • Time: January 20, 2016 (Wed), 16:15 h
  • Location: Lecture Hall, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Building A9

New OCC PhD Student - Judith Mergen

Judith-mergen

We are very glad to welcome Judith Mergen as a new OCC PhD student. Judith is a member of the Department of Movement Science at the Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences, working under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Heiko Wagner. The title of her thesis is "Body image and body schema in anorexia nervosa". Additional members of the PhD Committee are Dr. Anouk Keizer (Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands) and PD Dr. Katja Kölkebeck (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, WWU).