About Us

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The Neural Simulation Technology (NEST) Initiative was founded in 2001 with the goal to collaborate in the development of simulation methods for biologically realistic neuronal networks. On October 4th 2012, the NEST Initiative re-constituted itself as a non-profit organization under Swiss federal law (Verein) with seat in Ecublens, VD.

The main goals of the collaboration are:

  1. Development of new simulation methods and algorithms.
  2. Development of new analysis and visualization tools.
  3. Collection of information and resources related to neural simulations.

These goals are expressed in the joint development of a simulation system for biologically realistic neuronal networks. It is an explicit goal of the NEST Initiative to share its results with the scientific community. This includes

  • publication of results in appropriate scientific journals, and
  • releases of simulation tools to the scientific community (for non-commercial use).

The collaboration is based on the idea of mutual benefit, with each collaborating party having the same rights (and duties) with respect to the other parties of the collaboration.

What we do

The NEST Simulator

The NEST initiative develops the NEST Simulator and releases it to the scientific community under the General Public License, version 2 or later (GPLv2+).

NEST 2.0 is available for download free of charge. To find out if NEST is suitable for your research needs, please see the list of features.

General neuronal network modeling methodology

The NEST initiative promotes the development of methods for simulation studies of neuronal networks. We are pleased to announce the publication of

Nordlie E, Gewaltig M-O, Plesser HE (2009). Towards reproducible descriptions of neuronal network models. PLoS Comput Biol 5(8):e1000456.

The NEST initiative would like to encourage scientists in the field to follow the Good model description practice suggested in this paper, and to adopt the Model Description Tables proposed in it. You may download the LaTeX source code for one of the tables here.

Nordlie E, Plesser HE (2009). Visualizing neuronal network connectivity with connectivity pattern tables. Front Neuroinform 3:39.

The ConnPlotter package, which generates connectivity pattern tables from NEST Topology network specifications is part of the official release since NEST 2.0.

Simulation Technology

The NEST initiative investigates and develops new simulation technologies meeting the demands of modern neuroscience. In particular, we are actively involved in the development of efficient parallelization methods and integration techniques, as e.g. the efficient incorporation of precise spike times in globally time-driven simulations (see Hanuschkin A, Kunkel S, Helias M, Morrison A and Diesmann M (2010) A general and efficient method for incorporating precise spike times in globally time-driven simulations, Front. Neuroinform. 4:113, doi:10.3389/fninf.2010.00113. We have assembled a list regarding simulations with precise spike times that contains questions and answers about the usefulness and limits of simulations with precise spike events, the role of the precision of solvers for recurrent neuronal network dynamics and the consequences for event-driven and time-driven simulations.

Our Statutes

The legally binding version of the statutes of the NEST Initiative are written in German (German being one of the official languages of Switzerland). We also provide an informal English translation.

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