NACS 643
Computational Neuroscience

Spring 2009
Updated 2/8/2009

Course Information

Lecture M & W 1:00 - 2:50, EGR 3111
Lab Room (as needed) EGR 0309
Text Peter Dayan & L.F. Abbott, Theoretical Neuroscience: Computational and Mathematical Modeling of Neural Systems, MIT Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0262541855.
Web Site
Testudo Info NACS 643

Other class pages


Instructor Info

Jonathan Z. Simon
ECE Office AVW 2209
ECE Phone 301-405-3645
Bio Office BPS 3227
Bio Phone 301-405-6812

Office Hours

  Day Time Location
  Tue 10 - 12 BPS 3227

Course Outline

Topic Chapters
Neural encoding 1, 2
Neural decoding 3
Information theory 4
Modeling: Individual Neurons 5, 6
Modeling: Neural Networks 7
Plasticity and learning 8


Midterm Exam: I reserve the right to give a second midterm exam, pending how well the first one goes.

There will be a final project in lieu of a final exam. Final project presentations will be given over two sessions:

Using MATLAB around UMCP

There are many computers around campus with Matlab installed, including the room we use as a lab, Martin Hall (Engineering) Rm 0309 (lab 23). The campus OIT web system can tell you which open labs have Matlab here. (For the purposes of this course, it should not matter which version of Matlab is installed.) In the past, some of the better equipped labs have been Parking Garage II Rm 0504 (lab 37), Computer and Space Sciences Building Rm 3330 (lab 32), Computer and Space Sciences Building Rm 3332 (lab 33), Martin Hall (Engineering) Rm 0309 (lab 23), and 0312 (lab 25) .

Using MATLAB in your lab and at home

Ideally, you should convince your research advisor to install Matlab on at least one computer in your lab.  :) 

Additionally, if you want to buy the (fully functional) student version of Matlab, it is $99 at most academic bookstores (though for some reason it's $109 in the campus bookstore), and as of 2007, this price includes several of the most useful toolboxes, including the Signal Processing, Statistics, and Image Processing toolboxes. These prices are very inexpensive compared to the full-priced version.

But, convincing your advisor to get it for your lab is really the best way to get full-time access.

Academic Honesty

It is in everyone's best interest that these policies be clear and explicit.

Discussing homework problems and other ideas with others is encouraged; but your final write-up must be your own work and cannot be a copy of anyone else's work.

Academic dishonesty, in this class, includes copying homework, lab, or exam answers from any other student's work, from solution sets, from any book, from the internet, etc..

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. The University Code of Academic Integrity, which can be found at, prohibits students from committing the following acts of academic dishonesty: cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, and plagiarism.

Instances of academic dishonesty are referred to the Office of Judicial Programs.

Code of Academic Integrity

The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit
To further exhibit your commitment to academic integrity, remember to sign the Honor Pledge on all examinations and assignments: “I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (assignment).”

Course Evaluations

Course evaluations are now conducted exclusively online. As the semester ends (tentatively April 28, 2009), you will be asked to fill out a course evaluation, which is located here:

Other Interesting Sites

Matlab Help Desk

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional