You are here: Home / News / BCCN Munich News / PhD position in Behavioural Neuroscience / Neuroethology

PhD position in Behavioural Neuroscience / Neuroethology

 A fully funded PhD position (E13, 65%, 3 years) from the DFG is available on bat echolocation. Here is the outline of the research proposal:

Vision provides animals with a high-resolution image of their environment, ideally suited for perceiving, sampling and evaluating a multitude of objects distributed and moving in the environment. However, where light was amiss, echolocation evolved in animals, allowing the imaging of space through the auditory analysis of self-generated sounds.

Vision and echolocation are both highly directional. In vision, we constantly move our eyes to detect new and relevant objects. As these objects are often rare, a selection process is required to pick out relevant objects. This process is based on a mixture of the visual salience of objects and our behavioral demands. In echolocation, the need to actively focus on specific objects of interest is even more imperative due to the non-spatial layout of the sensory epithelium (the cochlea) and the comparatively broad sonar beam, which usually ensonifies multiple close-by objects simultaneously. These echolocation properties still enable bats to pinpoint the location of a single target with high acuity, but only allow a very limited angular resolution. This should prevent bats to well resolve multiple targets from each other, which are generally present in complex natural scenes. Unlike in vision, where the processes that guide sequential sampling of space are well studied, little is known about how echolocating bats scan complex natural scenes by echolocation and which reflective properties of objects guide the bat’s sonar beam.

Within the proposed PhD project, we will work to understand the behavioral strategy for the detection of rare objects and its neural basis: We will work with trained bats in virtual echo-acoustic environments, allowing us to quantify echo-acoustic salience for isolated object properties and combinations thereof.

This work will provide new insights into the strategies bats employ to manoeuvre extremely fast in complete darkness, i.e. how they use their echolocation to navigate in highly structured 3D environments, avoiding obstacles at the same time as successfully detecting and capturing prey.

We expect candidates to have a genuine interest in behavioural neuroscience and quantitative behavioural experimentation. We need candidates that have both good intuition to work with awake and behaving mammals, that are keen to learn complex audio techniques and programming (Matlab) to implement the planned experiments; candidates that are keen to do quantitative simulations of obtained results, and last but not least that are keen to publish their results in international peer-reviewed journals.

The successful candidate will be part of a well focussed behavioural research group within the lively and prosperous Division of Neurobiology at LMU Munich. Candidates are encouraged to join the Graduate School of Systemic Neuroscience (GSN), a competitive and successful graduate program within the Munich Center for Neuroscience (MCN).

If you are interested in joining our team, please apply with CV and Letter of Motivation via E-mail to Prof. Dr. Lutz Wiegrebe,, Division of Neurobiology at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, the official Number-One town to live in Germany ;)

Filed under: ,