The Mercator Research Group "Structure of Memory" investigates episodic and semantic memory processes and their relation to other cognitive functions. It comprises three research units with a diverse and interdisciplinary team of philosophers and experimental as well as theoretical neuroscientists.
The main language of communication is English.
1. The Functional Architecture of Memory
Prof. Dr. Magdalena Sauvage's research unit investigates the neural support for memory function through the study of the familiarity/recollection processes, the memory for items/pairs, and the memory for space/time. This unit focuses on the Medial Temporal Lobe and related areas, such as the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, in healthy subjects but also in models of aging and amnesia. Studies involve a multidisciplinary approach of memory function including behavioral, lesion and neuroanatomical imaging cutting-edge techniques in rats and mutant mice and to a lesser extent degree, fMRI in rodents and humans as well as human behavioral testing. These studies are performed in collaboration with Japanese and American units as well as with research units at the RUB.
2. The Neurobiology of Memory
This research unit under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Sen Cheng will investigate the theoretical basis for learning and memory processes at the neural level. Focus is placed on the dynamics of this process, which basically has been ignored up to date. The researchers will work with experimental data such as electrophysiological and electroencephalographical (EEG) recordings, as well as with behavior and imaging data. They will use quantitative analytical methods, mathematic models and computer simulation of neuronal networks for their research. This unit will work closely with international neuroscientists and further specialists on the RUB campus, for example from the departments of psychology, biology, medicine and neuroinformatics.
3. Theory of Memory
Prof. Dr. Markus Werning works primarily in the philosophy of mind and language with a strong neurophilosophical approach. His group develops an integrative theory that positions the topic “memory” in a wider philosophical context. On the one hand, the unit explores the relationship between semantic memory and conceptual representation. A main aspect here is the neural realization of conceptual representation and the role semantic memory plays in the constitution of linguistic meaning. On the other hand, they will investigate the relationship between episodic memory and the experience of time, the envisioning of past and future as well as personal identity. Apart from theoretical approaches, the unit employs empirical methods such electroencephalography (on a 64- and 128-channel EEG system) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (with a 3T human scanner). Moreover, the researchers develop neurocomputational models together with the second MRG unit and the department of neuroinformatics in Bochum. The relationship with the first MRG unit and further neuroscientific institutions at the RUB will be established via the translation of animal and human models. This unit provides an interface between the MRG and research in the humanities at RUB.