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Special Issue of Biol. Cybern. "Structural Aspects of Biological Cybernetics: Valentino Braitenberg, Neuroanatomy, and Brain Function"

The special issue is dedicated to Valentino Braitenberg and was edited by Leo van Hemmen (Bernstein Center Munich), Almut Schüz (MPI for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen), and Ad Aertsen (Bernstein Center Freiburg, Bernstein Focus Neurotechnology Freiburg-Tübingen) (December 2014).
Prof. Dr. Valentino Braitenberg

Prof. Dr. Valentino Braitenberg (1926, Bozen - 2011, Tübingen), was trained as a neurologist and psychiatrist. He is one of the founding directors of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. Braitenberg's research area was the fine structure of the brain and its functional principles. His groundbreaking work focused on the cerebral and cerebellar cortex. He also invented the world-renowned "vehicles" - autonomously controlled vehicles that produce very complex behaviors on the basis of simple interconnections between sensors and motors. With his novel research approach that combined anatomy, physiology and theory, Valentino Braitenberg was a pioneer of the modern research discipline Computational Neuroscience and has significantly contributed to the development of biological cybernetics, which has in turn inspired robotics and artificial intelligence1.

The special issue contains reviews and original contributions that connect to Valentino Braitenberg’s multifaceted life’s work. Topics are Hebb’s theory from a modern perspective, the neuronal mechanisms of speech and other higher cognitive activities, orientation selectivity in the visual cortex, the role of different propagation velocities in the white matter, the function of the cerebellum, motor learning, learning in ALS-patients, mechanisms of stimulus-specific adaptation, and a novel analysis of magneto-encephalographic data for identifying coordinated activity between cortical areas. Many of the contributions also express the bridge between natural sciences and humanities, characterizing also Braitenberg’s life’s work, as for instance in the contributions on robot psychology, on psychiatry and on the role of mathematics in the neurosciences. The collection starts with a very nice exposé on  Braitenberg’s specific research approach. The special issue also contains a reprint of Valentino Braitenberg's timeless "Manifesto of Brain Science", followed by an extensive list of publications.

J. Leo van Hemmen, Almut Schüz, Ad Aertsen (Eds.):
Structural Aspects of Biological Cybernetics: Valentino Braitenberg, Neuroanatomy, and Brain Function. Biological Cybernetics (2014) 108(5):517-525, the Foreword that includes Braitenberg’s Manifesto of Brain Science. The whole special issue consists of thirteen ensuing papers, pp. 527-712.

Valentino Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience
In honor of Valentino Braitenberg, the Bernstein Association for Computational Neuroscience biannually confers the Valentino Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience. The major criterion for the selection of the awardee is the impact of the recipient’s research on the neurosciences. In the spirit of Valentino Braitenberg's research, special emphasis is given to theoretical studies elucidating the functional implications of brain structures and their neuronal network dynamics. The award is financially supported by the "Autonome Provinz Bozen Südtirol". Please find further information on the Valentino Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience and the awardees here.

1 Braitenberg, V. On the use of theories, models and cybernetical toys in brain research. Brain Res (1967) 6(2):201-2016
Braitenberg, V. Thoughts on the cerebral cortex. J Theor Biol (1974) 46(2):421-447