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Curso del Programa Maldacena


Instituto Balseiro opens the registration to the course Evolution of Neural Computation, between 6th and 17th February 2017. Lectures will be held between 9 and 11 am during week days, except for the first lesson on February 6th, which is scheduled for the afternoon.The course is directed to

  • students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program related to exact, natural, medical or psychological sciences, or
  • professionals with a degree in such disciplines.


Attendance is free of charge, but participants must register here.

The course is in English, so fluency in English is required for attendance.

Alessandro Treves is the coordinator of the Neuroscience department in S.I.S.S.A. There, he directs the lab Liminar Investigations of Memory and Brain Organization (LIMBO). He is also affiliated to the Center for Neural Computation in Trondheim, Norway. As one of the leading experts in computational neuroscience, he has developed the foundations of the disciplines that study the mechanisms of memory storage and retrieval, symbolic computation, language and spatial navigation.


Aims of the course:

The lectures will describe computations that can be performed by artificial and by natural neural networks, how they may be implemented in different parts of the brain, and how they are thought to have evolved over the last 300 million years. The aim is to provide an understanding of distinct types of neural computation, also in relation to the most fascinating problem of how the human mind may have emerged in evolution.

Lectures include the following topics:

Chemical computation – neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.

Simple models of reinforcement learning.

Elements of information theory.

Geometric computation – early vision in flies, in fish and in mammals.

Creative geometry in the basal ganglia and in the cerebellum.

Perceptrons and back-propagation.

Cortical ingredients for models of associative learning.

Simple associative nets – paleocortex and olfaction; amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex.

Memory from geometry to combinatorics – self-organization of cortical maps.

Lamination and arealization in sensory cortex.

Pure memory in the mammalian hippocampus – its internal differentiation.

The discovery of grid cells. Nobel prize 2014.

Random number generators in the Dentate Gyrus, and neurogenesis.

Analysis of charts and their transitions.

Memory from statics to dynamics, from semantics to grammar.

Issues at the interface to higher cognition.


Bibliography: Neural Networks and Brain Function, Edmund T. Rolls and Alessandro Treves, Oxford UP, 1998.


Download the Slides and Papers of the course.

The course lasts for 20 hours, and includes a brief final examination on the last day.


For questions or enquiries please write to

The course is sponsored by the Programa Maldacena of Instituto Balseiro .