Behavioral Physiology / Developmental Neurobiology Research Group

Professor Gerhard Roth's Behavioral Physiology/Developmental Neurobiology Research Group studies the neural basis of visuomotor performance in amphibians - i.e. the coordination of visual perception and the locomotor system. Amphibians have a sometimes complex and learning-driven visual prey capture behavior and at the same time a relatively simple visual system. They therefore represent a particularly interesting model for studying how behavior emerges based on neural activity, since it can be studied in amphibians in comparatively manageable neural networks. This may help to understand general principles of the emergence of oscillatory patterns. In addition to a large number of peer-reviewed articles, Professor Roth has published numerous books in which he demonstrates that the study of animal brains plays a major role in understanding the human brain and its complex cognitive performance.

Now an emeritus professor, the neuroscientist conducts research using in vitro patch-clamp techniques, particularly on the emergence of oscillatory activity patterns in single cells. Such in-vitro techniques describe methods that are carried out outside the intact organism, for example in cell cultures. They are generally regarded as an alternative method to animal testing, since they do not involve testing on living animals. However, cells and tissue must also be obtained for such in vitro procedures. In the case of the research described here, this means that neuronal tissue is taken from the animal killed under anesthesia and stored in a nutrient solution during the electrophysiological measurements.

Insights into the Keeping of Amphibians

Various frog and salamander species are used for the research. The frogs pictured are the species Bombina orientalis - also known as the Chinese fire-bellied toad. The frogs used for this research are kept in generously equipped, species-appropriate terrariums.