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Neuroscience Center Zurich

Sensory Systems

Elvir Becirovic


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Elvir Becirovic
Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: Millions of people worldwide suffer from various forms of retinal diseases that can lead to total blindness. Especially for the inherited forms of retinal diseases, there is an unmet medical need for the development of new molecular genetic diagnostic and therapeutic methods. My group works at the interface between basic research and therapy of inherited retinal diseases (IRDs). In this context we pursue several goals:

  • Analysis of the pathophysiology of IRDs in mouse models.
  • Development of new molecular diagnostic methods using genome editing
  • Analysis of mutations in genes associated with IRDs
  • Production, further development and application of adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors, the gold standard vectors in gene therapy
  • Gene therapies in mouse models of IRDs and in human retinal organoids
  • Establishment of new or optimization of existing (gene)therapeutic approaches with a special focus on CRISPR-Cas-mediated (epi)genome editing
  • Implementation of own (gene)therapeutic approaches and technologies in clinical trials in cooperation with industry.

Keywords: gene therapy, retina, inherited retinal diseases, gene editing, epigenome editing, AAV vectors, molecular diagnosis, retinal organoids, CRISPR-Cas, CRISPRa, IRDs

Topic: Disorders of the Nervous System, Sensory Systems



susanne becker


PD Dr. Susanne Becker
Integrative Spinal Research Group, Department of Chiropractic Medicine, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich

Research Focus: The experience of pain is more than the conscious perception of nociceptive signals. Emotional and motivational aspects accompany pain, leading to its aversiveness and motivation for escape and avoidance. Moreover, it has been proposed that a negative hedonic shift, comprising unproportionally increased emotional-motivational pain responses, plays an important role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. Our group focuses on the investigation of psychobiological mechanisms of dissociations of emotional-motivational and sensory-discriminative components of pain in health and disease states, using psychophysical methods, pharmacological interventions, and brain imaging techniques. Specifically, we investigate the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine, functional connectivity in fronto-striatal brain networks, and supraspinal neuroinflammation in the proposed negative hedonic shift in chronic pain.

Keywords: pain modulation, emotional-motivational pain processing, dopamine, fMRI, psychophysics

Topic: Cognitive Neuroscience, Sensory Systems

Publications:Google Scholar


Wolfgang Berger


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Berger 
Institute of Medical Molecular Genetics, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Our research activities are focussing on genetic diseases of the retina. We have identified a number of genes and mutations involved in Mendelian traits. High throughput sequencing technologies (NGS) are used to identify additional mutations and novel genes. Mouse models are being used to study the pathophysiology of monogenic human diseases as a prerequisite to implement therapeutic approaches. Additional areas of research include angiogenic processes in the retina and brain, pre mRNA splicing as well as gene-therapeutic approaches for treatment of retinal degenerations.

Keywords: Eye diseases, genetic associations, therapeutic intervention, retinal development and diseases

Topic: Sensory Systems






Dr. Giovanni Bertolini, Junior Group Leader
Department of Neurology, University of Zurich

Research Focus: The aim of the Swiss Space Travel and AiR Sickness (SSTARS) group is to investigate the mechanism of habituation and learning of self-motion perception in novel motion environments. A novel motion environment is any condition in which our brain fails to correctly interpret the motion stimuli. Such environments (from cars and ships to virtual reality and artificial gravity environments) cause motion sickness, spatial disorientation and other syndromes affecting performance and social interaction (sopite syndrome, mal de débarquement). Within our research activity, we develop non-invasive habituation protocols to counteract these conditions. The applications range from vestibular rehabilitation, acceptance of novel emerging technology (self-driving cars, virtual reality systems), quality of life and safety in transport systems. An important focus is on vestibular physiology for aviation and space flight (in flight, micro- and artificial gravity) in collaboration with the German Aerospace Center – DLR and the Swiss Aeromedical Institute.

Keywords: Motion sickness, vestibular space physiology, artificial gravity, virtual reality sickness, self-motion perception, sensory habituation

Topics: Sensory systems, Disorder of the nervous system, Neural Basis of Behavior

Publications: Google Scholar


Tobi Delbruck


Prof. Dr. Tobi Delbruck
Institute of Neuroinformatics, University and ETH Zurich

Research Focus: The sensors group at INI led by myself and PD Dr. Shih-Chii Liu develops neuromorphic silicon vison and audio sensors and methods for processing their output. These sensors and processing methods are inspired by the organizing principle of the nervous system. For instance, the brain uses spikes to transmit analog signals over long distances without losing precision by using interspike time intervals and spike coincidence to encode analog information. One of the main sensors is the dynamic vision sensor (DVS). The DVS encodes visual information by transmitting spikes in response to log intensity changes. This way, the sensor achieves very high dynamic range and can help beat the classical latency-power tradeoff suffered by conventional image sensors. We also develop many robots to demonstrate the advantages of the neuromorphic approach.

Keywords: neuromorphic, sensor, vision, eye, retina, cochlea

Topics: Sensory Systems, Computation and Modeling




Roger Gassert


Prof. Dr. Roger Gassert
Rehabilitation Engineering Lab, Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zurich

Research Focus: We apply robotics, wearable sensor technology and non-invasive neuroimaging to the exploration, assessment and restoration of sensorimotor function, with the goal of promoting recovery following neurological injury and developing assistive technologies for the compensation of remaining deficits.

Keywords: physical human-machine interaction, rehabilitation robotics, haptics, assistive technology, neural control of movement, neuroimaging, neurofeedback

Topics: Sensory Systems, Motor Systems, Disorders of the Nervous System, Biomedical Technology and Imaging

Publications: Google Scholar



Giroud Nathalie


Prof. Dr. Nathalie Giroud
Computational Neuroscience of Speech & Hearing, Department of Computational Linguistics, Phonetics and Speech Sciences, University of Zurich

Research Focus: In our group we investigate mechanisms of language processing in the brain using a variety of neuroimaging techniques (e.g. EEG, MRI) as well as psychophysical and neuropsychological testing. Our research focuses on the neural underpinnings of the highly prevalent age-related hearing loss and speech perception difficulties in older adults. We are working towards understanding its impact on the brain and its relationship with cognitive decline in healthy individuals and in older adults with neuropathology such as Alzheimer’s disease. The long-term goal of our research is to develop rehabilitation strategies for audio(-visual) speech processing difficulties in healthy older adults and individuals with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Furthermore, we are also interested in understanding the association between hearing loss and brain atrophy, cognitive mechanisms of audiovisual speech processing, as well as bilingualism and foreign language learning in an aging population.

Keywords: hearing loss, aging, dementia, language, speech processing, neural entrainment, EEG, MRI, audiovisual processing, cognition

Topics: Cognitive Neuroscience, Sensory Systems

Publications: Google Scholar





Prof. Dr. Benjamin F. Grewe

Institute of Neuroinformatics, ETH Zurich

Research Focus: My primary research focus is directed towards understanding the basis of information processing and memory formation in neuronal networks using experimental as well as computational approaches. Currently my research at the INI investigates basic concepts of information processing and memory formation in limbic neuronal networks, using miniaturized cutting-edge imaging techniques to record learning induced changes in neuronal network activity of mice. Aligning with the combined strengths of the INI and in collaboration biomedical and electrical engineering groups my long-term vision is to extract fundamental principles of network-learning from real biological networks and then to reverse engineer their functionality as logical, reproducible algorithms that be implemented in software or directly as electrical circuits. I am convinced that reverse-engineering neural learning algorithms that mimic human thinking will one day change the importance of intelligent technologies in our everyday life

Keywords: systems and computational neuroscience, population coding, neuronal network learning, deep learning, spiking network simulations, calcium imaging, two photon microscopy, miniaturized microscope, freely moving, behavior

Topic: neural basis of behavior, computation and modeling, sensory systems


Publications: PubMed





Christian Grimm


Prof. Dr. Christian Grimm
Department of Ophthalmology, Lab for Retinal Cell Biology, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: Although many patients worldwide suffer from retinal degenerations, there are currently no therapies for the successful treatment of most blinding diseases of the retina. Our work focuses on biochemical events and signaling cascades during retinal degenerations. The goal is to understand the molecular pathways induced by the disease-causing stimuli to develop strategies (neuroprotection, gene therapy) which may ultimately rescue vision in patients.

Current projects focus i) on intercellular signaling with special emphasis on the interaction between photoreceptors and Müller glia cells; ii) on leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) with respect to its potential function as modulator of stem cell-like properties of Müller cells; iii) on the analysis of cone pathophysiology using a newly developed ‘all-cone mouse’; and iv) on acute and chronic hypoxia as potent modulators of photoreceptor survival and degeneration, respectively.

Keywords: Retinal degeneration, hypoxia, leukemia inhibitory factor, retina, blindness, cones, neuroprotection, gene therapy

Topics: Sensory Systems; Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Disorders of the Nervous System



Alexander Huber


Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Huber
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: In our laboratory for biomechanics of hearing we develop a comprehensive understanding and a detailed theoretical model of the physiological and pathological processes of the peripheral auditory system (from the pinna to the auditory nerve).

The objectives are 1) Experimental studies of physiological and pathological processes of hearing, 2) The development of a detailed mathematical model of hearing, and 3) The optimization and development of hearing aids and hearing prostheses in collaboration with the industry. We are an interdisciplinary research team of graduates from different specialties, with competence in investigation techniques of acoustics, vibro-mechanics, fluid dynamics, electrophysiology and behavioral audiometry by taking into account the latest measurement technology.

Keywords: Hearing, Biomechanics, Implants

Topics: Sensory Systems, Biomedical Technology and Imaging





Dr. Michèle Hubli

Spinal Cord Injury Center, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Our primary research interest lies in the field of maladaptive neuroplastic changes after neurological trauma, such as spinal cord injury (SCI). Employing a variety of neurophysiological and autonomic assessments such maladaptive changes within the somatosensory system, i.e., the development of neuropathic pain, as well as the autonomic nervous system are investigated in human SCI. Current projects in the lab focus on i) sensory-autonomic interaction using contact-heat and sympathetic skin responses; ii) temporal summation of pain and conditioned pain modulation; iii) multi-modal electrophysiology of the spinothalamic tract.

Consolidated mechanistic understanding of the sensory and autonomic plasticity is highly relevant in the process of evaluation and design of novel therapeutic interventions in human SCI and the stratification of patients for clinical trials.

Keywords: clinical neurophysiology, neuropathic pain, spinal reflexes, autonomic nervous system, spinal cord injury

Topics: Sensory System, Disorders of the Nervous System

Publications: PubMed




Prof. Dr. Theofanis Karayannis
Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich

Research Focus: The brain begins to form during embryogenesis, but undergoes a protracted period of development that lasts into adulthood. Our work is aimed at understanding how the environment moulds the construction and reconfiguration of neuronal circuits to allow them to effectively process and respond to external stimuli throughout development. The goal is to unravel how the interplay between electrical activity and genetic programs controls the assembly and plasticity of cortical circuits that are involved in processing and gating sensory information. To achieve this, we utilize a multi-dimensional approach that includes molecular, genetic and functional methods. It is our hope that this research will not only provide insights into the making of the healthy brain, but also into neurodevelopmental brain pathologies resulting from aberrant circuit wiring.

Topics: Development and Regeneration, Sensory Systems, Disorders of the Nervous System, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Neural Basis of Behavior


Sanne Kikkert


Dr. Sanne Kikkert

Neural Control of Movement Lab, ETH Zurich

Research Focus: The ability to sense through touch is fundamental to actively interact with our environment. If we lose such sensory information through injury (e.g., spinal cord injury or limb loss), our brains are deprived of a major source of input, and we are required to use novel motor strategies. My team’s research aims at exploring how human brains are affected by such changes, what neural mechanisms may underlie resulting neural reorganisation, and how the human brain responds to sensory reinstatement through neuroprosthetics. A large body of our research focuses on exploring the brainstem as a key hub in brain plasticity, a structure that has been largely overlooked in human brain plasticity research. To do so, we merge cutting-edge functional and structural neuroimaging techniques. Our findings are expected to provide fundamental insights into human brain plasticity that may ultimately be used to guide desirable plasticity, discourage maladaptive plasticity, and better tailor treatments based on individual differences.
Keywords: Plasticity, brainstem, spinal cord injury, limb loss, somatosensory, sensorimotor, (f)MRI

Topics: Sensory Systems, Disorders of the nervous system
Publications: Google Scholar


Daniel Kiper


Prof. Dr. Daniel C. Kiper
Institute of Neuroinformatics and Lifescience Zurich Learning Center, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich

Research Focus: I am interested in the treatment of visual signals in the neocortex, on the effects of virtual reality on cortical processing, and in the ways virtual reality can be used to help neurological patients. I use primarily psychophysical and imaging techniques to probe the cortical processes underlying vision as well as those supporting plasticity in the injured brain. In addition, I develop outreach programs within the Lifescience Zurich Learning Center to promote modern biology within the swiss public school system.

Keywords: Colour vision, Psychophysics, Visual Cortex, Science education

Topic: Sensory Systems

Publications: PubMed


Kleinjung Tobias


Prof. Dr. Tobias Kleinjung

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: Tinnitus is defined as a perception of sound without any external sound source. Tinnitus is triggered by peripheral, mainly inner ear hearing loss, but the most essential changes in terms of tinnitus development take place in the central nervous system. Due to the difficult and individual pathophysiology od tinnitus no causal cure for tinnitus has been documented so far.  Most pharmacologic and psychosomatic treatment modalities aim at improving tinnitus related impact on the quality of life. Our main focus is clinical research in the field of tinnitus, hearing loss and auditory neuroplasticity. The key aspect is the search for novel treatment modalities of tinnitus and inner ear hearing loss. In terms of tinnitus the research group is engaged in the investigation of different type of neuromodulation approaches like neurofeedback and transcranial electrical brain stimulation. Furthermore, we are interested in the improvement of tinnitus subtyping. This includes the evaluation of new psychometric measurements as well as identifying of tinnitus related neuroplastic changes in the brain by EEG, MRI and PET recordings.

Keywords: tinnitus, hearing loss, auditory system, neuroplasticity

Topic: Sensory Systems

Publications: PubMed



Lambercy Olivier


Dr. Olivier Lambercy

Rehabilitation Engineering Lab, Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH of Zürich

Research Focus: In our group we are developing and clinically evaluating novel technologies to support the assessment and therapy of upper limb function in people with neurological disorders (stroke, SCI, multiple sclerosis). In particular, we are interested in using movement data (kinematic and kinetic) to derive more objective and sensitive health metrics that can help understand impairment mechanisms (in human and animal models), finely quantify functional limitations and response to therapy interventions, and develop predictive models to personalize rehabilitative treatments.

Keywords: Technology-based assessments, wearable sensors, robotics, neurorehabilitation, digital health, biomarkers

Topic: Sensory Systems, Motor System, Disorders of the Nervous System

Publications: Google Scholar



Shih-Chii Liu


Prof. Dr. Shih-Chii Liu
Institute of Neuroinformatics (INI), University of Zurich and ETH Zurich
Research Focus: I co-lead the sensors group at INI. Our group develops neuromorphic silicon cochlea and retina sensors and methods for processing their output. My focus is on the design of silicon spiking cochleas such as the AEREAR2 cochlea, and the development of real-time event-driven auditory processing algorithms and networks for tasks such as classification and recognition, and together with the dynamic vision sensor (DVS) in tasks such as sensory fusion tasks. These sensors and processing methods are inspired by the organizing principles of the nervous system. We also look for neural electronic equivalents of these algorithms through implementations in FPGA or in custom silicon, for example, silicon dendritic circuits and in the process, we hope to develop an understanding of some of the principles used in our brains for processing information.

Keywords: neuromorphic sensor, cochlea, networks, deep spiking networks, auditory systems, spike coding,

Topic: Computation and Modeling, Sensory Systems



Valerio Mante


Prof. Dr. Valerio Mante
Institute of Neuroinformatics, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich


Topic: Sensory Systems



Meier Martin


PD Dr. Michael L. Meier
Integrative Spinal Research Group, Department of Chiropractic Medicine, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich

Research Focus: People move differently in the presence of (or in anticipation of) pain. Changes in motor control may play an important role in musculoskeletal pain. In our laboratory, we use an interdisciplinary approach that combines neuroscience and movement biomechanics research to provide new insights into the role of possible interactions between motor control and psychological factors in the development and maintenance of low back pain. The methodological basis includes the assessment of psychological factors, biomechanical assessments of movement during functional activities based on high-resolution optical motion capture and musculoskeletal modeling, and generation of cortical topographic maps of paraspinal afferent input using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Ultimately, this cross-disciplinary approach might lead to a better understanding of low back pain with the potential to translate into clinical research for better treatment options.

Keywords: low back pain, pain-related fear, spine kinematics, biomechanics, spinal load, proprioception, movement

Topics: Sensory Systems and Motor Systems

Publications: orcid



Stephan Neuhauss


Prof. Dr. Stephan Neuhauss
Institute of Molecular Life Sciences, University of Zurich

Research Focus: We exploit the superb genetics of the zebrafish (Danio rerio) model system to study the development and function of the vertebrate visual system and its diseases. Our current research focuses on the adaptation of the cone photoreceptor visual transduction cascade, glutamate homeostasis in the cone photoreceptor synapse and building genetic disease models for retinal dystrophies. We use a combination of molecular genetics, histology, electrophysiology and behavioral analysis. Additionally we are interested in the evolution of protein families involved in vision in chordates.

Keywords: Retina, Vision, Zebrafish, Cone Photoreceptors, Synaptic Transmission, Glutamate, Evolution

Topic: Sensory Systems

Publications: PubMed


Preisig Basil


Dr. Basil Preisig

Department of Comparative Language Sciences, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Hearing loss and associated conditions such as tinnitus are the fourth highest cause of disability worldwide. A common complaint of hearing impaired individuals is the significant decline of speech comprehension in the presence of noise. This applies particularly to socially relevant situations, such as discussions with several interaction partners. Unfortunately, state of the art hearing aids cannot selectively amplify one out of several speakers. My team’s research aims to elucidate the role of brain activity during auditory selective attention. More specifically, we want to understand how the brain instantiates attentional filter mechanisms that control target amplification and distractor suppression. Indeed, neuronal processes of attention control maybe impaired in hearing loss and tinnitus. However, it is still unclear whether different subprocesses like target enhancement and distractor suppression are affected differently. We aim to identify neural makers of these subprocesses in individuals with hearing loss and tinnitus using electroencephalography. Subsequently, we will test the relevance of the identified markers using cutting-edge non-invasive electric brain stimulation and neurofeedback interventions. Our findings might provide important foundations for the development of future therapeutic brain stimulation and neurofeedback interventions. In addition, the results may stimulate the technical advances relevant for the implementation of attention control in next generation hearing aids.

Keywords: auditory, attention, speech perception, language comprehension, EEG, non-invasive brain stimulation, neurofeedback, hearing loss, tinnitus

Topic: Cognitive Neuroscience, Sensory Systems

Publications:  Google Scholar



Roccio Marta


PD Dr. Marta Roccio
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: Specialized sensory cells located into the inner ear translate with remarkable speed and accuracy sound-induced vibrations of different loudness and pitch into chemical signals that can be interpreted by the brain as sound. Loss or damage of these sensory cells results in permanent hearing loss as the human inner ear cannot repair after damage. The long-term goal of our research is to develop novel therapeutic strategies to counteract sensorineural hearing loss by uncovering fundamental biological principles that underlay development and disease.

We are making use of in vitro models known as “inner ear organoids”, derived from directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) to gain insight into inner ear sensory organ development and use them as unique tools to model disease. In addition we exploit cochlear organoids culture from inner ear progenitors to probe tissue regenerative potential.

By leveraging recent advances in bioengineering, organoid culture and organ-on-chip technology, we aim to develop reproducible and robust in vitro models to study inner ear development, model disease and analyze drug-induced ototoxicity and otoregeneration.

Methods:  PSC derived inner ear organoid, cochlear progenitor culture, in vitro screening

Keywords: Inner ear development, Hearing loss, Neuroscience, Disease Modeling

Topics: Development and Regeneration, Sensory Systems

Publications: Scopus





PD Dr. med. Christof Röösli

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: Bone conduction hearing is an alternative pathways for sound to reach the inner ear. In includes vibration of the tissue that is transmitted by several pathays to the cochlea. Our focus is to investigate these transmission pathays using an experimental approach, using computational models, and physical models. The goal is to gain a profound understanding of bone conduction hearing to lay the basis for the development of novel hearing aids.  We are an interdisciplinary research team of graduates from different specialties, with competence in investigation techniques of acoustics, vibro-mechanics and electrophysiology.

Keywords: Hearing, Bone conduction, Implants

Topics: Sensory Systems



Schweinhardt Petra


PD Dr. med. Petra Schweinhardt
Integrative Spinal Research Group, Department of Chiropractic Medicine, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich

Research Focus: Albeit nociception and pain are closely linked, there is no 1:1 relationship because the central nervous system hugely modulates nociceptive processing in a facilitatory as well as an inhibitory way. Our research focuses on how the CNS, in particular the brain, modulates nociception and how an altered balance between facilitation and inhibition contributes to chronic pain in patients. We use brain imaging methods (magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy) and psychophysical techniques to understand cerebral processes resulting in augmented nociceptive processing. We specifically investigate how contextual threat cues lead to sensitization along the neuraxis, thereby contributing to chronic pain.  

Keywords: pain modulation, threat, MRI, MRS

Topics: Sensory Systems, Disorders of the Nervous System

Publications: PubMed


Jae Hoon Sim


PD Dr. Jae Hoon Sim
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Zurich

Research Focus: We have performed both basic science and clinical researches on middle-ear mechanics and middle-ear surgeries. The researches on the middle mechanics have been focused on anatomical characteristics of middle ears in mammals, sound transmission through the middle ear, protective and adaptive functions of the human middle ear whereas the researches on middle-ear surgeries explore stability and reliability of middle-ear implants, assessment of expected surgical outcomes, optimization of prostheses and surgical conditions for the best performance, and surgical flexibility under anatomical variation across subjects.

Our team has established and used novel and unique techniques to perform the researches. The methodological approaches include 1) measurements of quasi-static and vibrational motions of the middle-ear ossicular chain and protheses in 3D space, 2) micro-imaging of the middle-ear structures, and 3) development of comprehensive biomechanical models of the intact and surgically-reconstructed middle ears.

Keywords: middle-ear mechanics, middle-ear reconstruction

Topic: Sensory Systems, Biomedical Technology and Imaging

Publications: PubMed


Dominik Straumann


Prof. Dr. Dominik Straumann
Dept of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich


Topic: Sensory Systems



Franz X. Vollenweider


Prof. Dr. med. Franz X. Vollenweider
University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Neuropsychopharmacology and Brain Imaging Unit & Heffter Research Center Zürich

Research Focus: Our goal is to identify brain mechanisms underlying the sense of self, visual perception, social cognition and emotional processes in normal waking states and the dysfunctions of these processes in psychiatric disorders. Multiple approaches including measures of experimental psychology, information processing (e.g. PPI, p50, MMN), and brain imaging techniques (e.g. PET, fMRI, MRS) are used to identify neurocognitive markers of these functions, and to unravel predictors for novel treatment approaches. In addition, translational drug models of psychopathology (e.g. ketamine, psilocybin) are used to further elucidate the role of the glutamate and serotonin systems in psychotic symptom formation, cognition, and emotion regulation. To bridge the gap between preclinical and clinical research, we also aim further at developing new translational models to investigate clinically relevant drug effects in healthy human subjects rather than patients.

Keywords: Psychopathology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychopharmacology, Models of psychoses, Emotion processing, glutamate, serotonin, PPI, p50, MMN, EEG-ERP, PET, fMRI, MRS

Topic: Sensory Systems, Cognitive Neuroscience

Publications: PubMed



Behrens Wolfger


Dr. Wolfger von der Behrens
Institute of Neuroinformatics, University and ETH Zurich

Research Focus: The central question of our research is how the nervous system adapts dynamically to the sensory environment and input on the basis of stimulus features, probability and regularity and vice-versa how this adaptation shapes perception. The model for answering these questions is the rodent primary sensory cortex with a particular focus on the neuronal representation of deviating stimuli. Deviating stimuli are of interest as they usually have a high saliency and therefore are potent trigger for reallocating the attentional focus. Neuronal activity signalling deviant stimuli is well described in human EEG recordings. Such a mismatch negativity wave in the EEG (‘MMN’) is a robust and most-likely hard-wired phenomenon. However, the underlying neuronal circuitry is unknown. In order to dissemble this circuitry we employ different behavioural and in-vivo physiological methods such as high-density single-neuron recordings and optogenetics. Additionally, these deviant-detecting circuits are disturbed in a range of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. Therefore, we are interested in modelling these pathologies as well due to their close and intricate relationship with the deviance detection mechanisms.

Keywords: Sensory decision making, deviance detection & predictive coding, rodents, optogenetics, multi-channel electrophysiology, behaviour, auditory and somatosensory system
Topic: Sensory systems

Publications: Google Scholar

Konrad Weber


PD Dr. Konrad Weber
Neurology and Ophtalmology, University Hospital Zurich


Topic: Sensory Systems



Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer


Prof. Dr. Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zürich, and Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ETH Zürich

Research Focus: The spinal dorsal horn serves a pivotal role as the first site of cellular and synaptic integration of somatosensory information. It plays a key role in diseases such as chronic pain and itch. Our group focuses on the organization and function of dorsal horn neuronal circuits and their plasticity in different pathologies. We use a variety of neuronal tracing techniques to analyse the integration of dorsal horn neurons into neuronal circuits in mice and combine virus-based and genetic tools to manipulate specific subpopulations of dorsal horn neurons in vivo. Behavioral test and in vivo 2-photon imaging and electrophysiology are used to study the function of neurons and circuits under physiological conditions and in chronic pain and itch states.  

Keywords: Spinal cord, interneurons, circuits, pain

Topics: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Disorders of the Nervous Systems, Neural Basis of Behavior, Sensory Systems

Publications: PubMed