Emotion, motivation, learning and memory - We offer final theses...


Final and doctoral theses

If you are interested in a thesis in our research group, we assume that you are interested in our research areas. During an initial interview, you should therefore be able to tell us what we are working on. You should also have a clear idea of how you and your research interests (which you should have in your own interest, because then the thesis will be fun! Of course, we will only determine a topic in a joint discussion, but this discussion should be well prepared on your part so that you do not just passively receive our suggestions. If you have any questions about our research program, we would be happy to tell you something about it. Please use the Internet to find out about our research interests. This goes a bit further than just knowing the passage under the keyword "research"...

Last but not least, you should be aware that a participation in our research group requires certain knowledge and qualifications. Nothing beyond what is already covered by your university entrance qualification: You should be reasonably well versed in school mathematics. This includes the laws of logarithms as well as probability theory, power laws, differential and integral calculus. If, in addition, you have an unbiased relationship to computers and have already programmed yourself or can imagine learning to do so (see below), you are certainly well prepared for a position in our working group. - C. Kaernbach



In our group we work with the programming language Matlab. This language is very well suited for beginners in the world of programming, because you don't have to care about hardware (screen drivers, sound card drivers etc.), and because although compilation is done internally, the user also has an interface in the form of an interpreter at his disposal. Matlab can be used to program experiment control as well as measurement and data evaluation. In this context, a self-programmed data evaluation with Matlab is preferred to the use of SPSS, because in this way the algorithms used should be fully understood and can be fully controlled. In addition, evaluations are possible which cannot be realized in SPSS, such as a maximum probability analysis or a confirmatory MDS. In our working group we expect all members to be willing to learn Matlab independently. Of course, fellow students from previous semesters will help you, just as you will pass on your knowledge to others later on.



The topics listed here are currently under work. The list can serve as a guide to topics that are being worked on in our working group. Please contact us if you are interested. The keywords according to the topics serve me mainly as a memory aid, here too, inquiries may be necessary.

  • Extension of IADS
    • 2-s Stimuli, 24 bit, same RMS, sharp ratings, easy to recognize
      • Stephanie Müller and Istvan Szilagyi
  • emotional dimensions of environmental sounds
    • Stimulus: IADS (2 s), own extension of IADS
    • Method: Multidimensional scaling
      • Istvan Szilagyi
  • Evocation and objective measurement of goose bumps
    • Stimulus: favorite music, hymns, ...
    • Influence of the instruction and listening conditions
      • Björn H. Katzur
  • Measurement of EDA by decomposition
    • tonic EDA: SCR density (different measures)
    • Decomposition of simulated data
    • Improvement of Ledalab
      • Mathias Benedek
  • EDA with different groups of people
    • EDA in migraine patients
      • Christine Kragl
    • EDA for anxious persons
      • Andrea Geissler
  • Influence on EDA of stimulus duration, intensity, rise time, announcement
    • Influence of instruction and listening conditions
      • Anna Langenmantel (intensity, announcement)
  • Affective Priming
    • Dynamics of uni- and multimodal AP, EEG
      • André Weinreich and Elke Hecher
  • "blue arcs" ("blue arc phenomenon", retinal effect)
    • Literature: Purkinje 1825 ff.
    • optimal spectral and temporal conditions, suppression by ambient light (which wavelength?)
    • incidence, occurrence of amaurosis, RGB matching of the halo, shape matching
      • Gerald Scheibelhofer
        Blaue Bögen
  • Pitch memory
    • Covert and overt rehearsal of pitch
    • Time distribution of the dual task
    • handedness and hemisphere distribution
      • Sandra Zach and Christina Oeffl
  • Periodic Noise (
    • Localization of the cortical structures involved using NIRS (Near Infrared Spectroscopy)
      • Andreas Reiff and Karl Koschutnig
  • Ergonomics
    • Fit's Law and other ergonomic tests on novel computer pointing devices
      • René Vodouscheck
  • Artificial intelligence
    • Attribution of mental phenomena: "Indirect Artificial Intelligence
      • Christian Kaernbach
  • Associative thinking as a personal characteristic
    • Word pairs, image pairs, skinner, false alarms for periodic auditory noise, reverse correlation for visual noise
    • creativity
    • Imaging techniques
    • Associative thinking with Native Americans
      • Gerit Haas and Ulrike Jury


Structure of the semantic space

Several thesis topics are conceivable on the topic "Structure of semantic space". In science fiction literature, there are "wormholes" in space: unexpected shortcuts that connect distant galaxies. Are there "wormholes" in semantic space?

What connects "Konto" with "Lehne"? The mnemonic here is. Such examples show that it is sometimes advantageous to remember a third term when you are supposed to remember only two terms.

In cooperation with the Department of Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück, methods of computational linguistics (text mining) will be used to filter word triplets from large text corpora that are candidates for wormholes. These wormholes will then be examined using methods from mathematical psychology (multidimensional scaling) and linguistics (latent semantic analysis) to demonstrate the possibilities and limitations of these methods and to learn about the structure of semantic space. Furthermore, these triples will be used to conduct memory experiments and to develop memory models that can predict the memory performance for word pairs and triples based on their statistical properties (co-occurrence).

Experimental work can be awarded on memory psychological issues, as well as work on topics in mathematical psychology and computational linguistics (the latter most likely to be done in Osnabrück). If you are interested, please contact  Prof. Dr. Christian Kaernbach.


Sources and analysis of skin conductance

Schon mal feuchte Hände gehabt vor einer riskanten Entscheidung beim Kartenspiel? Die Messung des Hautleitwerts stellt ein einfaches und effizientes Verfahren da, um etwas über die emotionale Erregung von Versuchspersonen zu erfahren. An unserem Lehr- stuhl sind Verfahren zur Analyse des Hautleitwerts entwickelt worden, die weltweit führend sind in der Präzision der ermittelten Amplitude und des genauen Zeitpunkts der Hautleitwertreaktion.

Ever had wet hands before a risky decision in a card game? The measurement of skin conductance is a simple and efficient way to learn about the emotional excitement of test subjects. Our department has developed methods for skin conductance analysis that are world leaders in the precision of the amplitude and timing of the skin conductance response.

Two diploma theses can be assigned, on the one hand to determine the psychologically most sensitive variant of the procedure (and at the same time learn something about the peripheral processes at the sweat glands) and on the other hand to explore the central processes shortly before and after a skin conductance reaction with the help of EEG measurements.
Especially the processes following a reaction are significant for the somatic marker hypothesis, an important theory on how we incorporate past emotional experiences into current decisions. If you are interested please contact 

Hautleitwert FotoProf. Dr. Christian Kaernbach.