Ruben Portugues

Short CV

Ruben Portugues was born in Madrid, Spain. He studied Mathematics at Trinity College in the University of Cambridge, where he also obtained his PhD in theoretical physics in 2004, studying soliton solution in M-theory. After a short postdoc in theoretical physics at Centro de Estudios Cientificos in Valdivia, Chile, in 2006 he moved to the laboratory of Florian Engert at Harvard University to pursue a postdoc in neurobiology. There he investigated sensorimotor integration in the larval zebrafish, pioneering approaches to perform whole-brain imaging in behaving animals with single-cell resolution, in order to correlate behavior and brain activity. In 2014, he moved to the Max Planck of Neurobiology in Martinsried to lead the Research Group of Sensorimotor Control and, in January 2020, he became a Professor at the Institute of Neuroscience of the Technical University of Munich.

Selected Awards

Research Interests

Ruben Portugues is interested in how the brain encodes representations of the external world and how these representations are used to select motor actions and modify behavior. His group uses functional calcium imaging and electrophysiology to monitor the activity of neurons in the brain as animals perform a variety of tasks. These experiments are able to record the activity of almost all 100.000 neurons in the brain of these small vertebrates. In addition, he utilizes modeling and computational approaches to understand this data and generate biological hypothesis that can be tested using ablations and optogenetic manipulations.

Selected Publications

  • A neural representation of naturalistic motion-guided behavior in the zebrafish brain
    T Yildizoglu, C Riegler, JE Fitzgerald, R Portugues
    Current Biology 30 (12), 2321-2333 – [2020]
  • Evidence accumulation during a sensorimotor decision task revealed by whole-brain imaging
    EI Dragomir, V Štih, R Portugues
    Nature Neuroscience 23 (1), 85-93 – [2020]
  • Motor context dominates output from Purkinje cell functional regions during reflexive visuomotor behaviors
    LD Knogler, AM Kist, R Portugues
    eLife 8, e42138 – [2019]
  • A novel mechanism for mechanosensory-based rheotaxis in larval zebrafish.
    P Oteiza, I Odstrcil, G Lauder, R Portugues, F Engert
    Nature 547 (7664), 445 – [2017]
  • Sensorimotor representations in cerebellar granule cells in larval zebrafish are dense, spatially organized, and non-temporally patterned
    LD Knogler, DA Markov, EI Dragomir, V Štih, R Portugues
    Current Biology 27 (9), 1288-1302 – [2017]
  • Neural control and modulation of swimming speed in the larval zebrafish
    KE Severi, R Portugues, JC Marques, DM O’Malley, MB Orger, F Engert
    Neuron 83 (3), 692-707 – [2014]
  • Whole-brain activity maps reveal stereotyped, distributed networks for visuomotor behavior
    R Portugues, CE Feierstein, F Engert, MB Orger
    Neuron 81 (6), 1328-1343 – [2014]
  • Brain-wide neuronal dynamics during motor adaptation in zebrafish
    MB Ahrens, JM Li, MB Orger, DN Robson, AF Schier, F Engert, R Portugues
    Nature 485 (7399), 471-477 – [2012]
  • Adaptive locomotor behavior in larval zebrafish
    R Portugues, F Engert
    Frontiers in systems neuroscience 5 – [2011]

All publications can be found on the lab website: or on Google scholar

Publications as TUM-IAS-Fellow


  • Claudi, Federico; Tyson, Adam L; Petrucco, Luigi; Margrie, Troy W; Portugues, Ruben; Branco, Tiago: Visualizing anatomically registered data with brainrender. eLife 10, 2021 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )
  • Odstrcil, Iris; Petkova, Mariela D.; Haesemeyer, Martin; Boulanger-Weill, Jonathan; Nikitchenko, Maxim; Gagnon, James A.; Oteiza, Pablo; Schalek, Richard; Peleg, Adi; Portugues, Ruben; Lichtman, Jeff; Engert, Florian: Functional and ultrastructural analysis of reafferent mechanosensation in larval zebrafish. bioRxiv, 2021 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )
  • Xiao, Yan; Hoodless, Laura J; Petrucco, Luigi; Portugues, Ruben; Czopka, Tim: Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells Sculpt the Visual System by Regulating Axonal Remodeling. bioRxiv, 2021 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )


  • Barykina, Natalia V.; Sotskov, Vladimir P.; Gruzdeva, Anna M.; Wu, You Kure; Portugues, Ruben; Subach, Oksana M.; Chefanova, Elizaveta S.; Plusnin, Viktor V.; Ivashkina, Olga I.; Anokhin, Konstantin V.; Vlaskina, Anna V.; Korzhenevskiy, Dmitry A.; Nikolaeva, Alena Y.; Boyko, Konstantin M.; Rakitina, Tatiana V.; Varizhuk, Anna M.; Pozmogova, Galina E.; Subach, Fedor V.: FGCaMP7, an Improved Version of Fungi-Based Ratiometric Calcium Indicator for In Vivo Visualization of Neuronal Activity. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21 (8), 2020, 3012 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )
  • Claudi, Federico; Petrucco, Luigi; Tyson, Adam; Branco, Tiago; Margrie, Troy; Portugues, Ruben: BrainGlobe Atlas API: a common interface for neuroanatomical atlases. Journal of Open Source Software 5 (54), 2020, 2668 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )
  • Markov, Daniil A.; Petrucco, Luigi; Kist, Andreas M.; Portugues, Ruben: A cerebellar internal model calibrates a feedback controller involved in sensorimotor control. bioRxiv, 2020 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )
  • Siju, K.P.; Štih, Vilim; Aimon, Sophie; Gjorgjieva, Julijana; Portugues, Ruben; Grunwald Kadow, Ilona C.: Valence and State-Dependent Population Coding in Dopaminergic Neurons in the Fly Mushroom Body. Current Biology 30 (11), 2020, 2104-2115.e4 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )
  • Yildizoglu, Tugce; Riegler, Clemens; Fitzgerald, James E.; Portugues, Ruben: A Neural Representation of Naturalistic Motion-Guided Behavior in the Zebrafish Brain. Current Biology 30 (12), 2020, 2321-2333.e6 mehr… BibTeX Volltext ( DOI )