Larry Abbott

Columbia University

Election Year: 2014
Primary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member


Larry Abbott is the William Bloor Professor of Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University. He received his PhD in physics from Brandeis University in 1977 and worked in theoretical particle physics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, CERN (the European center for particle physics) and Brandeis, where he was a member of the physics department from 1979 to 1993. Abbott began his transition to neuroscience research in 1989, joined the Biology Department at Brandeis in 1993, and was the director of the Volen Center at Brandeis from 1997-2002. In 2005, he joined the faculty of Columbia University where he is currently a member of the Departments of Neuroscience and of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, and co-director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Abbott is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a recipient of an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and was awarded the Swartz Prize for Theoretical Neuroscience in 2010 and the Mathematical Neuroscience Prize in 2013.

Research Interests

Larry Abbott’s research involves the computational modeling and mathematical analysis of neurons and neural networks. He uses analytic techniques and computer simulation to study how single neurons respond to their synaptic inputs, how neurons interact to produce functioning neural circuits, and how large populations of neurons represent, store, and process information. Areas of particular interest include spike-timing dependent forms of synaptic plasticity, the roles of neuronal adaptation and synaptic modification taking place over multiple time scales in sensory processing and memory, and the dynamics of internally generated activity and signal propagation in large neural networks.

Recent work has focused on various forms of active sensing, the generation and control of motor patterns, and mechanisms of olfactory processing and learning.

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