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"Can you forget?"

The podcast on learning, forgetting and remembering

Learning is hard. Forgetting is sometimes even harder. How do you get rid of what you’ve learned? That’s what Rainer Holl, author, moderator and poetry slammer, wants to know and understand. To this end, he interviews scientists from the Collaborative Research Center “Extinction Learning” about their research. Look forward to peering into the brain’s cards! Expect fascinating insights from the fields of Psychology, Biopsychology and Neuroscience, a look behind the scenes of everyday scientific life, and slam poetry.

“Can you forget? – The podcast on learning, forgetting and remembering” is published once a month in German language. The material is not relevant for exams.

Finally, the time has come: the new season of “Kannste vergessen?” is about to start. Look forward to exciting episodes on topics such as stress, sleep, fear, perception and love. A new episode every month. You can hear us anywhere where podcasts are available. 

So subscribe to our channel, recommend us and send us your questions and feedback! How can you do this? Just send us a WhatsApp voice message or SMS to +49 1522 8179784 or an email to sfb1280-presse@ruhr-uni-bochum.de. We’re happy to hear and read from you. 

Season Two - We continue!

Season 2 Episode 8, December: No fear!

On the winding tower of the Deutsches Bergbaumuseum at over 50 meters, Rainer Holl welcomes his guest Beray Macit in episode 8 of our podcast “Kannste vergessen?”. The doctoral student and behavioral therapist is conducting research on exposure therapy in SFB 1280. What is anxiety? And how do you get rid of anxiety disorders? Find out in our first episode, “Out of Home.” And don’t worry: we’ll hear you again in the new year!😊

In this episode you will learn…
…what leads researchers of the SFB 1280 to the winding tower of the mining museum
…what fear actually is
…when we start to talk about an anxiety disorder or phobia
…what agoraphobia and panic disorders are
…how we can successfully face our fears
…how the “expo” and exposure therapy is formed
…how to sustain the effect of confrontation therapy
…how to counteract everyday ruminations and worries
…and start confidently into the new year.

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

Unlearning fear?!

Courage – according to the Duden
Means to overcome fear
But what is ANGST and what is not
Can not always be well justified

Do I avoid heights because I am evolutionarily polarized that way?
Do I really know for sure that I am not threatened at the railing?
Am I sure that this is a completely normal fear in me?
Because fears have naturally all a meaning…
Or does the feeling limit me in a certain way?
Am I controlled by the fear, do I still decide freely?
Is there a pressure of suffering that I may not even notice?
Or do I suffer on the contrary already if I only THINK about it?

Standing on a winding tower – In Bochum
In the middle of winter – For research
I do not have an acute fear of heights,
But there are nicer places to feel good

The border to phobia is when the perception is distorted
When something is objectively not bad but we think: Oh, dangerous
For example, when I’m afraid that the grate will break under me.
Although I should know that this is actually not possible

Then there is only one way – it leads through the fear
We don’t give avoidance as a symptom a chance at all
The avoidance is avoided – we look for the confrontation
Slowly unlearning our fear – extinction through exposure

There are many things to consider and each step, no matter how small 
Is carefully planned and follows a fixed script.

But this is only important for the people who think up the experiments. 
The most important thing is that the test persons do not simply check out mentally.
If possible, they should remain consciously in the situation for as long as possible.
Only in this way is the possibility really given to overwrite the old brain trace. 

And when it is learned – Nothing happened to me.
The danger I saw was not really real
And this feeling is then consolidated
Trained on the computer, so then virtually

Then this is extinction in its purest form.
Here unfortunately only shortened explained, but therefore just in the very best rhyme form

Season 2 Episode 7, October: Listen to who is researching

A day in our lab – in episode 7 of our podcast ” Kannste vergessen?” Rainer Holl takes a look behind the scenes of everyday scientific life at the SFB 1280. What happens every day behind the office doors or in the labs? What is the current research being done? What are they working on? And who makes this research possible? Look forward to a very special audio show!

In this episode you will learn…
…what the workshop of the faculty of psychology is working on
…why research data management is so important for the SFB
…what role Open Science plays
…what an administrative monster an SFB is
…what goes on in the labs
…which research questions are currently being worked on
…how well pigeons and humans work together as a team
…what opportunities the SFB offers to international researchers
…why the coordination of a SFB means a lot of work, but above all a lot of fun

…and much more.

Season 2 Episode 6, September: People’s drug internet?

Scrolling through social networks, surfing the Internet, shopping online or playing games – when a passionate use of the Internet becomes addictive behavior and what happens in the brain in the process – that’s what Oliver Wolf and Matthias Brand explain in the new episode of “Kannste vergessen?”, the podcast of the SFB 1280 at the Ruhr University Bochum. A recommendation for all “Kannste vergessen?” junkies out there!

In this episode you will learn…
…why addiction is not just addiction

…where addictive behavior begins
…how a behavioral addiction differs from a substance-related addiction
…what belongs to the category of Internet use disorder and how it manifests itself
…how stress can affect addiction processes
…what happens in the brain of Internet “addicts
…how the 7-Telsa MRI helps in the research of concrete addictions
…how research on extinction learning can contribute to treatment methods in the future

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

The Internet is “NEULAND” This has been known for quite some time 
But how dangerous online consumption really is There is still a lack of knowledge about it

How addictive is the Internet? 
And what does it involve? 
So are we just talking about simple “surfing”?
Or is there a taboo or two?

The answer is – YES 
Because also pornography addiction and gaming disorder 
belong here in the discourse 
Just like addictive use of social networks 
And online shopping in abundance

But not all addictions are the same 
Because there is a crucial difference 
Between passionate behavior 
And what is officially considered an addiction

When you are addicted you have no control 
You just keep using and using 
Attempts to change this behavior 
Will most likely soon fail

Because the behavior is simply becoming more important 
Than all other areas of life 
You continue despite massive suffering 
If the hope for improvement is in vain

But the better we manage 
To understand the mechanisms 
The better the intervention 
The better the education about the dangers of addiction 
The easier the prevention

It is not that the brain of an addict works fundamentally differently 
The problems we are describing here affect us all, even if we like to ignore them

Because of the permanent accessibility 
Nobody switches off anymore 
We are used to live always online 
No separation of leisure and job

This stress is combated by the use of apps 
Their use in turn stresses us 
This creates a cycle of constant stress 
Which you can no longer leave so easily

But you can’t blame us for that either 
Because in all our brains 
An old reward system is at work 
That functions in evolutionary biology

In addition, there is an overabundance 
Of channels, devices and content 
That makes addictions possible 
Because they catch up with you even when you run away

But not everyone who uses a smartphone 
Is going to become a junkie 
Just because you like being online 
Is not a flaw

You could say we’re in digital adolescence right now 
Where we first have to check 
What works well and what does not work at all
We should always remain critical 
In our own consumer behavior 
And remind ourselves now and then 

To switch off now and then

Season 2 Episode 5, August: Pestering Pain

“Pain has an element of Blank” – Rainer Holl shares his love of Emily Dickinson’s poetry with his guest in episode 5 of our podcast “Kannste vergessen?”. For the halftime of this season, our host welcomes the established learning and memory researcher, neuropsychologist and expert on extinction, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Herta Flor. The scientific director of the Institute for Neuropsychology and Clinical Psychology is live from the Central Institute for Mental Health in Mannheim. The conversation? Inspiring, enriching, impressive! Have fun listening!

In this episode you will learn…
…how pain arises and can develop a life of its own
…which factors promote chronification
…what the plasticity of the brain is
…why extinction learning is a key to modern therapy methods
…why shared suffering does not always mean half suffering
…what forms of therapy and training are currently being researched and how they can be combined
…how for example avatars or cannabinoids can help in a supportive way
…how to counteract pain with pleasant things

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

Talking about pain makes many dizzy
It is difficult to escape from the topic

Who has actively devoted himself to research
Or is chronically driven by pain 
There is very little in between…

But before I now continue with my poetry
Shortly a check of existing knowledge
Because also here we must not forget extinction

Extinction – this complex, fragile process
Sometimes highly effective, even if slightly capricious
Is so important, for example, to unlearn pain
And yet extinction can be so easily disrupted by outside influence
It is like a tender plant….

But if it is nurtured and cared for and understood
How it works in the brain and what really happens
Then you have besides classical psychology
A good therapy against chronic pain

Acute pain in itself is not a bad thing at first
We can learn from it, it gives us the hint
For example, don’t put your hand on the stove
Pain has a value for our health

But not when it suddenly takes on a life of its own
When there is no more link from impulse to feeling
Then this learning effect is misdirected
Which then paves the way for chronic pain

But the risk of pain chronification can be reduced
By maximizing our focus primarily on those things
That have a positive impact, not just on what hurts right now
But also to look where I am actually doing rather well right now

And even if we ourselves are not affected by the constant pain
It makes sense in dealing with people who are close to us
To care when our partners are well too
Not only when the pain is really acute again

Doing things that are fun and have nothing to do with pain
So we take away the power of pain and learn a new way of dealing with it
With pleasant things that actively counteract the pain
We don’t just want to endure pain, we want to get close to it

The worst thing we can do is to remain inactive
Because if we do nothing at all, our suffering increases
That’s why today there are trainings, and concrete methods
With which we get pain patients out of their vicious circle

And for this we even go into completely virtual rooms
Where our physical form is taken care of by an avatar
Who cannot feel the fears we carry with us
And he can practice vicariously with us by his side

If in addition a canabinoid is handed to us at the right time
One can assume that the sensation of pain is recalibrated
And still we must manage to optimize therapies
To always combine new training units from it

Because as Emily Dickinson wrote,
It has no future but itself, Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain

Season 2 Episode 4, July: What is mind?

“What is mind?” – In episode 4 of “Kannste vergessen?” podcast host Rainer Holl asks the big questions about the human mind. Guests are the great thinkers and knowledge mediators Albert Newen, professor of philosophy with a focus on philosophy of mind, and Onur Güntürkün, professor of biopsychology and speaker of the SFB 1280. Look forward to a cross-disciplinary conversation, exciting insights, entertaining anecdotes and vivid examples.

In this episode you will learn…
…what biopsychology and philosophy mean by “mind”
…what we need our memory for
…why and how we deceive ourselves
…which cognitive abilities we share with other living beings
…why pigeons are particularly suitable for exploring memory processes
…which facets of the ego can be found in the animal kingdom
…which cognitive abilities AI systems lack
…why interdisciplinary research is so important

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts


What is LOVE – once asked Haddaway
And wanted to understand love
What is MIND we ask ourselves today
When we look at our operating system

Through our thinking comes into being
What we first define as MIND
It is the multitude of systems 
that constitute our I

IT works in our brain
In small teams SO efficiently 
And well connected, that the Teams
As individuals often are not recognized

All the interwoven processes
Seldom occur individually
To look at something INDIVIDUALLY
Turns out to be not easy at all

In the end our head is
Nothing but a computer 
The better it is maintained
The better it works

Close tabs from time to time
Load updates regularly 
And when you are done working
Shut down the computer from time to time

But still the computers and also the AIs are
Mostly specialized in a special talent
They lack our cognitive flexibility
Through which we dynamically circumvent problems

We remain agile in our mind
And when our world changes
Then what we know to believe changes too
Memory is not nailed down

As part of our survival machine
We adapt our memory
It has nothing to do with repression or lying
It is simply a natural process

Self-deception is job enough
You might say maliciously
But it’s more a matter of
Maintaining constancy for the tried and true

Maybe our brilliant mind is not so perfect after all
But maybe that’s just the way nature has worked it out
In the end we are not alone with the things we can do
In the animal kingdom lies the origin for all our abilities

Everything is already more or less present somewhere

Well, not every animal recognizes itself
In the mirror test – if it does
Then it still does not react
In the end it just lacks the willpower

If you want to draw a line
Between the spirit of man and animal
This border is not so
easy to define

We have much more in common 
Than some still believe
Well… Our MIND has in WIDTH
A few more SKILLS then already on it

But no matter how fit we are
How creative and imaginative
It’s no use if our mind
Is not always open to new things

Season 2 Episode 3, June: When the immune system learns karate

In episode three of our podcast “Kannste vergessen?” Rainer Holl welcomes an (immune) strong research team from the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunology at Essen University Hospital. Martin Hadamitzky and Laura Heiß-Lückemann are researching our immune system in a subproject of SFB 1280 and are looking into the question of how learning shapes our immunity.

In this episode you will learn…
…what the immune system actually is and how it learns
…what is taste-associative learning
…what is behind the acronym DREADDs
…how to maintain the extinction of a learned immune response
…what immune tuning could look like
…how to support the healing process of organ transplant patients in the future with reduced drug doses and new learning protocols

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

The human body itself is fragile
For attacks from the outside a common target

But there are defenses we activate
When bacteria and viruses attack us hard

A complex system of different cells
Takes over the defense in several waves
The immune system of the first response launches a counterattack
Followed by a second wave that is even more specific

B cells build antibodies against those antigens
Which the T cells quickly recognize and pass on the info
Here one cog meshes with the other – what happens here is highly complex
Hormones, nerves and immune cells – everything is networked with everything else

This is part of the hardware of our body – AND WHILE
it is actually almost perfect there is also still room for improvement
THE mobile guardians can also be trained
Can condition them with the help of sweet stimuli quite specifically
That is SO as if WE would program a software update
To optimize the performance of the immune system

Just as Neo in Matrix learns kung fu at the push of a button
And Pavlov’s dogs salivate by the sound of bells
So by association our body can 
store special actions based on impulses

But at first this process works mainly in rats
In humans only conditionally – 
But at the moment it looks as if research will soon be successful
This principle also for us humans to implement
And thus limit the doses of drugs for patients

The immune system can learn – that much has been clear for a long time
But from now on we are specifically helping it to do so
No placebo effect – we consult Pavlov
And who knows – this way our immune system will learn karate in the end

Season 2 Episode 2, May: Are you already asleep?

In episode 2 of our podcast “Kannste vergessen?” a tired host welcomes two bright sleep experts. Rainer Holl’s guests are: Michael Nitsche, professor and head of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the Leibniz Institute for Human Factors Research in Dortmund and project leader in SFB 1280, and Lars Dittrich, science editor at MaiLab, who did his doctorate with SFB speaker Onur Güntürkün. Look forward to an invigorating episode and valuable sleep tips from the pros.

In this episode you will learn…
…what sleep actually is and why we sleep
…what happens in the brain when we sleep
…what chronotypes are and how they influence our cognitive functions
…what role sleep plays in memory formation
…how sleep affects our health
…what the nap is all about
…what helps you to fall asleep

… and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

Sleeping is more than a hobby
Many people and animals do it daily

Some are very good at it
And others… they fail miserably

But daily should not be misunderstood
Most sleep only when the sun goes down
The daylight dictates our rhythm 
So that we always know when to go to bed

This is called circadian regulation
Our inner clock and time calibration
And it works pretty well!
There is one disturbing factor, however.
And that is the bluish lights from our smartphones

When preparing for sleep, it is recommended to follow a good procedure 
So not only brushing teeth – but proper sleep hygiene
It depends on which team you belong to
Are you fit in the morning or at WORK at night?
Yes larks and owls are quite different
Only when the time is changed, both have to bend

But whether lark or owl – when we’re sleeping 
Then our body can really create something
Thoughts in the head are rearranged
Cells are renewed and regenerated
What we have just learned is consolidated 
And in the dream completely new worlds are created
We repair the human machine
I think that for the fact that we are unconscious it is quite a lot.

Some are professionals – they dream LUCID
That means if they want, they can fly in their sleep – WOW

But that should not be the bar for us now
The main thing is that you do not force yourself into something
What absolutely does not correspond to your rhythm
So about 6 – 8 hours – that would be great – from a professional point of view

But don’t be distracted by statements like this one
So how many hours have WHAT effect on whom
You will find out yourselves how your clock is ticking
And when you send yourselves to bed and for how long

Tired you then go to rest
Close your eyes
When you wake up fit tomorrow
You’ve done everything well

Good night, good night!

Season 2 Episode 1, April: Everything back to the Beginning 

In episode 1 of our brand-new season of “Kannste Vergessen?”, the podcast of the SFB 1280 at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, postdoc Valerie Jentsch explains to our host Rainer Holl why stress is not bad per se and why sports are a good brain booster. Lace up your sneakers, download the episode and have fun listening!

In this episode you will learn…

…how the new season sounds and what we are up to
…what an emotion is and how it can be consciously regulated
…what we can do to make it easier for us to start and learn again
…what positive role stress can play in this process
…why sport is also a stressor
…which types of exercise and at what intensity have particularly positive effects on our brain, learning and well-being.

… and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

Everything new, everything better, everything more interactive
Same podcast, new season, everything more innovative

The goal is still the same, we want to deepen knowledge
And a lyrical quickie – like this one – also serves this purpose at times

To tell the things simply and to whistle on facts
That’s easy, but that’s not enough for us here as a standard
To express ourselves understandably and to stick to the facts
Is the mission we commit ourselves to every episode

And today we learned that stress is not always bad
That it can help learning if you’re smart about timing
So stressing after learning is a good strategy
Then the knowledge we need is better consolidated

And if you don’t know how to get stress for yourself right now
Then the solution is simply – man, just do more sports
A little jogging through the park followed by 15 pushups
It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you work up a sweat

Because sport is actually a stressor in itself
Even if it doesn’t seem so
But this stress is GOOD for your brain
And also for fitness and health

So the motto is – 
Get up, get out, get off your ass
To bring about good stress
That is and remains the best booster
For body, soul, heart and brain

Season One

Season 1 Episode 10, October: We have something to celebrate

For the brilliant season finale of our podcast “Kannste vergessen?!”, Rainer Holl welcomes the young researchers Carolin Konrad and Lina Neuhoff from the Department of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. And there’s also a party! Rainer and Onur Güntürkün, podcast regular and headmaster of SFB 1280, toast four more years of cutting-edge research in the Collaborative Research Centre and a new podcast season!

In this episode you will learn…
… how infants and children learn and unlearn
… whether infants can possibly completely forget newly learned information
… what experiments regarding these questions look like and how complex they are
… why the hippocampus drives researchers crazy?
… why it is challenging and at the same time important to explain true and simple
… what’s next for the podcast

… and much more.

Onur Güntürkün’s spontaneous closing words to the first podcast series
To hear at the end of the podcast

“I think we absolutely have to continue. This podcast is a huge success, we have been downloaded several thousand times. People are interested in it and we will definitely continue either in this format or in another one. Because I can only say this again and again, what we researchers find out, we find out with people’s tax money. And they have a right to hear in an entertaining but also adequate way why this is happening. The difficulty here is to tell things true and yet tell them simply. Because telling things simply and at the same time wrong, that’s easy. But keeping them true and still understandable, that’s also what we tried to do in this podcast and I think it worked well.”

Season 1 Episode 9, September: Hip, Hipper, Hippocampus

In the ninth episode of our podcast “Kannste vergessen?”, Rainer Holl goes on a mental journey to a very special region of the brain: the hippocampus. His travelling companions? Two experienced scientists who have been researching this at the Ruhr University for years: Nikolai Axmacher, Professor of Neuropsychology and Sen Cheng, Professor of Computational Neuroscience.

In this episode you will learn…
…what the hippocampus is, where it is located in the brain and what its tasks are
…what different formats a memory can have
…how different contexts can affect the performance of the memory
…how traces of experiences can be traced in the brain
…how complex, neuronal networks can be simplified and better studied with mathematical models and computer simulations
…what role AI and robots play in this process

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

To begin with, a quiz question!
What do the human brain and the guests on our podcast have in common?

Just like the CVs of the SFB1280 guard
Is the brain a collection of winding paths

From quantitative physics and theoretical philosophy
It finally goes to the clinic
With empiricism against epilepsy
When the nanoscale lacks reference to people
When you count time in femtoseconds
When you think that can’t be all – there’s only one thing to do
The switch to computational neuroscience

And everyone has their own hobbyhorse – or sometimes a sea-horse
The hippocampus is very much in demand in research
Because without the two campuses, no new knowledge can be created
That would be like listening to our podcast and still not understanding anything at the end
Because the information you absorb could not be stored
The memory would gradually crumble apart
Whereby THE MEMORY is not the ACCURATE term
It is not a black box in the brain with clear directions
It is much more a system, modularly complexly interconnected
Interspersed with feelings and streams of thoughts
In which memories leave neuronal traces
The so-called engrams – on whose search we set out

And to better understand
Which pathways in the brain
How and in what way
Are branched with each other and how
We need to model this
Simulate it as simply as possible
Not complicate
And lose the overview
Formulate a few equations
And then postulate theses
How neurons communicate
And interact in networks

Sounds simple – is relatively complicated
We do it anyway
Because behaviour always takes place in the REAL world
A real environment of complex shape
That’s why the robot! And then simulate spatial navigation with it!
Hello!? How cool is that!?

There was so much more I could tell you about here
However, that really exceeds our time limit

Finally, a tip for all those who often doubt
About the world, about themselves about everyday broadsides
Not the solution for everything, but helpful and far-reaching
Is now and then, a mental journey through time

Season 1 Episode 8, August: Cerebellum to Cerebrum

“I’m a fan of the cerebellum” – In episode eight, presenter Rainer Holl lets researchers Melanie Mark, Professor of Behavioural Neurobiology, and Dagmar Timmann-Braun, Professor of Experimental Neurology, inspire him about a very special region of our brain: the cerebellum.

In this episode you will learn…
… what the cerebellum is and where it is located
… what the many and varied functions of the cerebellum are
… why non-motor skills have so far remained underestimated and underresearched
… how the latest techniques are advancing cerebellar research
… what happens when the cerebellum does not function
… how ataxia manifests itself and what might help
… how mouse model supports the search for medicines
… why the Otto sketch about the cerebellum is more than accurate
… why Bochum is the Hawaii of the Ruhr region

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

The underestimated sibling

The human brain – infinite expanses                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The complex structures can hardly be described
Yet researchers strive to show us
In what wonderfully mysterious ways
the different areas function, what they do
For example, the cerebellum – also known as the cerebellum.
Up to now, this area has been
rather sparsely treated – like the middle one of the three.

So if the cerebellum and its neighbouring areas were now siblings
For the metaphor and the rhyme, I’ll just take that for granted.

The cerebellum still has many unknown corners
Even after years of research there are new things to discover
With better technology we are gaining more insight
Discovering new functions that the cerebellum has in mind
Once again we see that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Everything the cerebrum does, the cerebellum needs too

It helps us learn motor skills,
It controls our movement
If the cerebellum is malfunctioning
It’s like being at sea
That’s been known for a while – But it can do a lot more than that….
The cerebellum predicts, evaluates and decides for us.
In short, it looks a little bit into the future for us.
It makes predictions about what could go wrong
And many a mishap has a happy ending after all

The cerebellum – the silent heroine
The conductor of the brain
The symphony of our feelings
Is guided by her hand

So that the feat succeeds
It takes real power
More precisely, 80% of all neurons
And an ingenious blueprint

And this blueprint, this circuit
We are learning to understand it better and better
For example, through the work of our researchers here at the SFB.

The good thing is that it remains quite exciting
Knowledge in this field is exploding
Targeted therapies are already being administered to people
Certain symptoms are being treated with drugs
This means that theory and research are being turned into practice.

The underestimated sibling continues to surprise us
Maybe that’s what Otto meant when he said:
Cerebrum to cerebellum –
Thank you for the tip, retract your fist, lower your blood pressure.
The symphony of emotions would be unthinkable without the cerebellum.

Season 1 Episode 7, July: Do you still know?

“I am still confused, but on a higher level” – In the seventh episode of our podcast “Kannste vergessen?”, Harald Lachnit, Professor of Experimental & Clinical Biopsychology at the Philipps University of Marburg and Head of Project 15 of our Collaborative Research Centre, is Rainer Holl’s guest and reports on 35 years of research.

In this episode you will learn…
…what (associative) learning is
…how environment and context influence our learning 
…how to study learning processes
…what experimental learning research is

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

You are not learning for school…
You’re learning for life.

This is a saying I was often told in the past.

But what this learning really means now
That’s something I probably still don’t understand today

I mean, I know I’m doing something and maybe I think that was great.
And the next time I do it again exactly the same because
I have just learned that this way of doing things helps me
helps me and is therefore a good strategy

We learn not only WHAT to do
but also WHEN and WHY to do it.
Without the right motivation
We stay that way – yes, not stupid now

But without real incentives, the best knowledge is useless.
Only when we are motivated will what we have learned be released.
But unfortunately I was not told so much about this in the past.
That’s probably why I struggled so much at school.

But the logic I have just described does not only apply in school.
It also makes a difference when it comes to current issues.
Whether WE simply know the bare facts about a problem now
Or if we really adapt our actions and improve ourselves

That’s why it makes sense to do research on the topic of LEARNING.
Not only to look INTO the brain – which forms this behaviour
But also to better understand the circumstances of learning.
Because learning does not only happen in the brain, but also in the events that surround the learner.
That surrounds the learner
That helps or hinders us
Holds us back or pushes us
That increases or decreases knowledge
I know this sounds complicated
I want to alleviate this confusion
I just wanted to remind you at the end…

That human beings do not only learn FOR life.
The statement is very abbreviated.
Learning is rather a synonym
And it means that one is alive.

Season 1 Episode 6, June: Where the heart beats faster

In episode six, presenter and amateur neurologist Rainer Holl welcomes technical wizards Tobias Otto, graduate engineer, and Thomas Ernst, doctor of neurology and graduate physicist, who enter the engine room of the Collaborative Research Centre with him. Together, they start the engines and make research really shine with screws and cables.

In this episode you will learn…
…HOW research is done at the Collaborative Research Centre and why this HOW is so important
…who the technical wizards are behind the scenes
…how to create images with a magnetic field tomograph and what they show
…how to work with large data sets

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

Why genius and magic are so close together

Science is an adventure land
A world of mystery and myth
There is much to learn and much to discover
But there are some things to beware of

There are hurdles and obstacles
Secret traps and also obstructive ones
Dog-eat-dog false trails
that can lead even seasoned scholars astray.
That costs time and money but above all: nerves

There are plans to make and you need strategies
To navigate skilfully in any field
But to realise this ambition
Now and then you need: magic

We need magicians, we need technology nerds
But that’s not enough-
Because true magic always requires more than technical know-how.
We need tinkerers, inventors, heroes of IMAGINATION.
From their heads – even in the smallest laboratories – great ideas are born.

They don’t collect data and facts in dusty files
but online and available worldwide
So that everyone who wants to can access them
This makes research work noticeably easier

We need people who do research
We need their valuable knowledge
But just as important are all the
actors behind the scenes

Because science REMAINS an adventure land.
And you certainly can’t do it alone
It needs someone with playfulness and foresight
And a lot of imagination close by our side.

Because no matter how much money, time and technology we have
It takes more than this
Only with the right pinch of magic
Research successes are made possible

Season 1 Episode 5, May: Under the skin

How can genes be switched on and off? For the fifth episode of our podcast “Kannste vergessen?”, Rainer Holl welcomes Robert Kumsta, Professor of Genetic Psychology at the Ruhr University in Bochum. Look forward to a crash course in epigenetics!

In this episode you will learn…
…what epigenetics actually is
…how epigenetic mechanisms work
…which environmental influences and psychosocial experiences can interact with cellular processes
…how early developmental phases have a lasting impact on our epigenome and thus on our life, our health, our behavior in adulthood                                           

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

This gets under the skin

How well or how poorly equipped
We go through life
Is occasionally related
With the state of our genes

Not the ones we inherited
But that of those genes
Which, due to outside influences
No longer pass every test

The readability is more so goes so
They are far too densely packed
Some of them can’t be accessed at all
As if the gene had been hacked

And how it happens to children
Who lack the very genes
That they need for development
So they won’t fail later in life
And what rules apply
When it comes to outside influences
You can tell exactly when
Damage to the genome occurs
And is it all reversible
Or rather fixed
Today we have approached these questions a bit

In our crash course on epigenetics – we learned that
This research is like many other work on the basics
How life evolves in harmony with the environment
Why the influence of changes remains stable and persists
That even when influences change
And things change for the better
Our genes still need much longer
To find their old form

Either way one thing is certain
One fact we have long seen through
No matter what happens in the world around us
It all goes under the skin at some point.


Season 1 Episode 4, April: Body to Brain

Malaise, depressed mood, fever – how does the body communicate with the brain? Rainer Holl’s guests Franziska Labrenz and Harald Engler have the answers in the fourth episode of our podcast “Kannste Vergessen?”. Labrenz is a postdoctoral fellow in experimental psychobiology at Ruhr University in Bochum; Engler is a professor of behavioral immunology and deputy director at the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunology at Essen University Hospital.

In this episode, you will learn…
…why immune cells are considered our sixth sense
…what the gut-brain axis is and how it works
…how the immune and nervous systems communicate with each other
…and how exciting experiments with humans and animals look like

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

Everything flows

Seen from the meta-level, in the podcast we talk
We’re always talking about an exchange of information
I guess that’s what our research is ultimately about
Also always about internal communication – IN. US. INSIDE.

So how the systems inside us
Exchange, learn or remember
Warn, push or inhibit each other
And sometimes send out wrong signals

For example, on the axis between the gut and the brain
This is our body’s own internal Twitter, so to speak.
There’s Fake News to stress and that sometimes leads to
To the famous and infamous brown thunderstorm

Yes our head, our gut, even our hormonal system
None of it exists on its own
It is all interconnected with everything in the most complex way
That’s why we are more than the sum of our parts

For only from the interplay of all elements
Does a new perspective emerge
A new dimension, something like a 6th sense
That lets us see what would otherwise remain hidden

If we really want to understand how this network works
How the brain communicates with the immune system
Then we have to look at all the components
Their different and also common languages

We are living beings, complex systems
That are in relation on various levels
To what we once experienced and now take for granted
But this is not something to be taken for granted

For ultimately everything is in flow
And we are not just standing by
We ourselves are a part of this gigantic stream
And this stream is simply called life.

Season 1 Episode 3, March: You have a big head, huh? Does it mean you are intelligent?

In the third episode of our podcast “Can you forget?” host Rainer Holl is impressed by the high-end MRI and EEG studies that biopsychologist Erhan Genç and neuropsychologist Marie-Christin Fellner are conducting as part of SFB 1280 to better understand the brain’s interconnections. Genç, a former doctoral student in the Department of Biopsychology at RUB, heads the research group “Neuroimaging and Interindividual Differences” at the Leibniz Institute for Human Factors Research at TU Dortmund University. Fellner is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at RUB.

In this episode you will learn…
…what intelligence actually is (or: how neuroscience defines intelligence)
…what exactly a memory is and how the brain manages to form memories
…how (these) brain activities can be measured
…and which consequences can be derived from this research for human behavior and future therapies

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

What is intelligence?

Intelligence… that is speed
Coupled with accuracy
How intelligence shows up in our brain
Was of interest to us today

Does the structure of dendrites within the areas lead
To detectable differences in our behavior?
To do this, we need to study the networks in detail
Quantify and analyze Lose the thread in extreme abstraction
Then find it again and recombine. Map volumes and networks.

All this now even in COLOR and COLOR!
How awesome is that?

But no matter — how fit you are at the EEG
Whether you are a Master of Arts in fMRI
No matter how much money you put into technology
It’s all for naught if you don’t talk to people
If you take detailed pictures of cortexes
But forgetting the bigger context

Forgetting – that’s my keyword

I wanted to remember something myself
But somehow I can’t quite remember
But can a memory really disappear
Or is it still there, just can’t be found?
Maybe it’s just in the wrong format
Not coded correctly – and that’s the end of the story

Now I need a leased line to my brain
Then Marie could evaluate me
Study the patterns of activity
Algorithmize the process of memory

At least in the beginning.
But STILL I have no electrodes in my head – so fortunately
And so I am left with forgotten memory for today

Season 1 Episode 2, February: Darling, it’s not what you think

“Learned stuff sticks better if you’ve gone for a run afterwards” – that’s Rainer Holl’s lyrical conclusion towards the end of the second episode of our podcast “Can you forget”. In episode two, the poetry slammer talks with Marcella Woud and Christian Merz about phenomena such as anxiety and stress and their effects on learning and memory processes. One is brand new in the SFB 1280 network and an awarded “Rising Star” at the Chair of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy in Therapy, the other has been here from the very beginning years ago and is a habilitated private lecturer in Cognitive Neuroscience.

In this episode you will learn…
…what distorted perceptions are

…how to unlearn them again
…and how stress can help

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

If I occasionally tend in general
To describe an everyday occurrence pessimistically
Then there is a rather simple explanation
Because I suffer from interpretation bias

That means in ambiguous moments my brain tells me
This smells like trouble – get lost
I cannot defend myself against it
These thoughts cause me stress and this stress causes me fear
And this fear makes me stress and I can’t fight it

Unless – I can establish new patterns through experience
That structure my thinking and experience differently from the ground up
Because if you can learn fear, then you can also reverse it
I once heard somewhere that this is called extinction learning

And where I heard that, I also learned that stress
Can help us sometimes, if you know how to use it
So learned material remains for example better recallable
If you went for a run after learning

For some people this sounds almost too good to be true
But stress alone does not turn you into Einstein
But it can help us, if we train the brain
To not always fixate on a negative reading

So stress and extinction are two really important components
To end the bias in our interpretations

Season 1 Episode 1, January: Legacy of the Currywurst

Extinction Learning – What is that supposed to be? This is the question Rainer Holl asks himself in the first episode of our podcast “Can you forget?” His guests? Ulrike Bingel, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at the University Hospital in Essen, and Onur Güntürkün, Professor of Biopsychology at the Ruhr University in Bochum and spokesperson for the Collaborative Research Center “Extinction Learning”.

In this episode you will learn…
…what two memory copies have to do with a curry sausage
…how our thoughts, feelings and actions influence the experience of pain
…what the placebo effect is and how it works
…why it is fantastic to do research in SFB 1280

…and much more.

Rainer Holl’s lyrical summary
translated losing all rhymes, so better listen to it at the end of the podcasts

The Brain – Infinite Vastness
We will probably never really understand
How this most complex of all structures
In which we search for questions and answers
Really works. Like really works!
But that is also not bad. We are only human.

And that’s why we’re still going on a search for clues
We want to investigate all relevant components
We don’t want to know everything directly – but we want to understand it better.
For example, where you instinctively turn your head when kissing.

You don’t always need a huge budget for good research.
Sometimes pencil and paper, as well as sufficient coffee are enough

And when it really matters
That you make progress in a field
When it’s time for a new level of collaboration
Then it’s best to apply for a collaborative research center

This is where the best minds in a discipline come together
To anchor a certain research field in its depth
Here, one deliberately dedicates oneself to only one major topic
But then you can also really plow it hard

In SFB 1280, everything revolves around the brain
Learning and forgetting and the processes involved
Why we can remember and why we can’t remember some things
Is there only one big memory or is there another layer?

Can we get sick through thoughts?
And can hope heal?
Can pain be learned
And how can we avoid it?
Why do placebos work – donating painless rest
What do expectations have to do with all this?
These are questions in our focus
This is what we are researching at the RUB here in Bochum
We are not only dealing with forgetting here
but also with the description of new learning processes

Extinction learning is the technical term for this
And the most interesting facts about it – you can find them here
From now on every month in our Podcast
Kannste Vergessen – We are happy if you listen in

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