Andreas Lüthi

Group News

Jun 20, 2022
Andreas Lüthi receives SNSF Advanced Grant
Jan 6, 2022
The neuronal mechanism behind motivation
Jul 16, 2021
Berner Forscher finden wichtige Schaltkreise für Angstregulierung
May 26, 2021
‘Tug of war’ between neurons tells the brain when to fear — and when not to be afraid
Mar 3, 2021
'Brain state' behind social interaction uncovered
All group news


Andreas Lüthi

Cellular mechanisms of learning and memory

Experience-dependent changes in behavior are mediated by long-term functional modifications in brain circuits. We are interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and circuit levels. As a model system, we are using classical (Pavlovian) fear conditioning, a simple form of associative learning that is particularly suitable for study in rodents.

The inability to control or inhibit inappropriate fear responses is a hallmark of human anxiety disorders. We are investigating the cellular mechanisms underlying fear extinction, an associative learning process mediating inhibitory control of inappropriate fear behavior.

Using a multidisciplinary and integrated experimental approach in mice, we are combining in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, imaging, molecular biology, genetics, and behavioral techniques to identify the synaptic and cellular constituents of neural circuits in the amygdala underlying the acquisition, encoding and extinction of fear memory - the microcircuitry of fear conditioning.

Andreas Lüthi

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.

d'Aquin S, Szönyi A, Mahn M, Krabbe S, Gründemann J, Lüthi A. (2022) Compartmentalized dendritic plasticity during associative learning

Science 376: eabf7052

Courtin J, Bitterman Y, Müller S, Hinz J, Hagihara KM, Müller C, Lüthi A. (2022) A neuronal mechanism for motivational control of behavior

Science 375: eabg7277

Hagihara KM, Bukalo O, Zeller M, Aksoy-Aksel A, Karalis N, Limoges A, Rigg T, Campbell T, Mendez A, Weinhotz C, Mahn M, Zweifel LS, Palmiter RD, Ehrlich I, Lüthi A, Holmes A (2021) Competition between intercalated amygdala clusters orchestrates a switch in fear state

Nature 594: 403-407

Fustinana MS, Eichlisberger T, Bouwmeester T, Bitterman Y, Lüthi A (2021) State-dependent encoding of exploratory behavior in the amygdala

Nature 592: 267-271

Krabbe S, Paradiso E, d'Aquin S, Bitterman Y, Xu C, Yonehara K, Markovic M, Gründemann J, Ferraguti F, Lüthi A (2019) Adaptive disinhibitory gating by VIP interneurons permits associative learning

Nature Neurosci 22: 1834-1843

Jan Gründemann*, Yael Bitterman*, Tingjia Lu, Sabine Krabbe, Benjamin F. Grewe, Mark J. Schnitzer & Andreas Lüthi (2019) Amygdala Ensembles Encode Behavioral States

Science, Vol. 364, Issue 6437, eaav8736
* Co-first authors -- Publication available open access

Fadok JP, Krabbe S, Markovic M, Courtin J, Xu C, Massi L, Botta P, Bylund K, Müller C, Kovacevic A, Tovote P, Lüthi A (2017) A competitive inhibitory circuit for selection of active and passive fear responses

Nature 542, 96-100

Grewe BF, Gründemann J, Kitch LJ, Lecoq JA, Parker J, Marshall JD, Larkin MC, Jercog P, Grenier F, Li JZ, Lüthi A, Schnitzer MJ (2017) Neural ensemble dynamics underlying long-term associative memory

Nature 543, 670-675

Xu C, Krabbe S, Gründemann J, Botta P, Fadok JP, Osakada F, Saur D, Grewe BF, Schitzer MJ, Callaway EM, Lüthi A (2016) Distinct hippocampal pathways mediate dissociable roles of context in memory retrieval

Cell 167:961-972

Vogel E*, Krabbe S*, Gründemann J, Wamsteeker Cusulin JI, Lüthi A (2016) Projection-specific dynamic regulation of inhibition in amygdala micro-circuits

Neuron 91: 644-651
* Co-first author

Tovote P*, Esposito MS*, Botta P, Chaudun F, Fadok JP, Markovic M, Wolff SBE, Ramakrishnan C, Fenno L, Deisseroth K, Herry C, Arber S, Lüthi A (2016) Midbrain circuits for defensive behavior

Nature 534:206-212
* Co-first author

Botta P, Demmou L, Kasugai Y, Markovic M, Xu C, Fadok JP, Lu T, Poe MM, Xu L, Cook JM, Rudolph U, Sah P, Ferraguti F, Lüthi A (2015) Regulating anxiety with extrasynaptic inhibition

Nature Neurosci 18:1493-1500

Wolff SBE*, Gründemann J*, Tovote P, Krabbe S, Jacobson GA, Xu C, Müller C, Herry C, Ehrlich I, Friedrich RW, Letzkus JJ, Lüthi A (2014) Amygdala interneuron subtypes control fear learning through disinhibition

Nature 509:453-458
*Co-first author

Senn V*, Wolff SBE*, Herry C, Grenier F, Ehrlich I, Gründemann J, Fadok JP, Müller C, Letzkus JJ, Lüthi A (2014) Long-range connectivity defines behavioral specificity of amygdala neurons

Neuron 81: 428-437
*Co-first author

Letzkus JJ*, Wolff SBE*, Meyer EMM, Tovote P, Courtin J, Herry C, Lüthi A (2011) A disinhibitory microcircuit for associative fear learning in auditory cortex

Nature 480: 331-335
*Co-first author

Ciocchi S*, Herry C*, Grenier F, Wolff SBE, Letzkus, JJ, Vlachos I, Ehrlich I, Sprengel R, Deisseroth K, Stadler M, Müller C, Lüthi A (2010) Encoding of conditioned fear in central amygdala inhibitory circuits

Nature 468: 277-282
*Co-first author

Haubensak W, Kunwar P, Cai H, Ciocchi S, Wall N, Ponnusami R, Biag J, Dong HW, Deisseroth K, Callaway EM, Fanselow MS, Lüthi A, Anderson DJ (2010) Genetic dissection of an amygdala microcircuit that gates conditioned fear

Nature 468: 270-276.

Gogolla N, Caroni P, Lüthi A, Herry C (2009) Perineuronal nets protect fear memories from erasure

Science 325:1258-1261

Fourcaudot E*, Gambino F*, Humeau Y, Casassus G, Poulain B, Lüthi A (2009) L-type voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels mediate expression of presynaptic LTP in amygdala

Nature Neurosci 12:1093-1095
*Co-first author

Herry C, Ciocchi S, Senn V, Demmou L, Müller C, Lüthi A (2008) Switching on and off fear by distinct neuronal circuits

Nature 454:600-606

Shaban H, Humeau Y, Herry C, Casassus G, Shigemoto R, Ciocchi S, Barbieri, S, van der Putten H, Kaupmann K, Bettler B, Lüthi A (2006) Generalization of amygdala LTP and conditioned fear in the absence of presynaptic inhibition

Nature Neurosci 9:1028-1035

Humeau Y, Herry C, Kemp N, Shaban H, Fourcaudot E, Bissiere S, Lüthi A (2005) Dendritic spine heterogeneity determines afferent-specific hebbian plasticity in the amygdala

Neuron 45:119-131

Humeau Y, Shaban H, Bissière S, Lüthi A (2003) Presynaptic induction of heterosynaptic associative plasticity in the mammalian brain

Nature 426:841-845

Bissière S, Humeau Y, Lüthi A (2003) Dopamine gates LTP induction in lateral amygdala by suppressing feedforward inhibition

Nature Neurosci 6:587-592

Full list of publications
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Group leader

In current position since 2003
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PhD students

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In current position since 2021
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Postdoctoral fellows

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Mathias has always been fascinated by neuronal networks, leading him to study biology and neuroscience for his BSc and MSc. During his MSc thesis on information transfer in cultured neural networks, he realized how limited our capabilities to interface with neurons were, leading him to design and characterize light-gated proteins for neuronal activity control during his PhD with Ofer Yizhar. Equipped with the extended optogenetic toolbox he returned to study information transfer between distant brain areas in the lab of Andreas Lüthi. First as EMBO and then as Marie Curie Individual fellow. Since 2023, Mathias is leading the research project valence in decision-making as Ambizione fellow.

Current reseach

Aside from his fascination with neuronal networks, Mathias likes tinkering with proteins, light, and electronics to study brain function. He is leading a research project that is examining the role of amygdala activity on cortical processing during value assignment and decision-making. This project specifically looks at the long-range connections between the basolateral amygdala and prefrontal cortex in mice.


  • PhD in Neuroscience, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
  • MSc in Systemic Neuroscience, LMU Munich, Germany
  • BSc in Biology, University of Constance, Germany

In current position since 2018
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In current position since 2023
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In current position since 2019
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Andras has always been interested in the working principles of the nervous system from molecules to brain areas, so he decided to get involved in research as a high school student. While studying medicine at the Semmelweis University in Budapest, he started his undergraduate research in the lab of Tamas Freund in the Institute of Experimental Medicine on the functional anatomy of inhibitory synapses in the hippocampal formation. He continued his PhD studies in the same lab, shifting to the exciting topic of subcortical control of memory formation. He contributed to the description of a disinhibitory circuit involved in the regulation of contextual memory formation, and to the discovery of a formerly unknown neuronal population in the brainstem controlling aversive experience.

He joined the lab of Andreas Lüthi in 2019 as an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellow, where he works on a joint project with Zoltan Nusser’s lab in Budapest on the molecular mechanisms of fear memory encoding in the amygdala.

Current reseach

The main project of Andras is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the plasticity phenotypes and leading to the selection of a sparse population of neurons into the physical trace of a memory in the brain. To decipher these mechanisms, he uses in vivo two-photon microscopy in behaving mice, followed by high-resolution quantitative immunostainings evaluated by fluorescent confocal microscopy.


• Doctor of Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
• PhD in Neurosciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

In current position since 2024
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Technical/Research associates

In current position since 2016
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Tobias was born in Alsace, on the French side of the tri-national urban area of Basel. He did his studies in Strasbourg, before joining the Oncology Department at Novartis, as a postgraduate student. He worked in the pharmacology unit, where he performed PK/PD and efficacy studies on tumor models. He then joined the FMI in 2013 as a Research Associate in the lab of Momo Bentires-Alj. His main project was to identify new therapeutic targets in the field of breast cancer, using an in vivo mutagenesis screening tool. He then got the opportunity to join the Neurobiology Department of the FMI in the lab of Andreas Lüthi, where he is working since 2016 as a Lab Manager.


• MSc in Pharmacology, University of Strasbourg
• BSc in Cellular Biology and Physiology, University of Strasbourg

In current position since 2019
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In current position since 2022
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PhD students

Julian Hinz (2017-2024)
Kenta Hagihara (2015-2022)
Alejandro Tsai (2016-2021)
Simon D'Aquin (2014-2021)
Elisabeth Martha Maria Meyer (2010-2017)
Milica Markovic (2009-2017)
Lynda Demmou (2007-2016)
Elisabeth Vogel (2010-2015)
Paolo Botta (2009-2014)
Steffen Wolff (2008-2014)
Verena Senn (2004-2009)
Stéphane Ciocchi (2004-2009)
Ulrich Pfeiffer (2006-2008)
Elodie Fourcaudot (2003-2008)
Sunil Prabhakar (2006-2007)
Karin Loretan (2004-2006)
Hamdy Shaban (2002-2005)
Stephanie Bissiere (2000-2004)

Postdoctoral fellows

Nikolaos Karalis (2018-2023)
Tanja Waaga (2017-2023)
Maria Sol Fustinana Gueler (2013-2023)
Nigel Whittle (2015-2023)
Julien Courtin (2015-2022)
Yael Bitterman (2016-2022)
Sabine Krabbe (2012-2020)
Lema Massi (2012-2018)
Jan Gruendemann (2011-2017)
Jonathan Fadok (2010-2017)
Philip Tovote (2009-2017)
Chun Xu (2009-2016)
Paolo Botta (2014-2015)
Tingjia Lu (2011-2015)
Jaclyn Cusulin (2014)
Johannes Letzkus (2007-2013)
Rogier Poorthuis (2013)
Francois Grenier (2005-2013)
Philippe Gastrein (2007-2012)
Joao Bacelo (2008-2012)
Stéphane Ciocchi (2009-2010)
Verena Senn (2009-2010)
Ingrid Ehrlich (2006-2009)
Cyril Herry (2003-2008)
Guillaume Casassus (2005-2008)
Yann Humeau (2002-2005)
Christine Gebhardt (2004-2005)

Technical/Research associates

David Ruel (2022-2023)
Christian Mueller (2006-2022)
Tingjia Lu (2015-2017)
Aleksandar Kovacevic (2015-2017)
Kristine Bylund (2013-2015)
Julia Luedke (2011-2013)
Maria Rita Meins (2008-2012)
Ronald Koenig (2003-2006)
Augustyn Bogucki (2003-2004)


Martin Zeller (2021)
Nikolaos Armeniakos (2020-2021)
Julian Hinz (2017)
Dominic Trojer (2007-2009)
Stefan Kucsera (2006-2008)
Magali Klaey (2006)
Christian Mueller (2006)
Dorothea Haemmerer (2004-2005)
Karin Loretan (2003-2004)

Visiting scientists

Yael Bitterman (2022-2023)
Tanja Waaga (2023)
Adi Kol (2022-2023)
Arnau Ramos Prats (2019-2022)
Simon D'Aquin (2021-2022)
Nikolaos Karalis (2017-2018)
Philip Tovote (2017)
Enrica Paradiso (2015-2016)
Karen Lavi (2012-2016)
Supriya Ghosh (2011)
Elisabeth Vogel (2009-2010)
Heidrun Baechli (2003-2006)


PhD, University of Basel, Basel
MSc, University of Basel, Basel

Positions held

Senior Group Leader, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel
Junior Group Leader, Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel; Assistant Professor, Biozentrum, University of Basel
Assistant Professor, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel
Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich
Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Department of Anatomy, University of Bristol, UK


Pfizer Research Prize
Titular Professor, University of Basel
Swiss National Science Foundation, Professorship
Borderline Personality Disorder Research Foundation, Junior Investigator Award
Human Frontier Science Program, Long-Term Fellowship
EMBO, Long-Term Fellowship
European Union Fellowship