Wulfram Gerstner

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Wulfram Gerstner
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AwardsValentino Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience 2018
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Tübingen
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Academic work
Sub-disciplineComputational neuroscience
InstitutionsÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Main interestsDynamic models neural activity

Spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP)
Neuronal coding
Hippocampal models

Spatial representation

Wulfram Gerstner is a German Computational neuroscience|computational neuroscientist. His research focuses on neural spiking patterns, and its connection to learning, spatial representation and navigation. Since 2006 Gerstner has been a Full Professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he also serves as a Director of the Laboratory of Computational Neuroscience.[1]


Gerstner studied physics at the University of Tübingen and at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. In 1989, he received his Master's degree with a thesis in experimental quantum optics. He then joined the theoretical biophysics group of William Bialek at University of California, Berkeley as a visiting researcher. He received his Doctor of Philosophy|PhD in theoretical physics from the Technical University of Munich in 1993 under supervision from Leo van Hemmen. He did postdoctoral work at Brandeis University and at Technical University of Munich, where he worked in Computational neuroscience|theoretical neuroscience.[2]

In 1996 he was nominated first as Assistant professor|Assistant Professor and in February 2001 he was promoted as an Associate professor|Associate Professor with tenure at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne|EPFL. In August 2006 Gerstner was appointed Professor|Full Professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne|EPFL in both the School of Computer and Communication Sciences and the School of Life Sciences.[1][3]


Gerstner's research is focused on dynamic models of spiking neurons, spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), neuronal coding in single Neuron|neurons and neuron populations.[4] He also investigates models of the hippocampus and their application in the spatial representation for navigation of rat-like autonomous agents.[5][6]

He is also one of the initiators and developers of The Deep Artificial Composer (DAC), a deep-learning algorithm that can generate melodies by imitating a given style of music.[7][8][9][10]

Publications (most cited)

  • Gerstner, W. and Kistler, W.M., 2002. Spiking neuron models: Single neurons, populations, plasticity. Cambridge university press.[11]
  • Gerstner, W., Kempter, R., Van Hemmen, J.L. and Wagner, H., 1996. A neuronal learning rule for sub-millisecond temporal coding. Nature, 383(6595), pp.76
  • Brette, R. and Gerstner, W., 2005. Adaptive exponential integrate-and-fire model as an effective description of neuronal activity. Journal of neurophysiology, 94(5), pp.3637-3642.[12]
  • Millan, J.R., Renkens, F., Mourino, J. and Gerstner, W., 2004. Noninvasive brain-actuated control of a mobile robot by human EEG. IEEE Transactions on biomedical Engineering, 51(6), pp.1026-1033.
  • Gerstner, W., Kistler, W.M., Naud, R. and Paninski, L., 2014. Neuronal dynamics: From single neurons to networks and models of cognition. Cambridge University Press.[13]


Gerstner has been an editorial board member of journals such as The Journal of Neuroscience, Network: Computation in Neural Systems, Journal of Computational Neuroscience, and Science (journal)|Science.[14][1]

He is the recipient of the Valentino Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience 2018[15] and in 2010 he was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant by the European Research Council.[16] Gerstner is an elected member of the Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur|Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Wulfram Gerstner". people.epfl.ch. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  2. Wimbauer, S; Gerstner, W; van Hemmen, J L (1998-02-24). "Analysis of a correlation-based model for the development of orientation-selective receptive fields in the visual cortex". Network: Computation in Neural Systems. 9 (4): 449–466. doi:10.1088/0954-898X_9_4_004. ISSN 0954-898X. PMID 10221574.
  3. "Wulfram Gerstner CV". lcnwww.epfl.ch. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  4. Jimenez Rezende, Danilo; Gerstner, Wulfram (2014-04-04). "Stochastic variational learning in recurrent spiking networks". Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. 8: 38. doi:10.3389/fncom.2014.00038. ISSN 1662-5188. PMC 3983494. PMID 24772078.
  5. Hennequin, Guillaume; Vogels, Tim P.; Gerstner, Wulfram (2014-06-18). "Optimal Control of Transient Dynamics in Balanced Networks Supports Generation of Complex Movements". Neuron. 82 (6): 1394–1406. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2014.04.045. ISSN 0896-6273. PMC 6364799. PMID 24945778.
  6. Sheynikhovich, Denis; Chavarriaga, Ricardo; Strösslin, Thomas; Arleo, Angelo; Gerstner, Wulfram (2009-07-01). "Is there a geometric module for spatial orientation? Insights from a rodent navigation model" (PDF). Psychological Review. 116 (3): 540–566. doi:10.1037/a0016170. ISSN 1939-1471. PMID 19618986.
  7. "From Mozart to Botzart: when machines write our music". phys.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  8. "Ein Algorithmus macht Musik - Wer hat's komponiert? Maschine oder Mensch?". Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) (in Deutsch). 2017-07-25. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  9. "Ein Algorithmus lernt zu komponieren". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2020-09-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "Quand les algorithmes donnent le tempo". Le Temps (in français). 2017-08-25. ISSN 1423-3967. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  11. Gerstner, Wulfram. (2002). Spiking neuron models : single neurons, populations, plasticity. Kistler, Werner M., 1969-. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-511-07817-X. OCLC 57417395.
  12. Brette, Romain; Gerstner, Wulfram (2005-11-01). "Adaptive Exponential Integrate-and-Fire Model as an Effective Description of Neuronal Activity" (PDF). Journal of Neurophysiology. 94 (5): 3637–3642. doi:10.1152/jn.00686.2005. ISSN 0022-3077. PMID 16014787.
  13. Gerstner, Wulfram. (24 July 2014). Neuronal dynamics : from single neurons to networks and models of cognition. Kistler, Werner M., 1969-, Naud, Richard., Paninski, Liam. Cambridge, United Kingdom. ISBN 978-1-107-06083-8. OCLC 861774542.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  14. "Science Magazine Masterhead" (PDF). 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2020-09-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. "Wulfram Gerstner receives Valentino Braitenberg Award 2018 — Bernstein Netzwerk Computational Neuroscience". www.bernstein-network.de. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  16. "ERC Advanced Grant 2010" (PDF). 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2020-09-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. "Prof. Dr. Wulfram Gerstner : Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur | Mainz". www.adwmainz.de. Retrieved 2020-09-04.

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