Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics investigates information processing in the brains of humans and animals. Experimental and theoretical methods as well as computer simulations help to investigate the processes that translate sensory stimuli into perceptions and memories, and allow us to make decisions and act. In addition to the departments Computational Neuroscience (Director: Peter Dayan), Physiology Cognitive Processes (Director: Nikos Logothetis) and Perception, Cognition & Action (former Director: Heinrich Bülthoff) listed below, two other departments for High Field Magnetic Resonance (Max Planck Fellow: Klaus Scheffler) and Sensory & Sensoromotor Systems (Max Planck Fellow: Li Zhaoping) are located at the Institute. The corresponding links can be found here:


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 Neurophysiology of Cognitive Processes


Department Computational Neuroscience

A critical switch that controls brain state

A central hub of neurons act as pulse generators

Scientists develop first implantable magnet resonance detector

A new miniature NMR implant measures neuronal activity

The brains of men and women react to erotic images in the same way

At the neurobiological level, excitation does not differ between the sexes

“Air taxis are coming soon”

Heinrich H. Bülthoff, retired director at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, talks about personal aviation and urban air mobility

LISA: a new method of statistical inference in neuroimaging

New method detects brain activations with improved sensitivity and accuracy


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.

Lab Manager (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen January 25, 2021

Lab Engineer / Research Technician (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen November 25, 2020

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.


Neurochemical response patterns to neuropsychiatric drugs

2018 Noori, Hamid R.

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

Neuropsychiatric conditions are disorders originating in the nervous system. The past 50 years show a steady increase in neurochemical studies on rodent brain. Thereby, neuroscientists have joined the big-data club that was traditionally reserved for astronomers and physicists. By systematically analyzing data from thousands of studies, we were able to develop a free database for optimizing further research. We also demonstrated a mismatch between the current classification of neuropsychiatric drugs and spatiotemporal neurostransmitter response patterns at the systems level.


Holistic perception of faces and objects

2017 Bülthoff, Isabelle ; Zhao, Mintao; Bülthoff, Heinrich

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

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.


Map brain function in vessels with a multi-modal fMRI platform

2016 Yu, Xin

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

A multi-modal fMRI platform is developed for a better understanding of the neuron-glio-vascular interaction in normal and diseased brain states of animals. Combining the single-vessel fMRI method with optogenetics and genetically encoded calcium indicators enables to identify the specific contributions of distinct vascular and cellular components to the fMRI signal. The translational application of this work is to identify vessel-specific dynamic biomarkers of patients with vascular dementia, ranging from small vessel diseases to degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.


Understanding brain function by bridging multiple scales

2015 Besserve, Michel; Logothetis Nikos K.

Cognitive Science Neurosciences

Information processing in mammalian brains requires exceptional coordination of neural activity ranging from local groups of cells to brain wide interactions. To bridge these scales and understand brain function at the system level, we investigate the relationship between action potentials, local field potentials, and blood oxygen level dependent activity in various structures. The development of simultaneous recordings methodologies and data analysis techniques enables us to characterize the brain states associated to memory functions.

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