Tübingen has been a hub for excellent neuroscientific research for a very long time indeed, going all the way back to Werner Reichardt and beyond. Neuroscience can be said to be one of the cornerstones of Tübingen's outstanding scientific record today, with the CIN at the centre of a network of many institutes engaged in the field. So it is only fitting that in Tübingen, there is a prize dedicated to young local neuroscientists who accomplish especially impressive achievements in their research: the Attempto Prize.
Endowed in 1983 by psychiatrist Konrad Ernst and his wife Dorothea, the Attempto Prize is awarded annually to early career neuroscientists from Tübingen. The prize is always split between two young researchers, each receiving € 10,000 in prize money. It is awarded for a specific research paper to which the awardee has made the essential contribution. Many of the laureates have become leading figures in the fields of medicine and biology.
Several young researchers from the CIN have received the Attempto Prize over the years.
The most recent Attempto laureate from the CIN was Chih-Yang Chen, a PhD student in Ziad Hafed's Physiology of Active Vision research group, who received it in 2015. He was awarded the Attempto Prize for his work on microsaccades, very small eye movements that seem to be of little consequence. Chen et al. show that this is not the case; in fact, microsaccades are closely related to changes in vision performance. The visual system's sensitivity is enhanced in those parts of the visual field where microsaccades are directed. So microsaccades are instrumental in optimising our seeing experience. The results of this study draw attention to the fact that microsaccades are so far much underrated and warrant far more attention by researchers.
These results were published as:
Chih-Yang Chen, Alla Ignashchenkova, Peter Thier, Ziad M. Hafed (2015): Neuronal Response Gain Enhancement Prior to Microsaccades. Current Biology 25(16): 2065–2074.
Several Attempto laureates have their own research groups but are CIN members: Thomas Ethofer (2011), Axel Lindner (2006), Hans-Otto Karnath (1995), Hermann Ackermann (1992), Frank Schaeffel (1991), and last, but not least, CIN chairman Hans-Peter Thier (1988).