Erik's Research Interests




Due to my huge interest in basic neuroscience research and especially novel imaging and optogenetic techniques, I started my PhD in March 2016 in this young research group. We investigate how sensory information is modulated in our brain. The perception of sensory information is influenced by so called “top-down” inputs which filter sensory information depending on e.g. former experiences. A disturbance of these filter mechanism can have different medial consequences like attention deficit disorder or autism. Basic research on neuromodulatory processes is essential for the future development and refinement of drugs and therapies for these medical conditions. In my project, I am interested in shedding light on the specific role of one of the most prominent top-down systems in early sensory processing by using the olfactory system as a model.

My experiments focus on the so-called horizontal band of broca (HDB), located in the basal forebrain. This system is of particular importance since it has been associated with active sensation, attention, and learning. During my PhD I aim to investigate 1) how this system modulates early sensory processing and 2) the behavioral context in which this modulation occurs.
We are performing optogenetic experiments in order to modulate HDB neuron activity while recording from different neuronal populations in the olfactory bulb (OB).

Together with our collaboration partner Dr. Wolfgang Kelsch (University Heidelberg) I became acquainted in building so called “multi tetrode arrays”, which I established in our lab and adapted to my project. These arrays are based on printed circuit boards (PCBs) and can be used for recording of up to 32 channels simultaneously in the awake behaving animal. The simultaneous placement of optical fibers allows this technique to be easily combined with optogenetic stimulation experiments. In the future our lab will use this technique in order to investigate the physiology behind different discriminative learning paradigms.

In 2017, I presented my scientific work at the international meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS) in Florida and at the Twelfth Göttingen Meeting of the German Neuroscience Society (NWG) in Göttingen. My poster presentation at the Cell-NERF Symposium 2018 in Leuven, Belgium was very helpful to expand my knowledge about future applications in neurotechnology. The feedback from a broad scientific audience was very valuable for improving my project and the present manuscript submission. In order to bring science a step further, the exchange of scientific knowledge is therefore a high priority in our group.