Study programme (Studienprogram)

1. Aim of the study programme and its relation to the research programme

The aim of the study programme is to provide each Ph.D. student with an excellent working knowledge in his/her area of specialization (i.e., background in (bio)physics, neurobiology, psychology or computer science) and to provide basic knowledge in the neighbouring disciplines as well as a broad overview of the interdisciplinary area of neurosensory science. This interdisciplinary knowledge is indispensable, because most of the dissertation projects within the International Graduate School are interconnected between at least two neighbouring disciplines. The study programme will offer the Ph.D. students to do course work both in Oldenburg and Groningen. Hence, all courses of the study programme will be offered in English on request. Thus, the international mobility of the students will be trained as a desirable side effect.

Within the last granting period, several structured study programmes have been developed following the Bologna process both in Oldenburg and Groningen. Since the research-oriented, newly introduced Master of Science (M.Sc.) programs contain much of the coursework required for some of the new students to enter the InterGK dissertation phase, a close interaction between these programs and the InterGK study program is envisaged. Specifically, this holds for the following programs:

University of Oldenburg:

  • M.Sc. Engineering Physics (with input from Univ. of Applied Sciences), started 10/00
  • M.Sc. Embedded Systems and Microrobotics, started 10/02
  • M.Sc. Hearing Technology and Audiology (with input from Univ. of Applied Sciences), started 10/04
  • M.Sc. Biology, started 10/05
  • M.Sc. Physics, started 10/05

University of Groningen:

M.Sc. Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences, started 9/05 with a possibility to specialize in the fields of

  • animal and human behavior
  • computational modeling of cognition
  • molecular and clinical neuroscience

Subsequent to the initial phase of the Ph.D. work (introductory courses plus setting up of the structure/framework of the Ph.D. thesis) most time and energy will be spent on working on the dissertation project. A maximum amount of approximately four hours per week (or 3-6 ECTS points) should be spent on regular mandatory course work or seminars throughout the Ph.D work. Most of the advanced research-related courses will be held in the form of courses and seminars within the "regular" academic program of the respective university, summer schools and technical workshops. The latter two types of block courses providing an intensive discussion of a field have the advantage that an exchange between Oldenburg and Groningen will be more focused and as such will require less travel than would a regular weekly course. Previous experience from the current granting period has demonstrated the obvious advantages of this teaching form. The regular Ph.D. course program of the Groningen Graduate School for Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciencesthat is comprised of modules with a total of 30 ECTS is also open to the graduates from Oldenburg.

2. Duration and structure of the study programme

a) Introductory courses

Since usually not all skills and interdisciplinary knowledge required for a successful Ph.D. thesis work within the Graduate School are included in the curriculum of the diploma in Germany (and drs or ir title in Holland, respectively), introductory courses will be offered that cover the relevant areas of the disciplines involved here. They are integrated in the M.Sc. curriculum of the Universität Oldenburg and Graduate School for Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience in Groningen, respectively. Each student will be requested to take one introductory course from his/her own discipline as well as at least one introductory course from the respective neighbouring disciplines. Topics of the introductory courses in the different areas (integrated in the master programs at Oldenburg and Groningen) are as follows (teaching staff from the InterGK given in brackets):

  • Neurobiology (sensory physiology, neurobiochemistry, molecular neurobiology, neuroanatomy, electrophysiology): Weiler, Klump, Mouritsen, Kretzberg
  • Neurosensory Science (introduction to senses of olfaction, vision, touch and hearing): Weiler, Klump, Kretzberg
  • Biophysics of sensory systems: Stavenga, Duifhuis, Klump, Kollmeier, Kretzberg, Mouritsen
  • Acoustics: Mellert, Kollmeier, Duifhuis
  • Psychophysical methods and models: Colonius, Klump, Verhey, Mertins
  • Psychophysiological methods (EEG/ERP, eye movements, MEG): Kollmeier, Colonius, van Dijk
  • Functional brain imaging: Roerdink, Cornelissen, Duifhuis, Hein
  • Processing of biological signals (and speech): Mertins, Kollmeier, Hein
  • Statistics for neural and behavioural sciences: Kretzberg, Klump, Colonius, van Dijk
  • Nonlinear data analysis: Feudel, Roerdink, Mertins

One example from this list is the compact lab course "Psychophysics and neurosensory signal processing" (institutes of physics, B. Kollmeier and J. Verhey): All InterGK graduate students from Oldenburg attend this two-week-intensive lab course that provides an introduction to psychoacoustics measurements and modelling techniques as well as some basic neurosensory experiments (e. g., EEG experiments with audio and video input, reaction time measurement, fMRI experiments, see report for more details).

b) Research-related study programme

Subsequent to the introductory courses, students are required to attend one special course per year that provides more specialization either within the subject of their Ph.D. project or within a neighbouring area. The courses run either at Groningen or at Oldenburg within the standard program of the respective universities. Two hours per week are regularly scheduled for the seminar of the Graduate School where all students (with and without direct salaries from the Graduate School) and applicants/professors join to openly discuss the ongoing work in the dissertation projects as well as discussing new publications and/or presentations from invited guests. Once a month, this seminar is held jointly with all InterGK members from Oldenburg and Groningen . Alternating between both cities, a whole afternoon of lectures, research talks and discussion is used to focus on one specific topic, e.g.:

  1. Physics/Biophysics
    • Receptor Biophysics (v. Netten, Stavenga, Mouritsen)
    • Physiological, psychological and audiological acoustics, vibrotactile sensation (Duifhuis, Kollmeier, Mellert, Kretzberg)
    • Speech production, processing and enhancement (Mertins, Kollmeier)
    • Computational Models for perception and cognition (Colonius, Verhey, Kollmeier, Feudel, Kretzberg)
  2. Neurobiology/Functional Imaging
    • Neurobiology and neuroanatomy of the visual system (Weiler, v. Hateren, Mouritsen)
    • Functional principles of auditory processing (Klump, v. Netten, Duifhuis)
    • Functional Imaging of the Central Nervous system (Leenders, Greenlee)
  3. Psychology
    • Experimental design and applied statistics (Colonius)
    • Eye movement/response time analysis research techniques (Colonius)
    • EEG/ERP/MEG research techniques (Uppenkamp, Kollmeier)
  4. Applications
    • Medical technology and robots (Hein)
    • Digital Signal processing techniques (Mertins, Kollmeier, van Netten, N.N.)

c) Summer schools and Symposia

Summer schools are the forum for interdisciplinary and international exchange in the areas covered by the graduate school. They combine tutorial courses on specific topics by invited, internationally renowned experts with presentations of the Ph.D. students about their own work, as well as workshops on specific, interdisciplinary aspects where both the international staff and the graduates from the graduate school communicate and work together. The summer school program continues a series of:
Summer school program of the bcn (focusing on, e.g., methodology for neuroimaging, neural networks for neuronal phenomena, color vision,)
Summer school program in hearing in Bad Zwischenahn (focusing on, e.g., psychoacoustics, auditory physiology, modelling of auditory processing, speech perception, hearing aids, environmental acoustics, comparison of vision, touch and hearing, sensory coding, ....)
Symposia at the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg (mainly coordinated by the SFB Neurokognition or the SFB/TR "Das aktive Gehör") (focusing on, e.g., neural information processing, perceptual consequences of cochlear nonlinearity, binaural hearing at cocktail parties, conference on pitch, computational neuroscience)
The next upcoming event will be the international symposium on hearing (ISH 2006) to be held in Cloppenburg (close to Oldenburg) and organized by B. Kollmeier, G. Klump and others in summer 2006. The 100 top scientists in hearing science worldwide are expected to participate. Several satellite events will give ample opportunities for the Ph.D. students of the InterGK to get connected to the most prominent scientists in their respective area in an informal way.

d) Technical workshops

The technical workshops provide intensive practical training for a limited group of up to 4 graduate students in one of the labs involved. They last between one and two weeks and should enable the students to learn new techniques thoroughly under direct supervision of one of the senior staff members.
Possible topics are:

Physics, biophysics

  • digital processing of speech and acoustical signals (Mertins, Hohmann,Kollmeier)
  • psychophysics and auditory signal processing (Verhey, Klump,Kollmeier)
  • Nonlinear dynamics and data analysis (Feudel, Freund)
  • Psychophysics of vibration (Mellert, Kretzberg)
  • Computational Neuroscience (Kretzberg, Verhey, Stavenga)

Neurobiology, neuroanatomy, Imaging

  • fMRI techniques: An introduction to the fundamentals and its practical application (Cornelissen, Uppenkamp, Duifhuis, Roerdink)
  • Two-photon laser microscopy, calcium imaging (Weiler)
  • Immuno-electronmicroscopy (Weiler)

Psychology & Computer Science

  • Experiments and Models for Intersensory Interaction (Colonius)
  • Medical robotics (Hein)