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Our work

The Associative Learning Unit (head: Harald Lachnit) at the Philipps-Universität Marburg studies behavior and accompanying peripheral physiological activity while people are engaged in certain learning tasks. Our work may best be located in the area of behavioral cognitive neuroscience. An excellent introduction to this very broad field is given in Gazzaniga, M.S., Mangun, G.R., & Ivry, R. (1998). Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind, W.W. Norton.

Perhaps the three most important guiding principles of our work are  
(1) cognition is a function of the brain,  
(2) complex cognitive processes can be based upon more “primitive” (e.g. associative) mechanisms, and 
(3) humans are animals, too. 

An overview (in German) of this approach is given in Lachnit, H. (1993). Assoziatives Lernen und Kognition. Ein experimenteller Brückenschlag zwischen Hirnforschung und Kognitionswissenschaften. Heidelberg: Spektrum.

Thus, we examine causal learning as well as sensory processing. Much of this work is done within the framework of associative learning theories and neural network models.

In searching for the mechanisms underlying these cognitive processes we use behavioral measures (e.g., reaction times) and physiological responses like skin conductance, eyeblink responses, eye movements, and pupil dilations.

We also develop simulation tools for various associative learning models (Rescorla-Wagner, Pearce, Harris, Replaced Elements, Inhibited Elements, AMAN)