OVGU guest group Visual Attention

Our group focuses on the spatio-temporal dynamic of cortical processes underlying attention and reward-related selection in human visual cortex, as well as on attentional processes subserving the maintenance of information about locations, objects, and features in working memory. Our research is guided by a computational model of attentional selection in visual cortex (Selective Tuning Model of visual attention, STM), developed to provide a realistic account of how the brain solves complexity issues of spatial and temporal visual coding.

Central to STM’s solution is recurrent processing in visual cortex which forms a pyramidal hierarchical structure. STM makes explicit predictions about how selection in reverse hierarchical direction determines the way relevant information is prioritized for selection. Using high spatio-temporal resolution magnetoencephalographic brain recordings, we were able to verify important predictions of the model, mainly with respect to spatial aspects of recurrent processing.

  • Head


    Max Hopf has been a professor of Cognitive Neurophysiology at the Medical Faculty of the Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg since 2007. He received his medical degree from the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena in 1992.

    Supported by a DAAD grant, he went to the Center for Neuroscience at U.C. Davis in 1995 where he worked with Ron Mangun on spatial attentional selection using EEG recordings in human observers. This work set the stage for his interest in neural mechanisms of attentional selection. In 1997, he returned to Germany and continued his clinical training for a short period at the Hans-Berger Clinic for Neurology and Psychiatry in Jena, and then (1998-2000) at the University Clinic for Neurology in Magdeburg.

    Since 2000, he exclusively devotes his time to the investigation of cortical mechanisms of attentional selection by combining high-temporal and high-spatial resolution methods like MEG/EEG and fMRI. Throughout his career he has had fruitful collaborations with various other attention researchers including Steven J. Luck (then at the University of Iowa) on attentional selection in visual search, and John K. Tsostos (York University Toronto) on a realistic computational model of visual attention.

  • Members


    Prof. Dr. med. Jens-Max Hopf+49-391-6263-92321jens-max.hopf@med.ovgu.de
    Carola Schulze+49-391-6263-92311carola.schulze@med.ovgu.de
    Dr. Mandy Bartsch+49-391-6263-92381mandy.bartsch@lin-magdeburg.de
    Dr. Hendrik Griep+ 49-391-6263-92361hendrik.griep@med.ovgu.de
    Technical staff members  
    Steffi Bachmann+49-391-6263-92381steffi.bachmann@lin-magdeburg.de
    Laura Herrmann+49-391-6263-92361laura.herrmann@med.ovgu.de
    Guests, students, interns  
    Marie Christin Schulz  
    Marie Elise Poppe  


  • Projects


    1. Feature-based attention in human visual cortex.
    2. Neural mechanisms of attentional selection in visual search
    3. Dissociating reward- and  attention-related selection in visual cortex (SFB 779/TP1A)
    4. Determinants of individual and age-dependent differences of attention-dependent information selection. (DFG Ho-1965_2-1)
  • Current Third Party Funds

    Current Third Party Funds

    DFG SFB 779 "Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior" (TP A1)


    DFG HO 1965/2-1

    Determinants of individual and age-dependent differences of attention-dependent information selection.

  • Publications



    Donohue SE, Harris JA, Loewe K, Hopf J-M, Heinze H-J, Woldorff MG, Schoenfeld MA. 2020. Electroencephalography reveals a selective disruption of cognitive control processes in craving cigarette smokers. European Journal of Neuroscience. 51(4):1087-1105. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.14622



    Merkel C, Hopf J-M, Schoenfeld MA. 2020. Modulating the global orientation bias of the visual system changes population receptive field elongations. Human Brain Mapping. 41(7):1765-1774. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24909

    Vellage A-K, Müller P, Schmicker M, Hopf J-M, Müller NG. 2019. High Working Memory Capacity at the Cost of Precision?. Brain Sciences. 9(9):Article 210. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9090210

    Garcia-Lazaro HG, Bartsch MV, Boehler CN, Krebs RM, Donohue SE, Harris JA, Schoenfeld MA, Hopf J-M. 2019. Dissociating Reward- and Attention-driven Biasing of Global Feature-based Selection in Human Visual Cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 31(4):469-481. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01356

    Donohue SE, Weinhold S, Schoenfeld MA, Quian Quiroga R, Hopf J-M. 2019. A neural hallmark of auditory implicit learning is altered in older adults. PLoS ONE. 14(1):Article e0211468. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0211468




    Bartsch MV, Donohue SE, Strumpf H, Schoenfeld MA, Hopf J-M. 2018. Enhanced spatial focusing increases feature-based selection in unattended locations. Scientific Reports. 8(1). Available from: 10.1038/s41598-018-34424-5

    Merkel C, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2018. Spatial elongation of population receptive field profiles revealed by model-free fMRI back-projection. Human Brain Mapping. 39(6):2472-2481. Available from: 10.1002/hbm.24015

    Donohue SE, Bartsch MV, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA, Hopf JM. 2018. Cortical mechanisms of prioritizing selection for rejection in visual search. Journal of Neuroscience. 38(20):4738-4748. Available from: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2407-17.2018



    Bartsch MV, Loewe K, Merkel C, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA, Tsotsos JK, Hopf JM. 2017. Attention to color sharpens neural population tuning via feedback processing in the human visual cortex hierarchy. Journal of Neuroscience. 37(43):10346-10357. Available from: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0666-17.2017

    Büntjen L, Hopf JM, Merkel C, Voges J, Knape S, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA. 2017. Somatosensory misrepresentation associated with chronic pain: Spatiotemporal correlates of sensory perception in a patient following a complex regional pain syndrome spread. Frontiers in Neurology. 8(APR). Available from: 10.3389/fneur.2017.00142

    Merkel C, Hausmann J, Hopf JM, Heinze HJ, Buentjen L, Schoenfeld MA. 2017. Active prosthesis dependent functional cortical reorganization following stroke. Scientific Reports. 7(1). Available from: 10.1038/s41598-017-09325-8

    Merkel C, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2017. Spatio-temporal dynamics of attentional selection stages during multiple object tracking. NeuroImage. 146:484-491. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.10.046



    Donohue SE, Woldorff MG, Hopf JM, Harris JA, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA. 2016. An electrophysiological dissociation of craving and stimulus-dependent attentional capture in smokers. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience. 16(6):1114-1126. Available from: 10.3758/s13415-016-0457-9

    Vellage AK, Becke A, Strumpf H, Baier B, Schönfeld MA, Hopf JM, Müller NG. 2016. Filtering and storage working memory networks in younger and older age. Brain and Behavior. Available from: 10.1002/brb3.544

    Harris JA, Donohue SE, Schoenfeld MA, Hopf JM, Heinze HJ, Woldorff MG. 2016. Reward-associated features capture attention in the absence of awareness: Evidence from object-substitution masking. NeuroImage. 137:116-123. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.05.010

    Strumpf H, Noesselt T, Schoenfeld MA, Voges J, Panther P, Kaufmann J, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM. 2016. Deep brain stimulation of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPN) influences visual contrast sensitivity in human observers. PLoS ONE. 11(5). Available from: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155206

    Donohue SE, Hopf JM, Bartsch MV, Schoenfeld MA, Heinze HJ, Woldorff MG. 2016. The rapid capture of attention by rewarded objects. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 28(4):529-541. Available from: 10.1162/jocn_a_00917

    Bombeke K, Duthoo W, Mueller SC, Hopf JM, Boehler CN. 2016. Pupil size directly modulates the feedforward response in human primary visual cortex independently of attention. NeuroImage. 127:67-73. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.11.072



    Krebs RM, Hopf JM, Boehler CN. 2015. Within-trial effects of stimulus-reward associations. In Motivation and Cognitive Control. Taylor and Francis Inc. pp. 65-82. Available from: 10.4324/9781315656878

    Schevernels H, Bombeke K, Van der Borght L, Hopf JM, Krebs RM, Boehler CN. 2015. Electrophysiological evidence for the involvement of proactive and reactive control in a rewarded stop-signal task. NeuroImage. 121:115-125. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.07.023

    Bartsch MV, Boehler CN, Stoppel CM, Merkel C, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA, Hopf JM. 2015. Determinants of Global Color-Based Selection in Human Visual Cortex. Cerebral Cortex. 25(9):2828-2841. Available from: 10.1093/cercor/bhu078

    Merkel C, Hopf JM, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA. 2015. Neural correlates of multiple object tracking strategies. NeuroImage. 118:63-73. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.06.005

    Becke A, Müller N, Vellage A, Schoenfeld MA, Hopf JM. 2015. Neural sources of visual working memory maintenance in human parietal and ventral extrastriate visual cortex. NeuroImage. 110:78-86. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.01.059

    Barleben M, Stoppel CM, Kaufmann J, Merkel C, Wecke T, Goertler M, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2015. Neural correlates of visual motion processing without awareness in patients with striate cortex and pulvinar lesions. Human Brain Mapping. 36(4):1585-1594. Available from: 10.1002/hbm.22725

    Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA, Buschschulte A, Rautzenberg A, Krebs RM, Boehler CN. 2015. The modulatory impact of reward and attention on global feature selection in human visual cortex. Visual Cognition. 23(1-2):229-248. Available from: 10.1080/13506285.2015.1011252



    Merkel C, Stoppel CM, Hillyard SA, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2014. Spatio-temporal patterns of brain activity distinguish strategies of multiple-object tracking. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 26(1):28-40. Available from: 10.1162/jocn_a_00455

    Schoenfeld MA, Hopf JM, Merkel C, Heinze HJ, Hillyard SA. 2014. Object-based attention involves the sequential activation of feature-specific cortical modules. Nature Neuroscience. 17(4):619-624. Available from: 10.1038/nn.3656

    Buschschulte A, Boehler CN, Strumpf H, Stoppel C, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA, Hopf JM. 2014. Reward-and attention-related biasing of sensory selection in visual cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 26(5):1049-1065. Available from: 10.1162/jocn_a_00539

    Boehler CN, Schevernels H, Hopf JM, Stoppel CM, Krebs RM. 2014. Reward prospect rapidly speeds up response inhibition via reactive control. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience. 14(2):593-609. Available from: 10.3758/s13415-014-0251-5

    Stoppel CM, Vielhaber S, Eckart C, Machts J, Kaufmann J, Heinze HJ, Kollewe K, Petri S, Dengler R, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2014. Structural and functional hallmarks of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis progression in motor- and memory-related brain regions. NeuroImage: Clinical. 5:277-290. Available from: 10.1016/j.nicl.2014.07.007



    Hopf JM, Heinze HJ, Boehler CN. 2013. Profiling the Spatial Focus of Visual Attention. In Cognitive Electrophysiology of Attention: Signals of the Mind. Elsevier. pp. 3-15. Available from: 10.1016/B978-0-12-398451-7.00001-4

    Stoppel CM, Boehler CN, Strumpf H, Krebs RM, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2013. Distinct representations of attentional control during voluntary and stimulus-driven shifts across objects and locations. Cerebral Cortex. 23(6):1351-1361. Available from: 10.1093/cercor/bhs116

    Strumpf H, Mangun GR, Boehler CN, Stoppel C, Schoenfeld MA, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM. 2013. The role of the pulvinar in distractor processing and visual search. Human Brain Mapping. 34(5):1115-1132. Available from: 10.1002/hbm.21496

    Bonath B, Tyll S, Budinger E, Krauel K, Hopf JM, Noesselt T. 2013. Task-demands and audio-visual stimulus configurations modulate neural activity in the human thalamus. NeuroImage. 66:110-118. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.10.018

    Kau S, Strumpf H, Merkel C, Stoppel CM, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2013. Distinct neural correlates of attending speed vs. coherence of motion. NeuroImage. 64(1):299-327. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.08.080



    Boehler CN, Hopf JM, Stoppel CM, Krebs RM. 2012. Motivating inhibition - reward prospect speeds up response cancellation. Cognition. 125(3):498-503. Available from: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.07.018

    Bondarenko R, Boehler CN, Stoppel CM, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA, Hopf JM. 2012. Separable mechanisms underlying global feature-based attention. Journal of Neuroscience. 32(44):15284-15295. Available from: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1132-12.2012

    Stoppel CM, Boehler CN, Strumpf H, Krebs RM, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2012. Spatiotemporal dynamics of feature-based attention spread: Evidence from combined electroencephalographic and magnetoencephalographic recordings. Journal of Neuroscience. 32(28):9671-9676. Available from: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0439-12.2012

    Hopf JM, Boehler CN, Schoenfeld MA, Mangun GR, Heinze HJ. 2012. Attentional Selection for Locations, Features, and Objects in Vision. In The Neuroscience of Attention: Attentional Control and Selection. Available from: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334364.003.0001



    Stoppel CM, Boehler CN, Strumpf H, Heinze HJ, Noesselt T, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2011. Feature-based attention modulates direction-selective hemodynamic activity within human MT. Human Brain Mapping. 32(12):2183-2192. Available from: 10.1002/hbm.21180

    Schoenfeld MA, Hassa T, Hopf JM, Eulitz C, Schmidt R. 2011. Neural correlates of hysterical blindness. Cerebral Cortex. 21(10):2394-2398. Available from: 10.1093/cercor/bhr026

    Boehler CN, Schoenfeld MA, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM. 2011. Object-based selection of irrelevant features is not confined to the attended object. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 23(9):2231-2239. Available from: 10.1162/jocn.2010.21558

    Boehler CN, Tsotsos JK, Schoenfeld MA, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM. 2011. Neural mechanisms of surround attenuation and distractor competition in visual search. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(14):5213-5224. Available from: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6406-10.2011

    Stoppel CM, Boehler CN, Strumpf H, Heinze HJ, Hopf JM, Schoenfeld MA. 2011. Neural processing of reward magnitude under varying attentional demands. Brain Research. 1383:218-229. Available from: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.01.095

    Boehler CN, Hopf JM, Krebs RM, Stoppel CM, Schoenfeld MA, Heinze HJ, Noesselt T. 2011. Task-load-dependent activation of dopaminergic midbrain areas in the absence of reward. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(13):4955-4961. Available from: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4845-10.2011

    Boehler CN, Bunzeck N, Krebs RM, Noesselt T, Schoenfeld MA, Heinze H-J, Münte TF, Woldorff MG, Hopf JM. 2011. Substantia nigra activity level predicts trial-to-trial adjustments in cognitive control. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 23(2):362-373. Available from: 10.1162/jocn.2010.21473



    Fenker DB, Heipertz D, Boehler CN, Schoenfeld MA, Noesselt T, Heinze HJ, Duezel E, Hopf JM. 2010. Mandatory processing of irrelevant fearful face features in visual search. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 22(12):2926-2938. Available from: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21340

    Boehler CN, Appelbaum LG, Krebs RM, Hopf JM, Woldorff MG. 2010. Pinning down response inhibition in the brain - Conjunction analyses of the Stop-signal task. NeuroImage. 52(4):1621-1632. Available from: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.04.276

    Hopf JM, Boehler CN, Schoenfeld MA, Heinze HJ, Tsotsos JK. 2010. The spatial profile of the focus of attention in visual search: Insights from MEG recordings. Vision Research. 50(14):1312-1320. Available from: 10.1016/j.visres.2010.01.015

    Krebs RM, Woldorff MG, Tempelmann C, Bodammer N, Noesselt T, Boehler CN, Scheich H, Hopf JM, Duzel E, Heinze HJ, Schoenfeld MA. 2010. High-field fMRI reveals brain activation patterns underlying saccade execution in the human superior colliculus. PLoS ONE. 5(1). Available from: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008691

    Schoenfeld MA, Hopf JM. 2010. The attentional selection in visual search within short-term memory representations. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 4(MAY):Issui 1, 7. Available from: 10.3389/neuro.01.005.2010

  • Teaching


    With lectures in the course "Cognitive Neurobiology" we are involved in the education of students of the Master's program "Integrative Neuroscience".

    Members of our department teach General Psychology II at the Institute of Psychology of the OVGU.

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