Andreas Schaefer

Neurophysiology of Behaviour Laboratory

Understanding how complex behaviour emerges from the properties of molecules, cells and ensembles of cells is one of the key challenges in neuroscience. We try to tackle this question employing the olfactory system of mice as a model system.

To understand how smells are processed we modify specific selected brain areas - in particular the olfactory bulb - using transgenic mice, pharmacological tools or targeted virus injections. We then probe how these specific modifications alter the neural networks and the resulting cellular function and physiology in vivo and in vitro. Ultimately, we perform quantitative behavioural tasks in such modified mice.

Combining these genetic, physiological and behavioural techniques with computational modelling approaches we aim to elucidate the cellular basis of olfactory behaviour and ultimately more general complex behaviours.

Figure 1

(A) Scheme of the olfactory system: olfactory receptor neurons in the nose project to mitral cells in the olfactory bulb that in turn project to a variety of brain areas. (B) Odor discrimination in mice is fast but depends on stimulus similarity (adapted from Abraham et al 2004). (C) Ablating the AMPA receptor subunit GluR-B in the forebrain improves odor learning/discrimination (C1, from Shimshek et al 2005) and increases inhibition in the olfactory bulb (C2, whole-cell recording in vivo, adapted from Abraham et al, 2010). (Click to view larger image)

Selected publications

Kollo, M. , Schmaltz, A., Abdelhamid, M., Fukunaga, I., and Schaefer A.T. (2014) "Silent" mitral cells dominate odor responses in the olfactory bulb of awake mice Nature Neuroscience 17,1313-5

Fukunaga, I., Herb, J., Kollo, M., Boyden, E.S., and Schaefer A.T. (2014) Independent control of gamma and theta activity by distinct interneuron networks in the olfactory bulb Nature Neuroscience 17:1208-16

Angle, M., and Schaefer A.T. (2012) Neuronal recordings with Solid-Conductor Intracellular NanoElectrodes (SCINEs) PLoS One 7(8), e43194 

Fukunaga, I., Berning, M., Kollo, M., Schmaltz, A., and Schaefer A.T. (2012) Two distinct temporal channels of olfactory bulb output Neuron 75, 320-329

Schaefer, A.T., Claridge-Chang A. (2012) The surveillance state of behavioral automation Current Opinion in Neurobiology 22, 170-176

Abraham,N., Egger,V., Shimshek,D.R., Renden,R., Fukunaga,I., Sprengel,R., Seeburg,P.H., Klugmann, M., Margrie,T.W., Schaefer,A.T. and Kuner,T (2010) Synaptic inhibition in the olfactory bulb accelerates odor discrimination in mice Neuron 65, 399-411

Schaefer,A.T., Angelo,K., Spors,H., and Margrie,T.W (2006) Neuronal oscillations enhance stimulus discrimination by ensuring action potential precision. PLoS Biology 4, e163

Shimshek,D.R., Bus,T., Kim,J., Mihaljevic,A., Mack,V., Seeburg,P.H., Sprengel,R., and Schaefer,A.T. (2005) Enhanced odor discrimination and impaired olfactory memory by spatially controlled switch of AMPA receptors PLoS Biology 3, e354

Andreas Schaefer

Andreas Schaefer
+44 (0)20 379 61579

  • Qualifications and history
  • 2004 PhD, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2004 Postdoctoral fellow, University College London, UK
  • 2007 BBSRC David-Phillips fellow, University College London, UK
  • 2008 Group leader, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Institute for Anatomy and Cell Biology, University Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2013 Program Leader, Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research, London, and Department of Neuroscience, Physiology, Pharmacology, University College London, UK
  • 2015 Group Leader, the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK