Position PhD Student
Nationality German
Room W3 266
Tel +49 521 106-6569
e-mail valerie.lucks[@]uni-bielefeld.de

 

Current Projects

Currently, we are investigating the presence of neuronal short-term plasticity in the optic tectum of adult zebrafish.

The optic tectum plays a major role in transforming visual input into direct motor output. It is homologous to the colliculus superior, which is part of the midbrain performing major computations of visual information processing, but much easier to access. We want to address the question whether adaptation alters the tuning of orientation and direction-specificity in single tectal neurons of a fully developed brain. In Xenopus larvae it is known that sensory experience can lead to plasticity (functional or structural) of tectal circuits and that modification of direction selectivity during development by visual input is possible (Podgorski 2012, Engert 2002). However, whether a similar plasticity exists in the tectum of adult animals remains unknown. To solve these questions, we deliver calcium sensitive dyes to single neurons via electroporation or pin injection and observe neuronal activity by monitoring fluorescence intensity changes in vivo using wide field microscopy.  Preliminary results indicate the presence of neural plasticity (Fig. 1). Neurons that do not show any response preference for gratings moving to a certain direction, can be tuned to direction- or orientation-selectivity by adaptation with a previously presented grating moving to a fixed direction.

Futhermore, the adaptation direction seems to play a major role for the induced type of selectivity. We adapted previously orientation-selective cells either at the peak or at the flank of the response distribution. We find that adaptation at the flank only increases orientation-selectivity. Adaptation at the peak also increases direction-selectivity. Additionally, we want to see if we can relate these neuronal preferences to a certain cell type by analyzing the stained tectal regions.

Publications & News

Conference Proceedings | Posters

Lucks V, Kabbert J, Hollmann V, Kurtz R, Engelmann J (2016) Control of self-motion using optic flow in zebrafish - The role of adaptation. 109th annual meeting of the DZG 2016, Kiel, Germany.

Lucks V, Hollmann V, Kurtz R, Engelmann J (2015) Adaptation-induced modification of motion selectivity tuning in visual tectal neurons of adult zebrafish. 108th annual meeting of the DZG 2015, Graz, Austria. 

Lucks V, Kassing V, Kabbert J, Kurtz R, Engelmann J (2014) Short-term plasticity of orientation tuning in the optic tectrum of adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). 107th annual meeting of the DZG 2014, Goettingen, Germany.

Kabbert J, Lucks V, Kassing V, Engelmann J, Kurtz R (2014) The need for speed: Alteration of velocity tuning functions via adaptation in the optic tecttum of adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). 107th annual meeting of the DZG 2014, Goettingen, Germany.

Bachelor Thesis

Modulation of the fly visual system: the effect of octopamine on frequency tuning of neurons in the medulla of Calliphora vicina

Poster-Award

Best poster in the section "Neurobiology" at the annual meeting of the German Zoological Society 2014:
Short-term plasticity of orientation tuning in the optic tectrum of adult zebrafish (Danio rerio)