No other organ is as complex as the human brain – each of the 100 billion or so nerve cells can link up with up to 10,000 other nerve cells. The Max Planck Institute for Brain Research is dedicated to the study of this super-organ, and endeavours to unlock its secrets in the process. Scientists at the Institute study the human brain with non-invasive methods and gain fundamental insights by the study of less complex nerve systems: non-human primates, mice, tortoises, fish, and insects. They measure how the nerve systems process sensory input, how these experiences are stored, and what response behaviour results. Part of their work focuses on decoding the circuits in the brain and the specific contacts between nerve cells (synapses). The studies apply molecular biological, genetic and electrophysiological methods. The motivation behind these studies is to unravel the neural mechanisms that form the basis of normal and pathological behaviour.
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