BC1 From Neurons to Behavior - Thinking like a Neuroscientist


Organisms as different as man and worm are able to interact with the surrounding world by perceiving sensory stimuli and reacting to them behaviourally. In this course, we will open the black box between stimulus input and behavioural output: The nervous system consists of surprisingly unreliable building blocks – neurons, which are connected to neuronal networks via synapses.
For each of the levels
- Single neurons
- Neuronal networks
- Sensory systems
- Brain
we will study the functions of anatomy, physiology and computational principles of neural coding for the generation of stimulus-triggered behaviour. Comparing examples from different animals and different sensory modalities, we will discuss the roles of common mechanisms versus specializations of individual systems for solving behavioural tasks.


Participants from all disciplines should get an overview of common neuronal principles (anatomy, physiology, coding and computation) underlying perception of sensory stimuli and behavioural reactions in organisms ranging from worm to man.


Any introductory neuroscience textbook, e.g. Galizia, Lledo ‘Neuroscience – From Molecule to Behavior’, 2013, Springer ISBN 978-3-642-10768-9
Nicholls et al. ‘From Neuron to Brain’, 5th edition 2012, Sinauer ISBN: 978-0-87893-609-0
Purves et al. ‘Neuroscience’, 5th edition 2012, Sinauer ISBN: 978-0-87893-695-3
Baer et al., ‘Neuroscience – Exploring the brain’, 4th edition 2015, Wolters Kluwer, ISBN/ISSN: 9780781778176
Scholarpedia also offers some introductory texts:

Course location


Course requirements


Instructor information.

Instructor's name

Jutta Kretzberg


cf. website


Jutta Kretzberg studied computer science and biology at University of Bielefeld, Germany. In her diploma and PhD projects supervised by Martin Egelhaaf at University of Bielefeld, she modelled neuronal responses in the fly visual system. As a postdoctoral researcher, she joined the groups of Terrence Sejnowski at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and of William Kristan at University of California San Diego, where she started to work experimentally on the mechanosensory system of the leech. In 2004, Jutta Kretzberg became a Junior Professor at University of Oldenburg, Germany, where she is now professor for computational neuroscience and head of the master’s program neuroscience. Her main research interest is neural coding in sensory systems of vertebrates and invertebrates.