Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior - caesar

Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior - caesar

The MPI for Neurobiology of Behavior – caesar (MPINB) in Bonn focuses on basic research in neuroethology. International researchers at the institute study how the collective activity of vast numbers of neurons gives rise to the plethora of animal behaviors. The interdisciplinary research spans from imaging neural circuits at the nanoscale to analyzing neural activity in a freely moving and naturally behaving animal. The MPINB works closely with the University of Bonn and other local research institutes to train the next generation of young scientists in a joint graduate school.


Ludwig-Erhard-Allee 2
53175 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 9656-0
Fax: +49 228 9656-111

PhD opportunities

This institute has several International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS):

IMPRS on Ageing
IMPRS for Brain and Behavior

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

Department Behavior and Brain Organization

This year's ERC Synergy Grantees of the Max Planck Society

The scientists and their research teams receive around 40 million euros in funding for their work

Schematic overview of functions of TGF-beta signaling in two nematode species

Worms provide new insights into evolution and diversity of the TGF-beta signaling pathway

lllustration for nature methods article "A three-photon head-mounted microscope for imaging all layers of visual cortex in freely moving mice”: Three hands each hold flashlight, which illuminate neurons glowing in green

Miniature device enables scientist to record nerve cell activity in all cortical layers in lit environments

Illustration Anatomically Constrained Model to estimate skelettal kinematics

 A new tracking method to quantify skeletal kinematics in freely moving rodents


Researchers develop a new type of microscope

Show more

Magnetic fields have no smell or taste, they are invisible, and they do not make any noise. As a result, we humans are not able to sense them on our own. The African mole-rat, on the other hand, has a magnetic sense or magnetoreception that it uses to find its way in the darkness. Pascal Malkemper and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior – caesar in Bonn are studying how this subterranean rodent senses magnetic fields.

No job offers available

Navigation underground

2020 E. Pascal Malkemper

Cell Biology Neurosciences Structural Biology

African mole-rats spend their entire life in underground tunnel systems that can extend over several kilometers. Despite absolute darkness mole-rats navigate within these mazes with utmost efficiency. They are guided by the rare sensory ability to use the Earth’s magnetic field for orientation. We aim to understand the structure of the receptors of the magnetic sense and how magnetic cues are processed in the mole-rat brain.


Neuronal control of flight behavior in Drosophila

2018 Schnell, Bettina

Cell Biology Genetics Neurosciences Structural Biology

To navigate, animals must stabilize their path against disturbances and change direction e.g. to avoid obstacles. We study the neural circuits and mechanisms underlying such steering maneuvers by simultaneously recording behavioral and neuronal activity in tethered flying fruit flies Drosophila. Thus, we identified a descending neuron, whose activity strongly correlates with turning behavior during flight and appears sufficient to elicit steering behavior.


Species-specific wiring of the mammalian retina

2017 Briggman, Kevin

Cell Biology Developmental Biology Genetics Immunobiology Medicine Neurosciences Structural Biology

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.


Tactile perception in the computer brain

2016 Oberlaender, Marcel

Cell Biology Neurosciences Structural Biology

How are decisions formed in the brain? Investigations on the rat nervous system show that the basic principles of such complex processes can be studied on detailed models of neuronal networks. Novel techniques allow reconstructing the structure of neurons after having studied their function in living animals. By means of these data, models of entire brain areas can be created. By simulating neuronal activity patterns in these anatomically detailed network models, scientists hope to gain insight into how sensory information and behaviors that arise from it are encoded in the brain.


Networks underlying the sense of direction

2015 Seelig, Johannes

Cell Biology Developmental Biology Genetics Immunobiology Medicine Neurosciences Structural Biology

How do the networks in the brain enable navigation and how do they control movements? Addressing these questions in the simple nervous system of the fruit fly indicates that basic network structures that are relevant for the mammalian brain contribute to navigation behavior in the fly. Thanks to the small size of the fly brain and the available genetic tools these networks can be analyzed in detail. Such experiments are expected to contribute to our understanding of how abstract computations are encoded in biological networks.

Go to Editor View