Rainer W. Friedrich

Group News

Oct 5, 2021
Worm atlas could help crack mysteries in animal evolution
Aug 2, 2021
From imaging neurons to measuring their true activity
Mar 7, 2020
Forscher entwerfen eine virtuelle Welt für Zebrafische
Mar 3, 2020
A glitch in the Matrix: Using virtual reality to understand how fish predict the future
Jan 21, 2020
Reconstructing structure and function of a neuronal circuit
All group news


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.

Anneser, L., Satou, C., Hotz, H.R., and Friedrich, R.W. (2024) Molecular organization of neuronal cell types and neuromodulatory systems in the zebrafish telencephalon

Curr Biol 34, 298-312 e294. 10.1016/j.cub.2023.12.003

Satou, C., Neve, R.L., Oyibo, H.K., Zmarz, P., Huang, K.H., Arn Bouldoires, E., Mori, T., Higashijima, S.I., Keller, G.B., and Friedrich, R.W. (2022) A viral toolbox for conditional and transneuronal gene expression in zebrafish

eLife 11. 10.7554/eLife.77153

Friedrich RW, Wanner AA (2021) Dense Circuit Reconstruction to Understand Neuronal Computation: Focus on Zebrafish

Annu Rev Neurosci 44:275-293

Rupprecht P, Carta S, Hoffmann A, Echizen M, Blot A, Kwan AC, Dan Y, Hofer SB, Kitamura K, Helmchen F, Friedrich RW (2021) A database and deep learning toolbox for noise-optimized, generalized spike inference from calcium imaging

Nat Neurosci 24:1324-1337

Vergara HM, Pape C, Meechan KI, Zinchenko V, Genoud C, Wanner AA, Mutemi KN, Titze B, Templin RM, Bertucci PY, Simakov O, Durichen W, Machado P, Savage EL, Schermelleh L, Schwab Y, Friedrich RW, Kreshuk A, Tischer C, Arendt D (2021) Whole-body integration of gene expression and single-cell morphology

Cell 184:4819-4837 e4822

Huang KH, Rupprecht P, Frank T, Kawakami K, Bouwmeester T, Friedrich RW (2020) A virtual reality system to analyze neural activity and behavior in adult zebrafish.

Nature Methods 17:343-351

Wanner AA, Friedrich RW (2020) Whitening of odor representations by the wiring diagram of the olfactory bulb.

Nature Neurosci 23:433-442

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]

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

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

Full list of publications
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Group leader

In current position since 2007
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PhD students

In current position since 2019
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In current position since 2017
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In current position since 2021
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In current position since 2020
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In current position since 2017
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Postdoctoral fellows

In current position since 2021
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In current position since 2023
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In current position since 2018
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In current position since 2022
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In current position since 2024
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In current position since 2018
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Technical/Research associates

In current position since 2007
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In current position since 2023
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In current position since 2023
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PhD students

Nila Moenig (2012-2022)
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

Tomas Gancarcik (2021-2023)
Chie Satou (2013-2022)
Kuo-Hua Huang (2013-2020)
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

Jan Eckhardt (2020-2023)
Benjamin Titze (2019-2021)
Marcus Leinweber (2019-2020)
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

Oded Mayseless (2020-2023)
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