Animal behavior is produced and controlled by dynamic activation patterns in highly complex neuronal circuits. Our current understanding of how neuronal circuits operate remains, however, poor. For example, it is unclear how higher brain functions such as sensory feature discrimination, learning, decision-making, or fine-control of motor output arise from underlying cellular activities. To study neural circuit function our research is focused on advancing and applying in vivo high-resolution imaging methods, with a particular emphasis on neocortical microcircuitry. Our specific goals are to reveal principles of single-cell and local network computation and to decipher the neural codes governing information processing as well as circuit plasticity.
Fritjof Helmchen is Professor of Neuroscience and Co-Director of the Brain Research Institute. His research is focused on the development and application of optical methods, in particular two-photon microscopy, to study neural activity on the subcellular, cellular, and circuit level. His group has pioneered several microscopy techniques, including 3D and high-speed in vivo two-photon imaging, and has contributed to recent advancements in the study of cortical microcircuits. He has received several awards, e.g., the Cloetta Prize 2015, and serves as scientific board member of the Betty and David Koetser Foundation and the Professor Dr Max Cloëtta Foundation. Fritjof Helmchen is currently Director of the Neuroscience Center Zurich(ZNZ).