Werner Reichardt Centrum für Integrative Neurowissenschaften (CIN)

Functional and Comparative Neuroanatomy

Mapping the Body-Mind Interface

The brain evolved around the most primitive and vital energetic needs of the body. It is therefore not surprising that even our most sophisticated brain functions are directly shaped by the central integration of sensory afferent signals representing bodily states or interoception. In anthropoid primates, a phylogenetically-novel pathway conveys these signals to  the insular cortex. In humans, the anterior insular cortex, which is disproportionately enlarged compared to other species, interfaces interoception with salient environmental cues, engendering emotional feelings and shaping cognitive processes, including perceptual awareness, fluid intelligence, and thoughts. Our group combines multiple experimental approaches to examine the anatomical and functional organization of the insular cortex and its network partners including the cingulate cortex.

From Genes to Circuits, to Behavior, to Translation

Our research strategy encompasses a comprehensive set of complimentary methods that will allow us to manipulate (chemo-)genetically specific sets of neurons, brain circuits and bodily parameters during neuronal recording, functional neuroimaging, and behavior. Our group also uses comparative/translational approaches.

International Group

Our group benefits from a unique trans-institutional and trans-national situation, with physical locations not only at the CIN but also at the C-BIN of the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research (Orangeburg, NY, USA) and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (Tuebingen, Germany). Each location specializes in a different aspect of our projects. We also have two very active collaborations, with the groups of Nenad Sestan at the Yale School of Medicine and of Wim Vanduffel at the University of Leuven.

Teaching Neuroanatomy at Tübingen's GTC

Each year, we teach neuroanatomy to the master students of Graduate Training Center (GTC) and International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS). The course proposes an intense week of lectures and human brain dissections.

Selected Publications