Program 2: Sensory Systems and Brain Circuits

Speaker: Thomas Hummel

What molecules and cells are required to perceive the sensory cues of our environment? What are the cellular networks involved in sensory processes? How do these networks change on the molecular and cellular level through experience/acute sensory changes/aging/changes in internal states? How do such changes impact on the network’s processing functions and hence ultimately on the behavioral output?

In program P2, these questions are approached with organisms ranging from the cnidarian Nematostella vectensis, the bristle worm Platynereis dumerilii, the midge Clunio marinus, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to teleost fishes, pigeons, mouse, and rats, thus covering all major branches of animals, as well as different habitats and life styles. This unique comprehensive combination of approaches allows us to combine the best of two worlds- availability and knowledge of highly advanced molecular, cellular, microscopic and behavioral tools in “conventional molecular model systems” (Drosophila, C. elegans, Mus musculus), but also the possibility to investigate key questions in organisms, which develop more slowly and occupy different ecological niches, and might in some aspects even be more relevant for humans than the “conventional molecular model systems”. As a result we can learn both how cellular and molecular processes and networks function in one particular species, but also how they can be modulated or transformed by evolutionary processes.


More information about all PIs of this program: