UCL Division of Biosciences


Unique UCL resource to provide free open access to latest Brain models.

19 June 2019

Working with a worldwide network of collaborators, researchers in the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology at UCL have created a unique, ground-breaking resource - ‘Open Source Brain’, which makes leading-edge models of realistic neural networks available to all.


Neuroscience is producing a huge amount of experimental data on the structure and activity of cells and networks in the brain. To make sense of all of this, computer models have now become essential in helping to understand this data, as well as for developing and validating theories as to how these networks process information.

Up until now, one of the challenges for neuroscientists has been that the software produced for simulating these neural networks can be complex to use and therefore difficult to adapt for investigating new problems.

To address this, a group of researchers from around the world, led by Padraig Gleeson and Angus Silver from UCL Faculty of Life Sciences’ Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology, has used Open Source software development techniques to create a system where models are much more accessible and all code is freely available for anyone to contribute to and extend.

The resource they have developed, Open Source Brain (http://www.opensourcebrain.org), is an online repository of computational models of neurons and circuits, and a paper describing this work, which is primarily funded by the Wellcome Trust, has just been published in Neuron.

Open Source Brain provides open and free access to these models for researchers, and indeed the general public, by allowing visualisation and simulation through an interactive 3D web-based interface. Users of the resource do not have to install or configure any new software, but get access to the latest models of detailed neurons and circuits from across the brain straight from their browser, and can compare the structure, connectivity and electrical activity of these models with their own experimental results.

The Open Source Brain initiative with its open-access approach should significantly help those working in neuroscience to investigate new theories and problems and share their ideas with the wider community.

Discover more at:

Research paper in Neuron