Research Presentation

Research Presentation

A Focus on Networks and Systems

Brain circuits can be studied at many levels and scales. The intracellular networks of synaptic proteins, for example, include all essential features of circuits: diverse and interacting elements, communication, regulation, feedback and dynamics. Neural circuits are another fundamental unit of brain function: circuits transform inputs (external or internal) into adaptive outputs (behaviors, percepts etc), according to rules that often emerge from their cellular components, their connectomes or connectivity graphs, and their interactions in time. The rules guiding interactions can also change with experience or vary with the context. 

Our common goal is a mechanistic understanding of the components of these networks, of the structural and functional circuits which they form, of the computational rules which describe their operations, and ultimately, of their roles in driving perception and behavior. Our experimental focus is on all scales (in space and time) required to achieve this understanding. This includes work at the molecular, cellular, multi-cellular, network, brain area and behavioral levels, realizing that macroscopic phenomena (e.g., spatial patterns, dynamics) can be scale-dependent; thus, another fundamental component of our institute’s research is on computational and theoretical approaches, represented by some of our labs.

Links to the three departments of Moritz Helmstaedter (Connectomics), Gilles Laurent (Neural Systems) and Erin Schuman (Synaptic Plasticity) and four independent research groups by Julijana Gjorgjieva (Computation in Neural Circuits), Hiroshi Ito (Memory and Navigation Circuits), Vanessa Stempel (Instinctive Behaviour Circuits), and Tatjana Tchumatchenko (Theory of Neural Dynamics) here. more
The Max Planck Fellow Group of Amparo Acker-Palmer is interested in elucidating the molecular pathways involved in the crosstalk between vessels and nerves and how this crosstalk signaling is integrated among the different cellular players (neurons, endothelial cells, astrocytes) at the neurovascular interface. more
Heinz Wässle (Director 1981-2008) conducted functional and structural studies of the mammalian retina, Heinrich Betz (Director 1991-2009) analyzed the molecular components of synapses, and Wolf Singer (Director 1982-2011) studied higher cognitive functions with a focus on the visual system. The emeritus pages of our website give details of their scientific achievements. more
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