Electrical and Computer Engineering 796:
Models of the Neuron
(Winter 2007)


To provide a solid conceptual and quantitative background in the modeling of biological neurons and how they function as computational devices. Practical experience will be gained in modeling neurons from a number of perspectives, including equivalent electrical circuits, nonlinear dynamical systems, and random processes, and an introduction to the mathematics required to understand and implement these different engineering methodologies will be given.


Dr. Ian Bruce,
ITB-A213, ext. 26984.



Neural model simulation software:


A basic undergraduate understanding of electrical circuits, linear systems, ordinary and partial differential equations, probability and random processes, and the ability to program in Matlab.

Course Outline: (subject to change)

Introduction to Biological Neurons and Neural Computation (1 Lecture)

Simple Deterministic Models of Neural Excitation (2 Lectures)

Stochastic Models of Neural Activity (2 Lectures)

Nonlinear Dynamical Models of Neural Excitation (3 Lectures)

Models of Ion Channel Gating (2 Lectures)


Assignments (3 × 20% = 60%); Project (40%).




There will be one 2.5-hour lecture per week over ten weeks at 10:00am–12:30pm on Fridays in ITB-A311.

Slides for:

Lecture #1 (Friday, January 12); Lecture #2 (Friday, January 19)
Lecture #3 (Friday, January 26) - no new slides; Lecture #4 (Friday, February 2)
Lecture #5 (Friday, February 9); Lecture #6 (Friday, March 2) - no new slides
Lecture #7 (Friday, March 9); Lecture #8 (Friday, March 16)
Lecture #9 (Friday, March 23); Organizational Meeting #2 (Friday, March 30)
Lecture #10 (Friday, April 13)

Assignment #3:

Useful Matlab file: quiver_scaled.m

Policy Reminders

"The Faculty of Engineering is concerned with ensuring an environment that is free of all adverse discrimination. If there is a problem, that cannot be resolved by discussion among the persons concerned, individuals are reminded they should contact the Departmental Chair, the Sexual Harassment Officer or the Human Rights Consultant, as soon as possible."

"Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: 'Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty'), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, specifically Appendix 3, located at http://www.mcmaster.ca/senate/academic/ac_integrity.htm

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
2. Improper collaboration in group work.
3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations."

Last updated Friday, March 30, 2007