Silies, Marion, Dr.

Group Leader

  • PhD in Biology, University of Münster, 2009
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University, 2009 - 2014
  • Group leader, European Neuroscience Institute Göttingen, since 2014

Major Research Interests

We aim to understand how neural networks perform critical computations. In sensory systems, a variety of computations extract information from the environment to guide behavior. Our understanding of these processes remains fragmentary: in some systems, specific neurons have been identified that respond to distinct sensory cues; in others, specific behavioral outputs or computational models that predict physiology or behavior are known. We want to get a complete understanding of how neurons gain specific physiological properties, how they are organized in circuits and how these circuits guide distinct behaviors.
Animals ranging from insects to humans use visual motion to navigate through the environment, capture prey, or escape predators. Because motion vision requires circuits to integrate visual information over both space and time it has long been considered a paradigmatic computation for understanding brain function and models that describe how motion information can be extracted have long existed. However, the neural circuits that implement these models are still incompletely understood. Moreover, many molecular and cellular mechanisms regulate synaptic activity or modulate cellular properties in identified neurons, but they have only rarely been associated with specific, behaviorally relevant computations. My lab intends to achieve this by studying motion detection in a genetic model organism, the fruit fly Drosophila. In flies, motion-guided behaviors have been studied in detail and described computationally. We use cell biological and genetic approaches to manipulate critical neurons in motion detecting circuits. In combination with physiology and quantitative behavioral analysis, we hope to identify the mechanisms by which a nervous system can integrate molecular, cellular and circuit mechanisms to compute behaviorally critical outputs from specific inputs.

Homepage Department/Research Group

Selected Recent Publications

  • Fisher YE, Leong JCS, Sporar K, Ketkar MD, Gohl DM, Clandinin TR and Silies M (2015) A visual pathway with wide field properties is required for elementary motion detection. Current Biology, 25: 3178-3189.
  • Fisher YE*, Silies M* and Clandinin TR (2015) Orientation selectivity sharpens correlation based elementary motion detection in Drosophila. Neuron, 88: 390-402.
    *equal contribution
  • Silies M, Gohl DM, and Clandinin TR (2014) Motion-Detecting Circuits in Flies: Coming Into View. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 37: 307-327.
  • Clark DA, Fitzgerald JE, Ales JM, Silies M, Gohl DM, Norcia AM and Clandinin TR (2014) Flies and humans use a shared computational strategy that exploits natural scene statistics to estimate motion. Nature Neuroscience, 17: 296-303.
  • Silies M*, Gohl DM*, Fisher YE, Freifeld L, Clark DA and Clandinin TR (2013) Modular use of peripheral input channels tunes motion-detecting circuitry. Neuron, 79: 111-127.
    *equal contribution
  • Gohl DM, Silies MA, Gao XJ, Bhalerao S, Luongo FJ, Lin CC, Potter CJ and Clandinin TR (2011) A genetically convertible enhancer trap for directed combinatorial dissection of gene expression patterns. Nature Methods 8: 231-237.