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Computational Neuroscience

Rajesh P. N. Rao Adrienne Fairhall University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Our 3-pound universe

Understanding the Brain using Computational Models


F Descriptive Models of the Brain

How do neurons respond to external stimuli and how do we describe this quantitatively with a neural encoding model? How can we extract information from neurons (decoding)?
F Mechanistic Models of Brain Cells and Networks

How can we simulate the behavior of a single neuron on a computer? How do we simulate a network of neurons?
F Interpretive (or Normative) Models of the Brain

Why do brain circuits operate the way they do? What are the computational principles underlying their operation?
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Course Information and Logistics


F Course length: 8 weeks F Each week

1 Video lecture (about one hour long split into ~10 min chunks) 1 Homework Quiz
F Lectures and homeworks will be released on Fridays F Homeworks will be due 2nd Monday from release date

2 weekends to work on a homework


F Complete syllabus and schedule: Browse course web page

Recommended Textbooks
F Theoretical Neuroscience: Computational

and Mathematical Modeling of Neural Systems by P. Dayan & L. Abbott

F Tutorial on Neural Systems Modelling by

T. Anastasio

Homeworks and Grading


F Course grade will be based on 6 weekly homeworks

F Mostly multiple-choice questions, some based on result of

programming in Matlab or Octave


F Up to 3 submissions allowed for a homework

Maximum score out of these 3 will be used for course grade

F No Exams!
F Certificate of completion if total course grade > 60%

Matlab, Octave, and Programming


F Some homework questions will be based on results you get

after programming in Matlab


F No Matlab? No worries!

Use Octave: Similar to Matlab but free! Compatible with most Matlab programs Download Octave from: http://www.gnu.org/software/octave/
F No programming experience? No problem learn as part of

this course!
Matlab tutorials on course website 1st homework: Matlab practice homework (submission optional)
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Course Goals: What you can expect to learn


F At the end of the course, you will be able to:

1. Quantitatively describe what a biological neuron or network of neurons is doing given experimental data
2. Simulate on a computer the behavior of neurons and networks 3. Formulate computational principles underlying the operation of neurons and networks in the brain

Computational Neuroscience

Lets begin!

Rajesh P. N. Rao Adrienne Fairhall University of Washington, Seattle, USA

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