Matthias Munk

Alumni Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes

Main Focus

The neuronal processes responsible for cognitive functions like perception, recognition and working memory organize in a highly dynamical way, because content and context change from moment to moment. Neuronal representations of objects in temporal and prefrontal cortex are therefore state-dependent and are constantly adapted by learning processes. Large distributed representations of objects need to be coordinated by modulatory signals which are able to establish transient relations among subsets of representations and trigger their consolidation if these relations have proven useful. In this process, neuromodulators like acetylcholine or dopamine do not only modulate brain states, but also regulate synaptic plasticity. Oscillations are an interesting candidate signal for modulatory signals, first, because phase relations of separate oscillators can segregate or integrate distributed neuronal ensembles and, second, oscillations can control the number of precise coincidences between pre- and postsynaptic cells to drive plasticity. It is one of the major challenges for the next years to manipulate neuronal signals such that we can establish causal relations between the dynamics of representations and behaviour rather than describe correlations.

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Curriculum Vitae

2008 - pres. Project leader at the Max Planck Institute for biological Cybernetics, Tübingen
2006 Habilitation in Animal Physiology at Technical University Darmstadt
2005 - pres. Teaching Zoology/Behaviour and Human Biology at Technical University Darmstadt
1998 - 2008 Group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt/Main
1994 - 2004 Teaching Medical Physiology as instructor at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main
1993 - 1998 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, supervised by Wolf Singer at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research
1991 - 1993 Postdoctoral Research Assistant, trained by Jean Bullier at the INSERM U94/U371, Vision et Motricité / Cerveau et Vision, Lyon, France
1989 - 1992 Doctoral Thesis under supervision of Reinhard Eckhorn, Dept. Physics/Biophysics, Philipps-University Marburg
1989 - 1991 Postgraduate training in Clinical Neurology, Dept. Neurology, Philipps-University Marburg
1989 MD, Philipps-University Marburg
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