The Neurophysics Group is an interdisciplinary research laboratory jointly run by the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences and the Department of Physics. Its aim is to investigate the physical mechanisms underlying signal reception, transduction, and processing in the nervous system and to apply methods of experimental physics 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, individual neurons, and even subcellular structures. In vivo mapping of brain activity is implemented via calcium imaging techniques with high temporal resolution.
The laboratory's research activities start at the receptor level (olfaction, mechanosensation, magnetoreception, vision), where quantum biological models are tested, and extend to studies on information coding and transduction mechanisms in primary processing centers and learning-associated changes in the structure and function of large neural networks.
Promising model animals for this are insects. With a brain of only about a million neurons, they show exceptional performances in a wide range of behaviours including communication, navigation, or learning.
To decipher coding mechanisms, connectivity, and plasticity down to the single neuron level, we included optogenetic tools in our experimental repertoire, which allow us to artificially stimulate individual neural network nodes and then track the propagation of these stimuli throughout the network.