New paper in Journal of Vision: Updating of visual orientation in a gravity-based reference frame

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Our new study published in Journal of Vision, investigates the role of allocentric and egocentric reference frames in the updating of line orientation across head rotations.

The brain can use multiple reference frames to code line orientation, including head-, object-, and gravity-centered references. If these frames change orientation, their representations must be updated to keep register with actual line orientation. We tested this internal updating during head rotation in roll, exploiting the rod-and-frame effect: The illusory tilt of a vertical line surrounded by a tilted visual frame. If line orientation is stored relative to gravity, these distortions should also affect the updating process. Alternatively, if coding is head- or frame-centered, updating errors should be related to the changes in their orientation. Ten subjects were instructed to memorize the orientation of a briefly flashed line, surrounded by a tilted visual frame, then rotate their head, and subsequently judge the orientation of a second line relative to the memorized first while the frame was upright. Results showed that updating errors were mostly related to the amount of subjective distortion of gravity at both the initial and final head orientation, rather than to the amount of intervening head rotation. In some subjects, a smaller part of the updating error was also related to the change of visual frame orientation. We conclude that the brain relies primarily on a gravity-based reference to remember line orientation during head roll.


Niehof N, Tramper JJ, Doeller CF, Medendorp WP (2017). Updating of visual orientation in a gravity-based reference frame. Journal of Vision.


We welcome a new member to our team!

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Markus Frey | PhD candidate
During his master’s degree, Markus was working on spatial navigation data from rodents. He is now starting his PhD at the Kavli Institute, where his work will focus on the development of Deep Learning algorithms for spatial navigation. Before he joined the group he did his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Ulm and his master’s degree in Cognitive Science at the University of Tübingen.

Time to welcome new members to our group in Trondheim!

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Bianca Somai | Bachelor student
Bianca is a psychology bachelor student from Nijmegen, The Netherlands with a keen interest in A.I. To further develop in this field she will be working on a project using deep neural networks to address the question of how spatial representations can be built from images of scenes.

Joshua Julian | Postdoc
Josh got his Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania, where he studied how the mammalian brain uses visual information navigate. Broadly, he is interested in understanding spatial behavior in terms of the physiological properties of neural populations and investigates this using a combination of functional calcium imaging in rodents, fMRI and virtual-reality in humans, and cognitive behavioral testing in both species.

Lilith Sommer | PhD candidate
After her Dual Masters degree of Neuroscience in London and Paris, Lilith was working in a healthcare company. A FENS winter school on memory confirmed her wish to continue her academic career and to start her PhD at Kavli. Here, she will be working with rats and humans using calcium imaging and fMRI, looking for a grid-cell code in conceptual space.

We welcome new members to our group in Trondheim!

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Sabine Andrea Huber | Project student
Sabine is a medical student from Germany and has already accumulated a wide range of experience. She has done laboratory work at the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at King’s College in London and clinical work from neurology and neurosurgery in hospitals. Sabine is excited about expanding her knowledge about neuroscience and dive into a new field for the next six months.

Britt Veldman | Master student
After her bachelor degree in Psychobiology from Amsterdam, Britt worked as a teaching assistant and tutor for two years. She then decided to come to NTNU for her masters in Neuroscience. Here, she found a little bit of the Netherlands in our group in Trondheim and will do her project together with Jacob Bellmund.

Ignacio Polti | Research assistant
During his master program in Psychology at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Ignacio was a research intern at the Behavioral Biology Lab, where he studied electrophysiological correlates of semantic networks. He continued to do a master program in Cognitive Sciences at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris (France), studying psychophysical and electromagnetic signatures of human time perception. In our group, he will assist research on time estimation and uncertainty.

Annelene Gulden Dahl | PhD candidate
Annelene is enrolled in a PhD programme in Lisbon (Portugal), but will collect the remaining data in our lab in Trondheim for the next couple of years. She will be working on a rodent MRI project trying to bridge the gap between much of the ongoing rodent research and the human MRI research at the Kavli Institute.

Gøril Rolfseng Grøntvedt | PhD candidate
Gøril is a consultant neurologist in the Department of Neurology at St. Olavs Hospital with a special interest for early onset Alzheimers disease (AD). She is also a PhD student in search of biomarkers in preclinical/early phase of AD. In order to do that, she will look at spatial cognition and fMRI-based measures of hippocampal processing in AD patients.

Dörte Kuhrt | PhD candidate
Our last, but not least, additon to the group is Dörte. She is now starting to work towards her PhD focusing on the representation of conceptual spaces. As Dörte knows a little bit of everything, she is our very own oracle. Before she joined the group she did her bachelors and masters degree in Cognitive Science at the University of Tübingen with a focus on neuroscience and human memory.

Hippocampus as the storyteller: new study reveals how the brain makes sense of movies

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Our memories are what makes each of us unique, but this unique set of experiences is precisely what makes scientific study of memory difficult. The cumbersome nature of neuroimaging tools doesn’t help. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanners are so large and heavy that they are often positioned in place and the housing is built around them. So how can the scientists study the brain during everyday realistic memory tasks? We have decided to use movies in our pursuit of brain mechanisms of memory for events, the so-called “episodic memory”.

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