Now: Junior Group Leader, University of Tübingen, Germany
Master of Science, Neuroscience – University of Otago.
Bachelor of Science, Cognitive Science – University of Osnabrück.
I joined the laboratory of Prof Miller in 2009 to further pursue my interest in the control of working memory. By simultaneously recording from over one hundred electrodes I am able to gain a unique network-level perspective. This approach allows reconstructing the flow of information and the neural manipulations occurring in different areas. I utilize this technique to address the limited capacity of working memory, aiming to further characterize the neural ‘bottleneck’, the neural structure or process that limits amount of information we can memorize at any given time. This limit is highly relevant for our cognitive abilities. It is, for example, closely related to individual intelligence. Another study addresses how the brain updates and integrates information. This task requires the animals hold spatial and reward information in working memory and then use the reward information to guide a decision about spatial location. Using high-density neural recordings in this rich test allows me to study how the brain combines different types of information in order form a decision over working memory – one of the hallmarks of executive control.
I pursued my studies in the laboratory of Prof. Michael Colombo at the University of Otago in New Zealand where I received my MSc in Neuroscience in 2005. During my time with Prof Colombo I conducted a study on neural correlates of executive control, characterizing the underlying cellular mechanisms and showing that birds are capable of this high cognitive function.
After completing my MSc, I returned to Germany where I worked with Prof. Onur Güntürkün at the Ruhr-University of Bochum and completed my PhD in 2009. My graduate work focused on the role of reward signals in the avian brain. I modeled the effects of reward magnitude on learning and showed an involvement of dopamine in these processes. I also showed that dopamine plays an important role in attention by protecting it against distraction and stabilizing it over time. In addition to my experimental work I was involved in technical developments for behavioral testing and analysis, histology and single-neuron recordings.