Department of Biology

Prof. Dr. Aristides Arrenberg

Visual perception in the zebrafish model system
How do vertebrates process optic flow to enable self-motion perception, navigation behavior and decisions? How does the environment an organism evolves in shape neuronal processing pathways? We investigate these questions using (naturalistic) visual stimuli, behavioral recordings, two-photon microscopy and calcium imaging in transparent larvae of the zebrafish. The comparison across species reveals optimization and performance limits of cognition in vertebrate brains.
Systems Neurobiology

PD Dr. Gregor Hardieß

Understanding the interrelation between cognition and visuospatial working memory
Working memory is seen as the central cognitive process operating between perception and action to generate adequate behavior for the current task. Here, working memory is of great importance as an executive function by recruiting and controlling the necessary sub-processes. My main interest is in understanding this executive property in tasks such as decision-making or problem solving at both population and individual levels.
Cognitive Neuroscience


Prof. Dr. Hanspeter Mallot
Prof. Dr. Andreas Nieder

We explore how higher brain functions arise from the activity of neurons within the brain.
We adopt an evolutionary-comparative approach by studying the behaviors & brains of crows, macaques, and (in collaboration) humans. Our research aims at cognitive control functions. Our topics include number representations, categories, concepts & rules, learning and (working) memory, vocalization & language precursors, and consciousness. We use a broad array of experimental approaches ranging from psychophysics and single-neuron recordings to functional neuroanatomy and cellular pharmacology.
Animal Physiology


Jun-Prof. Dr. Lena Veit

Neurobiology of birdsong sequencing
Many complex behaviors such as speech, dance or writing are composed of ordered sequences of simpler motor elements, and the flexible control of sequential behavior has broad implications for cognition and motor function. Birdsong is an important model for vocal learning and skilled motor production, because it is composed of ordered sequences of individual syllables. What are the rules underlying the complex sequential dependencies in birdsong, and can the birds learn to exert top-down influence over their song syntax? I am investigating the neuronal basis of complex sequences in birdsong through a combination of behavioral experiments, neurophysiological recordings and manipulations.
Neurobiology of Vocal Communication



Department of Computer Science

Prof. Dr. Martin Butz

How does intelligence emerge?
My research addresses the emergence of intelligence from sensorimotor experiences as well as its expression in behavior and cognition. I thereby focus on both human and artificial intelligence. As the main paradigm, I employ various kinds of cognitive modeling approaches, including Bayesian inference as well as deep learning. My group thereby studies, develops, and refines inductive learning and processing biases, cognitive resources, as well as inference mechanisms for the generation of purposeful behavior and cognition. My main goal it to computationally understand the human mind and to build human-compatible artificial intelligent systems.
Cognitive Modeling

Prof. Dr. Volker Franz

Information processing in cognitive systems & statistical methods
One focus of our research is on the question of how humans process visual information to either guide motor actions or to perform cognitive tasks, such as object recognition. To conduct this research, we have employed a variety of techniques. For example, we have used virtual environments that allow to simulate and manipulate the sensory input and the motor interaction with the environment, complex psychophysical methods, EEG and fMRI measurements of brain activity during visually guided actions, developmental studies with children, and studies with neuropsychological patients. A second focus of our work is on the combination of neuroscientific issues with methodological and statistical topics. Repeatedly, we found that methodological inaccuracies can lead to serious problems in the interpretation and evaluation of neuroscientific research. In these cases, we pursued the methodological questions in separate projects attempting to resolve them in a general way.

Experimental Cognitive Science 

Prof. Dr. Zhaoping Li

Systems level cognition and systems vision science
Our research in computational neuroscience aims to discover and understand how the brain receives and encodes visual sensory input and processes the information to direct eye and body movements as well as to make cognitive decisions. The research is highly interdisciplinary, and uses theoretical as well as experimental approaches, including human psychophysics, eye-tracking, fMRI, electrophysiology and computational modelling to answer questions for example about visual illusions, attention, object recognition and saliency.
Sensory and Sensorimotor Systems

Prof. Dr. Georg Martius
Prof. Dr. Andreas Schilling
Prof. Felix Wichmann, DPhil

Computational models of visual perception
My group investigates human perception combining psychophysical experiments with computational modelling. Currently we have three research foci: First, to improve our image-based model of early spatial vision. Second, to connect early spatial vision with mid-level vision: perceived lightness, brightness and contrast in relation to surface reflectance and illumination in images of real scenes. Third, we investigate differences and similarities between deep convolutional neural networks and human object recognition.
Neural Information Processing


Dr. Charley Wu

Cognitive mechanisms of human learning
My research is primarily concerned with understanding how people learn under uncertainty and in social environments. How do people take overwhelmingly rich and complex problems and transform them into compressed, representations that facilitate rapid inference and generalization? And what unique algorithms allow us to both learn and teach other people, combining the different puzzle pieces of our own knowledge into the rich tapestry of cumulative culture?
Human and Machine Cognition Lab

Prof. Dr. Andreas Zell

Department of Geoscience

Dr. Claudio Tennie

Department of Linguistics

Dr. Asya Achimova

Role of background beliefs in speech production and comprehension
Interpretation of utterances can be viewed as a Bayesian process of combining linguistic evidence and prior beliefs. I investigate how speakers interpret ambiguous utterances and what role their prior beliefs play in the interpretation. I further study how background assumptions affect speakers’ choice of what to say and how to say it. I use tools from probabilistic modeling to understand what kind of pragmatic inferences conversation partners draw about each other’s beliefs.
Emmy Noether Group “Socially-relevant pragmatic inference”

Prof. Dr. Michael Franke

Probabilistic cognitive models of language use in context
Michael Franke uses data-driven, probabilistic cognitive modeling to investigate the human ability to generate and interpret language flexibly in context. He is also more broadly interested in foundational questions concerning the relation between empirical data, statistical analyses, abstract theory and explicit mathematical modeling.

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Jäger

The interaction of cognition and history in the shaping of language
Human language is one of the most fascinating facets of human cognition. It is shaped both by cognitive abilities and by contingent social and historical factors. The General Linguistics group studies both the historical changes languages undergo within cognitive constraints, and the plasticity of language use during communication.
General Linguistics

Dr. Michael Ramscar

Department of Philosophy

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Kahle

Cognition: foundations and philosophical reflection
The Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Center provides a platform for reflections and guidance on questions of responsible science concerning ongoing societal challenges. Cognition is a fundamental notion ubiquitous in science. We reflect on the conceptional design of theories for cognition, evaluate the philosophical premises and consequences, and discuss their societal consequences in science.
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Center


Prof. Dr. Thomas Sattig

The structure of time in human cognition
What is the basic structure of time in human experience? How does it differ from the structure of experiential space? How and why do experiential space and time diverge from physical spacetime? How does the structure of experiential time inform our perception of objects, events, shapes, persistence, and change?
Theoretical Philosophy

Prof. Dr. Hong Yu Wong

Department of Psychology

Prof. Dr. Andreas Bartels

The neuroscience of visual perception and cognition
We study high-level visual perception in the human brain, behaviour, and models, with a focus on ecologically relevant and meaningful vision. Visual illusions serve us to study brain bases of conscious perception, attention, and scene segmentation. Natural movies, images and VR-worlds help us understand processing of visual flow, velocity, space, working memory and emotion. Methodologically we use psychophysics, human brain imaging (3T and 9.4T fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), eye tracking. DNNs provide models for behaviour, stimulus generation, and data analysis, along with old-fashioned stats and multivariate classifiers and Bayesian approaches.
Neuroscience of Vision and Cognition

Dr. Susanne Dietrich

Brain correlates for context-dependent language processing
The interpretation of a speech signal depends not only on the syntactic and semantic properties of a language, but also on pragmatic circumstances, such as the context in which a speech signal is uttered. I study the processing of context-dependent language within discourse structures using anaphors such as presuppositional noun phrases or pronouns. Both can trigger a process of using contextual information to understand the discourse. In my experiments I construct discourses that contain an inadequate use of the trigger. This manipulation will disrupt discourse comprehension and may affect several cognitive processes. I want to clarify which brain structures are involved when semantic or pragmatic knowledge is used to interpret a discourse, when contextual information is missing, when pragmatic violations are detected, or when the discourse structure is reinterpreted. I use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to localise the language areas of the brain involved in discourse processing and to investigate the functional relevance of an area with respect to possible discourse repair processes.
Evolutionary Cognition

Jun-Prof. Dr. David Dignath
Dr. Carolin Dudschig
Prof. Dr. Claudia Friedrich

How do children acquire language and how does this relate to their cognitive development?
Infants already understand their first words and acquire language rapidly and simultaneously with other cognitive functions in their first years of life. In our research, we are interested in the determinants of first and second language acquisition and its embedding in cognitive development.
Developmental Psychology

Prof. Dr. Caterina Gawrilow

How can cognitive abilities in children and adolescents be assessed and modified in everyday contexts?
How develop cognitive abilities (i.e., executive functions) in children over time? How can we measure executive functions in preschool and school children? And what types of interventions are effective for enhancing cognitive abilities in preschool and school children? My group and I are investigating these research questions – in the lab but also with ambulatory assessment methods in daily life of children.
School Psychology

Dr. Elisabeth Hein

How can the human cognitive system perceive objects in space and time?
How can humans perceive objects as coherent units that change their positions over time, despite the sensory input being ambiguous and uncomplete, as it is often the case when we blink, move our eyes or the objects are temporarily occluded? I am investigating which information is used by the cognitive system to establish correspondence between different instances of an object and how new information is integrated over time. To investigate these questions, I am using mainly psychophysical and behavioral experiments with adult human subjects and recently pre-school kids.
Evolutionary Cognition

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Heller
Prof. Dr. Markus Huff
Prof. Dr. Mandy Hütter

How adaptively and flexibly does cognition adapt to environmental constraints?
My work is located in the areas of social cognition and decision sciences. I investigate the cognitive processes that underlie attitudes, judgment, and decisions with a focus on the extent to which cognitive processes adapt adaptively and flexibly to the context in which they occur. In addition, I am interested in learning and judgment processes that operate under sub-optimal conditions (e.g., distraction, time pressure, and lack of information). I approach these questions mainly by means of psychological experiments with human participants, supplemented by statistical modeling. 
Social Cognition and Decision Sciences

Prof. Dr. Barbara Kaup

Modal and amodal cognition: How is meaning represented in language comprehension?
I am interested in representational issues in cognitive psychology with a focus on language comprehension. What kind of meaning representations are involved in language comprehension, what is their function and how do they interact during comprehension? I am also specifically interested in the processing and representation of negation, as well as in the processes involved in language learning. 
Language & Cognition 

Prof. Dr. Hartmut Leuthold
Prof. Dr. Hans-Christoph Nuerk

How does the human cognitive system represent numbers?
I am interested in the (neuro-)cognitive foundations of human numerical and arithmetic processing, their development, their impairments and the impact of numerical cognition on education. Specific interests include

  • the spatial representation of numbers (SNARC effect, MARC effect)
  • place-value representations in multi-digit number processing and arithmetic
  • integration of numerical cognition and language processing in word problems
  • the interplay of numerical cognition and related affects like math anxiety
  • the development of number processing and arithmetic from early childhood to the elderly population
  • the impairment of arithmetic in Parkinson patients and children with dyscalculia
  • the neurocognitive foundations of number representation
  • cross-cultural and cross-lingual impacts on number processing
  • the replicability of results in numerical cognition and beyond.

In our lab, we are using a multi-methodological approach with standard behavioral methods complemented by eye-tracking, fNIRS, tDCS or EEG. We are interested in the normal functioning brain, impaired cognition, but also cognition in the highly gifted and the impact of culture and language on cognitive function.
Diagnostics and Cognitive Neuropsychology

Prof. Dr. Bettina Rolke

Perception, attention, language and aesthetics – towards an understanding of higher human cognitive functions.
Using a variety of behavioral approaches and imaging techniques, my group studies perceptual, attentional and pragmatic language processes and aesthetic evaluation as higher human cognitive functions. 
Evolutionary Cognition

Dr. Verena Seibold

Temporal attention and phasic alertness
Efficient information processing, be it in biological or artificial systems, depends on an optimal allocation of (limited) processing resources. In my research, I investigate how the allocation of processing resources over time (temporal attention) and phasic changes in the availability of processing resources (phasic alertness) influence human information processing, in particular selective aspects of perception and action. Exemplary research questions are: How does temporal attention interact with other attention dimensions to facilitate perception? Why and under what circumstances does phasic alertness impair action selection? To investigate these questions, I conduct laboratory experiments in adult human subjects, and I analyze behavioral outcomes of information processing in combination with neural responses (event-related potentials).
Evolutionary Cognition

Prof. Dr. Rolf Ulrich

Mathematical models of cognitive processes and representations
Research interest in cognition> My colleagues and I usually use mathematical models to improve our understanding of fundamental yet not directly observable cognitive processes and cognitive representations. Our research includes core psychophysical paradigms, such as discriminating perceptual information (e.g., stimulus intensity and duration), and cognitive paradigms, such as decision-making in conflict tasks. Since these processes operate on mental representations, we also analyze the cognitive structure of such representations and their interactions with these processes.
Cognition and Perception

PD Dr. Annette Werner

Colour and cognition
The cognitive dimension of colour becomes obvious in the representation of object colours or phenomena such as colour constancy. Conversely, colour plays an important role in cognitive functions such as memory, semantics and aesthetics. We are therefore investigating human colour perception in real 3D scenes, using psychophysical methods. Furthermore, we are interested in the evolutionary aspects of the relationship between colour and cognition and for this purpose we are conducting comparative studies of colour and object perception in the honey bee (Apis mellifera).
Evolutionary Cognition

College of Fellows

PD Dr. Niels Weidtmann

How to relate cognition to experience? Phenomenological and intercultural approaches
My interest in cognition research comes from my engagement with phenomenology and intercultural issues. Understood phenomenologically, cognition is not so much directed at the world as it is itself emergent from human interaction in and with the world. I am particularly interested in intercultural differences and correspondences. As Director of the College of Fellows at the University of Tübingen, I am also particularly interested in interdisciplinary exchange. The CSC stands exemplary for this.
Intercultural Studies

Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM)

Prof. Dr. Peter Gerjets

MPI for Biological Cybernetics

Dr. Assaf Breska
Prof. Peter Dayan, Ph.D.

Neural and cognitive reinforcement learning
I am interested in all aspects of how humans and other animals learn what to do over the long run in the face of rewards and punishments, and the ways that this can break in psychiatric disease. Current topics of interest include meta-cognition and meta-control, chunking and sequence learning, theory of mind and also aesthetic value. I develop theories, build models, run experiments on human subjects and collaborate with a wide variety of people working in various systems.
Department of Computational Neuroscience

Dr. Eric Schulz

MPI for Intelligent Systems

Dr. Jörg Stückler

University Hospital

Prof. Dr. Jan Born
Prof. Dr. Andreas Fallgatter

Which are the mechanisms underlying cognitive dysfunction in mental disorders?
Patients with mental disorders are frequently affected by cognitive dysfunctions. This is true not only for neurodegenerative disorders, but also for e.g., schizophrenia, depression and substance use disorders. In our research group psychophysiology and optical imaging we investigate the brain function of patients with mental disorders with methods like EEG, ERP, NIRS and fMRI. We then try to develop and test interventions aiming at ameliorating and restoring the psychopathology including cognitive dysfunctions, in particular using neuromodulation techniques like non-invasive brain stimulation and neurofeedback protocols. 
Psychophysiology and Optical Imaging

Prof. Dr. Steffen Gais
Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans-Otto Karnath

Spatial cognition and object recognition in the (healthy and damaged) human brain
The Division of Neuropsychology focusses on the investigation of spatial cognition and object recognition in humans. The current issues of our work comprise the perception of body orientation, spatial attention and exploration, and visuomotor coordination. We investigate patients with brain lesions as well as healthy subjects using structural and functional imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and eye- and hand movement recordings. These approaches aim to elucidate the integration processes of perceptual information from different modalities and their use in the control of action. A better understanding of these processes not only allows us new insights into normal brain functions, but also enables us to develop new approaches for the treatment of patients with brain lesions and their functional disorders.
Center of Neurology, Division of Neuropsychology

Prof. Dr. Christian Plewnia
Prof. Dr. Dirk Wildgruber

What processes underlie human social cognition and what are their neural correlates?
I study the neurobiological basis of human social cognition and emotional communication using imaging techniques (EEG, fMRI, NIRS) and neuropsychological and peripheral physiological assessments (EMG, SCR). My interests comprise physiological processes in healthy individuals as well as differences in patients with psychiatric disorders (e.g., autism, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia).
Specifically, I focus on the perception of nonverbal emotional signals (affective prosody, facial expressions), the discrimination of different types of laughter, and the understanding of empathic abilities. In addition, I have long been concerned with the possibilities and risks of using artificial intelligence to improve the understanding and performance of social and non-social cognition.
Affective Neuroscience

Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN)

Prof. Dr. Martin Giese
Prof. Dr. Ziad Hafed

Active perception and cognition
Our research aims to investigate the neural mechanisms through which visual perception and cognition interact with oculomotor control. We employ techniques for monitoring and focally perturbing neural activity to understand the functional contribution of individual brain circuits in coordinating perception, cognition, and action. Besides clarifying our understanding of the sense of vision, our research also sheds light on how neural activity that is distributed across multiple brain areas is organized to support behavior. 
Physiology of Active Vision

Prof. Dr. Steffen Hage
Dr. Yulia Oganian

What is the neural and cognitive architecture underlying human speech comprehension?
How are we able to extract meaningful information from speech acoustics – in face of noise, incompleteness, and variability within and across talkers? What are the acoustic cues that our brain uses to accomplish this task? We investigate these questions in controlled laboratory experiments and by analyzing neural responses to continuous natural speech. We use a combination of behavioral experiments, scalp electrophysiology, and intracranial recording in neurosurgical patient populations.
Human Verbal Communication