Research Focus

The goal of Excellence Department for Neural Information Processing is to understand the fundamental principles that govern the processing of information in the nervous system. We seek to understand how networks of neurons in the brain encode information about the external world, how they elaborate it and transmit to other populations of neurons, and how the information that is encoded and transmitted in neural populations is used to take appropriate decisions and express behaviors. We are particularly interested in the emergent properties of neural circuits, that is in how information processing functions emerge from the interactions between neurons or between brain circuits.

We use computational methods to address these issues. In particular, we develop advanced mathematical tools for brain data analysis, based on the principles of Information theory and machine learning. We systematically apply these methods to real data to produce new results on neural information processing. Finally, we develop biophysically plausible neural network models of how information is processed in the brain.

We address these questions across several level of investigations, from the microscopic level of populations of individual neurons to the macroscopic level of whole brain networks measured with non-invasive neuroimaging techniques in humans. We try to bridge between different levels of investigation, by linking microscopic neural interactions to the macroscopic brain organization and to behavior.


Although the research in the lab is purely theoretical and computational (we do not do any experiments), we work in close collaborations with experimental neuroscience laboratories to design and analyze experiments that are relevant to address our theoretical questions. International collaborations include those with Christopher Harvey and Robert Datta at Harvard Medical School; Dmitry Rinberg at NYU; Tommaso Fellin, Alessandro Gozzi, Giuliano Iurilli and Cristina Becchio at IIT . Newly established collaborations within Hamburg include those with Tobias Donner, Ileana Hanganu-Opatz , Andreas Engel and Christian Gerloff.