Julia Frankenstein

Dr. Julia Frankenstein

Julia Frankenstein joined the lab as a Post-Doc researcher in July 2016. After completing an apprenticeship and working as an occupational therapist, she studied Psychology in Chemnitz and Tübingen. During her studies, she worked as a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen in a group focusing on research on human spatial navigation. After her diploma in Psychology, she continued research on human spatial cognition at the Center for Cognitive Science at Freiburg University, and received her doctoral degree (D.Sc.) at ETH Zurich. Before joining the lab in Darmstadt, she did research on cognitive maps and spatial representations at Mannheim University.

Julia Frankenstein worked as a visiting researcher at Collége de France (LPPA, Alain Berthoz) and University of California Santa Barbara (Mary Hegarty, Dan Montello).

Research Interests

Her research focuses on how humans represent spatial relations, and use these representations for navigation- or why they get lost in the environment. What is a cognitive map, how it is formed, how is route knowledge related to it, and how are these representations combined to guide navigation? What is the role of navigation systems, background knowledge and culture? And how is locomotion planned and integrated in spaces of different sizes and properties?



Frankenstein, J. (2015): Human spatial representations and spatial memory retrieval. Dissertation, ETH-Zürich, 2015, Nr. 22980
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3929/ethz-a-010608257

Journal Articles

  • Meilinger, T., J. Schulte-Pelkum, Frankenstein, J., G. Hardiess, N. Laharnar, H. A. Mallot, H. H. Bülthoff (2016): How to best name a place? Facilitation and inhibition of route learning due to descriptive and arbitrary location labels, Frontiers in Psychology 7, Section Cognition
  • Meilinger, T.*, Frankenstein, J.*, N. Simon, H. H. Bülthoff and J. P. Bresciani (2016): Not all memories are the same: Situational context influences recall within one’s city of residency. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 23(1), 246-252 *Both authors contributed equally to this work.
  • von Stülpnagel, R., & Frankenstein, J. (2015). Configurational salience of landmarks – An analysis of sketch maps using Space Syntax. Cognitive Processing, DOI: 10.1007/s10339-015-0726-5, 1-5.
  • Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J., Watanabe, K., Bülthoff, H. H., & Hölscher, C. (2014). Reference frames in learning from maps and navigation. Psychological Research, 1–9.
  • Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J. and H.H. Bülthoff (2014): When in doubt follow your nose- a wayfinding strategy. Frontiers in Psychology 5(1363) 1-7
  • Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J. and H. H. Bülthoff (2013): Learning to navigate: experience versus maps. Cognition 129(1) 24-30
  • Frankenstein, J., B. J. Mohler, H. H. Bülthoff and Meilinger, T. (2012): Is the map in our head oriented north? Psychological Science 23(2) 120-125.
  • Frankenstein, J., Brüssow, S., Ruzzoli, F., C Hölscher (2012): The language of landmarks: the role of background knowledge in indoor wayfinding. Cognitive processing 13(1) 165-170.

Conference Papers

  • Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J., Watanabe, K., Bülthoff, H. H., & Hölscher, C. (2014). Map-based Reference Frames Are Used to Organize Memory of Subsequent Navigation Experience. In C. Freksa, B. Nebel, M. Hegarty, & T. Barkowsky (Eds.), International Conference Spatial Cognition 2014.
  • Frankenstein, J., S. Büchner, T. Tenbrink and C. Hölscher (2010): Influence of geometry and objects on local route choices for wayfinding. International Conference Spatial Cognition (SC2010) Portland OR, 2010
  • Frankenstein, J., T. Meilinger, B. J. Mohler and H. H. Bülthoff (2009): Spatial Memory for Highly Familiar Environments. Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2009), 2650-2655. (Eds.) Taatgen, N., H. Van Rijn, Curran, Red Hook, NY, USA


  • Credé, S., Hölscher, C. and Frankenstein, J. (2014): Spatial Expectations in Indoor Environments. Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen 56 (TeaP)
  • Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J., & Mohler, H. H., B. J .and Bülthoff. (2014). How to remember Tübingen? Reference frames in route and survey knowledge of ones city of residency. In Cognitive processing supplement (Vol. 15, pp. S53–S54). Tübingen, Germany.
  • Frankenstein, J., C. Hölscher (2013): Individual differences in 3D pointing performance between passengers and drivers. Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (COGSCI 2013)
  • Frankenstein, J. and C. Hölscher (2011): Spatial Representation of Environmental and Geographical Space in Different Perspectives. Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (COGSCI 2011)
  • Frankenstein, J., M. Vidal, M. Rouille, S. Donikian, M. Zaoui and A. Berthoz (2010): Effects of the Exploration Perspective on Pointing Accuracy. Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (COGSCI 2010)
  • Frankenstein, J., S. Büchner, T. Tenbrink and C. Hölscher (2010): Wayfinding decisions in buildings: Role of geometry and objects. Workshop „Spatial Behavior and Linguistic Representation” Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg, Delmenhorst, Germany
  • Frankenstein, J., S. Büchner, T. Tenbrink and C. Hölscher (2010): How does interior design shape human navigation strategies in indoor environments? Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen 52 (TeaP)
  • Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J., S. Holzer and J.-P. Brescani (2009): The situational influence of location and body orientation on the recall of survey knowledge. 4th International Conference on Spatial Cognition (ICSC 2009)
  • Meilinger, T., J. Schulte-Pelkum, Frankenstein, J., N. Laharnar, G. Hardieß, H. A. Mallot and H. H. Bülthoff (2009): Place naming: examining the influence of language on wayfinding. Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (COGSCI 2009)
  • Frankenstein, J., B. Mohler, H. H. Bülthoff and T. Meilinger (2009): Distance and alignment effects in survey knowledge of a highly familiar city. Perception 38(ECVP Abstract Supplement), 63
  • Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J., S. Holzer and J.-P. Bresciani (2009): The influence of the current situation on the recall of survey knowledge: the case of location and body orientation. Perception 38(ECVP Abstract Supplement), 66
  • Meilinger, T., J. Schulte-Pelkum, N. Laharnar, W. Teramoto, Frankenstein, J. and H. H. Bülthoff (2008): Orientation biases in memory for vista and environmental spaces. 9. Fachtagung der Gesellschaft für Kognitionswissenschaft (KogWis 2008) 9, 32

Other Publications

  • Frankenstein, J. (2014). Die Bedeutung von Norden für die menschliche Orientierung. In D. Petzold (Ed.), inklings – Jahrbuch für Literatur und Ästhetik: Düstere Aussichten – Margaret Atwoods imaginative Expeditionen in das Unwohnliche (p. 129-137). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
  • Frankenstein, J. (2012): Is GPS all in our heads? The New York Times (Opinion Pages), February 2012