Matthew E Larkum




Institute of Biology

Humboldt Universität zu Berlin


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 project embarks on the uncharted properties of inhibitory neuron dendrites, unraveling their role in cortical microcircuits. Through innovative techniques, some of which are uniquely developed by us, we aim to decode how the dendrites of distinct inhibitory neuron types contribute to information processing, bridging a critical gap in our understanding of neural circuit dynamics.

What fascinates you about your project?

My whole career has involved one project after another ostensibly investigating the properties of the main excitatory neurons of the cerebral cortex, but continually finding that their computational properties are actually shaped by their inhibitory input. In this project, we will finally be able to focus on this particular problem specifically.

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

I always wanted to be a neuroscientist (since I was around ten years old). I approached the Professor for Neurobiology at Sydney University when I was still in high school, who offered me a place in his lab … as long as I completed what he called a “hard-science” degree, meaning something requiring mathematics (not biology).

What does your family think you do for a living?

In my family’s eyes, I’m playing classical music to the cerebral cortex, hoping to enlighten pyramidal neurons, but it’s the interneurons who turn out to be the real stars, harmonizing the entire performance.