Research Projects and Collaborations


2nd funding phase of the DFG Research Unit FOR 2718 “Modal and Amodal Cognition: Functions and Interactions“ approved (Prof. Dr. Markus Janczyk, Speaker: Prof. Dr. Barbara Kaup, University of Tübingen)

The question of how the human mind represents the internal and external world plays a major role in theories of human cognition. Central to this question is the distinction between modal vs. amodal representational formats. It has often been assumed that one or the other of these two types of representations underlies cognitive processing in a certain domain of cognition (e.g., mental imagery, language). In the present proposal, however, we assume that in most cognitive domains both formats play a major role. We believe that a comprehensive theory of cognition requires a solid understanding of these representational formats and their functional roles within and across different domains of cognition, the developmental trajectory of these representational formats and their role in dysfunctional behavior. This research unit aims at such an overarching perspective that brings together the scattered research from different subdisciplines of psychology on modal and amodal representational formats to unravel their functional principles and their interactions.

Prof. Dr. Markus Janczyk is PI of the research unit’s projects A2 (“Amodal and modal representations in planning and control of human action“, with Prof. Dr. Volker Franz, University of Tübingen) and A4 ("Executive functions: Are amodal representations involved in proactive control?", with Dr. Carolin Dudschig and Prof. Dr. Hartmut Leuthold, University of Tübingen).


DFG Project: “Validating (easy) measures to combine speed and accuracy” (PD Dr. Heinrich Liesefeld und Prof. Dr. Markus Janczyk)

The major share of experimental psychological studies produces two performance measures: the speed (mean response times, mean RTs) and accuracy (percentage correct, PC) of pressing one of two buttons (two-alternative forced choice tasks, 2AFC). It is not always clear, which of the two dependent measures is most relevant and should therefore be entered into statistical analyses and whether it is safe to treat the respective other measure as incidental. Problematically, there exists a strong, non-arbitrary relationship between mean RTs and PCs in that increasing speed usually comes with a corresponding decrease in accuracy. Combined measures aim to control for this speed-accuracy tradeoff (SAT), in order to reflect “true” performance. Several measures that combine both performance aspects have been suggested in the past and are heavily used in research. The present project aims to test their validity and scope. This will be done via large-scale simulations using established computational decision models and purpose-collected empirical data with experimental manipulations of performance and SAT levels. The aim is to identify (and further develop) those measures that effectively control for SATs and best reflect overall performance on 2AFC tasks and thereby to provide guidance for future experimental psychological studies with regard to the choice of dependent measures. One potential outcome is that none of the examined measures proofs suitable for this purpose.

TwinLife Logo

DFG Project: “TwinLife” (Prof. Dr. Christian Kandler)

TwinLife is a longitudinal, interdisciplinary twin family study on the development of social inequality. It takes a genetically informed life course perspective on social inequalities that acknowledges the importance of both genetic and social influences, social structure, and individual agency. The combination of genetically sensitive data, the survey design, multiple indicators of social success or failure, and a variety of environmental variables enables a fine-grained investigation of the complex interplay between nature and nurture concerning social inequality.

TwinLife Epigenetic Change Satellite

DFG Project: „TwinLife Epigenetic Change Satellite“ (Prof. Dr. Christian Kandler)

Covid-19 pandemic has brought a lot of change in peoples‘ day-to-day lives, for example at work, in school, or with childcare. New strains and stressors emerged and those which already existed potentially intensified. TwinLife Epigenetic Change Satellite project (TECS) analyzes how these experiences have impacted peoples lives and their epigenetic structure.

To disentangle the link between experiences of pandemic stress and strain with changes in epigenetic activity (DNA methylation), the TwinLife team cooperates with the Institute for Human Genetics of the University Hospital Bonn and the Max-Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich.

DFG Projekt: ”Overt and covert attention to emotional faces in realistic social situations“ (Prof. Dr. Louisa Kulke)

Interpreting other people's facial expressions facilitates social interactions. Up until now, studies investigating facial perception have mainly been carried out by showing facial images on a screen in the laboratory. These studies showed that people prefer to look at faces among other stimuli. In realistic social situations, however, people often behave differently than in the laboratory: Here they avoid staring at strangers’ faces. This project compares reactions to faces on a screen with reactions to faces in live social situations and in video chats. It examines the role of the expression of emotions in different social situations. To do this, the project measures eye movements using eye tracking. Sometimes, however, people direct their attention to things "out of the corner of their eye," without directly looking at them. Electroencephalography can be used to examine such covert attention. This allows comparison of social attention in live interactions, video chats and videos.


Work group of the Department of Psychology (IfP) at the Faculty 11 Human and Health Sciences at Bremen University forms part of an international DFG Research Training Group

The IfP group “Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurobiology” (Prof. Dr. Dr. Manfred Herrmann) is member of an international DFG research training group (GRK 2739 „KD²School - Designing Adaptive Systems For Economic Decision-Making) that “focuses on enabling the next generation of scholars to develop adaptive systems that support economic decision-making. Economic decisions in business and in everyday life are increasingly supported by IT-based systems. As a result, these systems effectively operate as ‘cast in code’ institutions and processes, and their design influences decision makers’ interactions and behaviors. The interplay between economic decision making and system design is at the core of the KD²School as it lays the foundations for the transformation of static systems into dynamic, adaptive systems. Generally speaking, all decision-making is inherently embedded in a dynamically changing context comprising of personal (e.g., stress), task-related (e.g., complexity), and environmental factors (e.g., incentives). The key challenge then is to utilize this data and design economic institutions and their IT realizations to dynamically adapt to the context of a decision situation with the goal of improving decisions and/or reducing effort without loss of decision quality” ( Members of the IfP group “Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurobiology” (PI: Prof. Dr. Dr. Herrmann; PhD: Negin Javaheri; affiliated members: Dr. Doehring, Revati Mulay, Prof. Fehr) are in charge of several projects making use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging at the interplay of decision making, behavioral and neuroeconomics (e.g. “Nudging dietary decisions with the nutri-score” (Negin Javaheri) or “Neuroscience and economics unite to study market bubbles” (Lorenzo del Puppo))

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Projekt im Sonderforschungsbereich EASE „Everyday Activity Science and Engineering” (Prof. Dr. Dr. Manfred Herrmann und Prof. Dr. Bettina von Helversen”)

EASE is an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Bremen that investigates everyday activity science & engineering. Everyday Activity Science and Engineering (EASE) is the study of the design, realization, and analysis of information processing models that enable robotic agents (and humans) to master complex human-scale manipulation tasks that are mundane and routine. EASE not only investigates action selection and control but also the methods needed to acquire the knowledge, skills, and competence required for flexible, reliable, and efficient mastery of these activities.

Logo für "Study of Personality Architecture and Dynamics"

Study of Personality Architecture and Dynamics (Prof. Dr. Christian Kandler)

The SPeADy research project aims to find out what makes us unique as individuals in our thinking, feeling, striving and acting, how and why our personality is very stable throughout our lives on the one hand and can change greatly on the other.

Past and finished research projects at the IfP


RISE Project

Prevention of Child Mental Health Problems in Eastern Europe – Adapt, Optimize, Test, and Extend Parenting for Lifelong Health

Children in low- and middle-income countries face elevated risks of adverse experiences, which are a common cause for emotional and behavioral health problems across the lifespan. Implementing cost-effective parenting interventions suitable for vulnerable regions is the aim of the RISE project.

DFG Project: “Revealing mechanisms underlying backward crosstalk effects in multitasking“ (Prof. Dr. Markus Janczyk)

Multitasking, that is, doing several tasks at the same time, usually comes with performance costs in at least one of the tasks. These costs are often explained with bottlenecks in human information processing. Theoretically revealing are thus phenomena showing that characteristics of a secondary task already effect performance in the primary task, so-called backward crosstalk effects (BCEs). Based on prior work we distinguish two types of BCEs: One variant is based on compatibility-relations between both tasks, and results from automatic response activation in the secondary task that interacts with response selection in the first task. The second variant results from generalizing inhibitory processes in case of no-go response in task 2 that slows down response execution in the first task. The main purposes of this project are (a) experimental tests of this distinction and (b) the development of mathematical models of these backward crosstalk effects.


DFG Project: “Understanding visual-working-memory encoding as a visual search for multiple targets” (PD Dr. Heinrich Liesefeld)

Humans process only a tiny share of the massive amount of information that arrives at their senses at each instant. A crucial bottleneck of visual information processing is the temporary buffer known as visual working memory. In the DFG-funded project LI 2868/3-1 Dr. Martin Constant and PD Dr. Heinrich Liesefeld have explored the hypothesis that access to this precious store is determined by the same principles that also determine which aspects of the environment are selectively attended. For some core publications and more information on the project’s results, see,, and

Project B2 “Time Course of Presupposition Processing“ within the Collaborative Research Center SFB 833 “The Constitution of Meaning” (Prof. Dr. Markus Janczyk)

The project was concerned with the question how presuppositional information is processed during the online construction of a sentence’s meaning. Building on earlier results, we proposed a model of pragmatic presupposition processing in which listeners expect speakers to make pragmatically felicitous utterances and use these expectations to incrementally and predictively process incoming material. We proposed to link violations of such expectations to empirical data from mouse-tracking experiments among others. Mouse tracking is an established tool in cognitive psychology that delivers fine-grained data about the temporal unfolding of a decision process.

DFG Project: “On distinguishing human behavior by means of mutual interference“ (Prof. Dr. Markus Janczyk)

Humans show enormous varieties of behavior: They range from simple, unavoidable reflexes (i.e., non-intentional behavior) to actions, that is, behavior that is shown with a particular intention to achieve a certain goal. In the latter case, psychologists sometimes distinguish externally-triggered and internally-initiated actions. These are operationalized most often with so-called forced-choice tasks (where a stimulus determines the one and only correct action) and free-choice tasks (where the actor can choose among several equally correct actions), respectively. The empirical evidence for this distinction, however, is unclear.In the first project-phase the susceptibility to dual-task interference was taken to investigate qualitative distinctions between such types of behavior. The results allow the following conclusions: (1) Non-intentional behavior is not susceptible to dual-task interference and thus differs qualitatively from (interference-susceptible) actions. (2) Both (sometimes distinguished) types of actions are equally susceptible to dual-task interference and thus do not differ qualitatively.