RTG 2175 Perception in Context and its Neural Basis

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New TP Lehnen/Wachtler

Context-dependent perception in bodily distress disorders

Background: Many patients suffer from bodily distress like fatigue, dizziness, or heart or bowel dysfunction, which is not sufficiently explained by a classic organ disease. At variance with their prevalence and clinical significance, however, little is known about the pathophysiology and neurobiological basis of these disorders.

Goal: Based on our experience from perceptual and motor control, we propose a combined behavioral, neurophysiological and mathematical approach towards a neurobiological framework of bodily distress disorders.

Methods: Specific methods include qualitative measurements of perceptual and motor performance in different modalities (such as vision, or eye-head motion) under different contexts in patients with bodily distress. This approach is complemented by a system-based computational approach of information processing and behavior.               tp lehnen:wachtler 2


We are looking for PhD candidates with a background in computer science, engineering, physics, psychology, neuroscience or medicine, who - depending on their primary interest - will first focus on the mathematical or the experimental-clinical part of the project, respectively. In the course of their PhD work, students will integrate the multi-methodological aspects of the proposal by actively involving methods outside their prior focus.

Nadine Lehnen, a neurologist and translational and clinical neuroscientist (Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, TUM) and Thomas Wachtler, a computational neuroscientist (Department of Biology, LMU) will jointly supervise students.


tp lehnen:wachtler 1

Example of a combined experimental approach with increasing the head moment of inertia (right panel ) and modeling of eye-head movements to a visual target. Colored regions display predictions for eye and head motion parameters from a physiologically consistent model based on optimal control theory in the different contexts (Sağlam et al., 2011, blue being optimal), ellipsoids show measured parameters (mean + SD) from healthy subjects.

Selected References:
- M. Sağlam, S. Glasauer, N. Lehnen (2016). An optimal control model for interpreting gaze shifts in vestibular-loss and cerebellar-ataxia patients. Proceedings of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neural Control of Movement.
- Klauke S, Wachtler T (2015) "Tilt" in color space: Hue changes induced by chromatic surrounds. J Vis 15:17
- M. Sağlam, S. Glasauer, N. Lehnen (2014). Vestibular and cerebellar contribution to gaze optimality. Brain. 137: 1080-94.
- M. Sağlam, N. Lehnen, S. Glasauer (2011). Optimal control of natural eye-head movements minimizes the impact of noise. J Neurosci. 31: 16185-16193.
- Michler F, Eckhorn R, Wachtler T (2009) Using Spatio-Temporal Correlations to Learn Topographic Maps for Invariant Object Recognition. J Neurophysiol 102:953-964
- Wittenberg M, Bremmer F, Wachtler T (2008) Perceptual evidence for saccadic updating of color stimuli. J Vis 8(14): 9 1-9