Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics, and Molecular Biosciences

Wolf, Fred, Prof. Dr.

Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization


  • Since 2013: Director Bernstein Centre for Computational Neuroscience, Göttingen
  • 2011: Visiting Professor, Centre International des Rencontres Mathématiques Marseille, France
  • Since 2011: Steering board member and Section Coordinator for Computational Neuroscience German Neuroscience Society, University of Göttingen, Germany
  • 2010: Program Director, “Emerging Techniques in Neuroscience”, Kavli-Institute for Theoretical Physics, UC Santa Barbara, USA
  • Since 2009: Steering Committee of Bernstein Focus for Neurotechnology
  • Since 2008: Professor of Physics (hon.), Georg-August-University, Göttingen, Germany
  • 2006 - 2011: Steering Committee of the International Max Planck Research School Neurosciences, Göttingen, Germany
  • Since 2005: Steering Committee of the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, University of Göttingen, Germany
  • Since 2004: Head of the Research Group ‘Theoretical Neurophysics’, Department of Nonlinear Dynamics, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen
  • 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008: Visiting Scolar, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, UC Santa Barbara, USA
  • 2001 - 2004: Research Associate, Max-Planck-Institut für Strömungsforschung, Göttingen
  • 2000: Amos de Shalit Fellow, Racah Institute of Physics and Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation, Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem, Israel
  • 1999: Dr. phil. nat., J.W.Goethe Universität, Frankfurt



Major Research Interests

My work focuses on selected problems in neurobiology and biophysics that are interesting and challenging from a theoretical physics perspective because
(1) they require the development of mathematical theory and computational methods in neuroscience and biology and
(2) they are mature enough to enable precise quantitative experiments.
The topics range from the formulation and development of novel mathematical approaches tailored to the specifics of neuronal systems dynamics, over the development of analysis methods for turning biological experimental observations into theoretically informative quantitative data, to the development of experimental paradigms specifically designed to provide insight into cooperative and dynamical aspects of nervous system function. To enable a direct interaction of theory and experiment, many projects are pursued in close collaboration with experimental biological research groups around the world.
Currently three problems are at the core of my research agenda:
• The self-organization of neuronal circuits in the visual cortex. In this system our analyses demonstrate that biological neural networks follow apparently universal quantitative laws which require the development of adequate mathematical theories of neuronal self-organization. Several lines of evidence indicate that non-local interactions characteristic of neuronal circuits lead to qualitatively novel types of dynamics in such systems (e.g. Kaschube et al. PNAS 2009, Keil et al. PNAS 2010, Kaschube et al. Science 2010, Keil et al. Science 2012).

• The dynamics of large networks of pulse-coupled neurons and its impact on the representation of sensory information. Here the ergodic theory of network dynamical systems provides a natural language that links details of the network dynamics to information representation and decay (e.g. Monteforte & Wolf PRL 2010; Junek et al. Neuron 2010; Monteforte & Wolf. Phys. Rev. X. 2012).

• The biophysical nature and dynamics of high-bandwidth action potential encoding mechanisms in biological neurons. This problem requires the integration of concepts from non-equilibrium statistical physics with the biophysics of membranes and ion channels. Its solution is essential for the construction of a next generation of dynamically realistic network models (e.g. Naundorf et al. Nature 2006, Tchumatchenko et al. PRL 2010, Wei & Wolf PRL 2011, Tchumatchenko et al. J.Neurosci. 2011; Huang et al. PLoS One 2012).


Homepage Department/Research Group

http://www.nld.ds.mpg.de/



Selected Recent Publications


  • Pangršič T, Gabrielaitis M, Michanski S, Schwaller B, Wolf F, Strenzke N, Moser T (2015). EF-hand protein Ca2+ buffers regulate Ca2+ influx and exocytosis in sensory hair cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(9): E1028-37

  • Chapochnikov NM, Takago H, Huang CH, Pangršič T, Khimich D, Neef J, Auge E, Göttfert F, Hell SW, Wichmann C, Wolf F, Moser T (2014). Uniquantal release through a dynamic fusion pore is a candidate mechanism of hair cell exocytosis. Neuron 83(6): 1389-1403

  • Chumatchenko T, Malyshev A, Wolf F, Volgushev M (2011). Ultrafast population encoding by cortical neurons. Journal of Neuroscience 31(34): 12171-9

  • Kaschube M, Schnabel M, Löwel S, Coppola DM, White LE, Wolf F (2010). Universality in the evolution of orientation columns in the visual cortex. Science 330: 1113-6

  • Junek S, Kludt E, Wolf F, Schild D (2010). Olfactory coding with patterns of response latencies. Neuron 67(5): 872-84

  • Kaschube M, Schnabel M, Wolf F, Löwel S (2009). Interareal coordination of columnar architectures during visual cortical development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(40): 17205-10

  • Naundorf B, Wolf F, Volgushev M (2006). Unique features of action potential initiation in cortical neurons. Nature 440: 1060-3

  • Kaschube M, Wolf F, Geisel T, Löwel S (2002). Genetic influence on quantitative features of neocortical architecture. Journal of Neuroscience 22(16): 7206-17

  • Wolf F, Geisel T (1998). Spontaneous pinwheel annihilation during visual development. Nature 395: 73-8

  • Wolf F, Bauer HU, Pawelzik K, Geisel T (1996). Organization of the visual cortex. Nature 382: 306