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Python Scripting in the Nengo Simulator

By Terrence C. Stewart, Bryan Tripp and Chris Eliasmith


Nengo ( is an open-source neural simulator that has been greatly enhanced by the recent addition of a Python script interface. Nengo provides a wide range of features that are useful for physiological simulations, including unique features that facilitate development of population-coding models using the neural engineering framework (NEF). This framework uses information theory, signal processing, and control theory to formalize the development of large-scale neural circuit models. Notably, it can also be used to determine the synaptic weights that underlie observed network dynamics and transformations of represented variables. Nengo provides rich NEF support, and includes customizable models of spike generation, muscle dynamics, synaptic plasticity, and synaptic integration, as well as an intuitive graphical user interface. All aspects of Nengo models are accessible via the Python interface, allowing for programmatic creation of models, inspection and modification of neural parameters, and automation of model evaluation. Since Nengo combines Python and Java, it can also be integrated with any existing Java or 100% Python code libraries. Current work includes connecting neural models in Nengo with existing symbolic cognitive models, creating hybrid systems that combine detailed neural models of specific brain regions with higher-level models of remaining brain areas. Such hybrid models can provide (1) more realistic boundary conditions for the neural components, and (2) more realistic sub-components for the larger cognitive models

Topics: Neuroscience
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central

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