DFG research grant accepted!

„Development of hemispheric specialization and communication – a model of ontogenetic plasticity “

It is the aim of this research project to understand how two (specialized) brain hemispheres communicate to enable adaptive decisions and behavioural control and cats_&_dogshow gene-environment interactions during ontogeny shape the underlying intra- and interhemispheric processes. We use the asymmetrically organized visual system of pigeons as a model to investigate the impact of the environmental factor light by comparing lateralization pattern of pigeons with and without embryonic light experience. Tasks investigating response selection in conflict situations (metacontrol) enable us to probe the relevance of intra- and interhemispheric processes. The underlying neuronal mechanisms will be investigated by by optogenetic manipulation of critical forebrain areas.

Special Issue “The riddle of nature and nurture in neurobiological mechanisms of cognitive development” – Call for papers

Neural Plasticity is a peer-reviewed, Open Access journal that publishes articles related to all aspects of neural plasticity, with special emphasis on its functional significance as reflected i440px-2013_cover_of_Neural_Plasticity.svgn behaviour and in psychopathology. Related to the general aim of the journal, we planned a Special Issue to better understand how genes and environment interact to mediate normal or impaired cognitive development. A combination of multidisciplinary research from different fields of animal and human research may elucidate synergistic effects of different factors and their adaptive advantages. Call of papers Neural plasticity

You will also find the Call for Papers for this Special Issue on the journal’s website here:


New chapter published

pigeonMartina contributes to the recently launched Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior (Springer) dealing with key areas of animal cognition and comparative psychology. Martina wrote the chapter about Visual Search presenting a comprehensive overview of characteristics and experimental approaches and models trying to explain this basic, pivotal cognitive function.

Manns M. (2018) Visual Search. In: Vonk J., Shackelford T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer, Cham



Panel discussion: The ball is round

stadtexp.raum_fußball_nachweis_bochum_marketing_gmbh_andreas_molatta (42)

courtesy: Andreas Molatta

At the fifth of June, Martina participated in a funny and illuminative panel trying to unravel the secrets of football player’s skills. Who is the perfect player in a team? Everybody has a favorite and can tell innumerous anecdotes to justify this choice. But can we scientifically analyze the performance of players and do we want this at all?  The author and first “cultural football worker” Benn Redelings, the duo of Base Analytics Michael Senske & Patrick Balzerowski and the cultural journalist Tom Thelen as the moderator discuss all these urgent topics. Martina contributes her expertise in cognitive neuroscience to explain game intelligence.


New publication

Otter reaching into a hole with its right paw

What are the phylogenetic origins of handedness? Limb-use preferences are widespread in different mammalian species and hence, may represent a common trait, which is based on a shared phylogenetic history. Unravelling the evolutionary origin however, requires the analysis of a larger number of species within an ecologically relevant setting. A team of the biopsychology from Bochum therefore investigated in how far observations in a zoo enable the collection of reliable data sets by quantifying paw use in Asian small-clawed otters. This study provides first evidences for individual paw preferences in otters, which were in line with previously reported forelimb use pattern in other carnivoran species. These data support that observations in a zoological setting are useful to explore pawedness and may facilitate future studies investigating paw preferences under experimentally controlled conditions. Our study provides first evidences for pawedness in otters when observing spontaneous naturalistic behaviour in a zoological setting. Paw use preferences differed individually and between different motor acts but for “reaching into a hole”, a population-level right paw preference was detected. Although our data set has to be evaluated cautiously, it indicates that an observational study in a zoo enables collecting rich and reliable data about lateralized limb use, which helps to understand the evolutionary pattern of handedness.

Manns M, Ströckens F, Stavenhagen P, Ocklenburg S. Paw preferences in the Asian small-clawed otter – using an inexpensive, video-based protocol to study laterality of rare species in the zoo. Laterality 2018 Mar 26:1-16. doi: 10.1080/1357650X.2018.1457047