Prof. Dr. Dirk Jancke, Bernstein-Group for Computational Neuroscience, Institute for Neural Computation

Dirk Jancke

Research Programme:

Our lab investigates how the brain uses its neuronal networks for computational strategies that link perception and behavior. We further aim to explore the brain's capacities for plastic reorganization and learning. As major methods we use optical imaging techniques and optogenetics. Optical imaging is unique in its capability of capturing highly resolved activity of millions of neurons at once using light (for a review see VSDI: a new era in functional imaging of cortical dynamics and our contribution therein). In combination with light stimulation and recordings of specific target neurons and neuronal subnetworks our approach provides access to theoretical and experimental questions dealing with the computational power of activity patterns across the brain.

For more information see our website

PhD projects

Modulation of brain activity by serotonin

Functional coupling between cortical areas is critical for behavioral states. Dysfunction of neuromodulatory systems plays a central role in the etiology of psychiatric disorders. We study state-dependent changes in brain activity by manipulating serotonergic pathways in the mouse model. The multidisciplinary project combines state-of-the art optical imaging with voltage- and Ca2+ indicators, 2-photon imaging, and optogenetics to stimulate and record from specific neuronal circuits.

Observing the brain in action - Cross-modal intracortical dynamics and plasticity

Neuronal representations in the cortex comprise highly dynamic activity patterns. These depend on the actual cortical state bound to task specificity within multi-dimensional context. To measure such patterns across multiple brain areas simultaneously we exploit recent developments of genetically modified mouse models that express voltage- and Ca2+ indicators intrinsically. Our project aims to extract neuronal principles of information transfer across the brain to guide learning and action planning based on memory traces.

Developing intracortical visual prostheses

For blind patients who cannot profit from a retinal implant, intracortical visual prostheses offer great promise. The aim of our international consortium is to improve the ability of cortical prostheses to 'mimic' the language of the brain and increase the safety and longevity of visual prosthetic devices. Our multidisciplinary project brings together scientists from different fields and complementary experimental and theoretical know-how. The project part of the PhD position comprises electrical stimulation in the mouse brain combined with cutting-edge (optogenetic) voltage imaging techniques.

Applied Methods

  • In vivo Optical Imaging
  • Optogenetics
  • In vivo Electrophysiology
  • Transgenic mouse models
  • Electrical brain stimulation
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Visual Psychophysics
  • Modelling brain activity
  • Programming (Matlab, Python)