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Information for Researchers No. 23 | 25 May 2011
Priority Programme “Ultrafast and Temporally Precise Information Processing: Normal and Dysfunctional Hearing” (SPP 1608)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has announced the establishment of a new Priority Programme entitled “Ultrafast and Temporally Precise Information Processing: Normal and Dysfunctional Hearing”. The programme will run for an initial period of three years and is extendable to six years. It will be coordinated by Professor Eckhard Friauf (TU Kaiserslautern) and Professor Jutta Engel (Universität des Saarlandes/Homburg).

Ultrafast signalling and an exquisitely high temporal precision down to the microsecond range are the major hallmarks of the auditory system that set it apart from virtually any other sensory system. Deficits in temporal processing can result from structural and functional abnormalities in the peripheral and the central auditory system. The exact causes of such sound-processing impairments in the cochlea, the auditory nerve, or the brain are largely unknown. Therefore, a better understanding of the physiology of ultrafast signalling and temporally precise information processing and their disturbances is indispensible for the development of effective treatment strategies for hearing disorders.

The Priority Programme aims to identify the substrates in the peripheral and the central auditory system that enable temporally precise information processing in the millisecond and sub-millisecond range. It addresses both normal and dysfunctional hearing, thus linking basic and disease-oriented research. Investigations shall be performed at various complexity levels, from single gene products via molecular machineries to the levels of cells and neuronal circuits. Work must focus on the inner ear, the auditory nerve, or the auditory brainstem up to the midbrain. Investigations should be performed via physiological, biophysical, histological, morphological, genetic, or behavioural approaches, optimally bridging several disciplines. Consequently, collaboration with other participating groups in the programme will be enforced. Projects should address questions of cellular physiology or functionality in clearly defined neural circuits, in adulthood or during development. The use of genetically modified organisms is particularly encouraged; research on mice is highly appreciated because of their genetic accessibility. Studies involving the acquisition and analysis of ABR waveform data on humans and animals will also apt for the programme if they focus on the temporal pattern and the underlying mechanisms. Sequencing studies which aim at gene identification in humans and animals and are flanked by subsequent and complementary physiological investigations will be highly welcome. Modelling approaches (computational neuroscience) will complete our research initiative. Young researchers and women scientists are particularly encouraged to apply.

The following areas are explicitly excluded: Clinically-oriented projects without a focus on basic research; cognitive studies; EEG studies analysing auditory event-related cortical potentials; electrical engineering; neuropsychological and neurolinguistic studies; studies involving multimodal neuroimaging to analyse perception; studies involving transcranial magnetic stimulation; genetic approaches without an involvement of complementary physiological analysis.

Applications for the first three-year funding period should be written in English. Deadline is 30 September 2011. Please submit applications (one copy on paper, one copy on CD-ROM) directly to the DFG, codeword „SPP 1608“ (postal address: DFG, 53170 Bonn), and an electronic version PDF copy to the coordinator (eckhard.friauf@biologie.uni-kl.de). Applicants will be invited to present their proposal to the panel committee at a symposium to be held in Bonn in December 2011 or January 2012.

Further information

Further information can be obtained at:

Contact person for questions related to the Priority Programme is the scientific coordinator:

Contact person for questions related to the application process: