I worked in the field of neuroscience for over 10 years. I first started electrophysiological experiments while working towards my Diplom (equivalent to a Master’s degree) in Biology at the Roeper Lab in Frankfurt. My research project involved the characterization of the in vivo activity of neurons in the subthalamic nucleus of wild-type and a K-ATP channel KO (Kir6.2-/-) mice.
Later, I switched from experimental to theoretical neuroscience and developed neuroanatomical models at the Cuntz Lab. The central idea of these models is that the morphologies of all neural structures are based on general principles, since biological structures in general need to be optimized for evolutionary success. In particular, optimal wiring considerations are crucial for all neurological structures to allow for better processing capabilities while still preserving a high energy demand. Applying these principles in neuroanatomical models allowed my supervisor and mentor Dr. Hermann Cuntz to generate artificial neuronal morphologies that are indistinguishable from their real counterparts. This finding was the key driver to further investigate how other neural structures are shaped by optimization principles. During my PhD, I investigated whether such principles can predict the relative position of neurons. Using connection dissimilarities and dimension reduction methods to place more similarly connected model neurons closer to one another, thereby preserving wiring length, lead to the formation of characteristic neural arrangements of prominent structures such as visual cortex maps and brain folding.
The final chapter of my professional career in science was the creation of the software DomeVR in Unreal Engine 4 for the Zero Noise Lab. DomeVR provides the tools to execute behavioral experiments in which subjects are immersed in a virtual world created by a dome projection. During the simulation, researchers can monitor the current state of the experiment and make changes via a user interface on a different screen.
In the following, the related publications and source code of the described research projects can be found