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Dr. Sebastian Frank

Research Interest

I am interested in mechanisms of learning and brain plasticity and in how such mechanisms change over the course of life. I investigate learning and plasticity in the visual sensory system as a model. This so-called visual perceptual learning can occur as a result of repeated practice or mere exposure to a visual feature (for example, a visual orientation) and can last for years after the end of training. I use different methods of cognitive neuroscience to investigate visual perceptual learning and development in human participants, including psychophysics, brain imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation. I received training in psychology at the University of Regensburg and in cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth College and at Brown University.

Since 2022 I am leading an Emmy Noether Group at the Institute for Psychology at the University of Regensburg supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

Current Position 

  • Since 06/2022: Emmy Noether Group leader at University of Regensburg, Germany. 

Professional Experience

  • 11/2021 – 05/2022: Postdoctoral Research Associate. University of Regensburg, Germany. 
  • 11/2017 – 10/2021: Postdoctoral Research Associate. Brown University, USA.


  • 11/06/2017: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Cognitive Neuroscience. Dartmouth College, USA.
  • 08/2012 – 06/2017: Graduate studies (Ph.D.) in Cognitive Neuroscience. Dartmouth College, USA.
  • 28/08/2012: Diplom-Psychologe. University of Regensburg, Germany. 
  • 10/2006 – 08/2012: Studies of Psychology (Dipl.-Psych.). University of Regensburg, Germany.


  • 2024: Hector Research Career Development Award.
  • 2016: Marie A. Center 1982 Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Research. Dartmouth College, USA. 
  • 2014: Elsevier/Vision Research Student Travel Award. Vision Sciences Society (VSS), USA.  
  • 2014: Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award. Dartmouth College, USA. 


  • Hector Fellow Academy: "Behavioral and neuronal mechanisms of effective and efficient visual perceptual learning in children". 
  • University of Regensburg, UR Fellows Program: "Changes in the representations of the fingers in the brain after nerve injuries to the hand".
  • Julitta und Richard Müller Stiftung: "Supporting learning and memory skills in early stage dementia through training with neurofeedback".
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG): Emmy Noether Group (Project number: 491290285): “A lifespan perspective of visual learning and plasticity”.

Selected Publications

  • Frank SM, Becker M, Qi A, Geiger P, Frank UI, Rosedahl LA, Malloni WM, Sasaki Y, Greenlee MW, Watanabe T (2022). Efficient learning in children with rapid GABA boosting during and after training. Current Biology, 32:5022-5030.e7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2022.10.021
  • Frank SM, Otto A, Volberg G, Tse PU, Watanabe T, Greenlee MW (2022). Transfer of tactile learning from trained to untrained body parts supported by cortical coactivation in primary somatosensory cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 42:6131-6144. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0301-22.2022
  • Frank SM, Bründl S, Frank UI, Sasaki Y, Greenlee MW, Watanabe T (2021). Fundamental differences in visual perceptual learning between children and adults. Current Biology, 31:427-432. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.10.047
  • Frank SM, Forster L, Pawellek M, Malloni WM, Ahn S, Tse PU, Greenlee MW (2021). Visual attention modulates glutamate-glutamine levels in vestibular cortex: evidence from magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Journal of Neuroscience, 41:1970-1981. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2018-20.2020
  • Frank SM, Qi A, Ravasio D, Sasaki Y, Rosen EL, Watanabe T (2020). Supervised learning occurs in visual perceptual learning of complex natural images. Current Biology, 30:2995-3000. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.05.050
  • Frank SM, Pawellek M, Forster L, Langguth B, Schecklmann M, Greenlee MW (2020). Attention networks in the parietooccipital cortex modulate activity of the human vestibular cortex during attentive visual processing. Journal of Neuroscience, 40:1110-1119. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1952-19.2019
  • Bang JW*, Shibata K*, Frank SM*, Walsh EG, Greenlee MW, Watanabe T, Sasaki Y (2018). Consolidation and reconsolidation share behavioural and neurochemical mechanisms. Nature Human Behaviour, 2:507-513. *shared first authorship https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0366-8

Reviewing Activities for Peer-Reviewed Journals 

Attention, Perception & Psychophysics | Brain | Brain and Behavior | Brain Sciences | Brain Structure and Function | Cerebral Cortex | Cortex | Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience | Frontiers in Neurology | Human Brain Mapping | i-Perception | Journal of Experimental Psychology: General | Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience | Journal of Neuroscience | Journal of Neuroscience Methods | Journal of Neuroscience Research | Journal of Vision | Neuroimage | Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews | STAR Protocols

Editorial Work

since 09/2022: Associate Editor for Learning and Cognitive Development, Frontiers in Cognition.

Teaching Experience

I was a teaching assistant for several undergraduate (B.Sc.) courses at Dartmouth College including seminar classes in “Cognitive Neuroscience” and “Social Perception”, as well as laboratory training in Experimental Psychology (“Laboratory in Psychological Science”). For my teaching I received the “Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher” award from Dartmouth College in 2014.

As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University, I completed the Sheridan Center Certificate Programs for effective teaching. As part of the certificate programs, I taught workshops about “Diversity and Inclusion”, “Rhetorical Practice”, “Learning Design”, and “Student Engagement” for graduate students and postdocs at Brown University.

At the University of Regensburg I teach seminar classes for students in M.Sc. Psychology and M.Sc. Biology. Please see “Teaching” for further information. 

If you are interested in more information about me, please visit my personal website at: https://sebastianmartinfrank.wordpress.com

Sebastian Frank, Ph.D.

Universitätsstraße 31
93053 Regensburg

PT-Gebäude, Zi. 4.0.36A

Office hour: n.Vereinbarung