Cuntz Lab

The fundamental principles of wiring in the brain

Research Statement

How are neurons connected? What are the fundamental principles of wiring in the brain, i.e. what is the connection code? What are the implications for computation and function? Just as the gene map carries the rules for the structural design of any given organism, it is thought that the map of all circuits in the brain will help unravel its design principles and reveal much about its functioning. A realm of novel techniques has recently emerged allowing the dissection of neural circuits at various levels to ultimately obtain the so-called connectome describing all connections in a given brain area. However, as opposed to the genetic system in which the underlying code is well known since the pioneering work on the structure of DNA, the corresponding connection code remains a mystery. More than a hundred years ago, however, Ramón y Cajal has suggested to interpret construction plans of the brain by observing the morphology of individual neurons. We are now responding to the challenge laid down by Cajal by developing computational tools and mathematical laws to describe this link between structure and function. Morphology is key to understanding both circuits and computation since it reflects the constraints given by both.

More information on Hermann Cuntz’ personal website.

Key publications

Cuntz H, Bird AD, Mittag M, Beining M, Schneider M, Mediavilla L, Hoffmann FZ, Deller T, Jedlicka P (2021). A general principle of dendritic constancy: A neuron’s size- and shape-invariant excitability. Neuron.

Ferreira Castro A, Baltruschat L, Stürner T, Bahrami A, Jedlicka P, Tavosanis G, Cuntz H (2020). Achieving functional neuronal dendrite structure through sequential stochastic growth and retraction. eLife 9, e60920.

Beining M, Mongiat LA, Schwarzacher SW, Cuntz H*, Jedlicka P* (2017). T2N as a new tool for robust electrophysiological modeling demonstrated for mature and adult-born dentate granule cells. eLife e26517.

Weigand M, Sartori F, Cuntz H (2017). Universal transition from unstructured to structured neural maps. PNAS 114(20), E4057-E4064.

Cuntz H, Mathy A, Haeusser M (2012). A scaling law derived from optimal dendritic wiring. PNAS 109(27), 11014-11018.

Cuntz H, Forstner F, Borst A, Häusser M (2010). One rule to grow them all: A general theory of neuronal branching and its practical application. PLoS Computational Biology 6(8), e1000877.

(* equal contribution.)