Senior researchers
Miriam Nokia
Markku Penttonen
Jan Wikgren

Post-doctoral Fellows
Arto Lipponen
Tiina Pirttimäki (UEF, Kuopio)
Jin Nanxiang (visiting from UEF, Kuopio)

PhD Students
Georgios Mertikas
Hanna Pyykönen
Tomi Waselius

Research assistants
Lauri Kantola
Eveliina Pöllänen
Joonas Sahramäki

Suvi Waselius (PhD, 2015)
Anu Karvonen (PhD, 2017)
Irina Gureviciene (post-doc, 2016)
Sanna Lensu (post-doc, 2017-2018)

Behavioural neuroscience group

Research goals and focuses

We use both animal models and human volunteers to study the basic mechanisms by which the brain creates new associations. In humans, we study the effects of emotional states and personality traits on innate reflexes and associative learning combined with EEG and other psychophysiological measures. In animal models of learning, we concentrate on the role of the hippocampus as an orchestrator of relational learning in the mammalian brain.

Together with researchers from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, we also study the relationship between gut microbiota, aerobic fitness, physical exercise, cognition and brain plasticity.

Keywords and themes

Learning and memory, hippocampus, oscillations, adult neurogenesis, aerobic fitness, physical exercise


Behavioural testing, local field potentials, single-unit activity, electrical and optical stimulation, immunohistochemistry, EEG, MEG


Selected publications

Waselius T, Wikgren J, Halkola H, Penttonen M, Nokia MS. 2018. Learning by heart: cardiac cycle reveals an effective time window for learning. Journal of Neurophysiology, 120(2):830-838. doi: 10.1152/jn.00128.2018.

Nokia MS, Gureviciene I, Waselius T, Tanila H, Penttonen M. 2017. Hippocampal electrical stimulation disrupts learning when targeted at dentate spikes. Journal of Physiology. 595(14):4961-4971.  doi: 10.1113/JP274023.

Nokia MS, Lensu S, Ahtiainen JP, Johansson PP, Koch LG, Britton SL, Kainulainen H. 2016 Physical exercise increases adult hippocampal neurogenesis in male rats provided it is aerobic and sustained. Journal of Physiology. 594(7):1855-1873. doi: 10.1113/JP271552.

Nokia MS, Wikgren J. 2014 Effects of hippocampal state-contingent trial presentation on hippocampus-dependent nonspatial classical conditioning and extinction. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(17):6003-6010.

Wikgren J, Mertikas GG, Raussi P, Tirkkonen R, Äyräväinen L, Pelto-Huikko M, Koch LG, Britton SL, Kainulainen H. 2012. Selective breeding for endurance running capacity affects cognitive but not motor learning in rats. Physiology & Behavior, 106(2):95-100.


Piia Astikainen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland 

Francesco Battaglia, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands 

Tristan A. Bekinschtein, Cambridge, UK

Steven L. Britton, University of Michigan, USA – AFIS

Jozsef Csicsvari, IST Austria, Austria

Olli Gröhn, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Heikki Kainulainen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland – AFIS

Lauren G. Koch, University of Michigan, USA – AFIS

Soili M. Lehto, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Satu Pekkala, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Jaakko Seikkula, University of Jyväskylä, Finland – Relational mind in events of change in multiactor therapeutic dialogues

Heikki Tanila, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Ina Tarkka, University of Jyväskylä, Finland


PI Markku Penttonen, "Dentate gyrus - the gateway to memory?", Research project, Academy of Finland, 2018-2022

PI Miriam Nokia, "Hippocampal representation of temporal information", Research project, Academy of Finland, 2015-2019

PI Miriam Nokia, ”Hippocampal oscillations and associative learning”, Academy Research Fellow, Academy of Finland, 2014-2019

PI Miriam Nokia, Hippocampal oscillatory activity and associative learning”, Postdoctoral Researcher's project, Academy of Finland, 2011-2013

PI Markku Penttonen, “Mechanisms of memory”, Research project, Academy of Finland, 2011-2014


Human neurocognitive laboratories

Classical conditioning and other behavioral testing



Local field potential and single-unit recordings