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Dr Nicole Wetzel


Dr Nicole Wetzel

Neurokognitive Entwicklung
Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology
Brenneckestraße 6
39118 Magdeburg
Phone: +49-391-6263-92411

Dr Nicole Wetzel

Head of Research Group

Dr Nicole Wetzel

Neurokognitive Entwicklung

Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology
Brenneckestraße 6
39118 Magdeburg

Phone: +49-391-6263-92411

The Research Group was established in 2017 at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology. Our research aim is to study the development of auditory cognition during childhood. We investigate the development of attention, perception and memory as well as the underlying neuronal mechanisms. This work focusses on a systematic analysis of the developmental path from early to late childhood as well as relevant factors like motivation, emotion and social context.  We look at attention, information processing and learning processes in different environments including kindergarten, schools and a clinical setting.


1)    How does attentional control develop during childhood?

In this area of research, we look at the involuntary distraction of attention as well as the underlying neuronal mechanisms. Our results show that these processes continue to develop right into late childhood and beyond. In comparison to adults, children are more sensitive to salient, emotional and meaningful distractors. We have also found that children are less successful in controlling their attention than adults. The results of these research findings can be used for educational purposes (e.g. designing an optimal learning environment) as well as in a clinical context (e.g. attention disorders).

2) How do children notice unpredictable changes in their environment?

Here we investigate how unpredictable changes in the auditory environment are perceived and noticed, even if our attention has been directed elsewhere. The underlying change detection processes are already present in an unborn baby, but these processes continue to develop into the teenage years and beyond.  This particular data on development can be used to look at the perceptual processes of children with developmental disorders (e.g. autism or reading- and writing disorders).

3) How do learning processes develop?

This project investigates the connection between cognitive processes during learning and the success of this learning. We use pupillometry to look at early perceptual- and memory processes during active learning and we compare these results with the later learning achievement. The goal is to identify the underlying neuronal mechanisms and their development. This knowledge could contribute to designing learning material more appropriately.

 4) Do children with social anxiety process social and emotional stimuli differently to children without social anxiety?

In this project we investigate the perception of social and emotional stimuli as well as the attentional processes related to shy children or to social anxiety in children.

5) How do the attentional processes function in ADHD?

In this joint research project with the University Clinic of Leipzig for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, we analyze the attentional processes of patients suffering from ADHD. We are interested in how patients process novel events.

6) How do cognitive processes of prematurely born babies develop during childhood? 

 The focus of this project is on the perception and attention of children with a history of premature birth. In collaboration with the University of Helsinki, a study has shown different perceptual processes for children who were premature babies compared to their full-term peers. 


Dr. Nicole Wetzel  


Head of the CBBS Research Group Neurocognitive Development since 2017.  

I am interested in the development of cognitive functions and the underlying neuronal mechanisms with a special focus on attention.


Dunja Kunke




Lab Manager  

My current position is lab manager for the CBBS Research Group "Neurocognitive Development". I completed a bachelor's degree in Communication Pathology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and a Master of Science degree in Audiological Science at the University College London, UK. After many years of working as an Audiologist in the St. Michaels hospital in Bristol, I have gained experience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brainsciences in Leipzig as lab manager for the auditory cognition research group.  

Dr. Ramona Grzeschik



Post Doctoral Researcher

I studied Computational Visualistics at the Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg. For my PhD in Neuropsychology at the same University I investigated the auditory motion perception in humans using EEG. During my time as a Post Doc in Bournemouth I gained experience in Eye Tracking and investigated route learning strategies in virtual environments on which I would like to follow up at the Neurocognitive Development Research Group.

  Carolina Bonmassar



PhD Student  

I’m currently pursuing my PhD in the CBBS Research Group Neurocognitive Development at the LIN. I did my Bachelor in Cognitive science and my Master in Psychology/Neuropsychology at the University of Trento (Italy). I was always willing to work with children, to learn new research methods (EEG and Eye-Track) and to examine in depth auditory attention.

  Celine Jackel



Research Assistant  

I study Philosophy-Neurosciences-Cognition at the University of Magdeburg and support our team as student assistant.

  Luisa Kocherscheid


Research Assistant  

I am studying medicine at Otto von Guericke University since 2015. In December 2017, I became a member of the team. As a student assistant I support the preparation, performance and follow-up of the experiments.

  Anna Keller

Bachelor student  

I am interested in the field of developmental processes, especially in the functioning of attention and I will join the research group Neurocognitive Development in their research on the topic of auditory attention of primary school children. In the course of this EEG-project, I will write my Bachelor Thesis in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology and the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg.



Widmann, A., Schröger, E., & Wetzel, N. (2018). Emotion lies in the eye of the listener: emotional arousal to novel sounds is reflected in the sympathetic contribution to the pupil dilation response and the P3. Biological Psychology, 133, 10-17.
Publication: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051118300498

Wetzel, N. & Schröger, E. (in press). Auditory attention in children and adults – a psychophysiological approach in T. Lachmann & T. Weiss (Eds.) in New Stages in Human Information Processing Research: The Role of Invariants in Cognition. Link & Townsend, Scientific Psychology Series, Taylor & Francis.

Erb., J., Ludwig, A.A., Kunke, D., Fuchs, M. & Obleser, J. (2018). Temporal Sensitivity Measured Shortly After Cochlear Implantation Predicts 6-Month Speech Recognition Outcome. Ear Hear., April 24. doi:10.1097/AUD.0000000000000588

Wetzel, N., Scharf, F., & Widmann, A. (in press). Can’t ignore – distraction by task-irrelevant sounds in early and middle childhood. Child Development


Buttelmann, D., Schieler, A., Wetzel, N., & Widmann, A. (2017). Infants’ and adults’ looking behavior does not indicate perceptual distraction for constrained modelled actions–an eye-tracking study. Infant Behavior and Development, 47, 103-111.

Hartmeyer, S. Grzeschik, R., Wolbers, T. & Wiener, J.M. (2017). The effects of attentional engagement on route learning performance in a virtual environment: an aging study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience., 9, 235. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00235

Henry, M.J., Herrmann, B. Kunke, D. & Obleser, J. (2017). Aging affects the balance of neural entrainment and top-down neural modulation in the listening brain. Nature Communications., 8, 15801. doi:10.1038/ncomms15801


Wetzel, N., Schröger, E., & Widmann, A. (2016). Distraction by novel and pitch-deviant sounds in children. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1949.

Wetzel, N., Buttelmann, D., Schieler, A., & Widmann, A. (2016). Infant and adult pupil dilation in response to unexpected sounds. Developmental Psychobiology, 58 (3), 382-392.

Grzeschik, R., Lewald, J., Verhey, J.L., Hoffmann, M.B. & Getzmann, S. (2016). Absence of direction-specific cross-modal visual-auditory adaptation in motion-onset ERPs. European Journal of Neuroscience, 43(1), 66-77.

2015 – 2010

Wetzel, N. (2015). Effects of the short-term learned significance of task-irrelevant sounds on involuntary attention in children and adults. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 98(1), 17-26.

Max, C., Widmann, A., Kotz, S.A., Schröger, E., & Wetzel, N. (2015). Distraction by emotional sounds: Disentangling arousal benefits and orienting costs. Emotion, 15(4), 428-437

Widmann, A., Steinberg, J., Bendixen, A., Friederici, A. D., Grimm, S., Gunter, T. C., Kotz, S. A., Müller, D., Roeber, U., Rübsamen, R., Weise, A., Wetzel, N., & Schröger, E. (Eds.). (2015). Error signals from the brain - 7th mismatch negativity conference. Leipzig: University of Leipzig.

Widmann, A., Bendixen, A., Wetzel, N., Duwe, S., Engbert, R. & Schröger, E. (2015). Untersuchung der Chronometrie auditiver kognitiver Prozesse mit Augenbewegungen. In S. Becker (Hrsg.), Fortschritte der Akustik - DAGA 2015 (pp. 1224-1226). Berlin: DEGA.

Grzeschik, R., Lübken, B. & Verhey, J.L. (2015). Comodulation masking release in an off-frequency masking paradigm. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 138(2), 1194-1205.

Wetzel, N., (2014). Development of control of attention from different perspectives. Frontiers in Psychology, 5:1000.

Wetzel, N., & Schröger, E. (2014). On the development of auditory distraction: A review. PsyCh Journal, 3, 72-91.

Wetzel, N., Schröger, E., Widmann, A. (2013). The dissociation between the P3a event-related potential and behavioral distraction. Psychophysiology, 50(9), 920-930.

Grzeschik, R., Böckmann-Barthel, M., Mühler, R., Verhey, J.L. & Hoffmann, M.B. (2013). Direction-specific adaptation of motion-onset auditory evoked potentials. European Journal of Neuroscience, 38 (4), 2557-2565.

Wetzel, N., Widmann, A., & Schröger, E. (2012). Distraction and facilitation - two faces of the same coin? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception andPerformance, 38(3), 664-674.

Wetzel, N. (2012). It’s irrelevant for the task but interesting! – How children process and attend to task-irrelevant information. Research Topic. Frontiers in Psychology.

Wetzel, N., Widmann, A., & Schröger, E. (2011). Processing of novel identifiability and duration in children and adults. Biological Psychology, 86(1), 39-49.

Hoffmann, M.B., Kaule, F., Grzeschik, R., Behrens-Baumann, W. & Wolynski,, B. (2011). Retinotopic mapping of the human visual cortex with functional magnetic resonance imaging – principles, current developments & ophthalmological perspectives. Klinische Monatsblätter für Augenheilkunde, 228, 613-620.

Hoffmann, M.B., Kaule, F., Grzeschik, R., Behrens-Baumann, W. & Wolynski,, B. (2011). Retinotope Kartierung des menschlichen visuellen Kortex mit funktioneller Magnetresonanztomografie – Grundlagen, aktuelle Entwicklungen und Perspektiven für die Ophthalmologie. Klinische Monatsblätter für Augenheilkunde, 228, 613-620.

Bendixen, A., Grimm, S., Deouell, L. Y., Wetzel, N., Mädebach, A., & Schröger, E. (2010). The time-course of auditory and visual distraction effects in a new crossmodal paradigm. Neuropsychologia, 48, 2130-2139.

Mikkola, K., Wetzel, N., Leipälä, J., Serenius-Sirve, S., Schröger, E., Huotilainen, M., & Fellman, V. (2010). Behavioral and evoked potential measures of distraction in 5-year old children born preterm. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 77(1), 8-12. 

Ruhnau, P., Wetzel, N., Widmann, A., & Schröger, E. (2010). The modulation of auditory novelty processing by working memory load in school age children and adults: a combined behavioral and event-related potential study. BMC Neuroscience, 11, 126, 1-14.

Grzeschik, R., Böckmann-Barthel, M., Mühler, R. & Hoffmann, M.B. (2010). Motion-onset auditory-evoked potentials critically depend on history. Experimental Brain Research, 203 (1), 159-168.

before 2010

Wetzel, N., Widmann, A., & Schröger, E. (2009). The cognitive control of distraction by novelty in children aged 7-8 and adults. Psychophysiology, 46(3), 607-616.

Wolynski, B., Wollrab, A., Grzeschik, R., Speck, O., Stadler, J. & Hofmann, M.B. (2009). Retinotopic mapping of the human occipito-parietal cortex at a magnetic field strength 7 T. Perception, 39, 119.

Wetzel, N., & Schröger, E. (2007). Cognitive control of involuntary attention and distraction in children and adolescents. Brain Research, 1155, 134-146.

Wetzel, N., & Schröger, E. (2007). Modulation of involuntary attention by the duration of novel and pitch deviant sounds in children and adolescents. Biological Psychology, 75(1), 24-31

Wetzel, N., Widmann, A., Berti, S., & Schröger, E. (2006). The development of involuntary and voluntary attention from childhood to adulthood: a combined behavioral and event-related potential study. Clinical Neurophysiology, 117(10), 2191-2203.

Wetzel, N., Berti, S., Widmann, A., & Schröger, E. (2004). Distraction and reorientation in children: a behavioral and ERP study. Neuroreport, 15(8), 1355-1358.



Leibniz Association, P58/2017, "Leibniz Best Minds: Programme for Women Professors" (2018-2022)

Independent CBBS Research Group ZS/2016/04/78120 (2017-2021)

German Research Foundation (DFG) WE 5026/1-2, (2016-2019)

German Research Foundation (DFG) WE 5026/2-1, International Scientific Events: "Error Signals from the Brain - 7th Mismatch Negativity Conference" (2015)

German Research Foundation (DFG) WE 5026/1-1, (2012-2015)



Developmental psychology

  • Childhood developmental psychology (VL)
  • Selected themes from development, learning and teaching (VL)
  • Intervention planning (S) 
  • Mechanisms of human development, special research areas (S)

Clinical psychology and psychotherapy for children and adolescents and Educational Psychology

  • Learning- and behavioral disorders (VL)
  • Developmental psychopathology of children and teenagers (S)
  • Educational-psychological methods of intervention (VL)

Cognitive and biological Psychology

  • Perception and psychophysics (VL, S)
  • Project module cognition (S)
  • Perceptive processes (S)
  • Biological psychology (S)


  • Supervising tutor for the BELL Programme (Junior Research Projects in Schools), Regional school, Kloster Pforta

Information for families

Thank you for your interest in our studies. In the following you will find further information.

Contact address:

Leibniz Insitute for Neurobiology (LIN)

Brenneckestraße 6

39118 Magdeburg


Email address:


Phone Number:

0049 391 626 393431


How to get to us

By car:

From Berlin: Continue on the A2 motorway until you reach the exit "Magdeburg Zentrum (B71)". Follow the city motorway to the exit "Leipziger Straße". Turn left at the traffic light onto the Brenneckestraße. You will see the large LIN Building on the left side.  There are two entrances, one is located at the entrance ZENIT and 80 meters further, the main entrance to the LIN.

From the direction Halle/Hannover: Continue on the A14 motorway until you reach the exit "Sudenburg (B81)" in the direction of Magdeburg city centre. Follow the city motorway until you reach the exit "Leipziger Straße". Turn right at the traffic light onto the Brenneckestraße. The large building ahead on the left side is the LIN building.  There are two entrances, one is located at the entrance ZENIT and 80 meters further, the main entrance to the LIN.

By public transport:

From Magdeburg central station you can take the city tram 6 (direction "Leipziger Chaussee") to the stop: "Brenneckestraße" or one stop earlier, "Universitätsklinikum". From the city center (Hasselbachplatz) you can also take the city tram 9 (direction Reform) to "Brenneckestraße" or "Universitätsklinikum". The journey takes approximately 15 minutes. It will take another 10 minutes walk down the Brenneckestraße until you reach the LIN building on the right hand side.

On arrival:

Once you reach the LIN building, please enter and report to the reception desk. The receptionist will inform us of your arrival and we will come to greet you.

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