Memory and decision making
Research group


Our subjective identity is a bundle of memories, in particular memories of episodes we experienced in our life. Not only which episodes of our life we remember but also the quality of these memories, for instance how vivid, how emotional, how detailed there are, influences how we think about us. Moreover, our memories of past experiences influence often also our decisions. This relationship between our memories and our identity makes it particularly fascinating to study the cognitive, physiological and neural processes that modulate episodic memory formation and retrieval. as well as interactions between memory and decision making.

(Just a short personal note to avoid confusion with respect to my name: Upon marrying in 2003, my official last name became ‘Sommer-Blöchl’. However, as this name is unpronouncable for most non-Germans and for simplicity's sake, I use my maiden name ‘Sommer’ for scientific purposes.)

  • Staff
  • Staff
    Dr. rer. nat.
    Tobias Sommer-Blöchl


    Janine Bayer

    Gina Joue

    PhD students

    Alina Dinu

    MD thesis students

    Sepideh Fazeli

    Claire Erwins

    Franziska Singer

    Ole Wächtler

    Marie Wachow

    Master thesis students

    Katharina Richter

    Student assistance


    Dipl.-Psych. Pia Bandurski

    Gemma Barnacle (DAAD scholar of the University of Manchester, England), PhD

    Prof. Jeremy Caplan (Sabbatical, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

    Dr. rer. nat. Isabel Ellerbrock

    Prof. Esther Fujiwara (Sabbatical, University of Alberta, Edmonton Canada)

    Dr. Nora Hennies

    Dr. med. Angela Klingmüller

    Chris Madan, PhD (DAAD scholar from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

    Dr. rer. nat. Andreas Marschner

    Dr. rer. nat. Heidrun Schultz

    Dr. rer. nat. Ulrike Schwarze

    Michael Tobia, PhD

    Dr. human. biol. Antonius Wiehler

    Dr. Dirk Schümann

    Dr. Mareike Clos

  • Topics

    • modulation of memory encoding and consolidation by cognitive, affective and physiological factors
    • effects of neurosteroids on brain function
    • interaction of striatum and medial temporal lobe in episodic memory
    • interaction of episodic memory and decision making


    • fMFRI and VBM
    • behavioural experiments
    • eye tracking and peripheral physiology
    • pharmacological and genetic approaches

  • Fujiwara E, Madan CR, Caplan JB, Sommer T. (2021) Emotional arousal impairs association memory: roles of prefrontal cortex regions. Learn Mem. 28(3):76-81.

    Becker M, Kühn S, Sommer T (2020). Verbal insight revisited—dissociable neurocognitive processes underlying solutions accompanied by an AHA! experience with and without prior restructuring. Journal of Cognitive Psychology

    Bayer J, Gläscher J, Finsterbusch J, Schulte LH, Sommer T. (2018). Linear and inverted U-shaped dose-response functions describe estrogen effects on hippocampal activity in young women. Nature communications; 9(1):1220.

    Madan CR, Fujiwara E, Caplan JB, Sommer T. (2017). Emotional arousal impairs association-memory: Roles of amygdala and hippocampus. NeuroImage; 156:14-28.

    Sommer T. (2017). The Emergence of Knowledge and How it Supports the Memory for Novel Related Information. Cerebral cortex; 27(3):1906-1921

    Clos, M., Schwarze, U., Gluth, S., Bunzeck, N., & Sommer, T. (2015). Goal- and retrieval-dependent activity in the striatum during memory recognition. Neuropsychologia; 72:1-11.

    Gluth, S., Sommer, T., Rieskamp, J., & Büchel, C. (2015). Effective Connectivity between Hippocampus and Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Controls Preferential Choices from Memory. Neuron, 86(4):1078-90.

  • Funding

    2020 A computational psychiatric approach to understanding category representation in autism spectrum disorder (DFG, J. Bayer)

    2017 Aufgabenspezifischer Stress und flexibles Lernen (Landesforschungsförderung Hanmburg; T. Sommer & J. Gläscher)

    2015 Sex specific effects of estrogen on the neural substrates of episodic and fear memory (DFG, Sommer)

    Past funding

    2017 Dopaminerge Verstärkung von Gedächtnisleistung beim Erinnern – eine pharmakologische fMRT-Studie mit gesunden Probanden (UKE FFM; M. Clos)

    2016 Entwicklung eines kognitiven Modells der Wirkung von Östrogen (DGPFG, Bayer)

    2014 Auswirkung der Interaktion zwischen Östrogen und Dopamin auf die, den kognitiven Funktionen zugrundeliegenden, synaptische und Netzwerk-Aktivität bei Mäusen und Menschen (Landesforschungsförderung Hamburg; Büchel, Sommer, Bunzeck, Morrelini)

    2014 The influence of estrogen on hippocampal and amygdala dependent emotional memory (DFG; T. Sommer & J. Gläscher)

    2011 Functional significance of the ventral striatum during recognition memory (DFG; T. Sommer & N. Bunzeck)

    2010 Visiting scholar at the Stanford Memory Lab, Stanford University, headed by Prof. Anthony Wagner (DAAD; T. Sommer)

    2010 Emotional modulation of memory encoding and retrieval in the Concealed Information Test (DFG; M. Gamer, T. Sommer, C. Büchel, & G. Vossel)

    2009 Neurodapt! Core Project (Excellence Intiviative Hamburg; T. Sommer, & K. Kutsche)

    2009 Functional organization of the human medial temporal lobe (DFG; J. Peters, T. Sommer, & C. Büchel)

    2009 Using Computational Models to Understand Mechanisms Underlying Complex Human Learning and its Genetic Basis Across the Life-Span (BMBF Bernstein; C. Büchel & T. Sommer)

    2008 Localization and Functional Relevance of the Central Nervous Estrogen Synthesis (DFG; T. Sommer, C. Büchel, & G. Rune)

    1999 Visiting scientist at the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, New York, (Volkswagen Foundation; T. Sommer)

  • Nikolai Axmacher
    Ruhr-University Bochum

    Sebastian Gluth
    Universität Basel

    Jeremy Caplan
    University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

    Christian Döller
    Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University

    Nijmegen Esther Fujiwara
    University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

    Penny Lewis
    University of Manchester, England

    Chris Madan
    Boston College, Boston, USA

    Deborah Talmi
    University of Manchester, England

    Anthony Wagner
    Stanford University, USA

    Thomas Wolbers
    German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg

  • Currently no open positions are available.