ZiF Research Group

Cognitive Behavior of Humans, Animals, and Machines:

Situation Model Perspectives

October 2019 – July 2020

Convenors: Werner Schneider (Bielefeld, GER), Helge Ritter (Bielefeld, GER)

Andrew Wikenheiser


Foto Department of Psychology,
University of California, Los Angeles, USA
E-Mail: amwikenheiser@gmail.com


Andrew Wikenheiser received his Bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Mary, in Bismarck, North Dakota, USA. He earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota, and completed post-doctoral training at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program. In 2018 he began a faculty position in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is currently an assistant professor.

Current Main Research Interests

Our laboratory studies neural representations contribute to complex behaviors like decision making. We investigate this question by recording the electrical activity of large ensembles of neurons as rats perform carefully-designed behavioral tasks. Electrophysiological approaches are augmented by optogenetic manipulations of neural activity and computational analysis techniques. Our current work focuses on how interactions between the hippocampus and cortical regions contribute to decision making in complex, naturalistic settings, and how neural representations of environmental structure contribute to adaptive behavioral performance.

Five selected publications with particular relevance to the Research Group
  • Zhou, J., Montesinos-Cartagena, M., Wikenheiser, A. M., Gardner, M. P., Niv, Y., & Schoenbaum, G. (2019). Complementary task structure representations in hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex during an odor sequence task. Current Biology, 29(20), 3402-3409.
  • Wikenheiser, A. M., Marrero-Garcia, Y., & Schoenbaum, G. (2017). Suppression of ventral hippocampal output impairs integrated orbitofrontal encoding of task structure. Neuron, 95(5), 1197-1207.
  • Sadacca, B. F., Wikenheiser, A. M., & Schoenbaum, G. (2017). Toward a theoretical role for tonic norepinephrine in the orbitofrontal cortex in facilitating flexible learning. Neuroscience, 345, 124-129.
  • Wikenheiser, A. M., & Schoenbaum, G. (2016). Over the river, through the woods: cognitive maps in the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17(8), 513-523.
  • Wikenheiser, A. M., & Redish, A. D. (2015). Hippocampal theta sequences reflect current goals. Nature Neuroscience, 18(2), 289.