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Scientific, General News

Wolf Singer holds Impromtu Seminar at IMBA/Vienna BioCenter

Renowned researcher and influential neuroscientist Wolf Singer, who is recognized for his studies on the development and functional organization of the mammalian cerebral cortex, delivered his lecture “The cerebral cortex: A substrate for computations in high dimensional state space” for scientists at the Vienna BioCenter upon invitation of IMBA’s Scientific Director Jürgen Knoblich.

Singer’s research interest focuses on studying the neuronal basis of higher cognitive functions in the human brain. Their deterioration in disease is also part of the Singer’s current work.
Singer delivered a thrilling and broad-spanning lecture, beginning with a discussion on the topology of deep learning networks and their limitations. By means of feed forward networks and conjunctional neurons, these limitations can be overcome, as in the case of cortical networks. By illustrating these networks in more detail, Singer further explained the oscillation of nodes and their discharge rates, and how these two aspects code for different features. In fact, it seems that discharge rates mean a mismatch between sensory evidence and their prediction, whereas a synchronization signals a match between evidence and predictions.

On the evening prior to the scientific lecture, Wolf Singer spoke to the Austrian public as part of IMBA’s “Meet the Experts” event series, together with Nina Corsini, researcher in Jürgen Knoblich’s lab. By utilizing organoids, she focuses on the cellular and molecular processes during brain development, and how disturbance of these processes leads to the development of diseases such as epilepsy.

About Wolf Singer
Wolf Singer, born 1943 in Munich, Germany, is a founding director of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS), the Ernst Struengmann Institute for Neuroscience (ESI), and the founding Co-Director of Brain Imaging Center (BIC), based in Frankfurt/Main. He studied Medicine in Germany and France, received his PhD in 1968 and worked as medical doctor until 1980, when he became Professor for Physiology at the Technical University in Munich. Since 2011, Wolf Singer is Senior Fellow at the ESI, where his research group is located.

Selected publications
Banyai M, Lazar A, Klein L, Klon-Lipok J, Stippinger M, Singer W and Orban G (2019) Stimulus complexity shapes response correlations in primary visual cortex. PNAS. USA, in print. 

Singer W (2018) Neuronal oscillations: unavoidable and useful? European Journal of Neuroscience 48(7):2389-2398

Singer W, Lazar A (2016) Does the cerebral cortex exploit high-dimensional, non-linear dynamics for information processing? Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 10, 99:1-10.


About IMBA
IMBA - Institute of Molecular Biotechnology - is one of the leading biomedical research institutes in Europe focusing on cutting-edge stem cell technologies, functional genomics, and RNA biology. IMBA is located at the Vienna BioCenter, the vibrant cluster of universities, research institutes and biotech companies in Austria. IMBA is a subsidiary of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the leading national sponsor of non-university academic research. The stem cell and organoid research at IMBA is being funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and the City of Vienna.