Neuroethology Lab

Prof. Dr. Jan Benda and Dr. Jan Grewe

Welcome to the website of the neuroethology lab. We aim to understand general principles of neural information processing. In our in vivo and in vitro Electrophysiology experiments we measure cellular properties of single neurons in response to sensory stimuli and/or injected currents. With methods from Computational Neuroscience we analyze the recordings and create, simulate, and analyze models for generalizing our results. We quantify Animal Behavior and Natural Sensory Stimuli in the lab and in the field to better understand the design and operating regimes of neural systems. Consequently we are also interested in the Evolution and Ecology of our model animals.


We focus on the electrosensory system of Neotropical weakly electric fish. In this system we can easily access cellular properties of neurons, we can precisely stimulate, and we know a range of interesting behaviors like prey detection, navigation, and Communication this system is specialized to.


In a collaboration with Prof. Holger Lerche we analyse the effects of sodium-channel mutations on the firing properties of neurons in the context of epilepsies using our expertise in experimental and in particular theoretical neurophysiology.


A big problem in the neurosciences is the exchange of data. Each lab uses its own file format, often the data are not well annotated, and not all formats can be read on each computer platform. This makes the reproducibility of experiments and data analysis and collaborations difficult or even impossible. In various projects in collaboration with the German Neuroninformatics Node we work on solutions for data annotation and sharing (see Software).

We passed the stag of Hirschau at the Spitzberg on our Lab trip in June 2018.


  • We secured nine DAAD goEast stipends for students participating in our summer school "sensory systems in natural environments" (May 2018).
  • Our manuscript "Statistics of natural communication signals observed in the wild identify important yet neglected stimulus regimes in weakly electric fish" got accepted for publication in the Journal of Neuroscience (April 2018)
  • We secured six DAAD goEast stipends for students participating in our summer school "sensory systems in natural environments" (May 2017).
  • Lukas Sonnenberg got a SmartStart stipend for his PhD project (April 2017).
  • Dennis Huben got a LGF stipend for his PhD project (February 2017).
  • Our manuscript "Synchronous spikes are necessary but not sufficient for a synchrony code in populations of spiking neurons" was accepted for publication in PNAS (January 2017).