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Master Programme "Behaviour: From Neuronal Mechanisms to Evolution"

Möglicher Abschluss: 
Master (MSc)
June 1 - July 15
Four semesters (2 years)

Brains are among the most complex systems in nature. They control perception, cognition and
eventually the behaviour of animals and humans. Understanding the mechanisms that allow animals and
humans to behave adaptively in complex environments is one of the most fascinating, but also most
challenging tasks in science. The graduate programme "Behaviour: From Neural Mechanisms to
Evolution" provides the relevant interdisciplinary scientific training for a comprehensive
education. It introduces concepts, fundamental experimental techniques, and the theoretical
approaches that are required to perform research at the frontiers of this ambitious scientific

The study programme aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles
underlying autonomous adaptive behaviour in animals and humans. It bridges the gap from
neurophysiology to behavioural ecology. This goal is reached by relating two basic aspects that are
usually treated separately.

- Computational Aspect: Behaviour is the result of computations performed by the nervous system of
the organism at all relevant levels of complexity. These comprise the cellular and network level as
well as the cognitive and behavioural performance of the entire system.

- Evolutionary Aspect: Brain morphology and function as well as the innate and learnt behaviours of
animals and humans emerge from the developmental and everyday interactions of the organism with its
environment. They have been shaped by selection during the course of evolution.

As a distinguishing characteristic, this study programme focuses on both computational and
evolutionary explanations of behaviour and highlights their mutual relationship.
Although the interdisciplinary study programme is centred in the Faculty of Biology, a selection of
curricular modules may also be selected from other fields such as Psychology, Computer Science,
Robotics or Linguistics. Some of the groups involved in the graduate programme are affiliated with
the Cluster of Excellence "Cognitive Interaction Technology" (CITEC,

During the first year six modules shall be completed, each with an academic performance of 10 ECTS: Probing Behaviour, Neural Mechanisms of Behaviour, Control of Behaviour, Perception and Action, Evolution of Behaviour and Function of Behaviour.

In the second year, students shall carry out independent projects in two of the participating research groups.

Prof. Dr.
Universität Bielefeld
Fakultät für Biologie - Biologische Kybernetik
Postfach 10 01 31
0049 521 106 5528
computational neuroscience
cognitive neuroscience