The Brian software is a simulator of biological spiking neural networks, designed to facilitate the development of new models. Since its conception in 2007, it has evolved to become, with version Brian 2, a ‘flagship’ software package in neurobiology.
Brian, an innovative neural network simulator
Computational neuroscience research relies on special software to simulate brain function accurately and quickly. However, most of this software is limited in that it only allows the use of predefined models, thus restricting the research questions. In contrast, the Brian simulator takes an innovative approach by expressing models using mathematical equations and physical units, allowing easy extension to interact with external code. This offers greater flexibility, allowing researchers to explore a variety of models without sacrificing the simulator’s ease of use, accuracy and reliability. By adopting this approach, the Brian simulator was one of the first to use code generation in computational neuroscience, a method that is now widely adopted.
The software has been used by international teams to conduct hundreds of scientific studies, ranging from fundamental research into brain dynamics, plasticity and memory to biomedical studies into the mechanisms underlying brain disorders. Its use extends beyond the scientific community to include teaching, across a broad spectrum of applications.
The software is being developed by Romain Brette, Inserm research director at ISIR, and Marcel Stimberg, research engineer at ISIR, in collaboration with Dan Goodman, Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London. The first phase of development began at the “École Normale Supérieure”, before moving on to the “Institut de la Vision” at Sorbonne University and now at ISIR.
Brian software honoured for its contribution to neuroscience
The Brian software package has been named winner in the “Documentation” category at the second Open Science Awards for Free Software in Research, presented by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. This recognition acknowledges the efforts of the development team.
The Open Science Awards for Open Source Software in Research recognise eight software applications developed by French teams, highlighting their contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge and underlining the promising nature of their work.
The winners were presented with a trophy designed by Alix Nadeau, Rose Vidal, Hugo Bijaoui and Lorris Sahli, students at the Ecole des arts décoratifs in Paris, inspired by the values of sharing and the common good of open science. Each trophy has a unique shape, generated by software code under an open licence based on the description of the winning project.
Link to the Brian software website
Referent contacts at ISIR: Romain Brette, Inserm Research Director and Marcel Stimberg, Research Engineer