FRANKFURT am MAIN. The 60,000 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for Young Researchers is awarded this year to Dr. James Poulet, a brain researcher working in Berlin. The young British scientist has received the award because, as the Scientific Council of the Paul Ehrlich Foundation states, "his research furthers our understanding of the neuronal basis of behavior." The award ceremony will take place today, the 159th birthday of Paul Ehrlich, in the Paulskirche, Frankfurt.
Sensory perceptions result in very precise behavior. We see something and we reach for it. We smell something and we turn up our nose. James Poulet is studying what happens in the cerebral cortex of the mouse when sensory stimuli and motor behavior are interlinked, how the processes influence each other, and which neurons, synapses, and neuronal networks are involved in these responses. To do so, he is using new optical, behavioural and electrophysiological methods, for which the Scientific Council reserves its special praise. "Poulet's work is also of crucial significance for the development of artificial limbs and prostheses," the Council wrote in explaining its decision.
Poulet, who is currently Group Head at the Max Delbrck Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin-Buch and also works within the NeuroCure Excellence Cluster, has gained attention for his many articles published in prominent scientific journals. He showed why male crickets do not become deaf when they invite females of the species to mate by rhythmically rubbing their forewings together. The chirping we know from warm summer nights is, for the crickets, as loud as a chain saw. The male crickets very specifically "turn down", or inhibit, the neurons responsible for hearing as soon as they begin to chirp and then remove the inhibition as soon as they stop chirping. By switching back and forth between "on" and "off", the crickets protect themselves against deafness but yet are still able to hear the ap
|Contact: Dr. Hildegard Kaulen|
Goethe University Frankfurt