Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology

FLORIAN ENGERT

Engert
Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Email: florian@mcb.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-495-4382

Mail: BL 2073
The Biological Labs
16 Divinity Ave
Cambridge, MA  02138

Engert Lab Homepage
Members of the Engert Lab
List of Publications from PubMed

Courses

MCB 105. Systems Neuroscience
Catalog Number: 998  View Course Website
Term: Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Florian Engert
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: The neuronal basis of sensory processing and animal behavior will be explored in many different model systems as diverse as honeybees, weakly electric fish, and humans. Special emphasis is placed on the role of activity dependent modulation of neuronal connections in the context of learning, memory, and development of the nervous system.
Prerequisite(s): MCB 80.
Meetings: M., W., 10-11:30
MCB 366. Synaptic Plasticity and Neuronal Networks
Catalog Number: 1085  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term; Repeated Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Florian Engert
Course Level: Graduate Course
BIOPHYS 386. Synaptic Plasticity and Neuronal Networks
Catalog Number: 3012  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term; Repeated Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Florian Engert
Course Level: Graduate Course
MBB 90r. Supervised Research: Topics in Mind/Brain/Behavior
Catalog Number: 8784  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term; Repeated Spring Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Florian Engert
Course Level: Primarily for Undergraduates
Description: Supervised individual research leading to a tutorial paper.
Note: Application required; consult MBB website.
Meetings: Hours to be arranged
MBB 980d. A Systems Neuroscience Approach to Conscious Perceptual Experience
Catalog Number: 7390  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Florian Engert
Course Level: Primarily for Undergraduates
Description: Renowned neuroscientists from Harvard and elsewhere will lead highly interactive seminars addressing core problems underlying the emergence of conscious visual experience. Topics include the requisite neuronal representations of the content of visual images, their localization within extrapersonal space and the sense of ownership of such images by an attentive self. Related topics include selective attention, the binding problem, recursive neuronal networks and the distinction between phenomenal and access consciousness. Finally, also explores both the commonalities and differences between visual perception and visual imagery so as to achieve a greater understanding of the bases for the emergence of both entities.
Meetings: M., 1-3
MBB 980f. Creativity Research: Madmen, Geniuses, and Harvard Students
Catalog Number: 40379  View Course Website
Term: Fall Term 2013-2014.   Credit: Half course.
Instructor: Florian Engert
Course Level: Primarily for Undergraduates
Description: Examines human creativity from three perspectives: a) empirical research sources, b) case studies of eminent creative achievers, and c) ourselves as creative subjects. Topics include the definition and measurement of creativity, the creative process, the neuroscience of creativity, the creative personality, the role of family life and culture in creativity, the relationship of creativity to IQ, gender differences, and the relationship of creativity to psychopathology.
Meetings: Tu., 1-3
(View all MCB Courses)

Research

Neuroscientists have long been working to understand how biological structures can produce the complex behaviors that are generated by the nervous system. However, even the basic operational principles governing a brain’s interconnected network of cells have remained painfully elusive. My laboratory is working on a scientific strategy focused on building a complete, multi-level picture of simple neural circuits that will advance our basic understanding of brain function and offers a complete view into the neuronal activity underlying a series of relatively complex behaviors. We are taking a first step towards this rather lofty goal via the comprehensive identification and examination of neural circuits controlling behavior in the larval zebrafish. This small and translucent vertebrate exhibits a series of visually induced behaviors which can be analyzed quantitatively down to the individual motor components. Using behavioral assays in combination with various calcium indicators and two-photon microscopy we monitor neuronal activity throughout the fish brain in an awake and intact preparation. An extended goal of our research is the study of how changes or variations in the behavior are reflected in changes in the underlying neuronal activity. To that end, we have developed several quantitative learning assays and tools for in vivo monitoring – and controlling - of neural activity in freely swimming larvae.

Publications

Bruns D, Engert F, Lux HD (1993) A fast activating presynaptic reuptake current during serotonergic transmission in identified neurons of Hirudo. Neuron 10:559-572.

Taschenberger H, Engert F, Grantyn R (1995) Synaptic current kinetics in a solely ampa receptor-operated glutamatergic synapse formed by rat retinal ganglion neurons. J.Neurophys. 74:

Engert F, Paulus GG, Bonhoeffer T (1996) A low-cost UV laser for flash photolysis of caged compounds. J.Neurosci.Methods 66:47-54.

Veselovsky NS, Engert F, Lux HD (1996) Fast local superfusion technique. Pflügers Arch. 432:351-354.

Engert F, Bonhoeffer T (1997) Synapse specificity of long-term potentiation breaks down at short distances. Nature 388:279-284.

Engert F, Bonhoeffer T (1999) Dendritic spine changes associated with hippocampal long-term synaptic plasticity. Nature 399:66-70. (selected breakthrough of the year in the neurosciences by Science magazine)

Engert F, Tao HW, Zhang LI, Poo MM (2001) Emergence of Input Specificity of LTP in a Developing Retinotectal System. Neuron 31:569-580.

F. Engert, H. W. Tao, L. I. Zhang, and M. M. Poo. (2002) Moving visual stimuli rapidly induce direction sensitivity of developing tectal neurons. Nature 419:470-475.

updated: 04/15/2014