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DFG Research Unit 1581

Project Profile P4


The Role of Attention in Renewal


Renewal refers to the recovery of acquisition performance when contextual cues having been present during extinction are changed. Understanding this phenomenon is important theoretically as well as from a clinical perspective since renewal is accepted as a model for relapse following extinction-based treatments. Current theoretical accounts as well as results from human and non-human studies accentuate the role of attention in the formation of renewal. The aim of our project is to evaluate and further specify the rules and principles by which attentional shifts to contextual stimuli contribute to the development of context-dependent behavior.

To assess the contribution of attentional shifts in the formation of renewal, our experiments are designed to manipulate the amount of attention paid to contextual stimuli present during acquisition or extinction using techniques established in basic associative learning research:

  • Expectancy violation experienced in a context
  • Informational value provided by a context

In addition, we are interested in the effect of reminder-cues on renewal and spontaneous recovery.



All our experiments implement a predictive learning task being established as a standard procedure in the investigation of human associative learning.

Subjects: Humans


Cooperation within the Research Unit

  • Project P1: Using pigeons, they also attempt to manipulate the degree of expectancy violation experienced in a context. Therefore, we will be able to assess the generality of our findings across different species.
  • Project P6: They also investigate the role of attention for the formation of renewal effects but using pharmacological manipulations. Here, we have the unique opportunity to compare very different treatments within the same experimental procedure.
  • Project P5, P6, P7, P8: Employ also renewal experiments using a predictive learning task.

In case of any questions regarding P4 please contact Dr. Metin Üngör:


  • SFB 1280 Extinction Learning - accepted! Read more: RUB news portal / DFG press release
  • SFB Extinction Learning evaluated successfully! Read more
  • Julian Packheiser receives treasure chest-support! Read more
  • Young Scientists enjoyed a Lab Day with our colleagues at the University of Marburg. Read more
  • Adriane Icenhour received the promotional price of the Faculty of Medicine! Read more
  • A day with Michelle Craske. Read more
  • Kid came to office: With a mobile nursery we support parents who need to take their children with them to the office in short term. Read more

 ♥ of the press

  • Cooperation with
    The online magazine presents in cooperation with FOR 1581 and SFB 636 extinction learning as one of the most exciting current research topics between mind and brain. Read more
  • E-Book on Extinction Learning
    To provide a most recent update on research on extinction learning, Denise Manahan-Vaughan, Onur Güntürkün and Oliver Wolf from the Ruhr-University came together to create an open-access Frontier Research Topic e-book.
    Don't forget...
    In everyday life we are continually confronted with situations where previously learned information is no longer valid – a phenomenon that psychologists refer to as “extinction learning”... forschung 04/2014
    German research 3/2015