Professor Dr. Gerhard von der Emde

Institute of Zoology
University of Bonn
Meckenheimer Allee 169
D- 53115 Bonn

Phone +49  (0) 228 73-5555
Fax: +49 (0) 228 73-5556

Website von der Emde Group

Curriculum vitae Professor Dr. Gerhard von der Emde

Research Interests

We study how animals behave, orient and navigate in their natural habitats. We are especially interested in the processing of sensory information and in cognitive abilities, such as learning and memory, object recognition, communication, decision making and others. One of our natural model systems are weakly electric fish from Africa (Mormyriforms) and South America (Gymnotiforms), which posses an electric sense. We are investigating environmental imaging of objects through active and passive electrolocation, as well as electro-communication. In the second model system, the zebrafish (Danio rerio), we examine the process of cognitive aging, as well as the neuropharmacology of learning and memory. The focus lies on the fish’s neuromodulator/neurotransmitter systems (endocannabinoid-, GABAergic systems).


  1. behavorial techniques

    • observation of natural behavior
    • psychophysics
    • training techniques
    • object training
    • spatial cognition
    • emotional-associative memory
    • anxiety-like behavior
    • active-avoidance conditioning
  2. neurophysiology

    • recording of evoked potentials
    • extracellular single neuron recording
  3. neuroanatomy

    • track tracing
    • c-Fos expression
    • histological methods
  4. pharmacology

    • endocannabinoid receptor CB1 agonist/antagonist – THC/Rimonabant
    • neurochemistry of neuromodulators and -transmitters

Most important publications

1. Fechler K, von der Emde G. (2013) Figure-ground separation during active electrolocation in the
weakly electric fish, Gnathonemus petersii. J Physiol Paris, 107: 72-83.

2. Kreysing M, Pusch R, Haverkate D, Landsberger M, Engelmann J, Ruiter J, Mora-Ferrer A, Ulbricht E, Grosche J, Franze K, Streif S, Schumacher S, Makarov F, Kacza J, Guck J, Wolburg H, Bowmaker JK, von der Emde G, Schuster S, Wagner HJ, Reichenbach A, Francke M. (2012) Photonic Crystal Light Collectors in Fish Retina Improve Vision in Turbid Water. Science, 336: 1700-1703.

3. Engelmann J, Nöbel S, Röver T, von der Emde G. (2009) The Schnauzenorgan-response of
Gnathonemus petersii. Frontiers in Zoology, 6:21. Open Access:

4. von der Emde G, Schwarz S, Gomez L, Budelli R, Grant K. (1998) Electric fish measure distance
in the dark. Nature, 395: 890-894.