Principal Investigator

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

Upon seeing looming clouds, we expect rain to occur. How do humans infer the temporal structure of their environment? I try to address this question using an interdisciplinary approach combining neural, computational, and psychological descriptions. More specifically, during my postdoc with Prof. Tobias Donner and Prof. Simon Wiegert, I am interrogating the possibility that brainstem arousal systems control the iterative update of beliefs (e.g. about rain following clouds) in response to novel, possibly surprising, observations (e.g. seeing the sun reappear). To this end, I am relying on a cross-species approach which combines precise recordings and manipulations of brainstem activity in mice, with large-scale recordings of cortical dynamics in humans, both during sequence learning. To guide the comparison, I am using pupil size as a reference signal and probabilistic inference as a common theoretical framework. Before, I studied Cognitive Science at ENS-Paris5-EHESS and obtained my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Florent Meyniel and Prof. Stanislas Dehaene.

Personal website

One of the most important open question in Neuroscience is understanding how the brain integrates and interprets sensory information available in the outside word, in order to generate a perceptual experience and guide our behavior.
During my PhD in Mathew Diamond’s Lab (SISSA, Triest) I studied how rodents and humans can extract the perception of the intensity and the duration of a tactile stimulus in parallel. To do so, I combined psychophysical measures, extracellular recordings in awake-behaving animals and computational modeling.
During my Post-doc in the DonnerLab I will focus on how human subjects integrate sensory information in the visual domain and translate them into a decision. More specifically, I will try to address how this process is related to the balance between excitatory and inhibitory neural activity in cortical circuits using MEG and pharmacological manipulations. Moreover, I am interested in understanding if these neurophysiological processes are disrupted in Schizophrenic patients and can help to develop new clinical biomarkers of the disease.
I am a Medical Doctor and I obtained my Medical Degree from University of Triest in 2015.

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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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.

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.

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 student completing my masters degree in clinical psychology in Hamburg. For this reason I’m very interested in psychatric reserach, neuroscience and human cognition. Therefore working as a reserch assistant coincides with my interests and improves my understanding of the human psyche as well. The aim of the study I am currently working on is to study participants behavioral patterns to explore special possible precursors to schizophrenia. In this process the participant have to edit tasks that involves decision-making while their brain activity will be measured by MEG and pupillometry.