Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Marcus Haag

Lab Manager and Scientist



given the vast amount of signals entering our brain, how does it ensure that relevant information is processed preferentially? 

I am interested in the way neurons interact within neuronal networks in order to allow it to process tasks such as selective attention. I am furthermore interested in investigating how dysfunctions within such neuronal networks can lead to neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, and how to prevent this from happening. 

I am currently investigating thalamocortical signal transmission in NHPs and rodents and manage methodological and welfare aspects. Methodologies I am regularly working with include optogenetics, stereotaxic surgeries, electrophysiology, behavioural training, fMRI, and immunohistochemistry. Welfare aspects I am working on include improvements of surgical implants with regard to osseointegration and MRI compatibility. Furthermore, I am interested in unsupervised closed-loop training of NHPs that allows them to perform complex touch-screen based tasks (XBI) while being monitored/differentiated using an inbuilt camera (machine learning classification of image features), which both increases their welfare and decreases the researchers' workload. 


B.Sc. in Cognitive Science - University of Osnabrueck, Germany

M.Sc. in Neuroscience - University of Bremen, Germany

PhD in Neuropharmacology - University of Reading, UK



The investigation of (dys-)functions within neuronal network regularly involves the use of animals in research. Early on I was, therefore, trying to improve both the welfare of research animals and experimental methodologies during my research. For my Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology, I investigated epileptic dysfunctions using in vitro multielectrode arrays, which allow for the measurement of neuronal network activity exerted by modified pluripotent stem cells. Such cells and tissue can be derived from many sources that promote the reduction of animals in research (e.g. iPS cells or dissected human tissue).

In the course of my current employment, I am emphasizing on improving animals welfare particularly with regard to surgeries and training approaches. Here, we are developing MRI compatible implant designs with improved osseointegration characteristics. Furthermore, we are working on devices that allow for unsupervised closed-loop training of freely moving NHPs. 

These are likely to increase both the NHPs' welfare and reduce the workload of researchers involved in training/welfare.




I demonstrated to biology students during my M.Sc and pharmacy students during my PhD covering courses such as pain perception, structural anatomy, electrophysiological techniques, molecular techniques and animal training.

I am currently training members of staff and students in our lab to health and safety regulations and scientific methods and techniques frequently used in our laboratory environment.

I also trained students to play table tennis and ultimate frisbee. 





  • Mohamet L, Segal J, Luise F, Soteriou D, Haag M, Bithell A, Whalley BJ, Stevens A, Ward CM. An E-cadherin antagonist peptide for the undifferentiated culture and directed differentiation of humanpluripotent stem cells. 2017. Submitted.
  • Drebitz E, Haag M, Grothe I, Mandon S, Kreiter AK. Selective attention determines dynamic circuit configuration in local populations of V4 neurons in the presence of competing stimuli. Cerebral Cortex, 2017. Submitted.
  • Smith I, Haag M, Ugbode C, Tams D, Rattray M, Przyborski S, Bithell A, Whalley BJ. Neuro-glial populations form functional networks in a biocompatible 3D scaffold. Neuroscience Letters 2015, 609, 198-202.
  • Hoppe JB, Haag M, Whalley BJ, Salbego CG, Cimarosti H. Curcumin protects organotypic hippocampal slice cultures from Aβ1–42-induced synaptic toxicity. Toxicology in Vitro, 2013. Available at:
  • Ortiz-Rios M, Haag M, Balezeau F, Frey S, Thiele A, Murphy K, Schmid MC. Improved methods for MRI-compatible implants in nonhuman primates. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 2018, 308, 377-389.