Valentin Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience

Since 2012, the Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience has awarded the Valentin Braitenberg Award every two years, which honors outstanding scientific achievements in the field of computational neuroscience. Following Braitenberg’s scientific tradition, special attention is paid to theoretical studies that reveal the functional significance of brain structures and their neuronal network dynamics.

Nicolas Brunel receives the Valentin Braitenberg Award 2023

Nicolas Brunel receives the Valentin Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience 2023 for his “pioneering work opening new perspectives in coding optimization, memory, and dynamics” (the award committee). The award ceremony took place during the Bernstein Conference on September 27, 2023, in Berlin.

The major criterion for the selection of the awardee is the impact of the recipient’s research on the neurosciences. In the spirit of Valentin Braitenberg’s research, special emphasis is given to theoretical studies elucidating the functional implications of brain structures and their neuronal network dynamics. The crucial work should preferentially have been carried out in a European institution.

  • Prize money of 5.000 €, kindly donated by “Autonome Provinz Bozen Südtirol
  • Registration for the Bernstein Conference, travel costs, and accommodation
  • “Braitenberg Lecture” within the framework of the Bernstein Conference
  • Certificate and Golden Neuron pin
  • Book “Tentakel des Geistes – Begegnungen mit Valentin Braitenberg”

Nominations may be submitted by scientists working in the field of Computational Neuroscience and should include the following documents:

  • One-page laudation, in which the scientific work of the candidate is honored with regard to the award’s criteria
  • CV and list of publications

Please send the nomination documents via e-mail to Dr. Alexandra Stein (Head of Bernstein Coordination Site).

  • Ad Aertsen, Bernstein Center Freiburg (Chair)
  • Susanne Schreiber, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin
  • Gilles Laurent, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt a.M.
  • Siegrid Löwel, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Göttingen
  • Peter Jonas, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)

The Award

The award is named after Prof. Dr. Valentin Braitenberg (1926, Bozen – 2011, Tübingen), one of the founding directors of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. 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 combining anatomy, physiology and theory, Valentin 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 intelligence.

On the occasion of her father’s 65th birthday, Carla Braitenberg, together with Max Gulin, created a Golden Neuron to be awarded in subsequent years as a challenge trophy for outstanding scientific achievements. Since 2012, this tradition has been continued in a modified form. With financial support of the  “Autonome Provinz Bozen Südtirol” the “Valentin Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience” is now biennially conferred within the framework of the Bernstein Conference.

According to Governor Kompatscher, the state hopes that the links with the Bernstein Network will lead to “a better positioning in the international context of the neurosciences, in particular with regard to potential synergies between members of the network and, for example, the Institute of Biomedicine at the Eurac or the  training programmes for physicians that are planned in South Tyrol”.
>> press release March 10, 2020 (in German)

“I am extremely pleased that the autonomous province of Bolzano-South Tyrol continues to support the Valentin Braitenberg Award and that we can continue the award’s success story together,” said Susanne Schreiber, Chair of the Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience. “It bears the name of the scientist who is a pioneer in our field, Computational Neuroscience. Valentin Braitenberg’s research was interdisciplinary and thrived on the interaction of biological and theoretical approaches. Valentin Braitenberg made a major contribution to the development of biological cybernetics, which in turn inspired robotics and artificial intelligence unto this day.”

This film gives a small insight into the history of the Braitenberg Award, with original interviews with Ad Aertsen, the head of the jury and Carla Braitenberg, his daughter, as well as companions and former award winners.

Award winners

Duke University, Durham, USA

Brandeis University, Waltham, USA

The recording of the award ceremony for Eve Marder can be found here.

BNCN WulframGerstner

EPFL Lausanne, CH

University of Edinburgh, UK

BNCN AlexanderBorst

Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Martinsried, Germany

BNCN MosheAbeles

Bar-Ilan-University, Ramat Gan, Israel


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. (1974) 46(2):421-447