Dr Lina Skora

Neurophysiology of adaptive behaviour and consciousness

I am a cognitive neuroscientist researching the neurophysiological basis of adaptive behaviour. I am particularly interested in its embodied aspect, investigating the autonomic and interoceptive drivers of adaptive learning. A second strand of my research revolves around the relationship between learning and consciousness. My goal is to shed light on consciousness and adaptive behaviour through the lens of bodily information, as well as how this relationship can malfunction in psychiatric diseases.

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at Prof Gerhard Jocham’s group at the Heinrich Heine Universität, Düsseldorf, Germany. I obtained my PhD in 2020 at the University of Sussex, Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, UK. My past affiliations can be found here.

I’m always happy to discuss research or collaborations. You can reach me at L.Skora [at] hhu. de

My Google Scholar, Twitter, and ResearchGate can be found here:

Research themes

Physiology of adaptive behaviour

My chief area of research as a postdoctoral fellow combines physiological measures and learning tasks in order to study the basis of learning and decision-making in the brain and its bodily correlates. I am particularly interested in adaptive learning and decision-making (e.g. instrumental conditioning, explore-exploit decisions), and their autonomic and pharmacological substrates. I use a combination of behavioural, physiological (electrocardiography), and neuroimaging (electroencephalography) techniques, as well as pharmacological manipulations and non-invasive stimulation techniques, most notably transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation.

Embodiment in learning and consciousness

I have always been fascinated by the embodied nature of our conscious experience: how our hearts speed up when we’re excited or anxious, how breathing techniques can calm us down, how we get butterflies in our stomachs. As a researcher, I am interested in the physiology of role of bodily signals in adaptive behaviour, especially learning, and other processes, such as emotion, sense of self, and consciousness. I use psychophysiological techniques (e.g. electrocardiography) in combination with conscious and unconscious learning and conditioning paradigms to study this question.

The role of consciousness in learning

Along the embodied aspect of conscious experience, I am also involved in consciousness research and especially its adaptive function. In this strand of research, I study the feasibility of different forms of adaptive learning with and without conscious experience of the stimuli, in order to find out the role it plays in enabling or facilitating flexible, adaptive behaviour. I use a variety of behavioural tasks, combined with consciousness research methods, neuroimaging, and theoretical approaches including predictive processing.