Profile of the Center for Cognitive Sciences (Zentrum für Kognitionswissenschaften, ZKW, zentrale wissenschaftliche Einrichtung) University of Bremen
Cognitive functions like perception, memory and behavior emerge from interactions of nerve cells in the brain. The processes in the brain that allow us to see, to remember or to perform appropriate actions are investigated by many different scientific fields ranging from physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, computer science, engineering to philosophy. Since the underlying processes interact on many spatial and temporal scales substantial progress in the endeavor of understanding brain functions will rely on tight cooperations that include several disciplines.
The Center for Cognitive Sciences at the University Bremen encompasses basic and applied research groups in all the relevant fields: In Theoretical Neuroscience (Prof. Pawelzik, Prof. Bornholdt) mathematical models of neuronal systems are analysed and emerging properties of networks are studied in large scale computer simulations. In Neuropharmacology (Prof. Koch) the influence of various drugs and neuro-active substances on neuronal and synaptic activities as well as on behaviour are studied. In Neurophysiology (Prof. Kreiter, Prof. Roth, Prof. Dicke) neuronal activities are related to cognitive functions including attention and learning. In Neurology (Prof. Schwendemann) mental and neurological disorders are related to neuronal mechanisms. In Psychophysics (Prof. Fahle) experiments on perception and behavior are performed to reveal constraints on the underlying neuronal processes. In Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurobiology (Prof. Herrmann) and Cognitive Psychology (Prof. Basar-Eroglu) psychological phenomena are linked to physiological correlates of neuronal activities. In Neuroinformatics (Prof. Hilgetag, Prof. Herzog) modern methods from computer science are used to analyse experimental data. In Engineering (Prof. Gräser) new approaches are used for the development of neuro-prosthesis. Last, but not least in Philosophy of Science (Prof. Stöckler) fundamental conceptual issues and the scope of current research in neuroscience are analysed.
This rich scientific environment of the Center for Cognitive Sciences promotes vivid interactions among researchers from the different groups that are documented in many joint projects being funded by the German research foundations (e.g. DFG, BMBF, VW) and the European Union as well as in many publications in highly ranked journals.
Since end of May 2008 a new building named 'Cognium' accommodates several core-laboratories. It will also host a nuclear resonance imaging facility that is shared among all groups. Furthermore it will serve as the physical center of the center to catalyse interactions, organize workshops and to bundle teaching in the field of cognitive science. Here a Master Program 'Neuroscience' will start in the winter-term 2008/2009. It will offer students acquisition of skills from a uniquely wide combination of scientific areas.
Common research aim of the centre is bridging the gaps between basic processes from single neurons and synapses via small networks to cognitive functions. Unravelling the neuronal mechanisms on the respective scales will provide important insights not only into the functioning but also into various malfunctions leading to neurological and psychiatric disorders, will contribute to novel diagnostic and therapeutic methods (e.g. neuroprosthesis), lead to new methods of data analysis (machine learning, neural networks) and last not least has a large potential to contribute to systems designs that emulate cognitive functions (as in robots that learn to behave successfully in their environments).