Ilka Diester




University of Freiburg

Institute of Biology III

Imagine we’re in an elevator and you have until we reach our floor to pitch your project/idea.

What’s your elevator pitch?

Our research explores how parvalbumin- and somatostatin-expressing inhibitory interneurons in the mouse medial prefrontal cortex influence the activity of individual neurons and assemblies during context and rule encoding.

Using cutting-edge techniques like 2-photon calcium imaging and optogenetic holographic manipulation, we aim to uncover the microcircuit mechanisms behind these processes, contributing to a deeper understanding of high-level cognitive encoding.

What fascinates you about your project?

I find this project particularly fascinating because of the intricate dance of two inhibitory interneuron types which are located in an intermingled manner. How the two neuron types differentially contribute and interact in cognitive processes will help us in better understanding the mechanisms by which the prefrontal cortex solves complex tasks.

How did you come to work in the field of Neuroscience?

During my studies of Biology I was fortunate to meet Prof. Andreas Herz who taught computational neuroscience in the regular math classes. From there on, I was fascinated by neuroscience.

What does your family think you do for a living?

Outside work, people believe that I investigate how the brain controls the body which is essentially true.