Computational Neuroscience

Definition of Computational Neuroscience

Computational neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that combines principles from computer science, mathematics, physics, and neurobiology to model and understand the complex functions of the nervous system. It seeks to create computational models that can simulate the brain’s processes, structures, and mechanisms. These models aid in furthering our understanding of the neural basis for various cognitive and behavioral functions and can contribute to the development of better artificial intelligence systems.


The phonetics of the keyword “Computational Neuroscience” is:/kəmˌpyo͞otəˈSHənəl ˌn(y)o͝orəˈsīəns/

Key Takeaways

  1. Computational Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that integrates theoretical methods, models, and computational tools to understand the structure, function, and processes of the nervous system at various scales
  2. It enables researchers to address complex and challenging questions in neuroscience by mathematically describing neural phenomena, simulating brain functions, and validating experimental data through computational models
  3. Computational Neuroscience plays a crucial role in the development of brain-computer interfaces, understanding neural disorders, and advancing artificial intelligence by emulating learning processes and cognitive functions observed in the nervous system

Importance of Computational Neuroscience

Computational Neuroscience is a crucial interdisciplinary field that combines principles from computer science, mathematics, psychology, and neurobiology to develop theoretical frameworks and computational models to better understand the complexities of the nervous system and brain functions.

The importance of this field lies in its ability to drive advancements in the understanding of neural mechanisms, information processing, and cognitive processes.

These insights enable researchers to innovate in areas such as artificial intelligence, neural prosthetics, neurological disorder treatments, and brain-computer interfaces.

Ultimately, Computational Neuroscience serves as a vital tool to unlock the mysteries of the human brain, improve human life, and propel technology to new heights.


Computational neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that combines principles from computer science, neuroscience, and mathematics to better understand the complex workings of the brain. One of the primary purposes of this field is to create advanced computational models that can analyze and interpret the vast amounts of data generated by neuroscientific research.

By doing so, researchers seek to uncover the underlying principles governing how neural networks communicate, enable learning, and produce behaviors. These insights can inform existing theories of brain function and contribute to the development of novel therapies for neurological disorders.

Beyond its applications in diagnosing and treating brain-related illnesses, computational neuroscience has also facilitated the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. By investigating how the brain processes information, researchers can derive inspiration for innovative AI algorithms that emulate human-like cognitive abilities.

These algorithms can then be translated into practical applications, such as intelligent systems capable of self-driven learning or problem-solving. Consequently, computational neuroscience not only helps to unravel the mysteries of the human brain but also plays a crucial role in the development of new technologies that augment our capabilities and improve our quality of life.

Examples of Computational Neuroscience

Computational neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that uses mathematical models, computer simulations, and experimental data to investigate how the nervous system processes information. Here are three real-world examples of computational neuroscience applications:

Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs): BCIs enable direct communication between a brain and an external device, allowing individuals with paralysis or other motor disabilities to control prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, or computers using their neural signals. For example, BCIs use computational neuroscience to decode the brain activity of people with spinal cord injuries, enabling them to perform tasks like moving a cursor on a screen or controlling a robotic arm just by thinking.

Neural Prosthetics: In this application, computational neuroscience is essential to develop and improve devices that can replace or enhance lost neural functionality. For instance, cochlear implants, which partially restore hearing in people who are deaf or severely hard of hearing, rely on algorithms to convert sounds into electrical stimuli that can be interpreted by the auditory nerve. Similarly, retinal implants aim to help people with retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration by stimulating the remaining retinal cells with electrical signals in order to create a visual perception.

Understanding and treating neurological disorders: Computational neuroscience contributes to our understanding of how brain abnormalities cause various neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and autism. By modeling neural activity, researchers can explore how brain networks function during both healthy and diseased states. This can lead to the development of new therapies, such as deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease, which involves implanting an electrode in specific brain regions to modulate neural activity and alleviate symptoms.

FAQ – Computational Neuroscience

What is computational neuroscience?

Computational neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that combines principles of computer science, mathematics, physics, and engineering to study the structure and function of the brain. It involves the development of computational models and simulations to better understand neural processes, including neural coding, learning, and information processing.

Why is computational neuroscience important?

Computational neuroscience is essential for improving our understanding of the brain, leading to new insights in neurobiology and cognitive science. The field also has applications in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and neuroprosthetics, as well as potential for developing novel treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

What are some common techniques used in computational neuroscience?

Some common techniques in computational neuroscience include mathematical modeling, computer simulations, data analysis, network analysis, and machine learning. These techniques help researchers explore the mechanisms behind neural firing patterns, synaptic connectivity, neural network dynamics, and overall brain function.

How does computational neuroscience differ from traditional neuroscience?

Traditional neuroscience primarily focuses on experimental approaches, such as electrophysiology and molecular biology, to study the brain. Computational neuroscience, on the other hand, emphasizes mathematical and computational methods to understand the principles underlying brain function. The two fields are complementary, with computational techniques often being used to analyze experimental data and generate testable hypotheses for further experimental work.

What are some career prospects in computational neuroscience?

Career opportunities for computational neuroscientists can be found in academia, industry, and government. Positions include research scientists, faculty positions, data analysts, software developers, and consultants. Computational neuroscience can also serve as a foundation for careers in related fields, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science.

Related Technology Terms

  • Artificial Neural Networks
  • Neural Encoding
  • Brain-Computer Interface
  • Neural Plasticity
  • Connectionism

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents