Helmholtz Institute


The scientific mission of the Helmholtz school is to understand behaviour and its underlying neurobiological mechanisms. This ranges from perception and cognition to affective (including social) behaviour on various levels of explanation (from single cells to organismal behaviour) and serves the advancement of basic and applied science. It is generally acknowledged that brain functions and behaviour are manifestations of the same information processing system and – in order to understand behaviour – have to be studied in an integrative context. For this, a multidisciplinary approach is essential, in which concepts and methods from neurophysiology, biophysics, psychophysics and psychology are combined into experimental approaches. In the present configuration, the Helmholtz combines groups that have internationally renowned positions in their fields of expertise. They use a large spectrum of scientific methods. Functional models of perception, cognition and affective behaviour provide important ideas and hypotheses for research on the neurobiological foundations, and vice versa. This cross-fertilisation results in more powerful and comprehensive models. The research focus is divided along 3 main integrated research lines:

Fundamental (basic research):

Research on perception and cognition

Research on affective and social processes

Comparative research of cognition using animals

Modelling brain function and organization

Neuroimaging, neurophysiology, psychophysics, eye-tracking


Testing and developing neurocognitive models using (neuropsychological) patients

Neuropharmacological aspects of cognition and affect


Research on cognition focussing on developmental aspects and possible deficits in neurocognitive development

Members of Helmholtz hold chairs in Perception, Perceptual Motor function, Neuropsychology of perception, Social Neuroscience, and Sensory systems in a Social Context, exemplifying the broad yet integrated approach.