Prof. Dr. Hubert Zimmer


Universität des Saarlandes
FR Psychologie
Campus A2 4
D-66041 Saarbrücken

Raum 2.07
Telefon (+49) 681/ 302 3637 
Fax (+49) 681/ 302 4049 



Our general interest is memory psychology, especially memory of non-verbal information as pictures, sounds, and actions and how the brain makes memory possible. When speaking of actions we refer to remembering of really performed actions (subject-performed task), e.g. waving your hand, break a stick. We are specifically interested in cognitive and brain processes which provide epidsodic recognition including the distinction between familiarity and recollection. A second focus is the architecture of visual working memory and its neural basis.

Our basic assumption is that memory traces are distributed representations (vectors of features) that not only include abstract information but also components which are close to the input (sensory) and output (action) systems. We furthermore assume that networks which represent the stimuli during perception and action also provide this content during remembering (reinstatement). This should be the case in working memory as well as long-term memory.

Our mission is demonstrating how these features shape the time course and content of remembering and specifying the neural structures and processes which make this information available in memory. Our goal is having a neurocognitive model of memory which explains how memory works. For that purpose we use all kinds of neurocognitive research paradigms. We run behavioral experiments, but we also use electrophysiological methods (event related potentials, ERP) and brain imaging methods (functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI). Our EEG lab is equipped with a 64 channel amplifier (BrainAmp); eyetracking is possible with high temporal resolution by remote eye trackers (tobii TX 300 and X2-60); and our sound lab allows the presentation of 3D audio. Facilities for fMRI (3T Siemens Skyra) are available at the University Hospital where we have measurement time. We also have state of the art software for data analysis (Besa, Brainvision Analyzer,  Brain Voyager, Eyeworks, Matlab, Tobii Studio, SPSS, Statistica).

Besides of our interests in basic research we use our expertise in more applied contexts. One aim is understanding the relationship between aging and memory and investigating how cognitive training can improve memory in older age. A second focus is analysing mental work load and especially finding out how pupil data can be used continuously to estimate mental load. Specifically, we investigate "the index of cognitive activity" - a patended index which promises to measure work load even if illumination and stimulus brightness strongly vary across the tasks.

Examples of research topics are:

  •   How does the match of perceptual features influence familiarity
      and recollection during recognition?
  •   Differences between binding of sensory features
      within and between objects (object versus episodic tokens).
  •   The FN400 as index of familiarity.
  •   The role of sensory features in explicit recognition and repetition priming.
  •   How sensory-specific brain structures provide memory in explicit
      and implicit memory tasks.
  •   The architecture of visuo-spatial working memory and its brain basis.
  •   Conjunction binding (intra-item) and relational binding (inter item)
      in visual workig memory.
  •   The change of associative memory in advanced age.
  •   The influence of cognitive training on age-related changes
      of mental processes and memory.
  •   How expertise (knowledge in long-term memory)
      enhances working memory capacity.
  •   What aspect of workload does the index of cognitive activity measure.

Research Grants

Period -- Grant holders and project leaders -- Topic
1984 - 1988 -- Engelkamp & Zimmer (En 124/7) -- Verb-Noun-Comparison
1987 - 1990 -- Zimmer (Zi 308/1)-- Conzeptualization of Objects
1988 - 1994 -- Engelkamp & Zimmer (En 124/8) -- Motor Processes in Episodic Memory
1996 - 1998 -- Engelkamp & Zimmer (SFB 378: A3)-- Verbal and Visual Working Memory
1998 - 2000 -- Engelkamp & Zimmer (En 124/13) -- Memory of own Actions
1997 - 2000 -- Zimmer & Engelkamp (Zi 308/2) -- Memory for Sensory Features in Explicit and Implicit Memory
1999 - 2001 -- Engelkamp, Mohr & Zimmer (SFB 378: A3)-- Verbal and visual Working Memory
2001 - 2004 -- Zimmer & Mecklinger (SFB 378: EM 1)-- Visual Working Memory
2001 - 2004 -- Zimmer (FOR 448)-- Memory Efficient Feature Binding
2005 - 2007 -- Zimmer & Mecklinger (SFB 378: EM 1) -- Encoding and Recoding in Working Memory
2005 - 2008 -- Zimmer (FOR 448)-- Feature Bindung during Enkoding and Retrieval
2009 - 2012 -- Zimmer (DFG 308/4) -- Dynamic Binding
2008 - 2013 -- International Research Training Group (DFG IRTG 1457)

2013 - 2017 -- International Research Training Group (DFG IRTG 1457)