Department I Hallermann » Research

Our research interests

The ability to learn and memorize is crucial throughout our entire life. Learning and memory is mediated by trillions of chemical synapses connecting the nerve cells in our brain. One of the key mechanisms of learning and memory is synaptic plasticity – the strengthening and weakening of these synapses.

Despite intense efforts, fundamental mechanisms of the function and plasticity of chemical synapses remains unclear. Particularly, the mechanisms mediating neurotransmitter release at presynaptic nerve endings is challenging to investigate, because the underlying processes are small and fast and have complex biophysics: Tiny transmitter-filled vesicles with a diameter of 50 nm fuse with the plasma membrane within less than 100 µs upon arrival on an action potential to release the neurotransmitter.

Our group aims to understand presynaptic function and plasticity on various levels, ranging from single molecules to neuronal networks. To this end, we apply and develop new electrophysiological, optical, genetic, and computational techniques, which allow us to push the spatial and temporal resolution beyond the state of the art. This allowed us, for example, to measure synaptic transmission at a frequency of about 1 kHz at a synapse in the cerebellum. Besides our excitement to investigate sofar inaccessible processes, we are driven by the chance that basic neuroscience research helps to advance the limited therapeutic possibilities in psychiatry and neurology.

Our research is funded by the European Research Council (ERC consolidator grant) and the German Research Foundation (DFG).


ERC                 DFG                   SYNABS                     ERC


Selected recent publications

  • Liu C, Cai X, Ritzau-Jost A, Kramer PF, Li Y, Khaliq ZM, Hallermann S, Kaeser P.
    An action potential initiation mechanism in distal axons for the control of dopamine release (2022)
  • Ritzau-Jost A, Tsintsadze T, Krueger M, Ader J, Bechmann I, Eilers J, Barbour B, Smith SM, Hallermann S (2021)
    Large, stable spikes exhibit differential broadening in excitatory and inhibitory neocortical boutons.
  • Eshra A, Schmidt H, Eilers J, Hallermann S (2021)
    Calcium dependence of neurotransmitter release at a high fidelity synapse.
  • Straub I, Witter L, Eshra A, Hoidis M, Byczkowicz N, Maas S, Delvendahl I, Dorgans K, Savier E, Bechmann I, Krueger M, Isope P, Hallermann S (2020)
    Gradients in the mammalian cerebellar cortex enable Fourier-like transformation and improve storing capacity.
  • Byczkowicz N, Eshra A, Montanaro J, Trevisiol A, Hirrlinger J, Kole MH, Shigemoto R, Hallermann S (2019)
    HCN channel-mediated neuromodulation can control action potential velocity and fidelity in central axons.
  • Delvendahl I, Vyleta NP, von Gersdorff H, Hallermann S (2016)
    Fast, temperature-sensitive and clathrin-independent endocytosis at central synapses.