Rainer W. Friedrich

Group News

Jan 21, 2020
Reconstructing structure and function of a neuronal circuit
Oct 8, 2019
Complex odors made simple
Nov 19, 2018
Precise synaptic organization of a memory network
Aug 7, 2017
When machine learning meets neurobiology
Apr 12, 2017
"ERC Advanced Grants" for Susan Gasser, Rainer Friedrich and Helge Grosshans
All group news


FMI report pages

Rainer W. Friedrich

Neuronal circuits and computations

The goal of our research is to understand how neuronal circuits perform intelligent computations. Unlike most technical devices, brains learn to interpret their environment from experience and use this knowledge to inform behavior. These processes involve the recognition of behaviorally relevant regularities in the world and the generation of predictions for behavior. To explore the underlying fundamental computations we study information processing and memory in the olfactory system.

Our work takes advantage of zebrafish as a model system and combines analyses of single neurons, neuronal population activity, circuit connectivity, and behavior. We ask how high-dimensional sensory stimuli are represented and processed in the olfactory bulb and cortex, and how information processing is modified during learning. Higher brain functions depend on refinements of network connectivity that continuously modify information processing based on an individual's experience. We explore the underlying mechanisms by combining analyses of connectivity ("connectomics") with studies of circuit function and behavior. This work bridges the gap between experiment and theory.

Additional research focuses on circuit dysfunctions in genetic models of autism spectrum disorders and other diseases. The goal of this research is to obtain deeper insights into disease mechanisms at the level of neuronal circuit structure and function.

Rainer W. Friedrich

This is a list of selected publications from this group. For a full list of publications, please visit our Publications page and search by group name.

Frank T, Mönig NR, Satou C, Higashijima S-i, Friedrich RW (2019) Associative conditioning remaps odor representations and modifies inhibition in a higher olfactory brain area

Nature Neurosci 22:1844-1856

Rupprecht, P., Friedrich, R.W. (2018) Precise synaptic balance in the zebrafish homolog of olfactory cortex

Neuron 100, 669-683

Jacobson, G., Rupprecht, P., Friedrich, R.W. (2018) Experience-dependent plasticity of odor representations in the telencephalon of zebrafish

Curr Biol, 28, 1-14

Wanner AA, Genoud C, Masudi T, Siksou L, Friedrich RW (2016) Dense EM-based reconstruction of the interglomerular projectome in the zebrafish olfactory bulb

Nat Neurosci. 2016 Apr; [Epub ahead of print]

Frank T, Friedrich RW (2015) Individuality sniffed out in flies

Nature 526:200-201

Zhu P, Frank T, Friedrich RW (2013) Equalization of odor representations by a network of electrically coupled inhibitory interneurons

Nature Neurosci. 16:1678-1686

Friedrich RW (2013) Information processing in the olfactory system of zebrafish

Annu Rev Neurosci 36: 383-402

Bundschuh ST, Zhu P, Zhang Schärer Y-P, Friedrich RW (2012) Dopaminergic modulation of mitral cells and odor responses in the zebrafish olfactory bulb

J Neurosci 32:6830-6840

Zhu P, Fajardo O, Shum J, Zhang Schärer Y-P, Friedrich RW (2012) High-resolution optical control of spatiotemporal neuronal activity patterns in zebrafish using a digital micromirror device

Nat Protoc 7: 1410-25

Blumhagen F, Zhu P, Shum J, Scharer YP, Yaksi E, Deisseroth K, Friedrich RW (2011) Neuronal filtering of multiplexed odour representations

Nature 479:493-498

Friedrich RW, Jacobson GA, Zhu P (2010) Circuit neuroscience in zebrafish

Curr Biol 20:R371-R381

Niessing J, Friedrich RW (2010) Olfactory pattern classification by discrete neuronal network states

Nature 465:47-52

Wiechert MT, Judkewitz B, Riecke H, Friedrich RW (2010) Mechanisms of pattern decorrelation by recurrent neuronal circuits

Nature Neurosci 13:1003-1010

Yaksi E, von Saint Paul F, Niessing J, Bundschuh ST, Friedrich RW (2009) Transformation of odor representations in target areas of the olfactory bulb

Nature Neurosci 12:474-482

Zhu P, Narita Y, Bundschuh ST, Fajardo O, Scharer YP, Chattopadhyaya B, Bouldoires EA, Stepien AE, Deisseroth K, Arber S, Sprengel R, Rijli FM, Friedrich RW (2009) Optogenetic dissection of neuronal circuits in zebrafish using viral gene transfer and the tet system

Front Neural Circuits 3:21

Yaksi E, Judkewitz B, Friedrich RW (2007) Topological reorganization of odor representations in the olfactory bulb

PLoS Biol 5:e178

Friedrich RW (2006) Mechanisms of odor discrimination: neurophysiological and behavioral approaches

Trends Neurosci 29:40-47

Spors H, Wachowiak M, Cohen LB, Friedrich RW (2006) Temporal dynamics and latency patterns of receptor neuron input to the olfactory bulb

J Neurosci 26:1247-1259

Yaksi E, Friedrich RW (2006) Reconstruction of firing rate changes across neuronal populations by temporally deconvolved Ca2+ imaging

Nature Meth 3:377-383

Li J, Mack JA, Souren M, Yaksi E, Higashijima S, Mione M, Fetcho JR, Friedrich RW (2005) Early development of functional spatial maps in the zebrafish olfactory bulb

J Neurosci 25:5784-5795

Friedrich RW (2004) Odorant receptors make scents

Nature 530:511-512

Friedrich RW, Habermann CJ, Laurent G (2004) Multiplexing using synchrony in the zebrafish olfactory bulb

Nature Neurosci 7:862-871

Tabor R, Yaksi E, Weislogel J-M, Friedrich RW (2004) Processing of odor mixtures in the zebrafish olfactory bulb

J Neurosci 24:6611-6620

Wachowiak M, Denk W, Friedrich R (2004) Functional organization of sensory input to the olfactory bulb glomerulus analyzed by two-photon calcium imaging

Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:9097-9102

Sidi S, Friedrich RW, Nicolson T (2003) NompC TRP channel required for vertebrate sensory hair cell mechanotransduction

Science 301:96-99

Friedrich RW, Laurent G (2001) Dynamic optimization of odor representations in the olfactory bulb by slow temporal patterning of mitral cell activity

Science 291:889-894

Full list of publications
» Search with Medline


Group leader

PhD students

Postdoctoral fellows

Technical/Research associates


PhD students

Peter Rupprecht (2014-2018)
Adrian Wanner (2009-2016)
Tafheem Masudi (2011-2016)
Ming Zou (2009-2014)
Sebastian Bundschuh (2007-2011)
Martin Wiechert (2007-2011)
Joern Niessing (2007-2009)
Francisca von Saint Paul (2007-2009)

Postdoctoral fellows

Thomas Frank (2011-2019)
Peter Rupprecht (2018-2019)
Stephan Gerhard (2016-2019)
Benjamin Titze (2014-2018)
Anastasios Moressis (2012-2018)
Adrian Wanner (2016-2017)
Iori Namekawa (2009-2016)
Gilad Jacobson (2009-2015)
Jiang Hao (2012-2013)
Lea Siksou (2011-2013)
Peixin Zhu (2007-2013)
Otto Fajardo (2009-2013)
Yan-Ping Zhang Schaerer (2008-2012)
Martin Wiechert (2011)
Joern Niessing (2010)
Bidisha Chattopadhyaya (2007)
Jun Li (2007)

Technical/Research associates

Martin Naegeli (2007-2019)


Laura Kruempelmann (2017)
Aeneas Florian Bernardi (2016)
Aeneas Florian Bernardi (2016)
Peter Rupprecht (2013)
Cedric Van den Berg (2010-2012)
Denise Kranz (2009)
Jennifer Shum (2008-2009)
Sonja Degner (2008-2009)

Visiting scientists

Stefano Fusi (2016)
Fred Wolf (2016)
Paul de Koninck (2011-2012)


PhD, University of Tübingen and Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany
MSc, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

Positions held

Senior Group Leader, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel
Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, Germany
Junior Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, Germany
Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany


Academia Europaea Member
EMBO member
Delwart Prize, Delwart Foundation
Adjunct Professor, University of Basel
James Heinemann Research Award, Minna James Heinemann Foundation
Otto Hahn Fellowship, Max Planck Society
Research Fellowship, Del Webb Foundation
Attempto Award for Research Achievements, University of Tübingen
Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society
Fellowship, Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds
Member, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes