News 2016

Paper published in Journal of Vision

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

The influence of image content in oculomotor learning


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
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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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
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

Thesis Defense Benjamin Zipser


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

Bayesian benefits for the pragmatic researcher

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


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?

New OCC PhD Student - 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).