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Johannes Letzkus


Lab: Prof. Johannes Letzkus
Department: Institute of Physiology I
Address: Hermann-Herder-Str. 7,
79104 Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761 203 67312
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Lab homepage:
PhD positions available: YES
Research Area: Neurosciences
Research Interests: The overarching aim of my lab is to understand mechanistically how neocortex contributes to higher brain functions such as sensory perception, memory and attention. Specifically, we focus on:
- The organization and function of neocortical layer 1, a major site for processing of internally-generated top-down information
- The contributions of different types of inhibitory interneurons to higher brain functions
- The brain-wide afferent systems that send internally-generated top-down information into neocortex
- The brain areas and circuit mechanisms of learning and memory


Employment & Experience: Since 2020: DFG Heisenberg Professorship at the Institute of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg
2013-2020: Max-Planck Research Group Leader at the MPI for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany
2010-2013: Independent Investigator (SNSF Ambizione) at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
2007-2010: Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Prof. Andreas Lüthi at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
2003-2007: Ph.D. Candidate in the lab of Prof. Greg Stuart at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra
2002-2003: Researcher at the University of Mainz, Germany


Selected Publications:

Hartung J, Letzkus JJ. Inhibitory plasticity in layer 1 - dynamic gatekeeper of neocortical associations. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2020 Aug 17;67:26-33. Abstract

Pardi MB, Vogenstahl J, Dalmay T, Spanò T, Pu DL, Naumann LB, Kretschmer F, Sprekeler H, Letzkus JJ. A thalamocortical top-down circuit for associative memory. Science. 2020 Nov 13;370(6518):844-848. Abstract

Dalmay T, Abs E, Poorthuis RB, Hartung J, Pu DL, Onasch S, Lozano YR, Signoret-Genest J, Tovote P, Gjorgjieva J, Letzkus JJ. A Critical Role for Neocortical Processing of Threat Memory. Neuron. 2019 Dec 18;104(6):1180-1194.e7. Abstract

Abs E, Poorthuis RB, Apelblat D, Muhammad K, Pardi MB, Enke L, Kushinsky D, Pu DL, Eizinger MF, Conzelmann KK, Spiegel I, Letzkus JJ. Learning-Related Plasticity in Dendrite-Targeting Layer 1 Interneurons. Neuron. 2018 Nov 7;100(3):684-699.e6. Abstract

Poorthuis RB, Muhammad K, Wang M, Verhoog MB, Junek S, Wrana A, Mansvelder HD, Letzkus JJ. Rapid Neuromodulation of Layer 1 Interneurons in Human Neocortex. Cell Rep. 2018 Apr 24;23(4):951-958. Abstract

Mager T, Lopez de la Morena D, Senn V, Schlotte J, D Errico A, Feldbauer K, Wrobel C, Jung S, Bodensiek K, Rankovic V, Browne L, Huet A, Jüttner J, Wood PG, Letzkus JJ, Moser T, Bamberg E. High frequency neural spiking and auditory signaling by ultrafast red-shifted optogenetics. Nat Commun. 2018 May 1;9(1):1750. Abstract

Letzkus JJ, Wolff SB, Lüthi A. Disinhibition, a Circuit Mechanism for Associative Learning and Memory. Neuron. 2015 Oct 21;88(2):264-76. Abstract

Wolff SB, Gründemann J, Tovote P, Krabbe S, Jacobson GA, Müller C, Herry C, Ehrlich I, Friedrich RW, Letzkus JJ, Lüthi A. Amygdala interneuron subtypes control fear learning through disinhibition. Nature. 2014 May 22;509(7501):453-8. Abstract

Poorthuis RB, Enke L, Letzkus JJ. Cholinergic circuit modulation through differential recruitment of neocortical interneuron types during behaviour. J Physiol. 2014 Oct 1;592(19):4155-64. Abstract

Letzkus JJ, Wolff SB, Meyer EM, Tovote P, Courtin J, Herry C, Lüthi A. A disinhibitory microcircuit for associative fear learning in the auditory cortex. Nature. 2011 Dec 7;480(7377):331-5. Abstract

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