Det psykologiske fakultet
Deltagere på YFL kull 4

Marco Hirnstein

Marco Hirnstein, forsker, UiB


  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Cognitive gender differences
  • Schizophrenia
  • Brain stimulation

I am mainly interested in three lines of research:

First, how effective are non-invasive brain stimulation techniques as treatment for mental and neurological disorders? Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have recently become popular methods for treating depression, schizophrenia, stroke, and other mental and neurological disorders. However, the efficacy of TMS and tDCS is largely unclear. I also use neuroimaging to uncover the neural mechanisms that underlie TMS and tDCS.

Secondly, how do cognitive gender differences arise? In certain cognitive tasks, females and males consistently best each other, on average. For example, females outperform males in verbal memory, while males do better at mentally rotating abstract figures. I am interested in how the interaction of biological factors (e.g., sex hormones, genes), social factors (e.g., gender stereotypes), AND psychological factors (e.g., confidence) give rise to cognitive gender differences.

Thirdly, what is the advantage of hemispheric specialization? Hemispheric specialization refers to the phenomenon that our two brain halves (=hemispheres) are specialized for different functions. For example, most of us talk with our left hemisphere but recognize faces with our right hemisphere. What evolutionary advantage might this have bestowed upon us? Why are most of us right- and not left-handers and why has this been so for millenia?

Hemispheric specialization also binds these topics together: It has been proposed that cognitive gender differences arise, because males have a stronger hemispheric specialization than females. The more "asymmetric" organization in males is said to facilitate spatial abilities, while the "more symmetric" organization in females is said to facilitate verbal abilities. Depression and schizophrenia are often characterized by reduced or inverted in hemispheric specialization. Similarly, it is hypothesized that when one hemisphere is lesioned via stroke, the "healthy" hemisphere needs to be inhibited to facilitate rehabilitation, which can be accomplished with TMS or tDCS.

Contact information:

Email: marco.hirnstein@uib.no

UiB website: https://www.uib.no/en/persons/Marco.Andre.Hirnstein

Research group website: https://www.uib.no/en/rg/flash