Robert Konrad Naumann
IntroducationThe human cerebral cortex is the most complex piece of matter in the universe. It is responsible for our most important cognitive functions, consciousness, and eventually, human civilization. Yet, the evolution and function of the cerebral cortex remains a mystery. The cerebral cortex is the part of the vertebrate brain that changed most dramatically inthe course of evolution. These changes are of central importance for translational research but remain poorly understood. Our goal is to unravel the complexity of the cortex using a combined developmental, evolutionary, and functional approach. We focus on the hippocampal formation; the evolutionary most conserved part of the cortex, which is also causally involved in a large number of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, research in our laboratory aims to: (i) Identify evolutionary conserved circuits of the hippocampus in several vertebrate species including reptiles; (ii) Investigate the molecular and structural underpinnings of memory and spatial navigation circuits in the rodent hippocampus; (iii) Translate findings from simpler brains into an improved understanding of the human cortex.