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Bernstein-CorTec Award goes to Jeanine Laturner

Jeanine Laturner receives this year's Bernstein CorTec Award for her master thesis "Ocular dominance plasticity in a thalamo-cortical recurrent network model". The award was presented by Prof. Kerstin Krieglstein, Rector of the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, during the opening of the academic year.
Bernstein-CorTec Award goes to Jeanine Laturner

Certificate of the Bernstein CorTec Award 2021

The Bernstein-CorTec Award recognizes outstanding scientific achievements in the field of computational neuroscience and neurotechnology. The prize is awarded annually, alternating between doctoral and master’s theses.

Content and Context of the thesis

 Electrical stimuli from our sensory organs are processed in the neuronal networks of the brain, changing them in the process. New synaptic connections between neurons can emerge, old ones disappear, existing connections can become stronger or weaker. Such processes are summarized as “plasticity”. Visual information travels from the retina to the thalamus and then to the visual cortex. For a long time, it has been assumed that the thalamus has a simple forwarding function and that experience-dependent plasticity only takes place in the cortex.

 However, recent experimental studies show that plasticity already takes place in the thalamus, which can alter particularly the mixture of signals from the two eyes. If one eye is closed for a longer period of time, neuronal plasticity is taking place: so when the eye is reopened, neurons are responding more strongly to signals from the eye that had not been closed. This phenomenon is also highly relevant in medicine.

 Not least for this reason, it is of great interest to understand the plasticity processes more accurately in order to be able to design strategies to influence them. In the master thesis, thalamo-cortical networks were simulated on the computer and several different plausible scenarios were investigated with regard to how new formation and elimination of connections could be controlled. The goal was to replicate the phenomena observed in experiments on animals and in humans as well as possible.

 The award winner did her work in the laboratory and under the supervision of Prof. Stefan Rotter. After graduating, Jeanine Laturner took a position in the private sector.

Award lecture

The awardee will speak about her work in a Special Bernstein Seminar on November 9, 2021 at 5:00 pm. Beforehand, Dr. Jörn Rickert, CEO of CorTec and benefactor of the Bernstein-CorTec Award will give a short introduction.

The original news item was released by the Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience.

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