Neuro-Cognitive Psychology

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Research Excellence
The quality and international visibility of the basic and applied research by NCP teachers is reflected in numerous DFG projects, collaborations with top laboratories inside and outside Germany, and publications in influential international journals in the field of mind & brain. Recently, the core teachers of NCP (Prof. Müller and his group) have made very substantial contributions to two successful applications within the framework of the German federal government’s ‘Excellence initiative’, namely: the Graduate School of Systemic Neuroscience  (GSN), of which the NCP pogram is now an official part, and the Excellence Cluster ‘Cognition for Technical Systems’ (CoTeSys). In addition, the NCP study program is closely linked to the new interdisciplinary ‘Munich Center for Neuroscience: Brain and Mind (MCN)’, which  is funded by ‘LMUinitiativ’ initiative and provides an interdisciplinary umbrella for the  integration of the mind & brain sciences in Munich; three new chairs of importance to the NCP program will be associated with the MCN: neuro-computing (linked to Neurobiology), functional neuro-imaging of cognition (Psychology and Neurology), and neurophilosophy (Philosophy).

 Moreover, Prof. Müller has recently been awarded one of only ten Research Professorships funded by ‘LMUexcellence’. This award involves funding for a ‘teaching professorship’ (Lehrprofessur) to cover for Prof. Müller’s teaching duties on non-advanced courses during his 5-year tenure of the research professorship.15 This funding effectively permitted us to recruit another lecturer for the NCP teaching network to complement our research foci: Prof. Torsten Schubert (formerly Humboldt University Berlin), who is an internationally leading expert on ‘executive control’ and ‘skill acquisition’.

Focus areas of research
A broad range of scientists is involved in the NCP program, coming from disciplines such as psychologyres (experimental, biological, developmental psychology, neuropsychology), neurobiology, neurology, psychiatry, neurocomputation and neurophilosophy. The research interests of most NCP teachers refer to basic neuro-cognitive functions with a major focus on attentional and executive control of vision and action. Moreover, further topics such as memory, emotions, peripheral psychophysiological processes and developmental aspects are also covered.

Research and teaching within the NCP program includes major methods of modern psychology and cognitive neuroscience. At the behavioral level, several labs exist using reaction time and psychophysical measures, as well as the latest technology in eye and hand movement registration. Most recently, a Multisensory Perception Lab for investigating visual-tactile interactions in movement control has been established. At the level of brain activity and structure, several EEG labs (e.g. using 128 electrodes) for recording event-related potentials and model-based source localization as well as one fMRI lab (1.5 and 3 Tesla, Regensburg) for structural and functional imaging are in place. Finally, in cooperation with several university hospitals in Munich (neurology, psychiatry units) and outside Munich (e.g. neurological clinic Bad Aibling) experimentally based patient studies are performed. The NCP program includes two major fields of applied research and teaching. The first field "Neuro-cognitive ergonomics" is focused on the study of human-machine interaction (HMI). Limits and control of information processing in HMI in assistance and navigation devices in automobiles and aircrafts are major areas of investigation. The second field "Experimental assessment of patients" refers to the study of neurological patients (e.g. suffering from a stroke and a closed head injury) and psychiatric patients (e.g. suffering from Alzheimer, schizophrenia). Most projects in this second field study disturbances of attentional and executive processes as well as of perceptual and working memory processes.

NCP Research Projects. The NCP program requires 2 supervised research projects of each student for graduation. These supervised experiments are designed to provide students with the opportunity to gather practical experience in the field of Neuro-Cognitive Psychology while working on an original research issue, the results of which are then documented by a project report in the format of a scientific publication. The research projects are to be completed during the breaks between semesters; Research Project I after the first semester and Research Project II following the second. Each project has a duration of 7 (+1) weeks and is worth a total of 10 credit points toward the degree. The 2nd project can be carried out in one of the Partner European Laboratories, for example, with Prof. Deco at the U. of Barcelona, E; Prof. De' Sperati at the U. of Milano, I; Prof. Haynes at the FU Berlin, D; Prof. Hommel at the U. of Leiden, NL; Prof. Humphreys at the U. of Birmingham, GB; Prof. Kingstone at the U. of British Columbia, CA; Prof. Müller at the U. of Cambridge, UK or Prof. Spence at the U. of Oxford, UK.