Martina's Research Stay at UCL

Martina discussing methods with fellow PhD students
Pub Street

"The GRK 1957 gave me the opportunity for a three-month external research stay. Focusing on improving my methods skills I chose to visit Prof. Dr. Karl J.  Friston and Dr. Peter Zeidman at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging (WTCN) in the United Kingdom. The WTCN at University College London (UCL) is an interdisciplinary centre for neuroimaging excellence and the home of SPM - a standard toolbox for analysing neuroimaging data – originally developed by Karl J. Friston.  One part of my PhD project is about whether a transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) changes the cognitive processing of food stimuli in obese men. Therefore, the WTCN was the perfect place to learn advanced fMRI techniques.

The goal of this research stay was to perform a Dynamic Causal Modelling (DCM) analysis on my neuro imaging fMRI data. Moreover, I learned to use parametric modulation in spm classical fMRI analysis and to proof the results with bayesian statistics. By participating in meetings and presentations I could also broaden my horizon on the topics of active inference and the free energy principle. And finally, it was exhilarating to be at the cutting edge of methods development for neuro imaging.

At the institute I was surrounded by friendly, helpful and open-minded people and enjoyed an atmosphere full of motivation.

London from April to June 2019 not only enchanted me with its beautiful spring, but also with its numerous, world-renowned museums and the relaxed pub atmosphere, allowing inspiring discussions with colleagues.

Personally, I had the chance to improve my English competency.  In particular, I learned that really understanding a language is not just about words, but about an entire way of thinking."

- Martina Obst