Computational neuroscience of sensory systems


Team leader : Romain Brette

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Our group is working on computational models of sensory systems, which connect the physiological level (properties of neurons) with the behavioral level


We are testing theories by means of physiological experiments, in particular electrophysiology and behavioral experiments (psychophysics). Theories are also tested from a computational perspective by evaluating the functional performance of models in complex perceptual tasks. Our research is organized around three broad themes:

1) Neurons: We are developing models that can predict the response of a neuron (action potentials) to a sensory stimulus (in vivo) or an injected current (in vitro).

2) Perceptual systems: We are developing neural models in which selective synchronization of spikes produced by neurons reflects the detection of a structure in the sensory flow. These models are then tested by their ability to perform complex tasks in ecological environments and by in vivo electrophysiological and psychophysical experiments.

3) Simulation technology: We are developing an open source neural network simulator, Brian (, which has been designed to allow quick development of new models with little constraint on model type.

Research areas

  • Neural excitability (adaptation and plasticity) and the spatial aspect of spike initiation (initiation in the axon).

  • Neural basis of perception, in particular the perception of space, in ecological environments.

  • Technology for fast simulation on parallel platforms and electrophysiological recording.






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