Yearbook 2017

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Amongst mammalian species, the diameter of the eye varies by more than an order of magnitude. Objects in visual space traverse the surface of the retina of a large diameter eye at a higher velocity than that of a small diameter eye, raising the question of how different species encode the velocity of moving objects. Using comparative connectomics and computational modelling, we identified a difference in the placement of synapses among neurons in the mouse versus rabbit retina. Our results suggest an adaptation in neural wiring that compensates for eye diameter differences across species. more

The virtual liver

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics Zerial, Marino; Meyer, Kirstin; Ostrenko, Oleksandr; Bourantas, Georgios; Morales-Navarrete, Hernan; Porat-Shliom, Natalie; Segovia-Miranda, Fabian; Nonaka, Hidenori; Ghaemi,Ali; Verbavatz,  Jean-Marc; Brusch, Lutz;  Sbalzarini, Ivo F.; Kalaidzidis, Yannis;  Weigert, Roberto
Researchers of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden developed a predictive 3D multi-scale model based on quantitative image analysis that stimulate the fluid dynamic properties of bile in the liver. This model can help to functionally characterize liver diseases, specific treatment options as well as drug-induced liver injury. Therefore, it is a promising tool for drug development to test and predict the effects of pharmacological compounds on the liver. The research team is now working on a strategy to calibrate this model to human biliary fluid dynamics. more
For the first time, it has been demonstrated that the ultimate resolution limit in fluorescence microscopy – the molecule’s size itself – can also practically be achieved. The MINFLUX concept begins a new chapter and opens up unprecedented opportunities in the optical analysis of molecular systems. more
During the Quaternary, changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations led to major climate changes such as glacial/interglacial cycles. Our studies indicate that the combination of a decrease in ocean overturning through an increased stratification in the Antarctic zone of the Southern Ocean and increased organic carbon export through iron fertilization in the sub-Antarctic zone of the Southern Ocean can explain much of the G/IG's atmospheric CO2 changes during the last 800,000 years and the entire Quaternary. more
Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people. Even in developed countries lots of people are frightened of these animals although hardly anybody comes into contact with them. Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and the Uppsala University have recently discovered that it is hereditary: babies as young as six months feel stressed when seeing these creatures – long before they could have learnt this reaction. more
Why does creativity need the law? US law believes: because authors would otherwise be starving. Continental law counters: because authors care about recognition. Consequently Continental law not only empowers authors to sell their works. It also protects moral rights, like the right to be named. In a field experiment, only a minority of photographers are willing to give up moral rights. more
Thin molecular layers such as biological lipid membranes have diverse functions in Nature. But molecular layers play important roles in technology and biotechnology as well, where they improve, for instance, the biocompatibility of surfaces, or serve as lubricants and reduce shear friction. Researchers at the Biomaterials department use advanced x-ray and neutron scattering methods to structurally characterize such layers in order to obtain new insights into their functioning. more

Holistic perception of faces and objects

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics Bülthoff, Isabelle ; Zhao, Mintao; Bülthoff, Heinrich
We cannot process any individual feature in a face without the other parts of the face influencing our perception. So far, this so-called holistic perception had been demonstrated mostly with static faces (images) or with objects that we know very well. However, the Max-Planck scientists have shown that dynamic faces and unknown objects (displaying specific properties) are also perceived holistically. Their results pose a challenge to current dominant theories about holistic processing. more
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