Marco Andre Hirnstein




Department of Biological and Medical Psychology

Research groups


I am mainly interested in three lines of research:
First, how effective are non-invasive brain stimulation techniques as treatment for mental and neurological disorders? Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have become popular methods for treating depression, schizophrenia, stroke, and other mental and neurological disorders. Only for depression there is clear evidence so far that non-invasive brain stimulation effectively reduces symptoms. For all other disorders the efficacy is unclear. Moreover, I am interested in uncovering what the neural mechanisms are that underlie non-invasive brain stimulation treatment.
Secondly, how do cognitive gender differences arise? That is, the phenomenon that in certain cognitive tasks females and males consistently best each other. For example, females tend to outperform males in verbal memory, while males do better at mentally rotating abstract figures. I am interested in how the interaction of biological factors (e.g., sex hormones, genes), social factors (e.g., gender stereotypes), AND psychological factors (e.g., confidence) give rise to cognitive gender differences.
Thirdly, I am interested in what is advantageous about hemispheric specialization? Hemispheric specialization refers to the phenomenon that our two brain halves (=hemispheres) are specialized for different functions. For example, most of us talk with our left hemisphere but recognize faces with our right hemisphere. Why and what evolutionary advantage might this have bestowed upon us? Why are most of us right- and not left-handers and why has this been so for millenia?

Hemispheric specialization is also what binds these seemingly disconnected topics together: It has been proposed that cognitive gender differences arise, because males have a stronger hemispheric specialization than females. The more "asymmetric" organization in males is said to facilitate spatial abilities, while the "more symmetric" organization in females is said to facilitate verbal abilities. Depression and schizophrenia are often characterized by reduced or inverted in hemispheric specialization. Similarly, it is hypothesized that when one hemisphere is lesioned via stroke, the "healthy" hemisphere needs to be inhibited to facilitate rehabilitation. Techniques like TMS or tDCS allow to selectively inhibit or facilitate neural activity in specific brain areas.

In addition, I am working together with the Department of Neurosurgery at the Haukeland University Hospital: We use TMS to localize motor areas in patients with brain tumours to prevent that these areas are damaged during surgery (neurosurgical planning).   

Last but not least, I am the leader of the "FLaSH" group (ForskningsLab for Stimulering av Hjernen). Funded by the Faculty of Psychology and the Bergen Research Foundation, our primary goal is to investigate the efficacy and the underlying neural mechanisms of tDCS as a treatment for reducing auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia. The FLaSH group is a node within the Bergen fMRI group.   


Video/news about brain stimulation:

Media coverage of cognitive gender differences/similarities:

Videos and news about our "voice hearing" online study:

Media coverage of our STOPP STEMMER project:

    nterviews on (left-)handedness and telling 'left' from 'right':

    Media coverage of how we associate colors with certain emotions:


    At the University of Bergen, I am responsible for the Bachelor modules "PSYK207: Læring og atferdspsykologi" [learning and behavior] and "PSYK250: Bacheloroppgåve i generell psykologi" [Bachelor thesis in general psycholoy]. The latter together with Elisabeth Norman. Among others, my teaching duties comprise lectures, seminars, marking, and supervision of Bachelor and Master theses as well as "Emne- and Hovedoppgaver".
    During my stays at the Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany, 2006-2007) and Durham University (UK, 2007-2011) I have supervised a number of Bachelor and Master students and led courses and seminars.

    Academic article
    Academic literature review
    Book review

    See a complete overview of publications in Cristin.

    Journal papers: academic

    • Antal, A., Ganho-Ávila, A., Assecondi, S., Barbour, T., Bjekić, J., Blumberger, D. M., Bolognini, N., Brunelin, J., Chanes, L., Dale, M., Dubbioso, R., D'Urso, G., Filipcic, I., Filipović, S. R., Hirnstein, M., Konings, F., Langguth, B., Leocani, L., Memarian Sorkhabi, M., … Baeken, C. (2024). The consequences of the new European reclassification of non-invasive brain stimulation devices and the medical device regulations pose an existential threat to research and treatment: an invited opinion paper. Clinical Neurophysiology. (Nivå 2)
    • Jonauskaite, D., Epicoco, D., Al-rasheed, A. S., Aruta, J. J. B. R., Bogushevskaya, V., Brederoo, S. G., Corona, V., Fomins, S., Gizdic, A., Griber, Y. A., Havelka, J., Hirnstein, M., John, G., Jopp, D. S., Karlsson, B., Konstantinou, N., Laurent, É., Marquardt, L., Mefoh, P. C. … Mohr, C. (2023). A comparative analysis of colour–emotion associations in 16–88-year-old adults from 31 countries. British Journal of Psychology, 00, 1–31.
    • Karlsson, E. M., Hugdahl, K., Hirnstein, M., & Carey, D. P. (2023). Analysis of distributions reveals real differences on dichotic listening scores between left- and right-handers. Cerebral Cortex Communications, 4(2), tgad009.
    • Vingerhoets, G., Verhelst, H., Gerrits, R., Badcock, N., Bishop, D. V. M., Carey, D., Flindall, J., Grimshaw, G., Harris, L. J., Hausmann, M., Hirnstein, M., Jäncke, L., Joliot, M., Specht, K., & Westerhausen, R. (2023). Laterality indices consensus initiative (LICI): A Delphi expert survey report on recommendations to record, assess, and report asymmetry in human behavioural and brain research. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, 1-70.
    • Baeken, C., Arns, M., Brunelin, J., Chanes, L., Filipcic, I., Ganho-Ávila, A., Hirnstein, M., Rachid, F., Sack, A. T., O'Shea, J., D'Urso, G., & Antal, A. (2023, 2023/03/01/). European reclassification of non-invasive brain stimulation as class III medical devices: A call to action. Brain Stimulation, 16(2), 564-566.
    • Næss, J. Ø., Hirnstein, M., Kusztrits, I., & Larøi, F. (2022, 2022/11/24/). An online survey on clinical and healthy individuals with auditory verbal hallucinations: Abuse did not lead to more negative voice content. Schizophrenia Research. (Nivå 2)
    • Marquardt, L., Craven, A. R., Hugdahl, K., Johnsen, E., Kroken, R. A., Kusztrits, I., Specht, K., Thomassen, A. S., Weber, S., & Hirnstein, M. (2022). Pilot-RCT Finds No Evidence for Modulation of Neuronal Networks of Auditory Hallucinations by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation. Brain Sciences, 12(10), 1382.
    • Hirnstein, M., Stuebs, J., Moè, A., & Hausmann, M. (2023). Sex/Gender Differences in Verbal Fluency and Verbal-Episodic Memory: A Meta-Analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 18(1), 67-90. (Nivå 2)
    • Kusztrits, I., Toh, W. L., Thomas, N., Larøi, F., Meyers, D., Hirnstein, M., & Rossell, S. (2022). From core schemas about the self and others to voice phenomenology: Anxiety and depression affect voice hearers differently. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 95, 493-507. 
    • Laloyaux, J., Hirnstein, M., Specht, K., Giersch, A., & Larøi, F. (2022, 2022/07/04). Eliciting false auditory perceptions using speech frequencies and semantic priming: a signal detection approach. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 27(4), 255-272.
    • Kusztrits, I., Marquardt, L., Hugdahl, K., & Hirnstein, M. (2021). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) enhances internal source monitoring abilities in healthy participants. PLoS ONE, 16(9), e0257010.
    • Hirnstein, M., & Hausmann, M. (2021). Sex/gender differences in the brain are not trivial—A commentary on Eliot et al. (2021). Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 130, 408-409. (Nivå 2)
    • Wehling, E., Bless, J. J., Hirnstein, M., Kråkvik, B., Vedul-Kjelsås, E., Hugdahl, K., Kalhovde, A. M., & Larøi, F. (2021). Olfactory hallucinations in a population-based sample. Psychiatry Research, 304, 114117.
    • Kusztrits, I., Larøi, F., Laloyaux, J., Marquardt, L., Sinkeviciute, I., Kjelby, E., . . . Hirnstein, M. (2021). Mapping psychotic-like experiences: Results from an online survey. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 62, 237-248. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12683
    • Jonauskaite, D., Abu-Akel, A., Dael, N., Oberfeld, D., Abdel-Khalek, A. M., Al-Rasheed, A. S., . . . Mohr, C. (2020). Universal Patterns in Color-Emotion Associations Are Further Shaped by Linguistic and Geographic Proximity. Psychological Science, 31(10), 1245-1260. 0956797620948810. doi: 10.1177/0956797620948810 (Nivå 2)
    • Marquardt, L., Kusztrits, I., Craven, A. R., Hugdahl, K., Specht, K., & Hirnstein, M. (2020). A multimodal study of the effects of tDCS on dorsolateral prefrontal and temporo-parietal areas during dichotic listening. European Journal of Neuroscience, 53(2), 449-459. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14932
    • Laloyaux, J., Collazzoni, A., Hirnstein, M., Kusztrits, I., & Larøi, F. (2020). Personal resilience factors protect against distressing auditory hallucinations: A study comparing psychotic patients with auditory hallucinations, non-patients with auditory hallucinations, and healthy controls. Psychiatry Research, 290, 113058. doi: 
    • Moè, A., Hausmann, M., & Hirnstein, M. (2020). Gender stereotypes and incremental beliefs in STEM and non-STEM students in three countries: relationships with performance in cognitive tasks. Psychological Research. doi: 10.1007/s00426-019-01285-0
    • Bless, J. J., Hjelmervik, H., Torsheim, T., Gudmundsen, M., Larøi, F., Holma, I., Arola, A., Korkeila, J., Hirnstein, M., Marquardt, L., Kusztrits, I., Smelror, R. E., Agartz, I., & Hugdahl, K. (2020). Temporal signatures of auditory verbal hallucinations: An app-based experience sampling study. Schizophrenia Research215, 442–444. doi:å 2)
    • Marquardt, L., Eichele, T., Bindoff, L. A., Olberg, H. K., Veiby, G., Eichele, H., . . . Hirnstein, M. (2019). Case Report: No effect of electrical transcranial direct current stimulation adjunct treatment for epilepsia partialis continua in POLG disease. Epilepsy & Behavior Reports, 100339. doi:
    • Jonauskaite, D., Abdel-Khalek, A. M., Abu-Akel, A., Al-Rasheed, A. S., Antonietti, J.-P., Ásgeirsson, Á. G., . . . Mohr, C. (2019). The sun is no fun without rain: Physical environments affect how we feel about yellow across 55 countries. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 66, 101350. doi: (Nivå 2)
    • Larøi, F., Bless, J. J., Laloyaux, J., Kråkvik, B., Vedul-Kjelsås, E., Kalhovde, A. M., Hirnstein, M., & Hugdahl, K. (2019). An epidemiological study on the prevalence of hallucinations in a general-population sample: Effects of age and sensory modality. Psychiatry Research, 272, 707-714. doi:
    • Dwyer, G. E., Craven, A. R., Hirnstein, M., Kompus, K., Assmus, J., Ersland, L., . . . Grüner, R. (2019). No Effects of Anodal tDCS on Local GABA and Glx Levels in the Left Posterior Superior Temporal Gyrus. Frontiers in Neurology, 9(1145). doi: 10.3389/fneur.2018.01145
    • Hirnstein, M., Hugdahl, K., & Hausmann, M. (2019). Cognitive sex differences and hemispheric asymmetry: A critical review of 40 years of researchLaterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, 24(2), 204-252. doi: 10.1080/1357650X.2018.1497044.
    • Hausmann, M., Brysbaert, M., Van der Haegen, L., Lewald, J., Specht, K., Hirnstein, M., Willemin, J., Barton, J., Buchilly, D., Chmetz, F., Roch, M., Brederoo, S., Dael, N., & Mohr, C. (2019). Language lateralisation measured across linguistic and national boundaries. Cortex, 111, 134-147. doi: (Nivå 2)
    • Hirnstein, M., Larøi, F., & Laloyaux, J. (2018). No sex difference in an everyday multitasking paradigm. Psychological Research, 83(2), 286-296. doi: 10.1007/s00426-018-1045-0
    • Hjelmervik, H., Hausmann, M., Hirnstein, M., Craven, A. R., Hugdahl, K., & Specht, K. (2018). Sex- and sex hormone-related variations in energy-metabolic frontal brain asymmetries: A magnetic resonance spectroscopy study. Neuroimage, 172, 817-825. doi: (Nivå 2)
    • Ocklenburg, S., Güntürkün, O., Hugdahl, K. & Hirnstein, M. (2015). Laterality and mental disorders in the postgenomic age – A closer look at schizophrenia and language lateralization. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 59, 100-110. (Nivå 2)
    • Hjelmervik, H., Westerhausen, R. Hirnstein, M., Specht, K., & Hausmann, M. (2015). The neural correlates of sex differences in left-right confusion. Neuroimage, 113, 196-206. (Nivå 2)
    • Ocklenburg, S., Hirnstein, M., Beste, C., & Güntürkün, O. (2014). Lateralization and cognitive systems. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01143.
    • Hirnstein, M., & Hugdahl, K. (2014). The excess of non-right-handedness in schizophrenia: A meta-analysis of sex effects and potential biases in handedness assessment. British Journal of Psychiatry, 205(4), 260-267. (Nivå 2)  
    • Hirnstein, M., Coloma Andrews L., & Hausmann, M. (2014). Gender-stereotyping and cognitive sex differences in mixed- and same-sex groups. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 1663-1673.
    • Hirnstein, M., Hugdahl, K., & Hausmann, M. (2014). How brain asymmetry relates to performance - a large-scale dichotic listening study. Frontiers in Psychology, 4. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00997. Erratum
    • Hirnstein, M., Westerhausen, R., Korsnes, M. S., & Hugdahl, K. (2013) Sex differences in language asymmetry are age-dependent and small: A large-scale, consonant vowel dichotic listening study with behavioral and fMRI data. Cortex, 49(7), 1910-1921. (Nivå 2)
    • Ocklenburg, S., Westerhausen, R., Hirnstein, M., & Hugdahl, K. (2013). Auditory hallucinations and reduced language lateralization in schizophrenia: A meta-analysis of dichotic listening studies. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 19(4), 410-418.
    • Hirnstein, M., Westerhausen, R., & Hugdahl, K. (2013). The right planum temporale is involved in stimulus-driven, auditory attention – evidence from transcranial magnetic stimulation. PLOS ONE, 8(2): e57316. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057316.
    • Alba-Ferrara, L., De Erausquin, G. A., Hirnstein, M., Weis, S., & Hausmann, M. (2013). Emotional prosody modulates attention in schizophrenia patients with hallucinations. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 59. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00059.
    • Hirnstein, M., Freund, N., & Hausmann, M. (2012). Gender stereotyping enhances verbal fluency performance in men (and women). Zeitschrift für Psychologie/Journal of Psychology, 220, 70-77.
    • Hirnstein, M. (2011). Dichotic listening and left right confusion. Brain and Cognition, 76, 239-244.          
    • Ocklenburg, S., Hirnstein, M., Ohmann, H., & Hausmann, M. (2011). Mental rotation does not account for sex differences in left-right confusion. Brain and Cognition, 76, 166-171.
    • Hirnstein, M., Bayer, U., Ellison, A. & Hausmann, M. 2011. TMS over the left angular gyrus impairs the ability to discriminate left from right. Neuropsychologia, 49, 29-33. (Nivå 2)
    • Ocklenburg, S., Hirnstein, M., Hausmann, M. & Lewald, J. 2010. Auditory space perception in left- and right-handers. Brain and Cognition, 72, 210-217.
    • Hirnstein, M., Leask, S., Rose, J. & Hausmann, M. 2010. Disentangling the relationship between hemispheric asymmetry and cognitive performance. Brain and Cognition, 73, 119-127.
    • Hirnstein, M., Ocklenburg, S., Schneider, D. & Hausmann, M. 2009. Sex differences in left-right confusion depend on hemispheric asymmetry. Cortex, 45, 891-899. (Nivå 2)
    • Hirnstein, M., Bayer, U. & Hausmann, M. 2009. Sex-specific response strategies in mental rotation. Learning and Individual Differences, 19, 225-228.
    • Hirnstein, M., Hausmann, M. & Güntürkün, O. 2008. The evolutionary origins of functional cerebral asymmetries in humans: Does lateralization enhance parallel processing? Behavioural Brain Research, 187, 297-303.
    • Hirnstein, M., Hausmann, M. & Lewald, J. 2007. Functional cerebral asymmetry in auditory motion perception. Laterality, 12, 87-99.

    Non peer-reviewed publications

    Book sections:

    • Hirnstein, M. (2018). Stress og kjønn. In T. R. Rogg Korsvik & L. M. Rustad (Eds.), Hva er kjønnsperspektiver i forskning? Eksempler fra tverrfaglige forskningsområder – Håndboka fra Kilden/Norges forskningsråd. (pp. 10-11). Lysaker: Kilden kjønnsforskning.
    • Hugdahl, K. & Hirnstein, M. (2013). Cerebral hemispheres: Behavior and imaging studies. In S. P. Koffler, J. E. Morgan, I. S. Baron, & M. F. Greiffenstein (Eds.), Neuropsychology: science and practice (pp. 95-113). New York: Oxford University Press.
    • Hirnstein, M. & Hausmann, M. 2010. Kognitive Geschlechtsunterschiede. In Handbuch Psychologie und Geschlechterforschung. Steins, G. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag fuer Sozialwissenschaften. 69-85.

    Brain stimulation and Mental/Neurological Disorders
    In 2016, we started a research project on whether auditory hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia can be reduced transcranial direct current stimulation. The project was funded by the Faculty of Psychology and the Bergen Research Foundation. More info about the project can be found here. First, tentative results were published here. We continue our work to explore how non-invasive and weak electrical brain stimulation that is pain free and does not require anesthesia can help individiduals with mental or neurological disorders. 

    Gender and cognition
    Together with collaborators from the UiB’s Centre for Women’s and Gender Research, Durham University (UK), and the University of Padova (Italy), we are carrying out a couple of projects that aim to investigate how cognitive gender differences arise. For instance, how do gender stereotypes affect performance in cognitive tasks and how do gender stereotypes vary across different countries and different university subjects (e.g., humanities versus science)?

    Colours and emotions
    Together with Lynn Marquardt from the UiB and collaborators worldwide under the umbrella of the University of Lausanne, we investigate differences and similarities across countries and people in how they associate colours with emotions. A radio interview on this issue can be found here, 14.4.2016, "Morgen med Radio Hordaland". Please click here for completing our online test on colours and emotions to help us.