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Current research interests

Research in my laboratory is divided into three research lines: Circuits-Ensembles-Learning (CEL), funded by ERC and BMF grants and support from the ESI:

Circuits: We investigate how distinct classes of excitatory and inhibitory neurons regulate plasticity and contribute to flexible information processing.

Ensembles: We investigate how ensembles of neurons encode information through spatio-temporal patterns and what the role of spike sequences and bursting are in information encoding and transmission. Furthermore we investigate what the relationship between spontaneous (imagination, dreams) and sensory evoked activity is.

Learning: We investigate how the brain performs self-supervised learning using predictions of the unknown (in space and time), utilizes parallel features for object recognition (motion, form, texture) and uses recurrent networks for object recognition.

To answer these kind of questions, we use a variety of techniques and approaches. We employ machine learning techniques to model predictive relationships among sensory inputs - across space and time. We develop new algorithms for unsupervised clustering of high-dimensional neural datasets. We use information and neural network theory to understand neural coding. We use high-density, multi-areal electrophysiological recordings of neurons, from all cortical layers. This allows us to record many neurons at the same time. We use optogenetics to identify subtypes of neurons - like interneurons or neurons with specific projection patterns - and modify cortical activity. We classify the state of the organism using e.g. pupil diameter. We develop new types of signal processing techniques to deal with electrophysiological data.

Currently we have collaborations with: Henry Kennedy, Francesco Battaglia, Sergio Neuenschwander, Pascal Fries, Wolf Singer, Andrej Kral, Cris Niell, Boris Gutkin, Conrado Bosman, Thilo Womelsdorf, Renata Batista-Brito, Wolfgang Maass, Matthias Kaschube, Ed Vessel, Alex Thiele, Gustavo Rohenkohl, Rodrigo Montefusco, Eddie Zagha.

We are always looking for talented master students, PhD candidates and postdocs to join our team. We hire people with a variety of backgrounds such as biology, computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics. Frankfurt hosts at least four neuroscience institutes, including the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and the FIAS. Also check out the IMPRS program for neural circuits if you want to do a PhD. Please contact me at

We thank the Struengmann brothers for their continuous and generous support for research.