Gregor Rainer

The Project

Cholinergic mechanisms of learning and cognition


Dr. Gregor Rainer
University of Fribourg
Chemin du Musee 5
1700 Fribourg

Thirty-six year old Austrian citizen, Gregor Rainer, currently holds a DFG Heisenberg award and is a group leader at the Max-Planck Institute for biological cybernetics in Tübingen. He gained his doctorate in systems neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his habilitation in behavioural neurobiology at Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen. His previous awards include an APART scholarship from the Austrian Academy of Sciences as well as research grants awarded by the BMBF and the DFG. He has published over 20 articles in major journals including Science, Nature, Current Biology, Neuron and PLoS Biology.

Project Description

The overall aim of Rainer and his team’s proposed research is to localize and characterize effects of the cholinergic system on cognition and learning.

In this proposal, they will study cholinergic effects in non-human primates, allowing the combination of a variety of state-of-the-art neurochemical, neurophysiological and biomedical imaging methods to study different aspects of cholinergic neuromodulation during precisely defined behavioral tasks. This will permit them to delineate acetylcholine-sensitive functional networks, revealing where, and by which mechanisms acetylcholine contributes to cognition and learning.
Advances in the understanding of the processes that facilitate or degrade our cognitive abilities are likely to have a large impact on human welfare, allowing us to optimize conditions for learning, or counteract deficits associated with aging or neuropsychiatric disorders.  In addition, the combination of these methods may prove ideal for assessing the potential of novel cholinergic pharmacological agents, speeding the process of drug discovery and testing.