Octavian Voiculescu (Cambridge University)

Octavian Voiculescu investigates the principles of building and shaping the central nervous system in higher vertebrates, and the relationship between morphogenesis and patterning of embryos. At NeNa, he will talk about the growth and form of the neurulating embryo. He will explore the mechanism of shaping the embryo in amniotes (higher vertebrates), and how the main axis, including the neural plate, is generated by the action of stem zones.

Octavian Voiculescu’s Website

Simon Jacob (Technical University of Munich)

Simon Jacob’s aim is to shed light on the cellular basis of neuropsychiatric diseases. To this end, his group studies complex cognitive functions at the level of individual neurons and on the network level in the prefrontal cortex, the parietal cortex and the basal ganglia, with particular focus on how subcortical neuromodulators like dopamine regulate these circuits and control how we subjectively experience our sensory environment, memorize behaviorally relevant information and make appropriate decisions. Jacob’s lab combines controlled behavioral tasks with several state-of-the-art techniques in mice, such as large-scale extracellular recordings, optogenetic manipulation of defined cell types and networks, fluorescent imaging and computational analysis. In a unique translational approach, they also record from single neurons in human neurosurgical patients.

Simon Jacob’s Website

Birgit Derntl (University of Tübingen)

To be female or male is one of the most important biological determinants of life with critical consequences on our health, our behavior and our brain. This interaction between gender, (endogenous and synthetic) sex hormones and health regarding socio-emotional competencies is the main focus of Birgit Derntl’s group. She is particularly interested in how different competencies ranging from basic emotional abilities to empathy, stress and motivation are influenced by these factors. Many patients suffering from mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, depression, bipolar, etc.) show severe deficits in theses domains and here even less is known about the interaction of gender, sex hormone concentration and symptomatology. Her lab investigates behavioral performance, subjective ratings, psychophysiological responses, neuronal activation (fMRI) and connectivity patterns (resting-state fMRI), and multisensory imaging (e.g., olfactory + visual stimulation).

Birgit Derntl’s Website