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Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine

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Jan Hirschmann

Dr. Jan Hirschmann

Visiting scientist

Research topics:

  • Action selection
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Free will

Methodological topics:

  • Representational similarity analysis

I am interested in computations in the brain that lead to decisions on what to do and when to do it. These processes, summarized by the term action selection, not only trigger actions ultimately, but also evaluations of actions. For example, grasping a glass of water when we are thirsty might be considered in alignment with our current goals, regardless of whether we paid attention to the action or grasped the glass without thinking, maybe while concentrating on a conversation or the TV screen. In contrast, actions such as tremor in Parkinson’s disease lack a goal altogether and could therefore hardly be in line with our current goals. This mismatch could be the reason why some actions are being experienced as “involuntary” while others are labeled “voluntary”. Whether the selection process per se differs between these classes of actions or just the post-hoc evaluation is currently not known.
During my research visit at INM-7, I will address action selection using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) in healthy subjects and patients with Parkinson’s disease. The combination of methods will hopefully result in a detailed description of brain activity associated with action selection, revealing which brain areas interact and how interactions change as the selection process progresses.


Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-7)
52425 Jülich


Phone: +49 2461 61-85335