SCHUCK LAB

MAX PLANCK RESEARCH GROUP
NEUROCODE





About

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.

News

Oct
2019
New Preprint: Effects of Aging on the Encoding of Spatial Direction in the Human Brain by Christoph Koch, Shu-Chen Li, Thad A. Polk and Nico is up on bioRxiv.
Sep
2019
Nico has been awarded an ERC starting grant. Congrats, Nico!
June
2019
New Paper: Sequential replay of nonspatial task states in the human hippocampus by Nico & Yael Niv was published in Science.
June
2019
New Paper: Noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation modulates spatial memory in young healthy adults by Danica Hilliard, Susanne Passow, Franka Thurm, Nico, Alexander Garthe, Gerd Kempermann & Shu-Chen Li was published in Scientific Reports.
May
2019
New Paper: Representational structure or task structure? Bias in neural representational similarity analysis and a Bayesian method for reducing bias by Ming Bo Cai, Nico, Jonathan W. Pillow and Yael Niv was published in PLoS Computational Biology.
May
2019
We are happy to have Ondrej Zika start as a Postdoc. Welcome (back), Ondrej!
April
2019
Nir has been admitted to the Einstein PhD Fellowship Program of the Einstein Center for Neurosciences Berlin. Congrats, Nir!
Jan
2019
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.
Jan
2019
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.
Dec
2018
Nico is now a member of the Einstein Center for Neurosciences Berlin!

Research


Interested in participating in our research? Get in touch at

!

We are continously looking for healthy participants for studies and remunerate between 10 and 15€ per hour.

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 states

Predictions 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.

The role of hippocampal replay in decision making

Fast 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, 2019, Science.

Influence of task irrelevant information on decision making

When 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.

How aging, genes and disease affect (spatial) memory & learning

Age 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.

Team

The Team

Nico wants to understand which computations the brain performs when humans learn and make decisions, and how we can lift these secrets using brain imaging techniques. He studied psychology at Humboldt University. He later had an affair with Machine Learning at University of Toronto, but returned to finish his PhD in Psychology at the MPI for Human Development. After a postdoc at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, he started his own research group at MPI Berlin. Outside of the lab he is devoted to his fiance, friends and his bicycle.

Sam

Samson
Chien

Postdoc


Sam's interest lies in the convergence of neuroscience and AI, especially deep learning and reinforcement learning.
His research investigates the development of state representations in the orbitofrontal cortex and the deep neural network during a learning task.
He believes that significant future breakthroughs would require interdisciplinary endeavors combining both fields.

Ondrej

Ondrej
Zika

Postdoc


Ondrej is interested in the neural representation of uncertainty and the role of anxiety in aversive learning.
Before his PhD in Oxford he studied Psychology and Marketing where he worked as an RA in the O'Doherty lab at Caltech and later in the Bishop lab at Oxford.
He is a fan of linux and ice hockey, likes to cycle, code and drink coffee.

Lennart

Lennart
Wittkuhn

PhD Student


Lennart studied Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience in Dresden.
During his PhD he investigates hippocampal replay in humans using fMRI and tools that make science better.
Outside the lab he enjoys city cycling, bagel baking and doodle drawing.

Christoph

Christoph
Koch

PhD Student


Christoph‘s interests are reinforcement learning, how the human brain reflects our environment, and what influence our age might have concerning both.
He majored in Cognitive Neuroscience, loves climbing and connects to sloths on many different levels.

Nir

Nir
Moneta

Master's Student


Nir is interested in the representations of values and value-based decisions in the brain, mainly using human fMRI.
Before his PhD he studied Psychology in Israel and Cognitive Neuroscience in Berlin.
On an ongoing search for non-scientific hobbies, suggestions are welcome!

Anika

Anika
Löwe

Master's Student


While currently studying Cognitive Neuroscience, Anika is interested in cognitive control, learning and spontaneous strategy switches.
She is a committed health nut with a big interest in art and music and supplies the lab with baked goods.

Lena Maria

Lena Maria
Krippner

Research Assistant


Lena currently pursues her Master’s degree at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain.
Her research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy, cognitive science and artificial intelligence; with a special focus on accounts of explanation in neuroscience, cognitive ontology and theories of computation and intelligence.
In her spare time, she likes to spend time with friends, drink nice coffee and occasionally go running.

Carina

Carina
Forster

Rotating PhD Student


Carina is interested in computational neuroscience, especially the distinction between conscious and unconscious actions.
She studied psychology and neuroscience before recently starting her PhD at the Einstein Center in Berlin, where she wants to investigate consciousness in the healthy and the diseased brain.
Carina's passion for higher brain states is also reflected in her free time, where she teaches and practices yoga and climbs walls indoors and outdoors.

Mona

Mona
Garvert

Adjunct Researcher


Mona is interested in how the brain learns about the world. She has a PhD in Neuroscience from UCL and is now a Group Leader at the MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences.
She loves travelling, food and coffee.

Eva

Eva
Wünsch

Lab Secretary


Eva plants fruit trees in her garden, self-confidence in her children and structure in her daily work.

this is not how Gregor looks like.

Gregor
Caregnato

Lab Manager


Join


General information

We currently have no open positions for interns. If you are a prospective graduate student, read the information below. We are also open for applications from Postdocs with relevant experience in cognitive neuroscience.

Graduate Programs

Nico is a faculty member of the International Max Planck Research Schools COMP2PSYCH and LIFE as well as a member of the Einstein Center for Neurosciences. Potential PhD students can apply to these programms to join the lab, but should reach out to the program organisers and Nico in advance.

Contact

Max Planck Research Group NeuroCode
c/o Nicolas Schuck
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Lentzeallee 94
D-14195 Berlin, Germany
Visit our MPIB website


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