Institute of Biology II
Department for Zoology and Animal Physiology
 >> Audition (Group Künzel)

The Auditory Neurophysiology Group (AG Künzel)

Welcome to the website of the Künzel-lab!

The Künzel-lab is part of the Insitute of Biology 2 since january 2011. We are a "subunit" of the lab of Prof. Hermann Wagner. Our group is part of the DFG priority programme PP1608 "Ultrafast and temporally precise information processing: Normal and dysfunctional hearing". For more information visit the website of the priority programme:

The research of the Künzel-lab focuses on basic questions of cellular physiology and development of time-coding neuronal systems in the auditory brainstem. The electrophysiological specializations of the auditory neurons, their role in sound-source localization and the integration of inputs in these neurons are our main interest. We ask: What exactly are these specializations? How do these specialized neuronal systems interact in their physiological role? How do the neurons aquire their specialized role during development? How is information processing close to the periphery modulated in a stimulus-dependent as well as stimulus-independent manner? To this end we use a variety of experimental techniques: from electrophysiology in acute brain slices and intact animals, histological stainings in brain tissue to biophysical computer models of neuronal systems. As model species we use birds (domestic chicken) and mammals (mongolian gerbils).

Recent conference contributions

Job offers

No positions available at the moment, but visit our job offer page from time to time for future positions!

Master- and Bachelor-Thesis projects available in the Kuenzel-lab! If you are interested, please contact kuenzel(at) or just visit us at room 2.109, RWTH building 5350, Worringer Weg 3.


Emerging Research Projects / Latest Collaborations




Gillet C, Goyer D, Kurth S, Griebel H, Kuenzel T. (2018) Cholinergic innervation of principal neurons in the cochlear nucleus of the Mongolian gerbil. J Comp Neurol. 526:1647-1661.

Künzel T, Wagner H. (2017) Cholinergic top-down influences on the auditory brainstem. e-Neuroforum. 23: A35–A44

Kriebel A, Hodde D, Kuenzel T, Engels J, Brook G and Mey J. (2017) Cell-free artificial nerve implants with electrospun fibers in a three-dimensional gelatin matrix support nerve regeneration in vivo. Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 11:3289-3304.

Goyer D, Kurth S, Gillet C, Keine C, Rübsamen R and Kuenzel T (2016) Slow cholinergic modulation of spike-probability in ultra-fast time-coding sensory neurons. ENeuro 3 (5) ENEURO.0186-16.2016 [doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0186-16.2016]

Goyer D, Fensky L, Hilverling AM, Kurth S and Kuenzel T (2015) Expression of the postsynaptic scaffold PSD-95 and development of synaptic physiology during giant terminal formation in the auditory brainstem of the chicken. European Journal of Neuroscience 41: p1416-1429 [doi:10.1111/ejn.12902]

Kuenzel T, Nerlich J, Wagner H, Rübsamen R and Milenkovic M (2015) Inhibitory properties underlying non-monotonic input-output relationship in low-frequency spherical bushy neurons of the gerbil. Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 9:14. [doi: 10.3389/fncir.2015.00014]

Nerlich J, Kuenzel T, Keine C, Korenic A, Rübsamen R, Milenkovic I (2014) Dynamic fidelity control to the central auditory system: synergistic glycine/GABAergic inhibition in the cochlear nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience. 34:11604–20

Felmy F, Künzel T (2014) Giant synapses in the central auditory system. e-Neuroforum Volume 5: 53-59

Kuenzel T, Borst JG, van der Heijden M (2011) Factors controlling the input-output relationship of spherical bushy cells in the gerbil cochlear nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience 31:4260-73.

Göbbels K, Kuenzel T, van Ooyen A, Baumgartner W, Schnakenberg U, Bräunig P. (2010) Neuronal cell growth on iridium oxide. Biomaterials 31:1055-67.

Kuenzel T, Wirth MJ, Luksch H, Wagner H, Mey J. (2009) Increase of Kv3.1b expression in avian auditory brainstem neurons correlates with synaptogenesis in vivo and in vitro. Brain Research 1302:64-75.

Wirth MJ, Kuenzel T, Luksch H, Wagner H. (2008) Identification of auditory neurons by retrograde labelling for patch-clamp recordings in a mixed culture of chick brainstem. Journal of Neuroscience Methods,169:55-64

Kuenzel T, Mönig B, Wagner H, Mey J, Luksch H. (2007) Neuronal differentiation of the early embryonic auditory hindbrain of the chicken in primary culture. European Journal of Neuroscience 25:974-84.


  • Dr. Thomas Künzel -- group leader
  • Charlene Gillet, MSc. -- PhD student
  • Maike Schaper, MSc. -- research assistant
  • Stefanie Kurth -- technical assistant
  • Dr. David Goyer -- Post-doc collaborator [Kresge Hearing Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor]

Former lab members

  • Jule Buchholz (BSc thesis; structural development of auditory nerve terminals)
  • Luisa Fensky (BSc thesis; immunohistochemisty of developing giant terminals)
  • Peter Kaleta (BSc thesis; synaptic physiology of developing giant terminals)
  • Anna Hilverling (MSc thesis; synaptic physiology of developing giant terminals)
  • Richard Sinzig (MSc thesis; immunohistochemisty of the cholinergic system)
  • Dr. David Goyer (PhD thesis; descending cholinergic inputs to spherical bushy cells)
  • Sebastian Malinowski (BSc thesis, student researcher; intrinsic dynamics in the inferior colliculus)
  • Hannah Griebel (MSc thesis; cholinergic modulation of release probability at the endbulb of Held)
  • Jana Wolf (BSc thesis; synaptic dynamics in the inferior colliculus)
  • Sven Kuspiel (BSc thesis; intrinsic dynamics in the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus)
  • Kerstin Doerenkamp -- (MSc Thesis, Synaptic parameters of the Endbulb of Held in the Mongolian Gerbil)
  • Maike Schaper -- (MSc Thesis, Effects of contralateral masking measured with auditory brainstem responses in the Mongolian Gerbil)
  • Elisabeth Koert -- (BSc Thesis, Influence of phaselocked, small dendritic inputs on temporal coding in bushy cells)
  • Severin Graff -- (BSc Thesis, Expression of muscarinic receptors in the gerbil cochlear nucleus)
  • Elena Müller-Limberger -- (expert gerbil wrangling)




Dr. Thomas Künzel participates in...

  • BSc-level "Animal physiology" lab-course (computer simulation of basic neurophysiology) and lecture
  • BSc-level "Biological information processing" lab-course (computer simulation of basic neurophysiology), lecture and seminar
  • MSc-level lecture Cellular- & Systems-Neurobiology 1
  • MSc-level lab-course Cellular & Systems-Neurobiology 2: in-vitro patch-clamp
  • MSc-level seminar Cellular & Systems-Neurobiology / Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Introduction to MATLAB (in-house course for new BSc students)
  • Experimental Animal Course (in-house FELASA-B equivalent)



  • whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from neurons in acute brain slices
  • synaptic physiology
  • in-vitro pharmacology
  • electrical stimulation of axonal connections in vitro
  • recording of ABR (auditory brainstem responses)
  • loose-patch / juxtacellular recordings of neurons in vivo
  • sound stimulation

Histology/Staining techniques

  • fluorescent immunocytochemistry of ion-channels and synaptic proteins
  • cell filling with biocytin and/or fluorescent dyes in-vitro and in-vivo
  • confocal laser microscopy

Theory & Data-analysis

  • Biophysical models of neurons with NEURON (Python)
  • Spiking models of the auditory periphery (Python)
  • Fitting models to physiological parameters (Python, Matlab)
  • Spike-time based & event-waveform based stimulus response analysis (Python, MATLAB)
  • General statistics, circular statistics (Python, Matlab)
  • Data acquisition, hardware control (C++, Matlab)