We are a multidisciplinary team of neurobiologists, psychologists, mathematicians and computer scientists. It is our mission to better understand cognitively complex learning and decision processes in laboratory rodents at the level of interacting neuronal circuits.
We combine behavioural paradigms with modern chronic in vivo multichannel recording technologies and pharmacological, molecular, optogenetic, mathematical and computational tools to study cortical network activity during learning and choice behaviour.
Max Happel's scientific mission in our group is to investigate the neuronal basis of cognitive resources which are subject to learning and memory processes. The central goal of this project is to better understand and manipulate plastic changes in neuronal circuits at the functional-systemic network level during flexible, cognitively demanding behavioral adjustments and long-term memory retrievals or the extinction of memory content.
- Study of biology and neurosciences in Frankfurt/Main and Magdeburg
- Doctorate in neurobiology (summa cum laude)
- Postdoc in Oxford, England
- Habilitation in Neurobiology
- Today learning researcher in the field of hearing research, cognitive learning mechanisms and pathophysiology of memory.
Head PD Dr. Max Happel +49-391-6263-94411 firstname.lastname@example.org Postdocs Dr. Hartmut Niekisch +49-391-6263-93481 email@example.com PhD students Michael Brunk +49-391-6263-93481 firstname.lastname@example.org Katrina Deane +49-391-6263-93481 email@example.com Marina Zempeltzi +49-391-6263-93481 firstname.lastname@example.org Students & guests Francesca Abela Sümeyra Aksit Shivam Maurya Martin Kisse Amr Faharat Alumni Mohammed El-Tabbal Julia Steinhardt Sara Bertazzoni Erika Kaschinksi Ivan Bykov
Modulation of value representation in oscillatory activity patterns in the sensory cortex
Using chronic animal experimental in vivo multichannel derivations and human MEG measurements, we investigate ubiquitous network mechanisms during uncertain decision-making processes and use the obtained data sets to formulate general functional principles of flexible and adaptive value representation in the brain. We use methods of Multivariate Statistics (Support Vector Machine Learning) to classify mesoscopic activation patterns of cortical circuits, which are subject to decision processes, e.g. during uncertainty.
Funding: SFB779 - 2016-2020; Collaborators: Marina Zempeltzi, Sümeyra Aksit, Shivam Maurya, Francesca Abela, Martin Kisse; Cooperation: Prof. Gerhard Jocham (Univ. Düsseldorf), Dr. Matthias Deliano
Optogenetic activation of the dopaminergic reward system and in vivo derivations in laboratory rodents during cognitively complex learning tasks
By chronic multichannel recordings in the auditory cortex of behaving laboratory rodents we investigate plastic changes during learning processes at the synaptic network level. By cell type-specific optogenetic stimulation of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) we try to modulate targeted reward learning.
Funding: LPN/PAKT of the WGL - 2015-2017; Collaborators: Michael Brunk, Martin Kisse; Cooperation: Dr. Matthias Deliano, Dr. Michael Lippert
Influence of cortical extracellular matrix (ECM) on cognitive learning processes in laboratory rodents and translational relevance for neuropsychiatric disorders
We investigate in laboratory rodent species (desert gerbils, wt/ko mouse models) the influence of the extracellular matrix on cognitive learning processes and flexible long-term memory, as well as its changes in mouse models for depression and Alzheimer's disease.
Funding: WGL/LIN Special project - 2012-2016; collaborators: Hartmut Niekisch, Mohammad El-Tabbal, cooperation: Dr. Renato Frischknecht (Erlangen), Prof. Anna Fejtova (Erlangen), Prof. Martin Walter (Tübingen)
Optogenetic control of synaptic integration by modulation of calcium channel dynamics
In cooperation with Prof. Martin Heine (Mainz), we manipulate the channel dynamics of voltage-controlled calcium channels (VGCCs) in cell-type-specific cell populations by light-induced clustering in the presynapse using modern optogenetic techniques. We investigate the effect on synaptic integration and network physiology in vivo.
Funding: WGL/LIN Special project - 2018-2021; Collaborator: Katrina Deane, Cooperation: Prof. Martin Heine (Mainz)
Laser-induced lesion of corticothalamic circuits in the auditory system of ferrets
In collaboration with Prof. Andrew King (University of Oxford) we investigate the cellular basis of the perception of time-complex tone stimuli in ferrets after laser-induced apoptosis of corticothalamic projection neurons.
Funding: DAAD 2012 and Wellcome Principal Research Fellowship (PI Prof. King) 2013-2019
Reorganization of cortical circuits after sound trauma as cause of central tinnitus
We investigate the network pathophysiology of sound trauma-induced tinnitus in laboratory rodents as a cause for the development and manifestation of a central tinnitus.
Cooperation: Prof. Holger Schulze (Erlangen), Dr. Marcus Jeschke (Göttingen)
- Current Third Party Funds
2018 - 2020
Leibniz Special Project
„Optogenetic control of synaptic integration by modulation of calcium channel dynamics“
2016 - 2020
CRC 779 Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior
„Value computations in sensory cortical areas during choice: network mechanisms and neuromodulation“
2015 - 2018
Pact for Research and Innovation of the Leibniz Association
„Dopamine impact on reorganization of laminar cortical circuitry function during learning“
- Teaching & Internships
- Lecture Introduction to Nervous Systems, Bachelor of Philosophy, Neurosciences, Cognition
- Block Internship and Seminar Auditory Neurophysiology, Master Program Integrative Neuroscience
- Lecture Behavioral Pharmacology in the Master's Program Integrative Neuroscience
- Lecture Psychophysiology in the Master's Programme Psychology
We are always looking for motivated people, who want to get in touch with our research and have a keen interest in getting involved. We encourage young scientist to join our running projects or develop their own research ideas in our lab with respect to Bachelor- or Master-theses or HiWi-positions.
Topics we offer for instance on a regular basis are:
- Behavioural training of laboratory rodents in complex learning tasks
- Histological/anatomical projects in collaboration with PD Dr. Eike Budinger
- Programming and computational projects (Matlab, Python, R) for statistical data analysis (Linear models, multivariate statistics, RL-models, video tracking)
If you are interested to get in touch with us, do not hesitate to come around or contact us at: agcortxplorer(at)lin-magdeburg.de
- Open positions
We search for
Motivated students with multidisciplinary backgrounds, who want to join our young research group.
We regularly advertise research assiatnt positions with different topics, and also offer the environment and supervision for Bachelor/Master theses.
In case you…
- are enthusiastic about doing brain science
- have experience with programming (Matlab, Phyton, R)
- and are willing to team-work….
- to support us in studying neuronal circuits and neuromodulatory systems during learning and memory,
- learning state-of-the-art methods
- a dynamic working environment in a young, interdisciplinary team
- possibilities of graduation theses
Interested? Please do not hestitate to contact us at: agcortxplorer(at)lin-magdeburg.de
Currently we have the following open positions:
- Research assistant in Optogenetics and Circuit physiology
- Research assistant in Statistics in Brain Science
- Prof. Frank Ohl
- PD Dr. Eike Budinger
- Dr. Matthias Deliano
- Dr. Michael Lippert
- Dr. Jürgen Goldschmidt
- Lars Boenke
- Prof. Myra Spiliopoulou (Magdeburg)
- Dr. Frederik Kramer (Magdeburg)
- Prof. Andrew King (Oxford)
- Prof. Victoria Bajo (Oxford)
- Prof. Gerhard Jocham (Düsseldorf)
- Prof. Martin Heine (Mainz)
- Prof. Anna Fejtova (Erlangen)
- Prof. Holger Schulze (Erlangen)
- Prof. Martin Walter (Tübingen)
- Dr. Renato Frischknecht (Erlangen)
- Dr. Marcus Jeschke (Göttingen)
- Media coverage
- "Enzymatische Verjüngungskur für das Gehirn" by Spektrum der Wissenschaft
- "Brain and behaviour", International Innovation Nr. 179
- "Does a looser mind lead to faster learning?" in L.A. Times
- „Lernst du noch oder weißt du schon? - Ein gesundes Lernumfeld schaffen" at Focus Online
- CortXplorer @ Social Media