Thomas Wolbers

Thomas Wolbers
Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen | DZNE · RG Ageing & Cognition (Magdeburg)

PhD

About

108
Publications
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4,275
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Publications

Publications (108)
Article
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Unlabelled: Spatial navigation is a multisensory process involving integration of visual and body-based cues. In rodents, head direction (HD) cells, which are most abundant in the thalamus, integrate these cues to code facing direction. Human fMRI studies examining HD coding in virtual environments (VE) have reported effects in retrosplenial compl...
Article
Full-text available
Spatial navigation is a fascinating behavior that is essential for our everyday lives. It involves nearly all sensory systems, it requires numerous parallel computations, and it engages multiple memory systems. One of the key problems in this field pertains to the question of reference frames: spatial information such as direction or distance can b...
Article
The ability to find one's way in our complex environments represents one of the most fundamental cognitive functions. Although involving basic perceptual and memory related processes, spatial navigation is particularly complex because it is a multisensory process in which information needs to be integrated and manipulated over time and space. Not s...
Preprint
The functional topography of the human primary somatosensory cortex (S1) hand area is a widely studied model system to understand sensory organization and plasticity. It is so far unclear whether or not the underlying 3D structural architecture also shows a topographic organization. We used 7T MRI data to quantify layer-specific myelin, iron and mi...
Article
Chronometric counting is a prevalent issue in the study of human time perception as it reduces the construct validity of tasks and can conceal existing timing deficits. Several methods have been proposed to prevent counting strategies, but the factors promoting those strategies in specific tasks are largely uninvestigated. Here, we modified a class...
Article
Normal aging is typically associated with declines in navigation and spatial memory abilities. However, increased interindividual variability in performance across various navigation/spatial memory tasks is also evident with advancing age. In this review paper, we shed the spotlight on those older individuals who exhibit exceptional, sometimes even...
Article
When navigating a straight path, perceived travel time and perceived traveled distance are linked via movement speed. Behavioural studies have revealed systematic interferences between the perception of travel time and distance, but the role of neuronal representations of movement speed for these effects has not been addressed to date. Using a comb...
Article
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The perception of temporal intervals changes during the life-span, and especially older adults demonstrate specific impairments of timing abilities. Recently, we demonstrated that timing performance and cognitive status are correlated in older adults, suggesting that timing tasks can serve as a behavioral marker for the development of dementia. Eas...
Article
In this review we discuss converging evidence from human and rodent research demonstrating how path integration (PI) is impaired in healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and point to the neural mechanisms that underlie these deficits. Importantly, we highlight that (i) the grid cell network in the entorhinal cortex is crucial for PI in both h...
Article
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Social relationships are a central aspect of our everyday life, yet our ability to change established social relationships is an under-investigated topic. Here, we use the concept of cognitive mapping to investigate the plasticity of social relationships in younger and older adults. We describe social relationships within a ‘social space’, defined...
Preprint
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Orientation-specific head direction (HD) cells increase their firing rate to indicate one’s facing direction in the environment. Rodent studies suggest HD cells in distinct areas of thalamus and retrosplenial cortex (RSC) code either for global (relative to the wider environment) or local (e.g., room-specific) reference frames. To investigate wheth...
Article
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Reduced timing abilities have been reported in older adults and are associated with pathological cognitive decline. However, time perception experiments often lack ecological validity. Especially the reduced complexity of experimental stimuli and the participants’ awareness of the time-related nature of the task can influence lab-assessed timing pe...
Article
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Topographic maps are a fundamental feature of cortex architecture in the mammalian brain. One common theory is that the de-differentiation of topographic maps links to impairments in everyday behavior due to less precise functional map readouts. Here, we tested this theory by characterizing de-differentiated topographic maps in primary somatosensor...
Article
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Learning the spatial layout of a novel environment is associated with dynamic activity changes in the hippocampus and in medial parietal areas. With advancing age, the ability to learn spatial environments deteriorates substantially but the underlying neural mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we report findings from a behavioral and a fMRI e...
Preprint
Full-text available
Topographic maps are a fundamental feature of cortex architecture in the mammalian brain. One common theory is that the de-differentiation of topographic maps links to impairments in everyday behavior due to less precise functional map readouts. Here, we tested this theory by characterizing de-differentiated topographic maps in primary somatosensor...
Article
Full-text available
As we move through an environment the positions of surrounding objects relative to our body constantly change. Maintaining orientation requires spatial updating, the continuous monitoring of self-motion cues to update external locations. This ability critically depends on the integration of visual, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, and vestibular inform...
Article
Full-text available
Path integration plays a vital role in navigation: it enables the continuous tracking of one's position in space by integrating self-motion cues. Path integration abilities vary widely across individuals, and tend to deteriorate in old age. The specific causes of path integration errors, however, remain poorly characterized. Here, we combine tests...
Article
Full-text available
In time reproduction tasks, the reaction time of motor responses is intrinsically linked to the measure of perceptual timing. Decisions are based on a continuous comparison between elapsed time and a memory trace of the to-be-reproduced interval. Here, we investigate the possibility that negative reproduction errors can be explained by the tendency...
Article
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In rodents, cells in the medial entorhinal cortex (EC) and subiculum code for the allocentric direction to environment boundaries, which is an important prerequisite for accurate posi-tional coding. Although in humans boundary-related signals have been reported, there is no evidence that they contain allocentric direction information. Furthermore,...
Chapter
The groundbreaking discovery of grid cells in the rodent medial entorhinal cortex has led to unparalleled understanding of the neural underpinnings of spatial navigation. These cells show remarkably regular firing patterns, with neighboring firing fields arranged in 60° intervals, and it has been suggested that they provide the spatial metric under...
Article
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Updating navigational memories is important for everyday tasks. It was recently found that older adults are impaired in updating spatial representations in small, bi-dimensional layouts. Because performance in small-scale areas cannot predict navigational behavior, we investigated how aging affects the updating of navigational memories encoded in l...
Article
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Interval timing performance in cognitive decline is typically characterized by decreased accuracy, precision, or both. One explanation for this decreased performance is a larger clock time variability. However, memory deficiencies associated with cognitive decline might also affect temporal performance in two alternative ways: First, memory deficie...
Article
Full-text available
Most research groups studying human navigational behavior with virtual environment (VE) technology develop their own tasks and protocols. This makes it difficult to compare results between groups and to create normative data sets for any specific navigational task. Such norms, however, are prerequisites for the use of navigation assessments as diag...
Preprint
Full-text available
Learning the spatial layout of a novel environment is associated with dynamic activity changes in the hippocampus and in medial parietal areas. With advancing age, the ability to learn spatial environments deteriorates substantially but the underlying neural mechanisms are unknown. Here, we report findings from a behavioral and a fMRI experiment wh...
Article
Metacognitive processes in human timing behavior are rarely investigated, which stands in sharp contrast to the wide research field of metacognition itself. To date, little is known about the sources and the reliability of information that humans possess to judge their own timing abilities and to monitor errors in time-keeping. Here, we intended to...
Article
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The internal representation of the body emerges via the integration of multisensory body cues. Sensory signal transfer and the ability to integrate multisensory information deteriorate significantly with increasing age. However, there is little empirical evidence on age-related changes in body representations based on multisensory integration. Here...
Article
Older adults often experience serious problems in spatial navigation, and alterations in underlying brain structures are among the first indicators for a progression to neurodegenerative diseases. Studies investigating the neural mechanisms of spatial navigation and its changes across the adult lifespan are increasingly using virtual reality (VR) p...
Article
Post‐navigation awake quiescence, relative to task engagement, benefits the accuracy of a new “cognitive map”. This effect is hypothesized to reflect awake quiescence, like sleep, being conducive to the consolidation and integration of new spatial memories. Sleep has been shown to improve cognitive map accuracy over time. It remained unknown whethe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Path integration is a vital function in navigation: it enables the continuous tracking of one's position in space by integrating self-motion cues. Path integration abilities vary across individuals but tend to deteriorate in old age. The specific causes of path integration errors, however, remain poorly characterized. Here, we combined tests of pat...
Preprint
Full-text available
In rodents, cells in the medial entorhinal cortex (EC) and subiculum code for the allocentric direction to environment boundaries, which is an important prerequisite for accurate positional coding. Although in humans boundary-related signals have been reported, there is no evidence that they contain allocentric direction information. Furthermore, i...
Preprint
Full-text available
Spatial navigation can depend on path integration or environmental cues (e.g., landmarks), which are thought to be integrated in hippocampal and entorhinal circuits. This study investigates the anatomical basis of path integration and navigation based on a single local landmark using an individual differences approach, since people vary substantial...
Article
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For memory retrieval, pattern completion is a crucial process that restores memories from partial or degraded cues. Neurocognitive aging models suggest that the aged memory system is biased toward pattern completion, resulting in a behavioral preference for retrieval over encoding of memories. Here, we built on our previously developed behavioral r...
Article
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A correction to this article has been published and is linked from the HTML and PDF versions of this paper. The error has not been fixed in the paper.
Preprint
Full-text available
For memory retrieval, pattern completion is a crucial process that restores memories from partial or degraded cues. Neurocognitive aging models suggest that the aged memory system is biased toward pattern completion, resulting in a behavioral preference for retrieval over encoding of memories. While there are behavioral tasks to assess the encoding...
Article
Full-text available
As we move through an environment, the positions of surrounding objects relative to our body constantly change, with some objects even leaving our field of view. As a consequence, maintaining orientation requires spatial updating, the continuous monitoring of self-motion cues to update external locations within an egocentric frame of reference. Whi...
Article
Cross‐dimensional interference between spatial and temporal processing is well documented in humans, but the direction of these interactions remains unclear. The theory of metaphoric structuring states that space is the dominant concept influencing time perception, whereas time has little effect upon the perception of space. In contrast, theories p...
Article
Full-text available
A progressive loss of navigational abilities in old age has been observed in numerous studies, but we have only limited understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying this decline [1]. A central component of the brain’s navigation circuit are grid cells in entorhinal cortex [2], largely thought to support intrinsic self-motion-related computa- t...
Article
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Encoding the position of another person in space is vital for everyday life. Nevertheless, little is known about the specific navigational strategies associated with encoding the position of another person in the wider spatial environment. We asked two groups of participants to learn the location of a target (person or object) during active navigat...
Preprint
Most research groups studying human navigation behaviour with virtual environments (VE) technology develop their own paradigms. This makes it difficul to compare results between groups, but also to create normative data sets for any specific navigation task. Such norms, however, are prerequisites for the use of navigation assessments as diagnostic...
Article
Full-text available
Bodily awareness is a central component of human sensation, action, and cognition. The human body is subject to profound changes over the adult lifespan. We live in an aging society: the mean age of people living in industrialized countries is currently over 40 years, and further increases are expected. Nevertheless, there is a lack of comprehensiv...
Article
The discovery of neuronal systems dedicated to computing spatial information, composed of functionally distinct cell types such as place and grid cells, combined with an extensive body of human-based behavioral and neuroimaging research has provided us with a detailed understanding of the brain's navigation circuit. In this review, we discuss emerg...
Article
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Human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies examining the putative firing of grid cells (i.e., the grid code) suggest that this cellular mechanism supports not only spatial navigation, but also more abstract cognitive processes. Despite increased interest in this research, there remain relatively few human grid code studies, perhaps...
Article
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Route learning is a common navigation task affected by cognitive aging. Here we present a novel experimental paradigm to investigate whether age-related declines in executive control of attention contributes to route learning deficits. A young and an older participant group was repeatedly presented with a route through a virtual maze comprised of 1...
Article
This project investigated the ways in which visual cues and bodily cues from self-motion are combined in spatial navigation. Participants completed a homing task in an immersive virtual environment. In Experiments 1A and 1B, the reliability of visual cues and self-motion cues was manipulated independently and within-participants. Results showed tha...
Article
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Recent advances in MRI and increasing knowledge on the characterization and anatomical variability of medial temporal lobe (MTL) anatomy have paved the way for more specific subdivisions of the MTL in humans. In addition, recent studies suggest that early changes in many neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases are better detected in smaller...
Preprint
Full-text available
Human fMRI studies examining the putative firing of grid cells (i.e., the grid code) suggest that this cellular mechanism supports not only spatial navigation, but also more abstract cognitive processes. This research area, however, remains relatively unexplored, perhaps us to the complexities of data analysis. To overcome this, we have developed t...
Article
Full-text available
Theories of embodied cognition propose that perception is shaped by sensory stimuli and by the actions of the organism. Following sensorimotor contingency theory, the mastery of lawful relations between own behavior and resulting changes in sensory signals, called sensorimotor contingencies, is constitutive of conscious perception. Sensorimotor con...
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Our day-to-day experiences are often similar to one another, occurring in the same place at the same time of day, with common people and objects, and with a shared purpose. Humans have an episodic memory to represent unique, personal events that are rich in detail [ 1 ]. For this to occur, at least two basic neural mechanisms are required: one to o...
Article
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Flexible spatial navigation depends on cognitive mapping, a function that declines with increasing age. In young adults, a brief period of post-navigation rest promotes the consolidation/integration of spatial memories into accurate cognitive maps. We examined (1) whether rest promotes spatial memory consolidation/integration in older adults and (2...
Article
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The mental representations of space, time and number magnitude are inherently linked. The right posterior parietal cortex (PPC) has been suggested to contain a general magnitude system that underlies the overlap between various perceptual dimensions. However, comparative studies including spatial, temporal and numerical dimensions are missing. In a...