The Neurophysics Group is an interdisciplinary research laboratory jointly operated by the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences and the Department of Physics. It aim is to investigate physical mechanisms underlying signal perception and transduction in the nervous system and to apply experimental physics methods to neuroscientific problems.
The core facility is a two-photon in vivo imaging platform developed at the Department of Physics, a technique that allows non-invasive structural and functional measurements in small animal models at different scales: from macroscopic imaging of entire brains to high resolution microscopy of neural networks, single neurons, and even subcellular structures. In vivo mapping of brain activity is implemented via calcium imaging techniques at high temporal resolution.
The laboratory's research activities start at the receptor level (olfaction, vision, magnetoreception) testing potential quantum biological models, to studies of information coding and transduction mechanisms in primary processing centers to learning-associated changes in structure and function of large neural networks. A promising model animal for this is the honeybee. With a brain of only one million neurons it shows exceptional performances in a broad spectrum of behaviours such as communication, navigation, or learning.
In order to decipher coding mechanisms, connectivity and plasticity down to the single neuron level, we added optogenetic tools to our experimental repertoire, which enables us to artificially stimulate single network nodes and then follow the propagation of that stimulus throughout the whole network.