Welcome to the website of the Independent Max Planck Research Group Neurocode. We are a cognitive neuroscience lab that studies how our brain allows us to learn, remember and to make good decisions. The lab is funded by the Max Planck Society and is part of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. Below you can find more information about us and what we do.
|New Paper: Incidental covariation learning leading to strategy change by Robert Gaschler, Nico, Carlo Reverberi, Peter A. Frensch and Dorit Wenke was published in PLoS ONE.|
|New Preprint: Early development of self-guided strategy improvements in children by Nico, Dorit Wenke, Destina S. Ay, Anika Löwe, Robert Gaschler and Yee Shing is up on psyArXiv.|
|Nico is now a member of the Einstein Center for Neurosciences Berlin!|
|New Preprint: Brain network dynamics during spontaneous strategy shifts and incremental task optimization by Michele Allegra, Shima S. Allaei, Nico, Daniele Amati, Alessandro Laio & Carlo Reverberi is up on bioRxiv!|
|New Paper: An Integrated Model of Action Selection: Distinct Modes of Cortical Control of Striatal Decision Making by Mel Sharpe, T Stalnaker, Nico, S Killcross, G Schoenbaum and Yael Niv was published in Annual Review of Psychology!|
|New book chapter: The book "Goal-Directed Decision Making: Computations and Neural Circuits" edited by Morris, Bornstein and Shenhav has been published and includes the chapter A state representation for reinforcement learning and decision-making in the orbitofrontal cortex, by Nico, Robert Wilson and Yael Niv. Download it here!|
|New Preprint: Representational structure or task structure? Bias in neural representational similarity analysis and a Bayesian method for reducing bias by Ming Bo Cai, Nico, Jonathan Pillow, and Yael Niv is up on bioRxiv.|
|New Preprint: Connecting conceptual and spatial search via a model of generalization by Charley Wu, Eric Schulz, Mona Garvert, Björn Meder and Nico has been accepted by Cognitive Science and is up on bioRxiv!|
|New Preprint: Sequential replay of non-spatial task states in the human hippocampus by Nico and Yael Niv is up on bioRxiv.|
|Christoph has been admitted to the Max Planck Research School LIFE. Congrats Christoph!|
|New paper (Lennart's first): Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over dorsolateral prefrontal cortex modulates value-based learning during sequential decision-making, by Lennart, B Eppinger, LM Bartsch, F Thurm, FM Korb and S-C Li, was accepted to NeuroImage. Download it here!|
|Nico is now official faculty member of the Max Planck Research Schools LIFE and COMP2PSYCH!|
|New paper: Aging and a genetic KIBRA polymorphism interactively affect feedback- and observation-based probabilistic classification learning, by Nico, J Petok, M Meeter, B-M Schjeide, J Schröder, L Bertram, M Gluck and Shu-Chen Li, was accepted to Neurobiology of Aging. Download it here!|
Whenever we play chess, plan a vacation, or cook a meal, we are using past experience to inform our decisions. Our research group seeks to understand how the brain can generate such flexible behavior by extracting and reusing information from memory to predict future outcomes. To do so, we conduct behavioral and neuroimaging studies and employ machine learning algorithms and computational models of reinforcement learning. Specifically, these are our key research areas:
Orbitofrontal cortex and the representation of task statesPredictions derived from reinforcement learning theory regarding prediction error and value signals have found much support in neuroscientific data. But what about the elusive state representations that are necessary for reinforcement learning algorithms? Is there a neural counterpart of these states? Our lab investigates the nature and potential neural basis of these task state representations, see for instance Schuck et al., 2016, Neuron or Schuck et al., 2017, bioRxiv.
The role of hippocampal replay in decision makingFast sequences of neural activation patterns in the hippocampus have been linked to the 'replay' of previous spatial experiences. We investigate how such fast neural events can be detected with fMRI in humans and what their role is in decision making and creating a cognitive map of the current task, see Schuck & Niv, 2018, bioRxiv [Preprint].
How aging, genes and disease affect (spatial) memory & learningAge and DNA have widespread effects on our brain as well as our cognitive abilities. Our lab investigates specific links between changes in neural representations associated with age and genotype, and cognitive changes. For instance, in Schuck et al., 2015, NeuroImage, we have investigated how well spatial boundaries are represented in the brain and how spatial navigation is related to this neural function. In other papers we have investigated how genetic factors and disease influence our memory, see Schuck et al., 2018, Neurobiology of Aging and Thurm et al., 2016, Neurobiology of Aging.
Influence of task irrelevant information on decision makingWhen we make a decision, we really should only focus on the few aspects that seem relevant. But we often fail to do that, for better or worse (getting distracted vs. thinking outside the box). Our lab therefore investigates the effects of task irrelevant information in decision making, see Schuck et al., 2015, Neuron.
PublicationsYou can find a complete publications list here.
Below are some of our most recent and most important publications.
General informationWe are open for applications from outstanding students and interns with relevant experience in cognitive neuroscience or a related field of research.
If you are interested in joining us, send a short email to Nico to inquire about available options. If you are a prospective graduate student, read the information below.