You are here: Research groups > Sensorimotor Lab (Thier)
Prof. Dr. Peter Thier
Tel. +49 (0)7071 29 83057
Fax +49 (0)7071 29 5326
Marc Andrè Junker
e-mail addresses and phone numbers of the staff
This group has been dealing with several key accomplishments of the human brain, namely its ability to ensure perceptual stability, its ability to extract information needed for stable social interactions and last but not least its ability to guarantee precise motor behaviour despite the ever changing physical properties of the human body. These three sets of accomplishments may appear somewhat disparate. Yet, they actually share important functional commonalities as will hopefully become clear as we go along. Moreover, they have in common that their damage due to brain disease has devastating consequences for the person affected. Our attempts to understand the functional underpinnings of these accomplishments have pragmatically used a variety of methods, from molecular biological manipulations in experimental animals to the study of perceptual and behavioural deficits in patients, always guided by the conviction that the specific scientific question should determine the method and not the method the question.
Not only the methods used but also the brain structures tackled by us are quite diverse. However, this does not mean that their choice would be arbitrary. Actually, the key interest has been the better understanding of how cerebral cortex, the most „humane“ part of our brains affords higher brain functions such as perceptual stability. However, attempts to understand the role of cerebral cortex in higher brain functions will not be successful if one ignores its interactions with a number of subcortical structures based on extensive ﬁbre systems connecting cortex with the basal ganglia, the cerebellum or thalamus, to mention only the most important of these subcortical „coprocessors“. This group has focussed on the role of the cerebellum, a part of the brain whose evolutionary expansion is tightly connected with the one characterizing cerebral cortex. Like many before us, also we have been captured by the intriguing quasi-crystalline architecture of cerebellar cortex that suggests that we might be able to identify the neuronal computations it entails. Actually, we believe that we have made some headway in this direction allowing us to suggest a novel theory of cerebellar cortex in learning that may also help us to better appreciate the motor and non-motor consequences of cerebellar disease.