Doktorandenworkshop des Instituts für Informatik der Freien Universität Berlin ; 
006 Spezielle Methoden der Informatik
Neuroscientists use computer simulations of neural systems in their efforts to
understand processes that underlie neural function. As experimental data in-
crease, it becomes clear that detailed physiological data alone are not enough
to infer how neural circuits work. Experimentalists appear to be recogniz-
ing the need for a quantitative approach to the exploration of the functional
consequences of particular neural features, which is provided by modelling.
The number of computer simulation programs is designed as a tool for de-
velopment and simulation of realistic models of single neurons and neural
The present available packages for modelling of biological neural networks
are often dedicated Unix-based simulation packages, which require rather
large computational power from workstations, typically Unix systems. The
widely distributed packages, as Genesis  and Neuron , have their own
interpreted scripting language, in which users define components and run-
ning parameters for their simulations. In the hands of experienced users
with access to a compatible computer system, these modelling packages are
powerful research tools. However, they do suffer several drawbacks for non-
expert users: they don't provide a Graphical User Interface (GUI) or have a
very simple one, and as a result of it they can't visually represent the simula-
tion process. Also, the formal structure of the language is difficult and time
consuming to learn; at least initial knowledge and skills about Unix system
are necessary for users.
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