Beck Group

Circuit Mechanisms of Behavior

In our group, we are interested in understanding how mammalian behaviors arise from the precisely orchestrated activity patterns in neuronal ensembles. We are fascinated with the mechanisms generating behaviourally relevant activity patterns at different scales ranging from single neurons to neuronal networks spanning different brain areas, with a particular focus on the hippocampus.

On the level of individual neurons, we are interested in understanding fundamental features of input-output processing, and how these are altered by inhibition or neuromodulation. To this end, we are using advanced techniques such as two-photon glutamate uncaging combined with electrophysiology to study neuronal integration of complex temporal and spatial input patterns.

On the level of circuits, we are fascinated by the capability of the hippocampal system to provide mice with salient information about the environment. We are interested in questions such as: How do mice perceive small differences in the environment? How is behaviourally salient information encoded in a spatial map? How can this information be retrieved and used for goal-directed behaviour? To this end, we are using chronic in-vivo two-photon imaging in head-fixed mice and – together with the group of T. Rose – in freely moving mice.

Some of our projects

CNS Disorders and Epilepsy

Wilder Penfield, the eminent neurosurgeon/neuroscientist famously said: ‘The problem of neurology is to understand man himself.’ Indeed, we believe that understanding any CNS disorder requires a deep understanding of disease mechanisms across scales.

We are therefore applying the approaches described above at the levels of neurons, circuits and behaviour to studying the key manifestations of epilepsy.

Some of our projects

DISCOVER our homepage here.

Methods

  • In-vitro slice physiology
  • 2-photon glutamate uncaging
  • in-vivo 2-photon imaging in head-fixed mice
  • mouse behaviour
  • opto- and chemogenetics
  • behaviour, epilepsy models

5 selected publications

  1. Pofahl M, Nikbakht N, Haubrich AN, Nguyen T, Masala N, Distler F, Braganza O, Macke JH, Ewell LA, Golcuk K, Beck H (2021) Synchronous activity patterns in the dentate gyrus during immobility. eLife, 10:e65786.
  2. Braganza O, Müller-Komorovska D, Kelly T, Beck H (2020) Quantitative properties of a feedback circuit predict frequency-dependent pattern separation. eLife, 2020;9:e53148.
  3. Braganza O, Beck H (2018) The circuit motif as conceptual tool for multilevel neuroscience. Trends in Neurosciences, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2018.01.002.
  4. Pabst M, Braganza O, Dannenberg H, Rosen J, van Loo K, Deisseroth K, Schoch S, Becker A. Beck H (2016) Astrocytic intermediaries of septohippocampal cholinergic transmission. Neuron, 90, 1–13.
  5. Krüppel R, Remy S, Beck H (2011) Dendritic integration in hippocampal dentate granule cells. Neuron, 71:512-528.