The function of the brain is to develop internal models of the future. We constantly predict future states of the world in order to decide and behave. These predictions are based on past experiences. Therefore, our memory stores information incessantly. Sometimes our predictions fail. Such unexpected experiences lead to prediction errors that alter our memory, generate novel expectations, and thus change the way we think and decide. This view of a constant feedback loop of remembering, predicting, deciding, experiencing and reshaping of our knowledge forms the backbone of our cognitive processes. We have come together to study and explore this loop at different levels of analysis.
We focus on molecular mechanisms that play key roles in memory updating, decipher neural circuits that generate learned behavior, and develop novel cognitive tests and paradigms in humans, animals, and robots. In addition, we study neural pathways and their temporal dynamics that mediate the anticipation of stress, pain, and pleasure, develop novel MRI sequences to visualize brain functions, analyze people’s social expectations, and scrutinize the possibilities and limitations of the predictive processing framework, especially relying on philosophical theory formation. The sum of all of these endeavors constitutes THINK@Ruhr. We invite you to join us in this endeavor.
Who we are
THINK@Ruhr is a research alliance of scientists from the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) working together with the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) – two large and neighboring universities from the Ruhr area in Germany. Our research extends from neuroscience, through psychology, through philosophy of mind and cognition. Jointly, we aim to uncover principles of future- oriented cognition, their neural and psychological mechanisms, their philosophical implications, and their dysfunctions in neurological or psychiatric diseases. The THINK@Ruhr alliance has been exceptionally successful in securing major competitive grants to establish large interdisciplinary collaborative research centers.
Their list documents a part of the breadth and topics of our research: