Peter Dayan

Peter Dayan is Professor and Director of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London.

  • Theoretical Neuroscience

    Theoretical Neuroscience

    Computational and Mathematical Modeling of Neural Systems

    Laurence F. Abbott and Peter Dayan

    Theoretical neuroscience provides a quantitative basis for describing what nervous systems do, determining how they function, and uncovering the general principles by which they operate. This text introduces the basic mathematical and computational methods of theoretical neuroscience and presents applications in a variety of areas including vision, sensory-motor integration, development, learning, and memory.

    The book is divided into three parts. Part I discusses the relationship between sensory stimuli and neural responses, focusing on the representation of information by the spiking activity of neurons. Part II discusses the modeling of neurons and neural circuits on the basis of cellular and synaptic biophysics. Part III analyzes the role of plasticity in development and learning. An appendix covers the mathematical methods used, and exercises are available on the book's Web site.

    • Hardcover $55.00 £45.00
    • Paperback $55.00 £45.00


  • Better Than Conscious?

    Better Than Conscious?


    Christoph Engel and Wolf Singer

    Experts discuss the implications of the ways humans reach decisions through the conscious and subconscious processing of information.

    Conscious control enables human decision makers to override routines, to exercise willpower, to find innovative solutions, to learn by instruction, to decide collectively, and to justify their choices. These and many more advantages, however, come at a price: the ability to process information consciously is severely limited and conscious decision makers are liable to hundreds of biases. Measured against the norms of rational choice theory, conscious decision makers perform poorly. But if people forego conscious control, in appropriate tasks, they perform surprisingly better: they handle vast amounts of information; they update prior information; they find appropriate solutions to ill-defined problems.

    This inaugural Strüngmann Forum Report explores the human ability to make decisions, consciously as well as without conscious control. It explores decision-making strategies, including deliberate and intuitive; explicit and implicit; processing information serially and in parallel, with a general-purpose apparatus, or with task-specific neural subsystems. The analysis is at four levels—neural, psychological, evolutionary, and institutional—and the discussion is extended to the definition of social problems and the design of better institutional interventions. The results presented differ greatly from what could be expected under standard rational choice theory and deviate even more from the alternate behavioral view of institutions. New challenges emerge (for example, the issue of free will) and some purported social problems almost disappear if one adopts a more adequate model of human decision making.

    • Hardcover $9.75 £7.99