Advanced Course Behavioral Neurobiology

ZEUSS Course IDs: BIO-13740 and BIO-13750

Responsible course coordinator: Prof. Armin Bahl

all_animals.png

Course description:

The aim of our research is to unravel how neural circuits enable animals to sense their environment and how such information is processed in the brain to guide behavior. To this end, we study how animals make decisions in different contexts and behavioral states, learn and remember, and interact when in a group. We are driven by the idea that biological systems, in their beautiful diversity and complexity, follow relatively simple principles that are commonly shared across species. To explore these common principles, we use a variety of model organisms, including larval zebrafish, locusts, bees, ants, cockroaches, adult flies, and fly larvae. Each one of these model organisms has its specific experimental advantage or shows a particularly interesting behavior:

 

  • Larval zebrafish are tiny and almost completely transparent vertebrates, making it easy to use functional imaging techniques to characterize the activity of the entire brain at cellular resolution, while animals can still make behavioral decisions. Larval zebrafish are genetically tractable, allowing us to manipulate circuit function and test its effect on behavior. 

  • Locusts show complex group dynamics, they often march or fly in huge groups, which can be mimicked in a laboratory setting. Using electrophysiological recordings and imaging techniques we can ask how such different behavioral states arise and how this affects sensory processing. 

  • Bees are masters in olfactory processing, spatial memory, and communication, and can make complex decisions as a collective. It is possible to use imaging and electrophysiological techniques to dissect the combinatorial code in the olfactory system and explore how memories are stored. In behavioral experiments, the division of labor and the organization of the colony can be explored. 

  • Ants are highly social insects and can collectively shape their environment by cutting grass and leaves, and by keeping their environment tidy. Through behavioral experiments, immunohistochemical staining methods, as well as mass spectrometry, we explore how nervous system activity changes as a function of the animal’s state. 

  • Cockroaches have a very fine sense of odor and actively sample their environment using their long antennae. Through behavioral quantification and electrophysical recordings, we aim to understand their behavioral strategies in odor plume detection and how this information is represented on the level of the brain. 

  • Fruit flies perform sophisticated navigation behaviors towards olfactory or visual cues, which are also modulated by their internal state. Furthermore, they are able to associate rewarding and punishing events with different contextual stimuli, allowing them to adapt their behavior for future behavioral decisions.

Students will join one of our currently active research projects, using one of our animal models. Working closely together within our scientific community, we will provide students with hands-on exposure to state-of-the-art experimental techniques, including high-throughput behavioral tracking, two-photon functional calcium-Imaging, electrophysiology, mass spectrometry, immunohistochemistry, molecular biology, and computational modeling:

 

  • The project work includes the development of a specific research question, literature research, planning of experimental design, experimental execution, data acquisition, and data analysis. The project ends with a detailed protocol in the form of a manuscript and a final presentation of results in the form of a talk.

  • The course is accompanied by lectures covering basics and advanced topics in behavioral neuroscience and general important experimental techniques. Moreover, invited speakers give students the opportunity to learn about ongoing research in the field outside our department.

  • Additionally, students will attend relevant talks at our Excellence Cluster for the Study of Collective Behaviour, selected departmental seminars, and some of our progress reports.

  • Lectures, project completion, as well as seminar attendance, are mandatory parts of the course.

  • This course is held in English only.

Key dates 2022:

  • The course takes place daily from June 20th to July 29th.

  • Students and supervisors will go on a joint retreat to develop their project ideas. This year we will all go to the Hochkopf-Hütte (link) in the Black Forest, from July 4–6.

  • On July 15th, we will have a special technical workshop event, in which students will learn with hands-on-engineering to control hardware for neuroscience experiments.

Lecture material:

  • Click on the Link to our Nextcloud storage. In case the link does not work anymore, please let us know.

  • The content in the lecture will be used during oral Master's examinations. 

Recommended reading material:

  • Kandel E, Schwartz J, Jessell T (2000) Principles of Neural Science. McGraw-Hill.

  • Greenspan RJ (2007) An Introduction to Nervous Systems. Cold Spring Harbor.

  • Carew T (2000) Behavioral Neurobiology. Sinauer Associates.

  • Galizia CG, Lledo PM (2013) Neurosciences. Springer.

  • Zupanc GKH (2010) Behavioral Neurobiology - An Integrative Approach. Oxford University.

This year, we offer the following projects (PDF):

Please, also find the project slides for the presentations on our cloud storage (Link – Password: Neuro2022):

This year, our lecture series is as follows:

Date
Time
Weekday
Event name
Presenter
Room
13/05/2022
10:00 – 11:30
Friday
Project presentations by supervisors
All students and supervisors
M630
20/06/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Monday
Introduction and saftety
Christoph Kleineidam
M1101
20/06/2022
16:00 – 17:00
Monday
Guest lecture: Neural dynamics and architecture of a heading direction circuit in the larval zebrafish brain
Luigi Petrucco (Italian Institute of Technology)
ZT1204
20/06/2022
11:45 – 12:45
Monday
Guest lecture: Hawkmoth neuroethology - from flower inspection to pattern recognition
Anna Stöckl (University of Würzburg)
ZT702
21/06/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Tuesday
Introduction to neuroscience
Einat Couzin-Fuchs
M1101
21/06/2022
15:15 – 16:00
Tuesday
Guest lecture: Development of orientation detection in the zebrafish retina
Robert Hindges (Kings College London)
M701
22/06/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Wednesday
Statistical methods in neurobiology
James Foster
M1101
23/06/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Thursday
The insect brain & olfaction
Giovanni Galizia
M1101
24/06/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Friday
Microscopic tools in neurobiology
Sercan Sayin
M1101
27/06/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Monday
Neuromodulation
Divya Ramesh
M1101
27/06/2022
11:45 – 12:45
Monday
Guest lecture: Collective nest building in leaf-cutting ants
Flavio Roces (University of Würzburg)
ZT702
28/06/2022
9:00 – 10:30
Tuesday
Pheromones and pheromone processing
Morgane Nouvian
M1101
28/06/2022
13:00 – 14:00
Tuesday
Guest lecture: Flexibility of an innate social behavior: From circuit mechanisms to learning
Frederic Roemschied (Princeton University)
M701
29/06/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Wednesday
Principles of motion vision
Armin Bahl
M1101
30/06/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Thursday
Higher order visual processing
Armin Bahl
M1101
01/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Friday
Motor control and CPGs
Einat Couzin-Fuchs
M1101
04/07/2022
All day
Monday
Retreat Hochkopfhütte
All students and supervisors
Black Forest
05/07/2022
All day
Tuesday
Retreat Hochkopfhütte
All students and supervisors
Black Forest
06/07/2022
All day
Wednesday
Retreat Hochkopfhütte
All students and supervisors
Black Forest
07/07/2022
10:00 – 11:00
Thursday
Guest lecture: Cerebellar control of central pattern generation in larval zebrafish
Meha Jadhav (National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore; Postdoc-candidate)
M1101
08/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Friday
Electrosensation and electrocommunication
Armin Bahl
M1101
11/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Monday
Archer fish and the C-start
Armin Bahl
M1101
11/07/2022
11:45 – 12:45
Monday
Guest lecture: Neurogenetics of social affiliation in zebrafish
Johannes Larsch
ZT702
12/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Tuesday
Spatial navigation in insects
James Foster
M1101
13/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Wednesday
Spatial navigation in rats
Christoph Kleineidam
M1101
14/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Thursday
Learning & memory
Katrin Vogt
M1101
15/07/2022
8:15 – 11:30
Friday
Hands-on workshop on instrument control
Yannick Günzel & Katja Slangewal
M1101?
18/07/2022
9:15 – 10:00
Monday
Guest lecture: Improved methods for simulating anisotropic tissue activation in deep brain stimulation
Roberto Garza (PHD Candidate)
M1101
19/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Tuesday
Dominance, fight and escape in crayfish
Christoph Kleineidam
M1101
20/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Wednesday
Social coherence in insects
Christoph Kleineidam
M1101
21/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Thursday
Social organization in insects
Divya Ramesh
M1101
22/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Friday
No lecture
26/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Tuesday
Barn owl hearing
Christoph Kleineidam
M1101
27/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Wednesday
Birdsong learning
Christoph Kleineidam
M1101
28/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Thursday
No lecture
29/07/2022
8:15 – 9:45
Friday
Clean up
All students and supervisors
M1101
05/08/2022
9:00 – 16:00
Friday
Final project presentations
All students
M629
05/08/2022
19:00 – open end
Friday
Neurobiology BBQ
All students and supervisors
Wassersportgelände
12/08/2022
23:59
Friday
Final deadline for handing in project reports
All students

This year, our retreat schedule is a follows:

See on google docs (Link).