Marianne Strickrodt, PhD Student
Hometown: Rockstedt, Germany
What are you working on?
I’m interested in spatial cognition, e.g., when we move to a new city, how do we build up memory to orient ourselves and navigate through this new surrounding? It helps to use the analogy of a large mental map in which we record all the places we have visited. However, it’s much more complicated than that, as the mental reflection of our surrounding is distorted, segmented and rather imperfect, but still prevents us from getting lost (most of the time).
How are you going to find out?
I have participants learn a virtual environment containing multiple objects, depending on the research question sometimes spread across multiple corridors, sometimes within a fully visible virtual room. For this I’m using an Oculus Rift in combination with a position tracking system installed in a huge hall, which allows participants to physically walk through my virtual space. Subsequently their memory for object locations is tested with the help of different tasks, such as pointing to objects from memory or drawing maps of the environment.
What motivates you?
It both challenges and fascinates me to draw conclusions about possible underlying mechanisms for memory from the behavior of a person. The errors people make when pointing to a target or the time they take to do so can tell us quite a lot about their memory structure. Furthermore, I think not many professions allow you to learn new skills and gather new knowledge every day.
Your favourite thing outside of science?
Since doing research involves many hours of sitting at a desk staring at your computer I enjoy working with my horse in my free time. There I truly unwind while being in nature, focusing on myself and my horse.