Wolf Singer is a neurobiologist recognized for his studies on the development and functional organization of the mammalian cerebral cortex. He is known particularly for his studies on the temporal coordination of distributed brain processes by neuronal oscillations and their synchronization. Singer was born in Munich and grew up in Bavaria. He studied Medicine in Munich and Paris and graduated in 1968 from the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, as physician and MD. Following a residency in clinical medicine he was a postdoctoral fellow in neurophysiology and later group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry. In 1975 he received the venia legendi for Physiology from the Technical University, Munich and in 1981 was nominated Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. He has been President of the European Neuroscience Association and chairman of the Max Planck Board of Directors and is member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy Leopoldina.

Research Interests

Wolf Singer´s laboratory is interested in the neuronal underpinnings of higher cognitive functions such as perception, attention and consciousness, using the mammalian visual system as model for investigation. Experimental approaches comprise analysis of neuronal activity at different scales associated with the performance of cognitive tasks in behaviorally trained monkeys, healthy human subjects and patients with psychiatric conditions. Studies focus on the questions how the distributed sub-processes cooperating in cognitive acts are bound together and how stored knowledge is combined with sensory evidence for the construction of percepts. The core assumption is that these operations are performed in the temporal domain and rely on the high dimensional dynamics provided by the recurrent networks of the cerebral cortex. Multisite recordings suggest synchronization of oscillatory activity as one prominent mechanism for the dynamic association of neuronal responses, the coordination of distributed processes and the matching of sensory evidence with stored priors. In patients suffering from schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder, oscillatory patterning and synchronization of neuronal responses are impaired, the impairment reflecting severity of clinical symptoms.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 28: Systems Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences