Research Topics

Computational Neuroscience

Neural Networks Modeling
A classic simple mathematic model
of a neural network

Understanding how the brain functions, perceives, enables action, and gives rise to conscious awareness is only possible through an in-depth understanding of the workings of single nerve cells and their interaction. The human brain is perhaps the most complex and extraordinary organ in existence, containing over one hundred billion nerve cells. Every single neuron has the processing power of a small computer, receiving input from thousands of other neurons and calculating which information to pass on. Neurons communicate with each other in neural networks to make us see, think, remember, smell and emote. Every action, from the simple act of biting into a fresh apple, to the more complex process of planning today's dinner, involves many tens of thousands of neurons in different neural networks.

The field of computational neuroscience combines theoretical physics, advanced mathematics and state-of-the art computer technology to create powerful models of working neural networks, which help scientists to understand how the brain accomplishes feats such as storing memories, processing sensory impressions and enabling conscious awareness.  Scientists at the Hebrew University have played a pioneering role in this cutting edge field from its outset, and continue to make remarkable advances. One recent model helps explain how networks of auditory neurons can efficiently decode human speech under conditions of varying speed. This research may lead to improvements in speech recognition technology, as well as create innovative treatments for a variety of hearing related problems.  Other research has focused on cognitive behavior, explaining why and how neural networks can make us prefer certain choices over others, and can be applied to areas as diverse as economic theory or the psychology of addiction.

rat’s cortical column
ELSC researchers developing simulation of the rat’s cortical column, which is the smallest functional unit of the neocortex in all mammals.

Computational neuroscience enables scientists to ask better questions and to reach further insights into the workings of the human brain.  Its ultimate goal is the discovery of the fundamental theory of mind, to discover the basic laws which govern the actions of neurons, neural networks and entire brains.  Uncovering these laws will enable us to repair damaged brains, to build new artificial kinds of intelligence, and ultimately will provide a fascinating window into how the operation of neuronal networks gives rise to  conscious, thinking being.

Computational Neuroscience News

Prof. Idan Segev.
Segev conducts research at university's Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC)
Idan Segev
HUJI neuroscientist Prof. Idan Segev says the breakthrough in brain science will be as momentous as the Industrial Revolution.
Prof. Segev
"Scientists are trying to create artificial life, but we have not yet managed to cross the border between material that is not alive, and life."
green eye
A new study, carried out by researchers from the Hebrew University and from Harvard University, suggests that the human brain includes a built-in stabilizing mechanism as in some cameras.