28. September 2022

Award-Winning Research at the MPI for Empirical Aesthetics

Darinka Trübutschek et al at the award ceremony

Darinka Trübutschek (4th from left) at the L'Oréal-UNESCO "For Women in Science" award ceremony. (Photo: Thomas Rafalzyk/L'Oréal Deutschland GmbH)

We live with the ongoing illusion that our senses capture and reflect reality objectively. But our perception is by no means a faithful reflection of the external world, but rather a subjective interpretation of the imprecise nerve signals transmitted by our sense organs to our brains. Our previous personal experiences and memories, in particular, appear to be involved in this process of perception.

Our understanding of the close links between perception and memory forms the basis for numerous models and theories about the human brain. What has been missing, however, is a unifying theory for explaining exactly when and how perception and memory interact, or fuse, and which specific mechanisms in the human brain make this possible.

Such a theory is exactly what cognitive neuroscientist Darinka Trübutschek has set out to develop. A postdoctoral researcher in the Research Group Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Dr. Trübutschek has just been awarded two of the most prestigious international honors for young scientists.

“While working on my doctoral thesis*,” Trübutschek explains, “I discovered, contrary to established theories, that the visual information that we perceive only subconsciously is stored in our working memory over an extended period of time and can influence our behavior for several seconds. In my current research project, I am attempting to decipher the interplay between consciously perceived memories and current perception.”

Darinka Trübutschek was presented the L’Oréal–UNESCO For Women in Science Award on September 27, 2022. The For Women in Science Program supports female scientists worldwide. In Germany, it aims above all to support outstanding young women scientists with children in balancing family and career.

With the commencement of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Research Fellowship on September 1, 2022, Dr. Trübutschek continues her postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Program for doctoral education and postdoctoral training is one of the European Union’s key programs for supporting outstanding young researchers and promoting interdisciplinary research and international collaboration.

*Truebutschek et al., eLife (2017); Truebutschek et al., SciRep (2019); Truebutschek et al., PNAS (2019).



Darinka Trübutschek