Newsletter, edition December 2015
The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) funds the Priority Program 1665 (Schwerpunktprogramm) “Resolving and manipulating neuronal networks in the mammalian brain – from correlative to causal analysis”. The program runs for an initial period of three years, extendable to six years. It was launched in Fall 2013.
The mammalian brain accounts for complex sensory, motor, and cognitive abilities by processing environmental and internal information within neuronal networks. A fundamental aim of systems neuroscience is to decipher the mechanisms by which sensory perception and cognitive abilities are encoded onto activity patterns of neuronal networks. However, experimental achievement of this aim has proven notoriously difficult and mostly descriptive and correlative evidences accumulated during the last decades. Until very recently, appropriate methods to monitor and selectively manipulate the activity of single or groups of neurons in behaving animals were lacking. The impressive development of new recording and imaging techniques as well as of electrical nanostimulation and optogenetic tools during the last two-three years had a profound impact on neuroscience. The Priority Program 1665 is an interdisciplinary and seminal collaborative endeavor that aims at capitalizing on this recent technological and analytical progress for elucidating the relationship between neurons, networks and behavior. For a more detailed presentation of the program' s aims visit Ileana Hanganu-Opatz: Introductory remarks.