About Herwig Baier's Work
All sensory perception and every coordinated movement, as well as feelings, memories and wants, arise from the bustling activity of many millions of interconnected cells in the brain. The ultimate function of this elaborate network is to generate behavior. The goal of Herwig Baier’s research is to understand how neuronal circuits convert sensory inputs into behavioral responses. To tackle this question experimentally, he uses state-of-the-art genetic and imaging approaches with zebrafish larvae, taking advantage of their small size and optical transparency. Unsurprisingly, even fish larvae make choices in life. When they are hungry, they are more eager to hunt. When they are stressed, they become anxious. When they remember a place where they have recently found food, they are more likely to return there. The Baier group is investigating these elementary manifestations of motivation, emotion and cognition in a simple vertebrate brain.