Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics researches information processing in the human and animal brain. The institute is currently in a phase of reorientation and expansion. Theoretical and experimental psychology as well as neuroscience are among the institute's core competencies. Using new technologies and model systems, researchers aim to answer neuroscientific questions in novel ways and with unprecedented precision. Together with the Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen, the Max Planck Institute  for Intelligent Systems, and the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory the institute is part of the Max Planck Campus Tübingen. A central interface with the University of Tübingen is the International Max Planck Research School for the Mechanisms of Mental Function and Dysfunction. Further links with the University of Tübingen exist through its two Max Planck Fellows in the Departments of Computer Science and Medicine; the Institute is also involved in Cyber Valley and the Tübingen AI Competence Centre.

Contact

Max-Planck-Ring 8
72076 Tübingen
Phone: +49 7071 601-510
Fax: +49 7071 601-520

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS for The Mechanisms of Mental Function and Dysfunction

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Department Body-Brain Cybernetics

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Department Computational Neuroscience

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Understanding why we delay tasks may help reclaim productivity

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What people find beautiful is highly individual. Aenne Brielmann and her team at the Max Planck Institute of Biological Cybernetics want to know how the perception of beauty comes about and what effect environmental design has on our well-being. 

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Patterns of brainwaves in the prefrontal cortex gate access to consciousness

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Computer simulations explain change of pace in the visual cortex

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14 cute monsters arranged irregularly inside a circle

Scientists have investigated the underlying mechanism in the brain when we apply stored knowledge to new decision-making situations.

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Since ChatGPT was released at the end of 2022, there has been intense debate as to whether artificial intelligence already possesses human-like thinking abilities. Eric Schulz from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen is using psychological tests to investigate whether this algorithm shows signs of general intelligence.

The brain of a housefly weighs around one-thousandth of a gram. Nonetheless, thanks to this miniscule control center, the insect can evaluate images in fractions of a second and steer its way through lightning-fast flight maneuvers. It was Werner Reichardt, Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, who, more than 50 years ago, described how the motion detectors in the fly brain work.

For Valentin Braitenberg, the brain was the most interesting research subject in the world, apart from the world itself. A former Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, he spent thousands of hours poring over a microscope to get to the bottom of this most complex of organs. His purpose was to examine the fiber pathways in various areas of the brain and to search for their functions.

Robots That Learn!

MPR 2 /2010 Material & Technology

Machines are naturally dumb. They lack flexibility and the ability to react appropriately and at the right time. Scientists are trying to teach robots something akin to intelligence.

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Discovery of Place Cells in Fish 

2023 Robson, Drew; Li, Jennifer

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

Our brain orients itself in space by creating a cognitive model of its environment. Place cells in the hippocampus play an important role in this process. While behavioural studies suggest that spatial cognition may also be present in fish, previous studies have found no clear evidence for place cells outside of birds and mammals.  Using a tracking microscope, we analysed the brain activity of free-swimming zebrafish larvae at cellular resolution and were able to demonstrate the presence of place cells in fish for the first time.

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The Science of Beauty

2022 Brielmann, Aenne

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

As soon as we see or hear something, we make a split-second judgement about whether we like it or not. Our research focuses on understanding how these judgements are made and what influence they have on our daily decisions and well-being.

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Algorithms of exploration in complex video games

2021 Schulz, Eric

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

Computer games are originally designed for entertainment. We use them to research human behavior. This opens up new approaches in psychological research on the one hand, and our results contribute to the improvement of artificially intelligent systems.

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We look before we see

2020 Zhaoping, Li

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

Although there is a great deal of research on vision and the processing of vision, still little is known about the processing of visual stimuli in higher brain areas. This is because an important research question has not been properly asked: the attentional selection of information. Certain brain areas coordinate where we direct our gaze; others decide what further information to retrieve and report back suggestions for interpreting the visual input. Our hypotheses set a new framework for future understanding of how vision works in our brains.

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Microchip opens window into the brain

2019 Scheffler, Klaus

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

The brain is he most poorly understood organ within the human body. It is permanently in action, for example, it processes visual inputs and then rapidly decides how to interact with our environment. To achieve this, the brain consumes about 20 percent of the total energy demand of the body, and about 50 percent more than the heart. Our research team has developed a miniaturized magnetic resonance sensor (NMR) that can measure nerve activity and blood regulation with much higher spatial and temporal resolution than conventional systems.

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