Neuroscience and Behaviour
The Department of Biology has a dedicated research strength in the field of neurobiology and behaviour. Neurosciences have been identified by WWU Münster as one of two future focus areas that will gain more relevance in the next years. The newly defined focus area aims at a comprehensive understanding of the function of neural systems, from their development to biomedical aspects and animal behaviour. The integration of the molecular and cellular basis of neural networks into the analysis of complex behaviour offers new possibilities to elucidate the control, modification and evolutionary adaptation of behaviour in detail. Recent ground-breaking developments make it possible to selectively influence individual neurons in the living organism (e.g. by opto- or thermogenetics) and to decipher the structure and function of neural networks (e.g. by novel neuronal tracing methods). In combination with behavioural biology, where novel, automated tracking and analysis systems have been established (e.g. touch screen technology, biologgers) now a detailed investigation of even complex behavioural processes come into reach. This makes it possible to answer fundamental questions such as how complex neuronal circuits are established, and how they control complex behaviour. The recent methodological advances in the field allows addressing the molecular and cellular basis of emotion and cognition as well as the emergence of individuality and the adaptation of behaviour to changing environments. Answers to these questions are not only of great interest for basic research, but also relevant for biomedicine or animal and species protection. This focus area offers numerous points of contact within biology and is already closely linked with medicine, psychology and philosophy.