From 2004 to 2010 I studied Psychology at Humboldt University in Berlin, while also doing a Minor in Machine Learning at University of Toronto as a Exchange student (2007-2008). I then received a scholarship from the Max Planck society to do a PhD at the MPI for Human Development Berlin, which I finished in 2013. Next I did a postdoc at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University (2013-17). Since 2017 I am leading a Independent Max Planck Research Group at the MPI for Human Development.

Education and positions held

  • 2020-present:
    • PI at Max Planck-UCL
  • 2017-present:
    • Independent Max Planck Group Leader
  • 2013-2017:
    • Princeton University, Postdoc at Neuroscience Institute
  • 2010-2013:
    • Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Phd in Psychology
  • 2007-2008:
    • University of Toronto (Exchange), Minor in Machine Learning

Research Summary

My research aims to understand how decision making problems are represented in the brain. When playing chess, for instance, a novice will attend to and remember different aspects of a given position than an expert. In this sense, learning not only involves learning how to act, but also to how process, represent and store information. How are such adaptive representations learned, computationally? Where in the brain do they reside? And what role does replay, i.e. memory reactivation during idle wakefulness and sleep, play in this process? Unraveling how we learn representations that make complex tasks easy is the overarching goal of my research. I am addressing these questions by applying computational models and pattern recognition algorithms to experimental data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This approach allows me to decode the information hidden in the complex brain activation patterns of humans while they make decisions.

Key publications

  • Wittkuhn, L. & Schuck, N.W. (2021) Dynamics of fMRI patterns reflect sub-second activation sequences and reveal replay in human visual cortex. Nature Communications, 12(1795) doi:10.1038/s41467-021-21970-2
  • Schuck, N. W., & Niv, Y. (2019). Sequential replay of nonspatial task states in the human hippocampus. Science, 364(6447):eaaw5181. doi:10.1126/science.aaw5181
  • Kaplan*, R., Schuck*, N. W., Doeller, C. F. (2017). The role of mental maps in decision-making. Trends in Neurosciences, 40(5), 256–259. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2017.03.002
  • Schuck, N. W., Cai, M. B., Wilson, R. C. & Niv, Y. (2016). Human orbitofrontal cortex represents a cognitive map of state space. Neuron, 91(6), 1402–1412. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.08.019
  • Schuck, N. W., Gaschler, R., Wenke, D., Heinzle, J., Frensch, P. A., Haynes, J.-D. & Reverberi, C. (2015). Medial prefrontal cortex predicts internally driven strategy shifts. Neuron, 86(1), 331–340. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.015