Research Project

In daily life, it is of crucial importance to adjust our behavior to environmental changes without losing track of our action goals. On the one hand, we have to stabilize our predictions in the face of potential distractors. On the other hand, we need to adapt these stable predictions to altered circumstances. Recent physiological as well as neurocomputational models suggest that this balance between cognitive stability and flexibility is mediated by dopamine. Dopamine in the prefrontal cortex binding on so-called D1-receptors might be essential for stabilization of working memory (Durstewitz & Seamans, 2008). In contrast, dopamine acting on D2-receptors in the striatum possibly plays a considerable role for cognitive flexibility (Friston et al., 2012). Motor as well as cognitive dysfunctions resulting from dopaminergic decline in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (IPD) may thus be described as specific impairments of cognitive stability and/or flexibility.

We investigate stabilization and updating of predictions in patients with IPD (dopaminergic medication “on” and “off”) and healthy controls. Using a modified serial prediction task (sequence switch detection), we collect behavioral data (reaction times and error rates) as well as physiological measures (BOLD functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)). Furthermore, we examine the genotype dopamine catabolism’s (COMT-polymorphism) influence and that of dopamine receptor density (DRD2-polymorphism) on cognitive stability and flexibility.

Durstewitz, D. & Seamans, J. (2008). The dual-state theory of prefrontal cortex dopamine function with relevance to catechol-o-methyltransferase genotypes and schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry, 64, 739-749.

Friston, K.J., Shiner, T., FitzGerald, T., Galea, J.M., Adams, R. , Brown, H., Dolan, R.J., Moran, R., Stephan, K.E., Bestmann, S. (2012). Dopamine, affordance and active inference. PLoS Comput Biol 8(1), e1002327.

PhD Committee

Prof. Dr. Ricarda I. Schubotz
Prof. Dr. Gereon R. Fink
Prof. Dr. Karen Zentgraf

Conference Contributions

Trempler, I., Schiffer, A. M., Fink, G. R., Schubotz, R. I. (2015). Quantifying the interplay of cognitive flexibility and stability in prediction using fMRI. Poster presentation at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, San Francisco.

Kaltwasser, I., Trempler, I., Schiffer, A.-M., & Schubotz, R. I. (2014). Psychophysiological reflections of probabilistic adaptation in young and older participants. Poster presentation at the 7th Donders Discussions, Nijmegen.

Trempler, I., Kaltwasser, I., Schiffer, A.-M., & Schubotz, R. I. (2014). Changing and changing back: Behavioral and skin conductance responses (SCR) to probabilistic adaptation in young and older participants. Poster presentation at the 49th DGPs-Congress, Bochum.


*1988 Kiel, Germany
2007–2010 Bachelor studies in Philosophy, Neuroscience & Cognition at the University of Magdeburg
2010-2012 Master studies in Psychology at the University of Münster
2012 Master thesis at the Division of Mind and Brain Research, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Berlin
Since July 2013 PhD student at the University of Münster