Empowering the Future of Neuroscience

Empowering the Future of Neurosceince

Ackels Group

Sensory input across modalities is highly dynamic and continuously confronts the brain with the task of making sense of the external world. This is particularly true for sensory systems that are subjected to a high amount of information. How does the brain do this? How does it use this information to make decisions?

In our group, we study olfaction as a key sense that many species depend on for survival. Olfactory cues can be especially useful in situations such as locating food sources, mating partners or avoiding predator encounters. Natural odours form temporally complex plumes that provide information over a large range of distances, in the absence of visual cues. The complex temporal dynamics of odour plumes carry spatial information about the odour landscape. Understanding how the spatial information carried by odour plumes is used by mammals to navigate their environment on the cellular, circuit and behavioural level constitutes the primary research focus of the lab.

What are we offering?

The primary research focus of the lab lies in understanding how the temporal dynamics of natural odour plumes guide mammals to navigate and interact with their environment. We are intrigued by the sensory mechanisms that govern patterned neuronal activity in olfactory circuits, ranging from single cells to neuronal networks, and how this elicits behaviour.

What are we interested in for collaboration?

As a newly formed lab, we are interested in collaborating with the community on every level. This includes exchanging and discussing methodologies, accessing experimental setups or bouncing off ideas for new research projects.

What platforms, analysis tools or facilities do we use and can share?

In our lab we are using in vivo 2-photon imaging in head-fixed mice, opto- and chemogenetics, extracellular unit recordings, and behavioural tracking in freely moving mice.

Discover our Lab page here and Homepage of IEECR here.

To learn more about Prof. Dr. Tobias Ackels, follow him on ORCID or Twitter.


  • In vivo 2-photon imaging in head fixed mice
  • Opto- and chemogenetics
  • Extracellular unit recordings
  • Behavioural tracking in freely moving mice

5 selected publications

  1. Ackels T.*, Erskine A.*, Dasgupta D.*, Marin A.C., Warner T.P.A., Tootoonian S., Fukunaga I., Harris J.J. and Schaefer A.T. Fast odour dynamics are encoded in the olfactory system and guide behaviour. Nature, 593, 558–563 (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03514-2.
  2. Bosch C., Ackels T., Pacureanu A., Zhang Y., Peddie C.J., Berning M., Rzepka N., Zdora M.C., Whiteley I., Storm M., Bonnin A., Rau C., Margrie T., Briggman K., Collinson L. and Schaefer A.T. Functional and multiscale 3D structural investigation of brain tissue through correlative in vivo physiology, synchrotron micro-tomography and volume electron microscopy. Nature Communications, 13 (1), 2923 (2022). doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-30199-6.
  3. Ackels T., Jordan R., Schaefer A.T. and Fukunaga I. Respiration-Locking of Olfactory Receptor and Projection Neurons in the Mouse Olfactory Bulb and Its Modulation by Brain State, Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 14, 1-15 (2020). doi: 10.3389/fncel.2020.00220.
  4. Zeppilli S., Ackels T., Attey R., Klimpert N., Boeing S., Crombach A., Schaefer A.T. and Fleischmann A. Molecular characterization of projection neuron subtypes in the mouse olfactory bulb. eLife, 10:e65445 (2021). doi: 10.7554/eLife.65445.
  5. Kaur A.W., Ackels T., Kuo T.H., Cichy A., Dey S., Hays C., Kateri M., Logan D.W., Marton T.F., Spehr M. and Stowers L. Murine Pheromone Proteins Constitute a Context-Dependent Combinatorial Code Governing Multiple Social Behaviors, Cell (157), 676-688 (2014). doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.025.