The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics is studying signal and information processing in the brain. We know that our brain is constantly processing a vast amount of sensory and intrinsic information with which our behavior is coordinated accordingly. Interestingly, how the brain actually achieves these tasks is less well understood, for example, how it perceives, recognizes, and learns new objects. The scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics aim to determine which signals and processes are responsible for creating a coherent percept of our environment and for eliciting the appropriate behavior.
Dr. Peter Dayan
I build mathematical and computational models of neural processing, with a particular emphasis on representation and learning. The main focus of my group is on reinforcement learning and unsupervised learning, covering the ways that animals come to choose appropriate actions in the face of rewards and punishments, and the ways and goals of the process by which they come to form neural representations of the world. The models are informed and constrained by neurobiological, psychological and ethological data.
Prof. Dr. Zhaoping Li
Li Zhaoping is the head of the department of Sensory and Sensorimotor Systems within the MPI for Biological Cybernetics and a professor at the University of Tuebingen. Her research aims to discover and understand how the brain receives and processes the sensory input, e.g., visual inputs, and uses the information to direct movements of the limbs and other body parts as well as to make cognitive decisions. She and her team use both theoretical and experimental approaches, including human psychophysics and animal behavior, imaging, and electrophysiology.
Prof. Dr. Heinrich H. Bülthoff
In the “Human Perception, Cognition and Action” department, modern computer graphics and methods from Virtual Reality are used to examine how form and space are represented in the brain so that humans can name objects, interact with them and orient themselves in unfamiliar surroundings. Research is conducted into how information from different senses is handled to provide a coherent and consistent representation of the environment.
Prof. Dr. Nikos Logothetis
The focus in the “Physiology of Cognitive Processes” department is on visual perception in primates. Research is conducted primarily into the questions of where visual perception is represented in the brain, which neurological processes underlie object recognition and the integration of different sensual stimuli and how the brain learns. Using magnetic resonance tomography, these issues are examined in experiments that combine psychophysical and the electrophysiological approaches.
Prof. Dr. Klaus Scheffler
The "High-field Magnetic Resonance" department addresses the methodical development and optimization of imaging processes. The main areas of interest are magnetic resonance tomography with very high magnetic fields and the development of new contrast media which help to provide a detailed view of the function and metabolism of the brain.