Simon Hanslmayr – Neural Oscillations in Human Memory and Attention



Thoughts, feelings, or a face we attend to are produced by orchestrated neural firing patterns in distributed brain networks. Precise timing of this neural activity is required in order to represent information in brain networks and to form lasting memories. Neural oscillations, which are ubiquitous in the human brain, establish such precise timing, which is why I chose to investigate oscillations to understand how the brain implements cognition. To this end my research primarily focuses on attention and memory processes in healthy populations. I am also interested in how these processes are affected in clinical populations, like patients suffering from Schizophrenia or Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD). In order to study neural oscillations in humans my lab uses a broad array of electrophysiological and imaging methods from the global scale, such as EEG/MEG, fMRI, combined EEG-fMRI, to the local scale such as intracranial EEG and single unit recordings in humans. Going beyond correlation we study the causal role of oscillations in experiments where we externally perturbate specific oscillations via rhythmic sensory stimulation (i.e. flickering or amplitude modulated sounds), rhythmic transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) and investigate the impact of such oscillatory perturbations on cognition. Using these data we then build computational models of the brain which make specific predictions that we can test empirically. Ultimately, these different approaches will draw a detailed picture of the mechanics of how the brain perceives, stores and retrieves information.


Simon Hanslmayr studied Psychology at the University of Salzburg and finished his PhD in 2005 on the role of alpha oscillations for attention and perception under the supervision of Professor Wolfgang Klimesch. From 2006 until 2010 he did a Postdoc in the lab of Karl-Heinz Bäuml at the University of Regensburg where he focused on the role of brain oscillations for episodic memory. In 2010 he started his own independent research group at the University of Konstanz, funded by an Emmy-Noether award from the German Research Foundation (DFG), where he continued his research on the role of brain oscillations for episodic memory formation. In September 2013 Dr Simon Hanslmayr joined the School where he currently holds a Reader position. His research is funded by several agencies, such as the ERC (Consolidator Grant awarded in 2015; Code4Memory), the Leverhulme Trust, the Royal Society, the Wolfson Society, and the DFG (German Research Foundation).


Cognition and Oscillations LAB

Find out more about current lab members here.



Clouter, A., Shapiro, K.L., Hanslmayr, S. (2017) Theta phase synchronization is the glue that binds human associative memory. Curr Biol., 27(20):3143-3148. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.09.001.

Michelmann, S., Bowman, H., Hanslmayr, S. (2016) The Temporal Signature of Memories: Identification of a General Mechanism for Dynamic Memory Replay in Humans. PLoS Biol, 14(8):e1002528.

Waldhauser, G., Braun, V., Hanslmayr, S., (2016). Episodic memory retrieval functionally relies on very rapid reactivation of sensory information. The Journal of Neuroscience 36, 251-60. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2101-15.2016

Hanslmayr, S., Staresina, B.P., Bowman, H. (2016). Oscillations and episodic memory - Addressing the synchronization/desynchronization conundrum. Trends in Neurosciences. 39, 16-25. DOI:

Staudigl, T., Vollmar, Ch., Noachtar, S., Hanslmayr, S. (2015) Temporal pattern analysis reveals the neural reinstatement of human episodic memory trajectories. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35, 5373–5384.

Hanslmayr, S., Matuschek, J., Fellner, M.C. (2014) Entrainment of prefrontal beta oscillations induces an endogenous echo and impairs memory formation. Current Biology, 24, 904–909.

Hanslmayr, S., Volberg, G., Wimber, M., Dalal, S.S., Greenlee, M.W. (2013) Prestimulus oscillatory phase at 7 Hz gates cortical information flow and perception. Current Biology, 23, 2273-2278.

Staudigl, T., Hanslmayr, S. (2013) Theta oscillations at encoding mediate the context-dependent nature of human episodic memory. Current Biology, 23, 1101-1106.

Hanslmayr, S., Staudigl, T., Fellner, M.-C. (2012) Oscillatory power decreases and long-term memory: The information via desynchronization hypothesis. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6:74.

Waldhauser, G., Johansson, M., Hanslmayr, S. (2012) Brain oscillations indicate inhibition of interfering visual memories. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 1953-1961.

Hanslmayr, S., Volberg, G., Wimber, M., Raabe, M., Greenlee, M.W., Bäuml, K.-H.T. (2011) The relationship between brain oscillations and BOLD signal during memory formation: a combined EEG-fMRI study. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 15674-15680.

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Dr. Simon Hanslmayr

Reader in Cognitive Neuroscience, Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award Fellow

School of Psychology

University of Birmingham

B15 2TT

Tel +44 121 4146203

email: s.hanslmayr<at>