Collaborative Research Centre SFB 1280

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In the Collaborative Research Center SFB 1280 "Extinction learning" (Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Onur Güntürkün, Biopsychology, Ruhr-Universität Bochum), we study the neural, behavioral, ontogenetic, educational, and clinical mechanisms of extinction in various species, including humans. The diversity of the approaches at the systems and at the methodological level is combined with a high level of homogeneity at structural, experimental, technical, and conceptual levels.
At the structural level, all neurobiological and clinical groups concentrate on a network of anatomical structures that are core constituents of extinction learning. At the experimental design level, most studies utilize similar approaches to maximize transfer of data and knowledge between research groups. In addition, wherever possible, experimental projects utilize causal manipulations to achieve mechanistic insights. At the technical level, Focus Groups on learning dynamics and neuroimaging will integrate data from diverse research groups and experimental approaches for large-scale analysis.

Finally, and most importantly, at the conceptual level we base our research on a set of hypotheses several of which are to be tested by each and every project. Thus, all SFB-projects are inextricably intertwined in an experimental and conceptual meshwork that ensures both a coherent research strategy and maximal horizontal transfer of knowledge in clinical and societal applications.

Collaborative Research Centre SFB 874

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The interdisciplinary Transregional Collaborative Research Center SFB 874 “Integration and Representation of Sensory Processes” (Speaker: Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan, Neurophysiology, Ruhr-University Bochum) was established by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) on July 1st, 2010, at the Ruhr-University Bochum. The goal of this project is the implementation of a systems neuroscience strategy to clarify key aspects of sensory processing. The overarching question addresses how sensory signals generate neuronal maps, and result in complex behavior and memory formation. Within the 13 projects the SFB 874 addresses how sensory information (visual, olfactory or somatosensory) is integrated in the brain such that a representation of the world and a memory trace results.

Research Unit FOR 2812

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The DFG-funded research unit FOR 2812 "Constructing scenarios of the past: A new framework in episodic memory" (speaker: Prof. Dr. Sen Cheng) consists of 9 researchers. Seven from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and two from the University of Münster. Their research represents 3 different fields:

• computational neuroscience
• psychology
• philosophy

Their objective is to address fundamental questions about scenario construction during episodic memory recall.
• What are scenarios?
• What are the central features of episodic memory that can be explained by scenario construction during recall?
• How is scenario construction used to retrieve information?
• What are the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying scenario construction?
• How is scenario construction modulated/influenced by internal and external factors?
• What are the functions of scenario construction?

These questions are addressed in nine strongly interacting projects, which combine methods from computational neuroscience, experimental psychology and philosophy. Experimental projects study the neural mechanisms via fMRI and behavioral outcomes of scenario construction, especially after external interventions. Modeling projects make the underlying computations explicit and study how they depend on parameters and how they interact with each other to give rise to complex functions. Finally, philosophical projects address fundamental questions that arise within and about the framework.

Bernstein Focus: Neuronal Basis of Learning (BFNL)

With the new funding initiative „Bernstein Focus: Neuronal Basis of Learning“ the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports eight joint research projects within the Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience. In three joint projects neuroscientists of the RDN (from the Institute of Neuroinformatics, Faculty of Psychology and Faculty of Medicine) are significantly involved. In the focus of the projects is the identification of the neuronal basis of learning and how to use these results. This aim is accompanied by a close interdisciplinary collaboration of experimental and theoretical analysis. One goal is that the results contribute to develop better treatments for stroke, to understand cognitive disorders, or to generate models for the development of robots, and driver assistance systems.

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        (Bochum / Lauffen)
        Prof. Dr. Gregor Schöner (Ruhr-University Bochum)

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                        SEQUENCE LEARNING
                        (Bochum / Berlin / Bremen / Oldenburg)
                        Prof. Dr. Onur Güntürkün (Ruhr-University Bochum)

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(Berlin / Bochum / Lübeck / Leipzig)
PD Dr. Petra Ritter (Charité-Berlin)
Prof. Dr. Richard Kempter (Humboldt-University Berlin)


A neuro-dynamic framework for cognitive robotics:
scene representations, behavioural sequences, and learning

The EU-project “Neural Dynamics” involves scientists from Bochum (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Gregor Schöner, Institut für Neuroinformatik, Ruhr-University Bochum), Skövde (Sweden), Faro (Portugal), and Lugano (Switzerland) and is funded by the European Commission. For more information please contact Prof. Dr. Gregor Schöner.

The vision of this project is to develop cognitive robots that mimics the human cognitive abilities to orient oneself in space (eg. in a room). Building cognitive robots that orient actions at objects, are capable of generating even simple sequences of such actions, interact with human users, and learn from experience continues to be an ambitious goal. The goal of this project is, therefore, to provide comprehensive solutions to the two key bottlenecks for building cognitive robots, their perceptual capabilities and their capability to generate flexible sequential behaviours.

Mercator Research Group "Structure of Memory"

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In a joint project with Stiftung Mercator, Ruhr University Bochum has established two “Mercator Research Groups”. In the Mercator Research Group "Structure of Memory" three young professors (Prof. Dr. Sen Cheng, Psychology; Prof. Dr. Magdalena Sauvage, Neurophysiology; Prof. Dr. Markus Werning, Philosophy; Mentors: Prof. Dr. Onur Güntürkün; Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan; Prof. Dr. Albert Newen) form an independent research team supplied with state-of-the-art infrastructure, additional staff, and generous funds. They will be accompanied by a senior (emeritus) researcher of their own choice, who through his/her extensive experience can act as a mentor and advisor for the independent research of the young professors. The leadership of the MRG, however, will remain exclusively in the hands of the young professors. The research group focuses on research in the neurosciences. Composed of experimental and theoretical neuroscientists as well as philosophers, the team investigates episodic and semantic memory processes and their relation to other cognitive functions.

SPP 1665

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"Resolving and manipulating neuronal networks in the mammalian brain: from correlative to causal analysis"

The common aim of the newly established DFG Priority Program SPP 1665 is to investigate interactions between nerve cells and their impact on network activities across the brain. Central questions focus on the relationship between the complex processing within the brain and behavior.
Contributing scientists from the RUB are the work groups of Prof. Dr. Stefan Herlitze (Department of General Zoology and Neurobiology) and PD Dr. Dirk Jancke (Optical Imaging Group, Institut für Neuroinformatik). In their project it is planned to specifically target Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences emotions and memory function within the brain in manifold ways. Dysfunction in the regulation of Serotonin levels plays an important role in the pathogenesis of neurophysiological disorders like migraine and depression.
In total, 12 collaborative groups, distributed across German Universities and Max-Planck Institutes, have been awarded. One common aspect to all groups is to specifically target brain activity and to understand the resulting neuronal network dynamics.