Research Group Leader - Lisa Fenk

Active visual sensing



2015 - present: Postdoc in the Maimon lab, The Rockefeller University, New York, USA Lisa Fenk
2012 - 2015: Postdoc in the Straw lab, Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Vienna, Austria
2007 - 2011: PhD at the Department of Neurobiology, University of Vienna, Austria
2005 - 2007: Studies in Biology (first diploma), University of Vienna, Austria
1999 - 2005: Studies in Physics and French (teaching certification), University of Vienna, Austria



Research Projects:

Our eyes are constantly on the move. These movements reflect the features of the visual scene in which we are particularly interested, our arousal state, and other aspects of our general physiology. Despite their ubiquity, we are rarely aware of our eye movements because, at least in part, our brain suppresses visual perception during these movements. We recently discovered that fruit flies move their retinas, via tiny muscles, both seemingly spontaneously and in response to visual motion. These movements and our vertebrate eye movements are surprisingly similar. We aim to leverage this discovery, alongside the advanced genetic, physiological and behavioral methods in Drosophila to develop a detailed understanding of how a small brain differentiates between visual input that arises due to the animal’s own movements from input that arises due to events in the external world. And on the flip side – how do animals purposefully move their eyes to extract relevant visual features? Very broadly, this research program should allow us to better understand how brains form predictions and use those predictions to inform perception and behavior.


List of Publications:

Fenk LM, Nair A, Weisman JL, Siwanowicz I, Avritzer SC, Maimon G. (under revision) Vertebrate-like eye movements in a compound eye.

Kim AJ*, Fenk LM*, Lyu C, Maimon G. 2017. Quantitative predictions orchestrate visual signaling in Drosophila. Cell 168: 280–294 (*equal contribution)

Fenk LM*, Poehlmann A*, Straw AD. 2014. Asymmetric processing of visual motion for simultaneous object and background responses. Curr. Biol. 24:2913-2919.(*equal contribution)

Fenk LM, Schmid A. 2011. Flicker-induced eye movements and the behavioural temporal cut-off frequency in a nocturnal spider. J. Exp. Biol. 214:3658-3663.

Fenk LM, Schmid A. 2010. The orientation-dependent visual spatial cut-off frequency in a spider. J. Exp. Biol. 213:3111-3117.

Fenk LM, Heidlmayr K, Lindner P, Schmid A. 2010. Pupil size in spider eyes is linked to post-ecdysal lens growth. PLoS ONE 5(12):e15838.

Fenk LM, Hoinkes T, Schmid A. 2010. Vision as a third sensory modality to elicit attack behavior in a nocturnal spider. J. Comp. Physiol. A 196:957-961.

Fenk L, Vogel B, Horvath H. 2007. Dispersion of the bio-aerosol produced by the oak processionary moth. Aerobiologia 23:79-87.