Job ID: 80898

Ph.D. Student to investigate the contribution of electrical synapses to neural dynamics in birdsong-producing neural networks

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 31 October 2022

Employment Start Date: 1 August 2022

Contract Length: 3 years

City: Munich

Country: Germany

Institution: Ludwig-Maximilians-University (Munich) & Max Planck Institute for Ornithology – future Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence



I am looking for a PhD student to investigate the synaptic basis of birdsong. Birdsong is a fascinating learnt motor skill. Songbirds learn from tutors the complex motor sequences performed by their vocal organ, the syrinx, during singing. These are under the control of specialized neural networks in the brain characterized by specific temporal patterns of activity that encode timing and acoustic properties of songs.

How the coordinated patterns of neural activation underlying birdsong are generated, and what is their synaptic basis are still not well understood. We recently found that electrical synapses, one of the two modalities of synaptic communication found in nervous systems, are widely expressed in neural circuits controlling birdsong (Alcami et al., Biology, 2021). Electrical synapses are known to play a major role in coordinating neural networks in time (Alcami and Pereda, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2019), yet their contribution to neural dynamics underlying birdsong remains so far elusive.

Are you interested in investigating the role played by electrical synapses in neural dynamics underlying birdsong? Research will involve electrophysiological, imaging and molecular techniques at both the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology – future Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence, which comprise vibrant neuroscience and behavioral research environments. The thesis will be supervised by Dr. Pepe Alcami in the departments of Prof. Benedikt Grothe and Prof. Manfred Gahr.

Candidates with all scientific backgrounds are encouraged to apply. The ideal candidate will have experience in electrophysiology.

A letter of application, a c.v. and the name of two persons that can be contacted for reference letter should be submitted to Pepe Alcami (

The call will remain open until the position is filled.