Tobias Heed

Tobias Heed

Full Professor

PLUS Faculty of Natural and Life Sciences

Department of Psychology

I studied Business Administration at the Berufsakademie in Stuttgart and Psychology at the Philipps-University Marburg. After a PhD & Postdoc at the University of Hamburg's Biopsychology I established the Reach & Touch Lab as an Emmy Noether Junior Research Group at Hamburg's Psychology Department. In 2016, I moved the lab to Bielefeld University as Professor for Biopsychology & Cognitive Neuroscience, and in 2021 to the University of Salzburg's Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience as Professor for Cognitive Psychology.

I am fascinated by how we coordinate our bodies to interact with our environment, and how we relate the world to our body. In my research, I start at a basic level and ask how the brain manages seemingly simple things like perceiving touch and performing arm reaches. My aim is to tease out how such simple processes lead to more complex phenomena such as a perception of self, an understanding of space, and the ability to merge information from the different senses into an integrated whole. My work has focused on two aspects of this fascination with the body: our sense of touch, and movements with different body parts or, as we call them, effectors.

Touch and the body in space

Our sense of touch is especially important in determining who we are: after all, the skin is the border between our body and the world. But because we have very versatile bodies, the information about where our body is and where one body part is relative to another, is constantly subject to change. Thus, although our body is somehow "always the same" with its anatomy and body parts, it is also "constantly different" because its configuration in space changes from moment to moment. One of my research foci is the interaction between these two sides of ourselves in space.


We don’t perceive things (like touch) just for their own sake. Instead, we perceive so that we can make decisions about which actions to take next. In many situations we could, in theory, use many ways to achieve our current goals. Just think of opening your door after coming home from a shopping trip. Normally, you’ll use your dominant hand to press the door’s lever. But if you are carrying a shopping bag, you might use your other hand. Or, if you are carrying a big box with both hands, you might use your elbow, knee, or foot to open the door. How the brain is able to keep “in mind” these different options and choose between them is a second focus of my group’s work.

Bringing it together

No movement ocurs without creating tactile sensations. And when we want to move towards a touch we've just felt, we can't use the body part that was touched, but must choose a different body part to perform the reach. These are but two examples of how movement and somatosensation – our sense of touch and proprioception – are inseparably intertwined. I'd love to know how it all works. It's what drives my research and keeps me curious.



Allocation of visuospatial attention indexes evidence accumulation for reach decisions
Carolin Schonard, Tobias Heed, Christian Seegelke
Illusory tactile movement crosses arms and legs and is coded in external space
Marie Martel, Xaver Fuchs, Jörg Trojan, Valerie Gockel, Boukje Habets, Tobias Heed


Repetition effects in action planning reflect effector- but not hemisphere-specific coding
Christian Seegelke, Carolin Schonard, Tobias Heed
Journal of Neurophysiology


External location of touch is constructed post-hoc based on limb choice
Femke Maij, Christian Seegelke, W. Pieter Medendorp, Tobias Heed
Online Sensory Feedback During Active Search Improves Tactile Localization
Xaver Fuchs, Dirk U. Wulff, Tobias Heed
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance


Alpha-band oscillations reflect external spatial coding for tactile stimuli in sighted, but not in congenitally blind humans
Jonathan T.W. Schubert, Verena N. Buchholz, Julia Föcker, Andreas K. Engel, Brigitte Röder, Tobias Heed
Scientific Reports
Feeling a Touch to the Hand on the Foot
Stephanie Badde, Brigitte Röder, Tobias Heed
Current Biology


Which limb is it? Responses to vibrotactile stimulation in early infancy
Eszter Somogyi, Lisa Jacquey, Tobias Heed, Matej Hoffmann, Jeffrey J. Lockman, Lionel Granjon, Jacqueline Fagard, J. Kevin O'Regan
British Journal of Developmental Psychology


Abstract spatial, but not body-related, visual information guides bimanual coordination
Janina Brandes, Farhad Rezvani, Tobias Heed
Scientific Reports


Functional versus effector-specific organization of the human posterior parietal cortex: Revisited
Tobias Heed, Frank T.M. Leone, Ivan Toni, W. Pieter Medendorp
Journal of Neurophysiology
Disentangling the external reference frames relevant to tactile localization
Tobias Heed, Jenny Backhaus, Brigitte Röder, Stephanie Badde
Neural correlates of tactile perception during pre-, peri-, and post-movement
Georgiana Juravle, Tobias Heed, Charles Spence, Brigitte Röder
Experimental Brain Research


Oscillatory activity reflects differential use of spatial reference frames by sighted and blind individuals in tactile attention
Jonathan T.W. Schubert, Verena N. Buchholz, Julia Föcker, Andreas K. Engel, Brigitte Röder, Tobias Heed
Irrelevant tactile stimulation biases visual exploration in external coordinates
Jose P. Ossandon, Peter König, Tobias Heed
Scientific Reports
Flexibly weighted integration of tactile reference frames
Stephanie Badde, Brigitte Röder, Tobias Heed


Understanding effector selectivity in human posterior parietal cortex by combining information patterns and activation measures
Frank T.M. Leoné, Tobias Heed, Ivan Toni, W. Pieter Medendorp
Journal of Neuroscience
Processing load impairs coordinate integration for the localization of touch
Stephanie Badde, Tobias Heed, Brigitte Röder
Attention, Perception & Psychophysics
Multiple spatial representations determine touch localization on the fingers
Stephanie Badde, Brigitte Röder, Tobias Heed
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance


Multisensory integration across the menstrual cycle
Sebastian Ocklenburg, Claudia C. Wolf, Tobias Heed, Anna Ball, Holger Cramer, Brigitte Röder, Onur Güntürkün
Frontiers in Psychology


Integration of hand and finger location in external spatial coordinates for tactile localization
Tobias Heed, Jenny Backhaus, Brigitte Röder
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance


Visuotactile interactions in the congenitally acallosal brain: Evidence for early cerebral plasticity
Claudia C. Wolf, Anna Ball, Sebastian Ocklenburg, Tobias Otto, Tobias Heed, Brigitte Röder, Onur Güntürkün
Visual information and rubber hand embodiment differentially affect reach-to-grasp actions
Tobias Heed, Michael Gründler, Jennifer Rinkleib, Franziska H. Rudzik, Thérèse Collins, Edward Cooke, J. Kevin O'regan
Acta Psychologica
Functional rather than effector-specific organization of human posterior parietal cortex
Tobias Heed, Sabine M. Beurze, Ivan Toni, Brigitte Röder, W. Pieter Medendorp
Journal of Neuroscience


Others' actions reduce crossmodal integration in peripersonal space
Tobias Heed, Boukje Habets, Natalie Sebanz, Günther Knoblich
Current Biology
The neural basis of lip-reading capabilities is altered by early visual deprivation
Lisa Putzar, Ines Goerendt, Tobias Heed, Gisbert Richard, Christian Büchel, Brigitte Röder
Eye-movement-driven changes in the perception of auditory space
Thérèse Collins, Tobias Heed, Brigitte Röder
Attention, Perception & Psychophysics
Visual target selection and motor planning define attentional enhancement at perceptual processing stages
Thérèse Collins, Tobias Heed, Brigitte Röder
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Presaccadic attention interferes with feature detection
Thérèse Collins, Tobias Heed, Karine Doré-Mazars, Brigitte Röder
Experimental Brain Research


Change of reference frame for tactile localization during child development
Birthe Pagel, Tobias Heed, Brigitte Röder
Developmental Science


Action goal selection and motor planning can be dissociated by tool use
Thérèse Collins, Tobias Schicke, Brigitte Röder
On the relationship between slow cortical potentials and BOLD signal changes in humans
Patrick Khader, Tobias Schicke, Brigitte Röder, Frank Rösler
International Journal of Psychophysiology


Developmental vision determines the reference frame for the multisensory control of action
Brigitte Röder, Anna Kusmierek, Charles Spence, Tobias Schicke
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


Spatial remapping of touch: Confusion of percieved stimulus order across hand and foot
Tobias Schicke, Brigitte Rôder
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Tight covariation of BOLD signal changes and slow ERPs in the parietal cortex in a parametric spatial imagery task with haptic acquisition
Tobias Schicke, Lars Muckli, Anton L. Beer, Michael Wibral, Wolf Singer, Rainer Goebel, Frank Rösler, Brigitte Röder
European Journal of Neuroscience


Influence of visual information on the auditory median plane of the head
Tobias Schicke, Lisa Demuth, Brigitte Röder


Word order effects in German sentences and German pseudo-word sentences
Brigitte Röder, Tobias Schicke, Oliver Stock, Gwen Heberer, Helen Neville, Frank Rösler
Sprache and Kognition