Munich, GER
+49 89 4140-7636

What we do


Who we are


What we found


What is new


Who funds us


What we teach

Research and ongoing projects

In the Jacob lab, we study complex cognitive functions at the level of individual neurons and their networks. Intelligent, goal-directed behavior is produced by the interaction of populations of neurons in the cognitive brain centers such as the prefrontal cortex, the parietal cortex and the basal ganglia. We are particularly interested in how we learn and memorize behaviorally relevant information on multiple time scales, how this information is transformed into purposeful actions, and how neuromodulators such as dopamine regulate the underlying circuits.

We investigate cognitive mechanisms in animal models and in humans. To study specific brain functions, we design and train controlled behavioral tasks. We then combine multiple state-of-the-art techniques in mice, including large-scale extracellular recordings, optogenetic manipulation of defined cell types and networks, fluorescent imaging and computational analysis and modelling. In a unique interdisciplinary approach, we develop and use technologies for recording from populations of individual neurons in human neurosurgical patients. This translational line of research allows us to work towards a deep understanding of the principles of high-level cognitive functioning. Cognitive functions are impaired in many neurological and psychiatric disorders. Little is known about the neuronal mechanisms. Our long-term goal is to contribute to a better understanding of the cellular basis of mental health and disease.


Meet the people who do the work. They can be reached at

Simon Jacob

Principal Investigator

Simon studied medicine in Freiburg and Heidelberg, at University College London and Harvard. He completed his dissertation on neuronal calcium signaling at Yale as a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation. Simon was a postdoc at the Center for Integrative Neuroscience in Tübingen working with Andreas Nieder on the mechanisms of executive brain functions. He is a board-certified neurologist and a professor for Translational Neurotechnology at TUM.

Laura Schiffl

Postdoctoral researcher

Laura studied linguistics (BA) and clinical linguistics (MA) in Frankfurt and Marburg and proceeded to work as a speech and language pathologist before joining a research training group at the University of Mainz for her PhD. Laura is interested in the interface of language, cognition and neurobiology – especially in the reorganization of the language system through language therapy following brain damage. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors.

Viktor Eisenkolb

Resident in neurosurgery

Viktor is a clinical resident (MD) at the Department of Neurosurgery at the Klinikum rechts der Isar of TUM. He is working on methods that allow us to transfer findings obtained in awake behaving animals performing cognitive tasks directly to the human system. In his free time, he is part of a local swimming squad.

Ajit Ranganath

Graduate student

Ajit trained as an engineer in biotechnology in Bangalore, India. He then moved to Boston to pursue a Master’s degree in neuroscience at Brandeis University. Before joining the lab, he worked as a research assistant with Joseph Cheer at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. Ajit is interested in the prefrontal mechanisms of goal-directed behavior. While not in the lab, he likes to explore the Alps and play the Sitar, an Indian string instrument.

Leonie Mehrke

Graduate student

Leonie studied molecular biosciences and neuroscience at the University of Heidelberg and worked in neuroscience labs at the Central Institute of Mental Health (Mannheim), Mayo Clinic (Florida), Boehringer Ingelheim and the University of Cambridge, UK, where she conducted her master’s thesis. Her research interests lie in the mechanisms and circuits of higher brain functions that are altered in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Victoria Hohendorf

Graduate student

Vicky studied biomedical sciences with a focus on neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. She is interested in the relationship between behaviour, neuronal function and 3D brain structure in working memory tasks. In her free time she likes to travel in person as well as through reading books.

Xuanyu Wang

Graduate student

Xuanyu studied psychology and cognitive science at Peking University, Beijing, China after a two year liberal arts program at Yuanpei College. He joined the lab during his first master year at the Graduate School of Systemic Neuroscience in Munich. He is interested in the temporal structure of neuronal activity underlying cognitive functions and processing of temporal duration.

Beatrice Righetti

Graduate student

Beatrice obtained a Bachelor degree in psychology at the University of Trento, Italy, and a Master degree in neuroscience at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She joined the lab after a research stint at Harvard Medical School. Beatrice is interested in ecologically relevant behaviors and how they are controlled by neuronal networks and neuromodulators. Beatrice is also an insatiable reader and travel lover.

Alexander Utzschmid

Medical doctoral student

Alex is a medical student at Klinikum rechts der Isar of TUM and holds a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation. His interests are in medical neurotechnology and innovative methods for the treatment of disorders of cognition and mental health. In his free time, he fences on a regular basis and serves as a math tutor.

Lisa Held

Graduate student

Lisa obtained a Bachelor degree in psychology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, with a research minor at Autonomous University and Complutense University in Madrid, Spain. While acquiring her Master degree in neuroengineering at TUM, she joined the lab to analyse microelectrode recordings from human neurosurgical patients. In her PhD, Lisa is now exploring and advancing invasive neurotechnologies for disorders of language.

Paolo Favero

Graduate student

Paolo obtained a Bachelor degree in psychology at the University of Padova in Italy. He continued his education with Master degrees in artificial intelligence and in neuropsychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where he conducted his master thesis on brain-computer interfaces. In his PhD, he is studying the language system with large-scale human intracortical recordings. In his free time, Paolo enjoys travelling and exploring new cultures.

Hongbiao Chen

Graduate student

Hongbiao studied computer science at Northeastern University in China and neural information processing at Tübingen University in Germany. He completed his Master thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. Hongbiao is interested in the neuronal mechanisms and computational principles of prefrontal cognitive flexibility. He is a certified cat person and has a liking for the philosophy of Self and AI.

Göktuğ Alkan

Graduate student

Göktuğ holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in electrical engineering and information technology from ETH Zurich. In his Master’s thesis in the laboratory of Grégoire Courtine at EPFL, he investigated the neural mechanisms of internal capsule stroke recovery in non-human primates. Before joing the lab, Göktuğ spent one semester at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cameroon as a teaching and research assistant and co-lectured courses in machine learning.

Yuyang Huang

Graduate student

Yuyang studied theoretical physics for his Bachelor’s degree at Lanzhou University, China, and nonlinear dynamics and complex systems for his Master’s degree at TUM. Supervised jointly by Laura Busse (LMU) during his PhD, Yuyang is exploring the dynamics of neuronal representations ranging from early sensory to high-level cognitive functions. Outside of the lab, Yuyang enjoys games and snow sports.

Anna Haller

Master student

Anna obtained her Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Ulm, after which she enrolled in the Master’s program in electrical engineering at TUM with a focus on bio- and neuroengineering. In her master’s thesis, Anna is studying the effect of electrical brain stimulation on human intracranial neuronal activity and exploring potential therapeutic uses. Anna enjoys playing football and being in the mountains.

David Haase

Medical doctoral student

David is a medical student at the Klinikum rechts der Isar of TUM. He is enthusiastic about clinical specialties that deal with the nervous system and how they impact the lives of patients with cognitive disorders. In his doctoral thesis, David is using optogenetic brain stimulation to both interrogate and modify neuronal circuits. In his free time, David enjoys dancing, traveling, and being outdoors.


A few things we’ve worked out already.

Striatal dopamine signals reflect perceived cue–action–outcome associations in mice

Bernklau TW, Righetti B, Mehrke LS, Jacob SN

Nat Neurosci (2024) 27, 747–757 Read more

The neuronal implementation of representational geometry in primate prefrontal cortex

Lin XX, Nieder A, Jacob SN

Sci Adv (2023) 9, eadh8685 Read more

Human acute microelectrode array recordings with broad cortical access, single-unit resolution and parallel behavioral monitoring

Eisenkolb VM, Held LM, Utzschmid A, Lin XX, Krieg SM, Meyer B, Gempt J, Jacob SN

Cell Rep (2023) 42, 112467 Read more

Resolving the prefrontal mechanisms of adaptive cognitive behaviors: 
A cross-species perspective

Hanganu-Opatz IL, Klausberger T, Sigurdsson T, Nieder A, Jacob SN, Bartos M, Sauer JF, Durstewitz D, Leibold C, Diester I

Neuron (2023) 111, 1020-1036 Read more

Reengineering neurotechnology: placing patients first

Ploner M, Buyx A, Gempt J, Gjorgjieva J, Müller R, Priller J, Rückert D, Wolfrum B, Jacob SN

Nat Mental Health (2023), doi: 10.1038/s44220-022-00011-x Read more

How visual working memory handles distraction: cognitive mechanisms and electrophysiological correlates

Liesefeld HR, Liesefeld AM, Sauseng P, Jacob SN, Müller HJ

Vis Cogn (2020), doi: 10.1080/13506285.2020.1773594 Read more

Structuring of Abstract Working Memory Content by Fronto-parietal Synchrony in Primate Cortex

Jacob SN, Hähnke D, Nieder A

Neuron (2018) 99: 588-597 Read more

Monoaminergic neuromodulation of sensory processing

Jacob SN, Nienborg H

Front Neural Circuits (2018), doi: 10.3389/fncir.2018.00051 Read more

Cell-type-specific modulation of targets and distractors by dopamine D1 receptors in primate prefrontal cortex

Jacob SN, Stalter M, Nieder A

Nat Commun (2016), doi: 10.1038/ncomms13218 Read more

Doping the mind: Dopaminergic regulation of prefrontal cortical cognition

Ranganath A, Jacob SN

Neuroscientist (2016) 22: 593-603 Read more

Dopamine receptors differentially enhance rule coding in primate prefrontal cortex neurons

Ott T, Jacob SN, Nieder A

Neuron (2014) 84: 1317–1328 Read more

Ethograms indicate stable well-being during prolonged training phases in rhesus monkeys used in neurophysiological research

Hage SR, Ott T, Eiselt AK, Jacob SN, Nieder A

Lab Anim (2014) 48: 82–87 Read more

Complementary roles for primate frontal and parietal cortex in guarding working memory from distractor stimuli

Jacob SN, Nieder A

Neuron (2014) 83: 226–237 Read more

Dopamine regulates two classes of primate prefrontal neurons that represent sensory signals

Jacob SN, Ott T, Nieder A

J Neurosci (2013) 33: 13724–13734 Read more

Relating magnitudes: the brain’s code for proportions

Jacob SN, Vallentin D, Nieder A

Trends Cogn Sci (2012) 16: 157–166 Read more

Tuning to non‐symbolic proportions in the human frontoparietal cortex

Jacob SN, Nieder A

Eur J Neurosci (2009) 30: 1432–1442 Read more

Notation-independent representation of fractions in the human parietal cortex

Jacob SN, Nieder A

J Neurosci (2009) 29: 4652–4657 Read more

The ABC of cardinal and ordinal number representations

Jacob SN, Nieder A

Trends Cogn Sci (2008) 12: 41–43 Read more


Read about what’s happening in the lab.

New paper

Tobias used fiber photometry and reinforcement learning models to show that striatal dopamine reflects an animal’s current understanding of their task.

Read more

Daniel graduated

Daniel graduated, marking the end of an amazing journey and many years of great work! Congratulations, Dr Hähnke!

Read more

Xiaoxiong graduated

Xiaoxiong graduated with a fantastic disputation! Congratulations, Dr Lin!

Read more

New paper

Xiaoxiong published a computational framework that dissects representational geometry into biologically interpretable components that can be traced to single neurons

Read more


We are grateful to the following funding sources for supporting our work.


We teach neuroscience and neuropsychiatric pathophysiology in various courses.

Principles of Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology

TUM Elite Master Program in Neuroengineering (MSNE). Winter term.

Introduction to Higher-Order Cognitive Functioning

TUM Elite Master Program in Biomedical Neuroscience (BMNS). Winter term.

Cognitive Neuroscience

TUM Bachelor, Master and PhD programs in Neuroscience. Summer term.

Translational Approaches to Neuropsychiatric Disorders

TUM PhD Program Medical Life Sciences and Technology. Winter and summer term.

Experimental Techniques in Modern Neuropsychiatry

LMU Elite Master Program in NeuroCognitive Psychology. Summer term.


People who came along for the ride.

Tobias Bernklau

Graduate student

Now: Alexander Thamm Data Science

Xiaoxiong Lin

Graduate student

Now: Postdoctoral researcher

Daniel Hähnke

Graduate student

Now: TNG Technology Consulting

Contact us

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Ismaninger Str. 22, 81675 Munich, Germany


+49 89 4140-7636

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