Rainer Friedrich

Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel

Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Neuronal Computations in Olfaction

12:00 pm, Tuesday 19 January 2016

Location: Oxford Martin School, Old Indian Institute, 34 Broad Street, Oxford

The olfactory system of zebrafish serves as our model to understand neuronal computations involved in pattern classification. We measure neuronal activity patterns using multiphoton calcium imaging, manipulate neuronal activity using optogenetics, and reconstruct neuronal circuits using serial block face scanning electron microscopy (SBEM). Circuits in the olfactory bulb stabilize odor-evoked activity patterns against variations in odor intensity and decorrelate overlapping glomerular activation patterns evoked by chemically similar odors. To obtain insights into the underlying mechanisms, we densely reconstructed almost all neurons in the olfactory bulb of a zebrafish larva and annotated synapses on a subset of these neurons. The results allowed us to classify neurons morphologically, identify rare new cell types, analyze synaptic connectivity among neuronal classes, and analyze the topology of inter-glomerular projections. We found that long-range inter-glomerular projections are not random but organized by the identity of olfactory glomeruli. Preliminary results indicate that this non-random circuit organization contributes to computations involved in olfactory pattern classification.


Rainer Friedrich received a PhD in Neurobiology from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. He started his independent career at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and moved to the Friedrich Miescher Institute in 2007. His awards include the James Heineman Research Award and the Delwart Research Prize. He is a member of EMBO and Academia Europaea.