From 2 November 2020, the autumn semester 2020 will take place online. Exceptions: Courses that can only be carried out with on-site presence. Please note the information provided by the lecturers via e-mail.

227-1038-00L  Neurophysics

SemesterSpring Semester 2016
LecturersJ.‑P. Pfister, R. Hahnloser
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish

Catalogue data

AbstractThe focus of this course is on statistical approaches in neuroscience. The emphasis of this course is on both the mathematical methods as well as their applications to the modelling and analysis of electrophysiological recordings.

This course is taught by Prof. Jean-Pascal Pfister (2 lectures will be given by Prof. Richard Hahnloser)
ObjectiveThis class is an introduction to computational neuroscience research for students with a strong background in quantitative sciences such as physics, mathematics, and engineering sciences. Students who take this course learn about mathematical methods that are widely applied in neuroscience. In particular, they will learn about graphical models, dynamical systems, stochastic dynamical systems as well as probabilistic filtering. Those methods will be applied in the context of single neuronal dynamics, synaptic plasticity, neural network dynamics. Part of the exercices will be performed in Matlab (Mathworks Inc.).
Content1. Introduction to dynamical systems
a. single neuron models (Fitzug-Nagumo model)
b. synaptic plasticity (Hebbian learning, Oja's rule, BCM learning rule)

2. Graphical models
a. Bayesian inference, cue combination tasks
b. parameter learning (Expectation-Maximisation algorithm)

3. Stochastic dynamical systems (Fokker-Planck equation)

4. Probabilistic filtering
a. Kushner equation
b. Kalman-Bucy filter
c. particle filter

5. Point emission processes (spiking neurons)
a. Spiking network dynamics (Generalised Linear Model - GLM)
b. Learning with the Generalised Linear Model, link to Spike-Timing dependent plasticity
c. Reward-based learning
Lecture notesOriginal research articles will be distributed. Specific pointers to textbooks will be provided.
LiteratureGerstner et al. (2014). Neuronal Dynamics - From single neurons to networks and models of Cognition
Barber (2012). Bayesian Reasoning and Machine Learning
Rieke et al. (1999) Spikes: Exploring the neural code
Bain, A., & Crisan, D. (2009). Fundamentals of stochastic filtering (Vol. 3).
Prerequisites / NoticeKnowledge of standard methods in analysis, algebra and probability theory are highly desirable but not necessary. Students should have programming experience.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits6 credits
ExaminersJ.-P. Pfister, R. Hahnloser
Typesession examination
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionThe performance assessment is offered every session. Repetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Mode of examinationoral 30 minutes
Additional information on mode of examinationSome visible efforts have to be made to solve the weekly defined tasks. In addition, homework must be orally presented during the exercise sessions. Teamwork is encouraged.
This information can be updated until the beginning of the semester; information on the examination timetable is binding.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.


227-1038-00 VNeurophysics2 hrs
Mon13-15HCP E 47.2 »
J.‑P. Pfister, R. Hahnloser
227-1038-00 UNeurophysics1 hrs
Mon15-16HCP E 47.2 »
J.‑P. Pfister, R. Hahnloser


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Biology MasterElective Compulsory Master CoursesWInformation
Biomedical Engineering MasterTrack Core CoursesWInformation
Health Sciences and Technology MasterElective Courses IIWInformation
Neural Systems and Computation MasterTheoretical NeurosciencesWInformation
Physics MasterSelection: Neuroinformatics /INIWInformation