Principal Investigator

Bio: M.D. and Doctorate, Charitè, Humboldt-University of Berlin (2003). Postdoctoral fellow, Dept of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, Hamburg University Medical Center and Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Donders Institute, Nijmegen (2003-6). Postdoctoral fellow, Computational Neuroimaging Lab, New York University (2006-9). Assistant Professor (U.D.), Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam (2009-15). Associated P.I., Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin (since 2011). Associated P.I., Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam (since 2015). Full Professor of Integrative Neuroscience (W3) and Deputy Director, Dept of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg (since 2015). Head of Section Computational Cognitive Neuroscience, Dept of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg (since 2019).

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Post-Doctoral Researchers

The general focus of my research has been the influence of neuromodulatory systems on human brain state and associated cognitive processes. In particular, I have used pharmacological intervention, fMRI, pupillometry, and EEG to study the influence of the locus coeruleus norepinephrine system on brain-wide functional interactions and attention. I have also worked on studying the neural mechanisms of non-adaptive post-error behavioral changes in relation to attentional reorienting, and the anatomical substrate of multisensory processing. The work with Tobias will focus on fast-acting and transient neural mechanisms that underlie cognitive switches.
I studied Brain and Cognitive Sciences in Amsterdam, and received my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Leiden University, the Netherlands, where I worked under the supervisor of Prof. Sander Niewenhuis.

Personal website

My research has mostly focused on exploring ways in which human cognition is influenced by the brain’s arousal systems, with a particular emphasis on the neural computations that support decision making. I am also interested in the mechanisms and brain processes that facilitate error detection and other metacognitive functions. I have variously combined behavioural experimentation, computational modelling, scalp electrophysiology, pupillometry, psychopharmacology and functional neuroimaging techniques to investigate these questions. With Tobias’ group, I will focus mainly on examining candidate mechanisms for the adaptation of decision making timescale in the brain.
I studied Psychology and received my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Trinity College Dublin, and spent my first postdoc at Leiden University with Prof. Sander Nieuwenhuis.

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The aim of my PhD and ongoing postdoc project is to reveal the neurobiological processes underlying sequential effects in perceptual decision-making in order to understand how preceding choices and preceding stimulus presentations influence our current decision. I use behavioural and neurophysiological data analysis in combination with computational modelling and pupillometry.

I studied physics with a focus on theoretical physics at the University of Hamburg.

In my research, I try to characterize the key factors underlying the generation of the spatiotemporal patterns of intrinsic cortical activity. More specifically, I am interested in how interactions between cortical regions are set up, maintained and modulated over time. Of particular interest is what role subcortical neuromodulatory systems play in shaping these large-scale cortical dynamics. Ultimately, I am trying to better understand the relation between intrinsic and task-related fluctuations.
Prior to the PhD, I was enrolled in several study programmes (media design, psychology, mathematics, brain and cognitive sciences, fine arts) and I have managed to graduate from two.

Personal website

In my research, I focus on the question how metacognition is used for further adaptation of behavior. Currently, I examine how subjective confidence in a decision is used to further optimize cognition. Theoretical models of confidence posit an important role for confidence in learning and adapting behavior, and these are the dynamics that I wish to unravel. I will combine behavioral measures, computational modelling, and electrophysiological recordings to answer these questions. In previous work performed during my PhD at the Free University Brussels (Belgium), I used behavioral and electrophysiological measures to unravel the intimate relation between metacognition and conflict processing. My research is supported by an FWO [PEGASUS]² Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship.

Personal website

PhD / MD Students

I am a medical student at the University of Hamburg working on my MD thesis which is funded by a scholarship within the graduate program of the SFB936. I am especially interested in researching the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric diseases. The aim of the project is to establish novel non-invasive biomarkers of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) as a possible precursor to dementia. We will do so by assessing long-range temporal correlations at rest, a readout of persistent neural activity during working memory maintenance (both measured via MEG) and behavioural performance of a working memory task of MCI patients and healthy control participants.

My research interest is to investigate the neurobiological basis and computational principles underlying various cognitive processes in humans. I am especially interested in decision-making and metacognition. I am also interested in how brain circuits responsible for different cognitive processes are affected in neurological disorders. To this end, I combine computational modelling with psychophysics, magnetoencephalography and pupillometry. For my PhD, I am investigating the neurobiological basis of sequential effects in decision making.

I obtained Bachelor of Technology in Electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (2012) and MSc in Cognitive Science from the University of Edinburgh (2013). For my Master’s thesis I investigated the impact of different growth environments on the development of the primary visual cortex using developmental models of visual cortex under the supervision of James Bednar.

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I am a fifth year medical student at the University of Hamburg and currently working on my MD thesis. I am particularly interested in neuroscientific and psychiatric research to better understand human cognition and the way cognitive processes are altered in neuropsychiatric conditions. For my thesis, I will be exploring the behavioural and cognitive characteristics of decision-making in individuals who are at an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. The aim is to study the participants’ behavioural patterns and brain activity to establish non-invasive biomarkers as a possible precursor to schizophrenia. To gather behavioural and neurophysiological data, the participants will perform a task that involves decision making while simultaneously, their arousal and cortical activity will be measured by the non-invasive means of pupillometry and MEG.

My main research interest is to understand how perception and behavior comes about from previous experience, internal processes and sensory input. My PhD research focusses on the effect of surprise on our perception and decisions, and the role of central neuromodulation in this process. I study both perceptual and value based decisions in uncertain environments, using a combination of human electrophysiology, pupillometry, computational modelling and pharmacological interventions.
I studied psychobiology and a bit of philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, followed by a master in cognitive neuroscience at the same university.

I am a fifth year medical student conducting my medical doctoral thesis in the lab. My research project  – on which I work together with Niklas Wilming – is located at the interface of decision making and immunology. We use psychophysics, eye-tracking, fMRI and computational modelling to test several decision-tasks while challenging the participants immune system. Thereby, we aim to further explore the dynamics of sensorimotor coupling mechanisms that shape decision making processes in the brain and try to investigate whether these are affected by immune-brain interactions.

Research Assistants

I am psychology student in my last bachelor year. I was born in Hamburg and I’m studying here too. In the last years, I have completed internships in psychiatry and in prison, but in addition to clinical psychology, I am also very interested in neuroscience and imaging techniques. Therefore, I am very happy to be part of the lab.
In the lab, I work as a Research Assistant in a project on Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) supporting the MEG measurements. The project is particularly interesting for me because it runs in cooperation with the psychiatry. I’m looking forward to what else comes up to me in the lab.

I am a Neuroeconomics master student at Maastricht University working as an intern and a research assistant at the lab. My master thesis is comparing how phasic arousal affects choice biases during perceptual and consumer decisions. As a Research Assistant, I am helping out in analyzing an fMRI data set to study the mechanisms underlying learning and switching between stimulus-response mapping rules in decision-making.