Munich, GER
+49 89 4140-7636
simon.jacob@tum.de
RESEARCH

What we do

TEAM

Who we are

PAPERS

What we found

NEWS

What is new

FUNDING

Who funds us

TEACHING

What we teach

Welcome to the Translational NeuroTechnology Laboratory!

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. Very 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.

Team

Meet the people who do the work. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@tum.de

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.

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.

Daniel Hähnke

Graduate student

Daniel studied biology at the University of Freiburg and the University of Manchester. He is widely interested in neuroscientific topics including crossregional functional connectivity, machine learning and other advanced data analytical methodologies. His current project focusses on the role of the thalamus in controlling cognitive functions. Daniel is an avid traveller and likes to cook and surf.

Tobias Bernklau

Postdoctoral reseacher

Tobias studied psychology at Free University (FU) Berlin and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He joined the lab after a preparatory year at the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences in Munich. He is interested in the neural mechanisms of cognition and the neurobiology of mental health and disease. Tobias is also a violinist and a bass guitar player.

Viktor Eisenkolb

Clinical 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.

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.

Xiaoxiong Lin

Graduate student

Xiaoxiong studied psychology and art at Peking University, Beijing, China. He joined the lab after a preparatory year at the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences in Munich and some mind wandering in neurophilosophy. Using computational methods, he investigates how networks of neurons give rise to higher cognitive functions.

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.

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.

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, which he conducted at 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.

Papers

A few things we’ve worked out already.

Liesefeld HR, … Jacob SN, Müller HJ (2020)

How visual working memory handles distraction: cognitive mechanisms and electrophysiological correlates.
Vis Cogn, doi: 10.1080/13506285.2020.1773594

Read more

Jacob SN, Hähnke D, Nieder A (2018)

Structuring of Abstract Working Memory Content by Fronto-parietal Synchrony in Primate Cortex.
Neuron 99: 588-597

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Jacob SN, Nienborg H (2018)

Monoaminergic neuromodulation of sensory processing.
Front Neural Circuits, doi: 10.3389/fncir.2018.00051

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Jacob SN, Stalter M, Nieder A (2016)

Cell-type-specific modulation of targets and distractors by dopamine D1 receptors in primate prefrontal cortex.
Nat Commun, doi: 10.1038/ncomms13218

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Ranganath A, Jacob SN (2016)

Doping the mind: Dopaminergic regulation of prefrontal cortical cognition.
Neuroscientist 22(6): 593-603

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Ott T, Jacob SN, Nieder A (2014)

Dopamine receptors differentially enhance rule coding in primate prefrontal cortex neurons.
Neuron 84: 1317–1328

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Hage SR, Ott T, Eiselt AK, Jacob SN, Nieder A (2014)

Ethograms indicate stable well-being during prolonged training phases in rhesus monkeys used in neurophysiological research.
Lab Anim 48: 82–87

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Jacob SN, Nieder A (2014)

Complementary roles for primate frontal and parietal cortex in guarding working memory from distractor stimuli.
Neuron 83: 226–237

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Jacob SN, Ott T, Nieder A (2013)

Dopamine regulates two classes of primate prefrontal neurons that represent sensory signals.
J Neurosci 33: 13724–13734

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Jacob SN, Vallentin D, Nieder A (2012)

Relating magnitudes: the brain’s code for proportions.
Trends Cogn Sci 16: 157–166

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Jacob SN, Nieder A (2009)

Tuning to non‐symbolic proportions in the human frontoparietal cortex.
Eur J Neurosci 30: 1432–1442

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Jacob SN, Nieder A (2009)

Notation-independent representation of fractions in the human parietal cortex.
J Neurosci 29: 4652–4657

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Jacob SN, Nieder A (2008)

The ABC of cardinal and ordinal number representations.
Trends Cogn Sci 12: 41–43

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News

Read about what’s happening in the lab.

Welcome new lab members

Göktug, Hongbiao and Paolo joined the laboratory as PhD students.

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Welcome Lisa

Lisa Held joined the laboratory as a Master student.

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Feature article

Our work and newest projects are featured in TUM Research Highlights.

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PhD student and Postdoc positions!

We have exciting openings for PhD students and Postdocs who would like to explore the mechanisms of human cognition at single-unit resolution and contribute to the development of cognitive neuroprosthetics.[…]

Read more

Funding

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

Teaching

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.

Contact us

We’d love to hear from you!

Get in touch

Address:

Ismaninger Str. 22, 81675 Munich, Germany

Phone:

+49 89 4140-7636

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