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NoD Lab

Neurobiology of Decision Making

Head
Dr. Axel Lindner
Tel. +49 (0)7071 29 80469
Fax +49 (0)7071 29 5326

Our interdisciplinary research ranges from studies of perceptual decisions about the causation of sensory events (i.e. authorship attribution), over investigations of choice behaviour (decision making and choice overload), to response selection and action planning. Specifically, we are investigating how — in the light of various alternative options — an optimal goal-directed motor behaviour is selected and generated by our nervous system. Moreover, we focus on the perceptual interpretation of such behaviour. Finally — apart from its contribution to the understanding of healthy behaviour and brain function — our research also tries to gain better knowledge about related clinical symptoms in various patient groups such as delusions of influence in schizophrenia patients or disorders of action perception (vs. action planning) in patients with cerebellar and parietal lesions or in neurodegenerative disease (e.g. Parkinson). Our research involves psychophysical experiments (including the registration of eye-, hand-, and arm movements) and functional imaging ([combined] fMRI, EEG and MEG).

Recent accomplishments of the NOD Lab
The NOD Lab recently received funds from the BMBF for our research project on the “Neural Representations of Sensory Predictions for Perception and Action”, carried out within the newly established Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Tübingen and in close collaboration with Prof. Martin Giese. This collaborative project particularly strengthens the exchange between computational approaches (Giese lab) and empirical research (mainly performed by the NOD Lab). We already established a Bayesian graphical model that can explain the attribution of authorship to sensory events based on visual information and predictions about the visual consequences of self-action (Tobias Beck, Carlo Wilke, Barbara Wirxel, Dominik Endres, Axel Lindner and Martin Giese; also see Beck et al., 2011, Nature Precedings dx.doi.org/10.1038/npre.2011.5858.1
). Our most recent empirical work highlights the cerebellum as a key structure for the updating of sensory predictions — even in the absence of overt behaviour (Manuel Roth, Matthis Synofzik, Axel Lindner).

The NOD lab also contributes to the new interdisciplinary research training group “Grounding Self and Agency” of the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience Tübingen (CIN): in a tandem project between philosophy (Sabine Döring) and neuroscience (Axel Lindner, Matthis Synofzik), which is supported by the CIN, a team of students from both disciplines (Anja Berninger and Carlo Wilke, respectively) investigates “Was it me? The neurocognitive and philosophical basis of agency”. Our latest research shows that self-action perception does not only build on sensorimotor information (sensory predictions, etc.) but is also modulated by the valence of action outcomes (Wilke et al., 2011, in press; for a philosophical discussion of this work see Berninger & Döring, 2011, in press).

Selected topics of other ongoing research projects
Understanding and decoding distributed representations of context-dependant action plans: multivariate analyses of single cell (LFP) and MEG data recorded in parietal and premotor cortex (a NEUROPRIM project, performed by Christoph Budziszewski and in collaboration with Alexander Gail, BCCN Göttingen and German Primate Center, Göttingen).

Distinct roles of parietal cortex in the planning (Artur Pilacinski) and the perception of self-action (Matthis Synofzik; studies in parietal patients are performed by Karla Lauer and in collaboration with Marc Himmelbach; studies in patients with neurodegenerative disease are performed by Magdalena Gössling and in collaboration with Tobias Wächter).

The costs and benefits of choice: decision making with multiple alternatives (in collaboration with Elena Reutskaja, IESE, and Rosemarie Nagel, UPF, Barcelona; Colin Camerer, CalTech, Pasadena).

Cognitive Aging (in collaboration with Peter Thier, Melanie Wallscheid & Jörn Pomper).

Simultaneous EEG-fMRI: Investigating the connection between EEG, fMRI and cognitive processes (in collaboration with Wolfgang Rosenstiel, Martin Bogdan & Anita Dieckgraeff, Wilhelm Schickard Institute for Informatics, Tübingen).

NoD Lab Tools

  • The NERT4SPM Toolbox for Plotting Average Event Related MRI-Signal Time-Courses in SPM2 & SPM5. Please Download Using a Subversion Client: https://svn.discofish.de/MATLAB/spmtoolbox/NERT4SPM
  • The NODAlyze Toolbox for Multivariate, Time-Resolved fMRI Analysis in SPM2 & SPM 5.