Neural Computation 2013-2014
Neural Computation (NC) is a 10 point MSc course of 18 lectures in
the first semester.
(Other students can attend after agreement).
Lectures are Tuesday and Friday: 12.10-13.00, Tuesday and Friday in
LT5 7BSQ. We start on time!
The first lecture will be in week 2
on September 24th 2013.
In this course we study the computations carried out by the nervous
system. Unlike other courses and artificial neural networks, we take
a bottom-up approach. This means that we incorporate data from
neurobiology, simulate certain aspects of it, and try to formulate
theories about the brain.
For whom is this course?
This course will appeal to students who are interested in the basic
principles and 'biological hardware' implementations of the
in human and animals brains.
For whom is it not?
The topics discussed in the course have inspired software solutions
to real-life problems, however, we shall hardly
discuss those. The course has little practical applicability outside
models, small networks, neural codes, models of learning and
Lecture notes part1
, and part2
Office hours: make an appointment or catch me after the lecture.
No prior biology/neuroscience knowledge is required. I use a small
subset of not very advanced math in the lectures. Keywords: linear differential equations, eigenvectors, Fourier transformations, fixed points.
FMCS lecture notes
can be used as a refresher.
Alternatively, use Google to refresh forgotten maths if needed. If
you are still stuck, use the practicals or office hours to resolve
In the tutorials we use MatLab and NEURON (a special purpose
simulator). No prior experience with either is required, however
MatLab skills are valuable for many courses.
More information on Matlab and how
to make graphs and write reports.
The course will be fully assessed by two reports of practical
assignments which will appear here. The two marks are averaged.
Standard late policies will apply. Also see How to make graphs and write reports.
Assignment 1 Deadline: 25 Oct
, NMDA module
Note to answers assignment 1
Assignment 2 Deadline: 29 Nov 4pm
Preferably hand-in hardcopy at ITO, otherwise email to
Practicals are every week, starting week 3. noon-1pm, location
AT5.08 . No practicals in the first two weeks. Tutors are Scott Lowe
and Mark van Rossum. You can use the practicals to work on the
exercises below, and ask questions about the lectures. Attendance is
Week 2; week of Sep 23
Tuesday lecture: 1. Introduction and Chapter 1: Anatomy
Friday lecture: 2. Chapter 2: Passive properties.
Week 3; week of Sep 30
Tuesday lecture: 3. Chapter 3: Hodgkin-Huxley
Friday lecture: 4. Chapter 3: Hodgkin-Huxley
Practical: 1. The NEURON simulator: Passive
Week 4; week of Oct 7
Tuesday lecture: 5. Chapter 3: Synapses
Friday lecture: 6. Chapter 4: Synapses
Practical: 2. The NEURON simulator:
Week 5; week of Oct 14
Tuesday lecture: 7. Chapter 5: Integrate and Fire
Friday lecture: 8. Chapter 6: Firing statistics
Practical: 3. NEURON: Interactions
of synapses on dendrites
Week 6; week of Oct 21
Tuesday lecture: 9. Chapter 7: Retina and V1
Friday lecture: Spill-over
Practical: 4. Matlab: AMPA receptor simulation.
Script (will appear later): ampa.m
Week 7; week of Oct 28
Tuesday lecture: 10 Chapter 7: Retina and V1
Friday lecture: 11 Chapter 8: Coding
Practical: 5. Matlab: An Integrate and fire
neuron Script: mvr_if_matlab.m
Week 8; week of Nov 4
Tuesday lecture: 12. Chapter 9: Higher visual processing
Friday lecture: 13. Chapter 10: Networks
Practical: Question 7 and 8 of 6. Simple
and complex cells Dayan and Abbott chapter: encode2.pdf
Week 9; week of Nov 11
Tuesday lecture: 14. Chapter 11+12: Decisions
Friday lecture: 15. Chapter 13: Hebbian Learning
Practical: 6. Matlab: Ben-Yishai network
Week 10; week of Nov 18
Tuesday lecture: 16. Chapter 13: Hebbian Learning
Friday lecture: 17. Chapter 13: Hebbian Learning
Week 11; week of Nov 25
Tuesday lecture: 18. spill-over
Practical: 8. Matlab: Hebbian learning
with constraints Script (will appear later): hebb.m
Additional material (discussed in the lectures):
Movies of LGN and V1 recordings (play with mplayer under linux):
Recurrent 6-node network with chaotic behavior bifur6.m