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Valentino Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience

The award is named after Prof. Dr. Valentino 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 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.

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 "Valentino Braitenberg Award for Computational Neuroscience" is now biannually conferred within the framework of the Bernstein Conference.

Award Criteria:

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 crucial work should preferentially have been carried out in a European institution.

The award consists of:

  • Prize money to the amount of 5.000 €, kindly donated by "Autonome Provinz Bozen Südtirol"
  • Registration for the Bernstein Conference, travel costs, and accommodation
  • Valentino 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

Deadline for next nominations: not yet determined

Award Committee

  • Ad Aertsen, Bernstein Center Freiburg (Chair)
  • Matthias Bethge, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Tübingen
  • Michael Frotscher, Center for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg
  • Andreas V.M. Herz, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Munich
  • Nikos Logothetis, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics Tübingen
  • Michael Brecht, Bernstein Center for Computational Neurocience Berlin

Valentino Braitenberg Award 2015

Presentation of the Valentino Braitenberg Award 2015. From left to right: Almut Schüz (long-time colleague of Valentino Braitenberg), Carla Braitenberg (daughter of Valentino Braitenberg), Alexander Borst (awardee), Ad Aertsen (head of the award comitee), Andrea Huber Brösamle (Bernstein Coordination Site)


    Awardees (since 2012):

    2016: David Willshaw, University of Edinburgh, UK

    2014: Alexander Borst, Max-Planck-Institut für Neurobiologie, Martinsried, Germany

    2012: Moshe Abeles, Bar Ilan University, Israel


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