The departments cover central academic competences and methodologies and the Directors and Fellows act as mentors for the Max Planck Research Group Leaders. The Max Planck Research Groups provide rolling access to the latest ideas and methodologies, providing a means for continual renewal. Departments and groups are encouraged to collaborate, allowing us to make faster and further progress.

The first three departments concentrate on computational neuroscience (Peter Dayan); high field magnetic resonance imaging (Klaus Scheffler); sensory and sensorimotor systems (Li Zhaoping). In June 2023, the institute was joined by a new Director, Ivan de Araujo, whose work on body-brain interaction adds a substantial new dimension to the Institute.

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