Computational Neuroscience


This course provides an introduction to basic computational methods for understanding what nervous systems do and for determining how they function. We will explore the computational principles governing various aspects of vision, sensory-motor control, learning, and memory. Specific topics that will be covered include representation of information by spiking neurons, processing of information in neural networks, and algorithms for adaptation and learning. We will make use of Matlab/Octave/Python demonstrations and exercises to gain a deeper understanding of concepts and methods introduced in the course. The course is primarily aimed at third- or fourth-year undergraduates and beginning graduate students, as well as professionals and distance learners interested in learning how the brain processes information.

What you will learn

Introduction & Basic Neurobiology (Rajesh Rao)

This module includes an Introduction to Computational Neuroscience, along with a primer on Basic Neurobiology.

What do Neurons Encode? Neural Encoding Models (Adrienne Fairhall)

This module introduces you to the captivating world of neural information coding. You will learn about the technologies that are used to record brain activity. We will then develop some mathematical formulations that allow us to characterize spikes from neurons as a code, at increasing levels of detail. Finally we investigate variability and noise in the brain, and how our models can accommodate them.

Extracting Information from Neurons: Neural Decoding (Adrienne Fairhall)

In this module, we turn the question of neural encoding around and ask: can we estimate what the brain is seeing, intending, or experiencing just from its neural activity? This is the problem of neural decoding and it is playing an increasingly important role in applications such as neuroprosthetics and brain-computer interfaces, where the interface must decode a person’s movement intentions from neural activity. As a bonus for this module, you get to enjoy a guest lecture by well-known computational neuroscientist Fred Rieke.

Information Theory & Neural Coding (Adrienne Fairhall)

This module will unravel the intimate connections between the venerable field of information theory and that equally venerable object called our brain.

What’s included