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Information for Researchers No. 63 | 7 October 2014
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 established a Priority Programme entitled “Ultrafast and Temporally Precise Information Processing: Normal and Dysfunctional Hearing” (SPP 1608) in April 2012. The programme is designed to run for six years. This call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

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 pro-cessing 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 indispensable 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 accessible genetically modified organisms, such as mice, is particularly encouraged. Modern imaging techniques, optical stimulation methods, and single cell RNA sequencing are highly appreciated. 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 the 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; 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.

Submission of proposals
Research proposals for the second three-year funding period are now invited. Deadline for submission is 4 February 2015. All proposals must be written in English and follow the guidelines in DFG form 54.01en (Proposal Preparation Instructions). Further information on e.g. eligibility requirements can be found in DFG form 50.05en, part B.

Proposals must be submitted via the DFG’s electronic submission system “elan”. Please select “Schwerpunktprogramm” and call “SPP 1608/2 Hearing”. If you are using the elan system for the first time, please note that you need to register yourself and your institutional address before being able to submit a proposal. Also, if you are planning to move to a different institution (e.g. with a Temporary Position for Principal Investigators) you need to register the new institutional address beforehand. Please make sure that all applicants of your project (in case there is more than one) start their registration at the latest two weeks before the submission deadline. The registration requests are handled manually by DFG staff.

In addition to submitting your proposal to the DFG, please send an electronic PDF copy to the coordinator Prof. Eckhard Friauf (eckhard.friauf@biologie.uni-kl.de).

Please notice the rules for publication lists that have been modified recently: Beside the general bibliography every proposal should include a list of up to ten publications that relate directly to the project. Further, the number of publications that may be listed in any academic CV has been increased to up to ten as well. These publications need to be classified as a) refereed publications (published articles and monographs; accepted articles with note of acceptance by the journal) or b) other publications.

For the scientific review of proposals, DFG may invite the applicants to present their projects to the review panel at a colloquium scheduled for May or June 2015.

Further Information

The DFG’s electronic portal “elan” can be found at:

Proposal guidelines and preparation instructions are outlined in DFG forms 54.01en and 50.05en, part B which can be found on the DFG website at:

For further information about the Priority Programme, please check the website or contact the coordinators:

For questions related to the application or review process please contact: