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)

Rebecca M. Foerster

Former Coordinator

Foto Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), &
Neuro-cognitive Psychology, Department of Psychology, &
Center for Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC),
Bielefeld University, Germany
E-Mail: rfoerster@uni-bielefeld.de


Rebecca Foerster studied psychology at Bielefeld University, where she also finished her PhD in 2012 about "Eye movements, attention, and memory processes during sensorimotor learning and automatization". In 2013, her dissertation was awarded with the third place in the biennial thesis competition by the "Fachgruppe Allgemeine Psychologie of the German Psychological Society (DGPs). From 2013 to 2018, she worked in the project "Learning to attend in sensorimotor tasks" at the DFG-funded cluster of excellence CITEC.

Current Main Research Interests

My research is motivated by the overarching question of how humans learn to use their attention, eye movements, and memory capabilities in order to accomplish sensorimotor tasks. To get insights into this question, I study attention and memory in isolation in classical experimental paradigms (e.g., letter report) as well as in tasks that afford an efficient combination of both cognitive abilities such as real-world sequential sensorimotor actions (e.g., cup stacking). I apply psychophysical experiments, experiments in virtual reality, eye movement recordings, and motion tracking and analyze performance measures, eye movements, scanpath similarity, and individual differences. My vision is to reveal the essentials of efficient sensorimotor learning and control which is a prerequisite for helping humans to learn faster, act smarter, rehabilitate lost functions, and to design intelligently acting machines.

Five selected publications with particular relevance to the Research Group
  • Foerster, R. M., & Schneider, W. X. (2018). Involuntary top-down control by search-irrelevant features: Visual working memory biases attention in an object-based manner. Cognition, 172, 37-45. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.12.002
  • Foerster, R. M. (2016). Task-irrelevant expectation violations in sequential manual actions: Evidence for a "check-after-surprise" mode of visual attention and eye-hand decoupling. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1-12. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01845
  • Foerster*, R. M., Poth*, C. H., Behler, C., Botsch, M., & Schneider, W. X. (2016). Using the virtual reality device Oculus Rift for neuropsychological assessment of visual processing capabilities. Scientific Reports, 6, 37016. doi:10.1038/srep37016
    *contributed equally
  • Foerster, R. M., & Schneider, W. X. (2013). Functionally sequenced scanpath similarity method (FuncSim): Comparing and evaluating scanpath similarity based on a task's inherent sequence of functional (action) units. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 6, 1-22. doi:10.16910/jemr.6.5.4
  • Foerster, R. M., Carbone, E., Koesling, H., & Schneider, W. X. (2012). Saccadic eye movements in the dark while performing an automatized sequential high-speed sensorimotor task. Journal of Vision, 12(2):8, 1-15. doi:10.1167/12.2.8