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Frankfurt am Main - Fukuoka

German - Japanese Collaboration in Computational Neuroscience

The development of the functional organization of the visual cortex
(funded by BMBF and JST)

Nerve cells in our brain, as in the brains of other mammals, are specialists: they only react to certain stimuli. For example, in the mammalian visual cortex, which plays a central role in visual perception, most cells will only be active – i.e. send many electrical signals to other cells - if a visual object moves in a certain direction. If it moves in a different direction, they transmit less or no signals and other cells may become active instead. It is assumed that this pronounced selectivity of nerve cells plays an important role for perception. The selectivity of a cell arises very early during the development of the visual system and is significantly influenced by input from other cells and thus depends on the connectivity of the network the cell is part of.

In a combined theoretical and experimental effort, this project will analyze how nerve cells in the early mouse visual cortex develop their selectivities, aiming to shed light on the changes in circuitry underlying this maturation process as well as on the cellular mechanisms controlling it. It is expected that the results will also be transferable to other parts of the brain as well as to the human brain. First, the team will characterize changes in the activity patterns of neuron populations in the mouse visual cortex around the time of eye opening. A network model will be developed to describe the measured changes quantitatively. The aim of this model is to generate hypotheses about the underlying changes of connections between nerve cells as well as the cellular mechanisms that may regulate these changes. These hypotheses are to be tested experimentally in the final part of the project.


The following scientists take part in this collaboration:

  • Prof. Matthias Kaschube, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS), Frankfurt am Main
  • Prof. Kenichi Ohki, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan


German Coordinator:

Prof. Matthias Kaschube

Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies
Professor for Computational Neuroscience
and Computational Vision
Faculty of Computer Science and Mathematics
Johann Wolfgang Goethe University
Ruth-Moufang-Str. 1
60438 Frankfurt am Main

Tel.: +49 69 798 47521