Connecting European Neuroscience

Menno P. Witter

Chair, Committee on Higher Education and Training (July 2014 - July 2018)

Curriculum Vitae


Professional and academic career

Present positions:  Professor of Neuroscience NTNU & Director of the Norwegian Research School in Neuroscience.

Past positions: PhD student and lecturer; VU University, Amsterdam (1979-1985); Assistant professor Anatomy, VU University, Amsterdam (1985-1996);  Professor of Anatomy & Embryology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands  (1996-2006); Visiting Professor of Neuroscience, Center for the Biology of Memory, NTNU (2004-2006); Director of the Research Institute for Clinical Neuroscience (ICEN), and the Interfacultary Research Institute for Neuroscience (ION), VU University, Amsterdam (1999-2006); Co-founding director and member of the board of the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR) VU University, Amsterdam (2002-2006); Director of the Graduate School Neuroscience Amsterdam (ONWA), Amsterdam (1999-2006).

Education: Biology, VU University (1971-1979). Ph.D in Medicine obtained in 1985 VU University, Amsterdam


Honours and awards

Member of The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab)

Member of The Norwegian Academy of Science (Det Norske Vitensskaps-Akademi)

Member of the European Dana Alliance for the Brain.


General administrative and organisational experience

General: Steering committee of the Dutch Neurofederation (2002-2006); Local organizing committee Brain ’05 and BrainPet ’05; Programme Committee FENS Forum in Vienna in 2006; Task force National Research Initiative Brain and Cognition (2006); Local organizing committee FENS Forum 2010 (2007-2010). Working group Neuron Registry, INCF. Governing board of INCF on behalf of the Norwegian Research Council (2013).

Education: Invited Lecturer Graduate Program Neuroscience, Univ. Murcia, Spain (2003-2009).Visiting Lecturer Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan (2008-2009). Co-organizer of the Workshop on Circuit and Molecular Architecture of the Vertebrate Brain, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories (2010- 2012). Chair of the FENS Committee on Higher Education and Training (CHET) (2014-2016).

Editorial Boards: Hippocampus, founding editor, together with David Amaral (1990 –); Neuroscience (2002 - 2009; Section Editor 2009 –2013); Frontiers in Neuroanatomy (Ass. Editor 2007 -); Brain Structure and Function (2006 -).

Reviewer activities: Science, Neuron, Nature Neurosci., PLoS Biology, J. Neuroscience, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, J. Neurophysiology, Eur. J. Neuroscience, Neuroscience, Hippocampus, and many other journals.

Evaluation and selection panels: Member Mercator selection committee, University of Bochum, Germany (2009); Member evaluation committee Strategic Research Areas, the Swedish Research Council (2009); Chairman Evaluation committee Research Institute BCN-BRAIN, Groningen, The Netherlands (2009-2010); Member of the international EMBL Monterotondo Unit Review Committtee (2012); Chairman of the International Evaluation committee National Initiative Brain and Cognition (Netherlands Research Council NWO; 2013).


Research interests

My research addresses the relationship between the architecture of neuronal networks and their function. The aim is to provide a functional anatomical description of the cortico-hippocampal system in rats and mice, with current emphasis on architectural differences between the different divisions of the parahippocampal-hippocampal system, in particular the intralaminar and interlaminar connectivity of the entorhinal cortex.

Earlier work pointed to the medial entorhinal cortex as an essential part of the navigational system and through my lasting collaborations with May-Britt and Edvard Moser, we discovered the grid cell. In a recent publication, I reported that the local circuit connecting putative grid cells is governed by inhibitory connectivity. My research further paved the way to the important concept about functional differentiation along the long axis of the hippocampal formation, and the functional difference between direct and indirect entorhinal-hippocampal connectivity, issues that are still at the center of my research into the development, adult organization, and disease-related changes of the hippocampal system.

My research group applies a variety of complex anatomical approaches, including advanced confocal fluorescent microscopy and electron microscopical approaches, combined with viral tracing and genetic targeting of specific identifiable neurons, and in vitro electrophysiology and voltage sensitive dye imaging. Currently, research is strongly linked to a collaborative network formed with the other groups at the KI/CNC (Edvard and May-Britt Moser, Yasser Roudi and Cliff Kentros), Asta Håberg (NTNU), Nachum Ulanovsky (Rehovot, Israel), and Toshio Iijima (Sendai, Japan).


Selected Publications

  • Amaral DG, Witter MP (1989) The three dimensional organization of the hippocampal formation: a review of anatomical data. Neuroscience 31, 571-591.
  • Witter MP, Groenewegen HJ, Lohman AHM, Lopes da Silva FH (1989) Functional organization of the extrinsic and intrinsic circuitry of the parahippocampal region. Progr. Neurobiol. 33, 161-254.
  • Dolleman van der Weel MJ, Witter MP (1996) Projections from the nucleus reuniens thalami to the entorhinal cortex, hippocampal field CA1, and the subiculum in the rat arise from different populations of neurons. J. Comp. Neurol. 364: 637-650.
  • Iijima T, Witter MP, Ichikawa M, Tominaga T, Kajiwara R, Matsumoto G (1996) Entorhinal-hippocampal interactions revealed by real-time imaging Science 272: 1176-1179.
  • Naber PA, Witter MP (1998) Subicular efferents are organized mostly as parallel projections: A double-labeling retrograde tracing study in the rat. J. Comp. Neurol., 393, 284-297.
  • Brun VH, Otnaess M, Molden S, Steffenach H-A, Witter MP, Moser M-B, Moser EI (2002) Place cells and place recognition maintained by direct entorhinal-hippocampal circuitry. Science 296: 2243-2246.
  • Kajiwara R, Takashima I, Mimura Y, Witter MP, Iijima T (2003) Amygdala input promotes the spread of excitatory neural activity from the perirhinal cortex to the entorhinal-hippocampal neurocircuit. J. Neurophysiol 89: 2176-2184.
  • Van der Werf YD, Witter MP, Jolles J, Uylings HBM (2003) Contributions of thalamic nuclei to memory functioning. Cortex 39:1047-1062
  • Fyhn M, Molden S, Witter MP, Moser EI,  MoserM-B (2004) Spatial Representation in the entorhinal cortex. Science, 305:1258-1264.
  • Sargolini F, Fyhn M, McNaughton B, Witter MP, Moser M-B, Moser EI (2006) Representation of position, direction and velocity in the medial entorhinal cortex. Science. 312, 758-762
  • Witter MP, Moser EI (2006). Spatial representation and the architecture of the entorhinal cortex. TINS. 29, 671-678
  • Brun Kjelstrup K, Solstad T, Brun VH, Leutgeb S, Fyhn M, Witter MP, Moser EI, Moser M-B (2008) Finite scale of spatial representation in the hippocampus. Science 321: 140-143.
  • Brun VH, Leutgeb S, Wu H-Q, Schwarcz R, Witter MP, Moser EI, Moser M-B (2008) Impaired spatial representation in CA1 after lesion of direct input from entorhinal cortex. Neuron, 57:290-302.
  • Lehn H, Steffenach H-A, Van Strien NM, Veltman D, Witter MP, Håberg A (2009) A specific role of the human hippocampus in recall of temporal sequences. J. Neurosci. 29:3475-3484
  • Van Strien NM. Cappeart N, Witter MP (2009) The anatomy of memory: An interactive overview of the parahippocampal-hippocampal network. Nature Rev Neurosci 10:272-282.
  • Langston RF, Ainge JA, Couey JJ, Canto CB, Bjerknes TL, Witter MP, Moser EI, Moser M-B. (2010) Development of the spatial representation system in the rat. Science 328:1576-1580.
  • Boccara, CN, Sargolini F, Thoresen VH, Solstad T, Witter MP, Moser EI, Moser M-B. (2010) Grid cells in pre-and parasubiculum. Nat Neurosci 13: 987-994
  • Henriksen EJ, Barnes CA, Witter MP, Moser M-B, Moser EI. (2010) Spatial representation along the proximodistal axis of CA1. Neuron 68: 127-137.
  • Kjonigsten LJ, Leergaard TB, Witter MP, Bjaalie JG (2011) Digital atlas of anatomical subdivisions and boundaries of the rat hippocampal region. Front. Neuroinform. 5:2. doi: 10.33 9/fninf.2011.00002.
  • Small, SA, Schobel SA,  Buxton R, Witter MP, Barnes CA (2011) A pathophysiological framework of the hippocampal circuit in aging and disease. Nature Rev Neurosci, 12: 585-601.
  • Yartsev M, Witter MP, Ulanovsky N (2011) Grid cells without theta oscillations in the entorhinal cortex of bats. Nature, 479: 103-107.
  • Canto CB, KoganezawaN, BeedP, Moser EI, Witter MP (2012). All layers of medial entorhinal cortex receive pre- and parasubicular inputs. J. Neurosci. 32:17620-17631.
  • Couey JJ, Witoelar A, Zhang S-J, Jing Y, Dunn B, Czajkowski R, Moser M-B, Moser EI, Roudi Y, Witter MP (2013)Recurrent inhibitory circuitry as a mechanism for grid cell formation. Nat Neurosci 16:318-324.
  • Lu L, Leutgeb JK, Tsao A, Henriksen EJ, Leutgeb S, Barnes CA, Witter MP, Moser M-B, Moser EI (2013)  Impaired hippocampal rate coding after lesions of the lateral entorhinal cortex. Nat Neurosci, 16:1085-93.
  • Rowland D, Weible A, Wickersham I, Wu H, Mayford M, Witter MP, Kentros C (2013) Transgenically-targeted rabies virus demonstrates a major monosynaptic projection from hippocampal area CA2 to medial entorhinal layer II neurons. J. Neurosci, 33: 14889-14898.
  • Czajkowski R, Sugar J, ZhangS-J, CoueyJJ, YingJ, Witter MP (2013) Superficially projecting principal neurons in layer V of medial entorhinal cortex in the rat receive excitatory retrosplenial input. J. Neurosci, 33:15779-15792.
  • Ohara S, Sato S, Tsutsui K, Witter MP, Iijima T (2013) Organization of multisynaptic inputs to the dorsal and ventral dentate gyrus: retrograde trans-synaptic tracing with rabies virus vector in the rat. PLoS One. 8:e78928.
  • O'Reilly KC, Flatberg A, Islam S, Olsen LC, Kruge IU, Witter MP (2014). Identification of dorsal-ventral hippocampal differentiation in neonatal rats. Brain Struct Funct. 2014 Jul 11. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25012113.


Menno P. Witter

Kavli Center for Systems Neuroscience
Centre for Neural Computation (KI/CNC)
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Trondheim, Norway.