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Henry Markram

Henry Markram
Visualizing Synaptic Maps onto Neocortical Neurons
Born Henry Markram
(1962-03-28) March 28, 1962
South Africa
Nationality Israel
Fields Neurology
Institutions École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Alma mater
Thesis Acetychlorine interacts with the NMDA receptor through the phosphoinositide pathway (1991)
Doctoral advisor Menahem Segal
Doctoral students
  • Marwan Abdellah
  • Giuseppe Chindemi
  • Berat Denizdurduran
  • Csaba Erö
  • Jean Pierre Ghobril
  • Lida Kanari
  • Michael Reimann
  • Renaud Luc Richardet
  • Farhan Tauheed
  • Willem Anna Mark Wybo
Known for Blue Brain Project
Human Brain Project
Spike-timing-dependent plasticity
Notable awards Fulbright Scholar

Henry Markram (born 28 March 1962[1]) is a Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and director of both the Blue Brain Project and the Human Brain Project.


Markram obtained his Bachelor of Science degree (Hons) from Cape Town University, South Africa under the supervision of Rodney Douglas and his PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel,[2] under the supervision of Menahem Segal. During his Ph.D. work, he discovered a link between acetylcholine and memory mechanisms by showing that acetylcholine modulates the primary receptor linked to synaptic plasticity.


Following his PhD, Markram went to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he studied ion channels on synaptic vesicles. As a Minerva Fellow he then went to the Laboratory of Bert Sakmann at the Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg, Germany, where he discovered calcium transients in dendrites evoked by sub-threshold activity, and by single action potentials propagating back into dendrites. He also began studying the connectivity between neurons, describing in great detail how layer 5 pyramidal neurons are interconnected.

Some of his work altered the relative timing of single pre- and post-synaptic action potentials to reveal a learning mechanism operating between neurons where the relative timing in the millisecond range affects the coupling strength between neurons. The importance of such timing has been reproduced in many brain regions and is known as spike timing-dependent synaptic plasticity (STDP).[3]

Markram was appointed assistant professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where he started systematically dissecting out the neocortical column. He discovered that synaptic learning can also involve a change in synaptic dynamics (called redistribution of synaptic efficacy) rather than merely changing the strengths of connections. He also studied principles governing neocortical microcircuit structure, function, and emergent dynamics. Together with Wolfgang Maass[4] he developed the so-called theory of liquid state machine, or high entropy computing.

In 2002 he moved to patch clamp recordings combined with laser and electrical stimulation as well as multi-site electrical recording, chemical imaging and gene expression.[3]


  1. ^ Henry Markram Curriculum Vitae
  2. ^ Markram, H.; Segal, M. (1990). "Electrophysiological characteristics of cholinergic and non-cholinergic neurons in the rat medial septum-diagonal band complex". Brain research 513 (1): 171–174.  
  3. ^ a b Lehrer, Jonah. "Can a thinking, remembering, decision-making, biologically accurate brain be built from a supercomputer?". Seed Magazine. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ Maass, W.; Natschläger, T.; Markram, H. (2002). "Real-Time Computing Without Stable States: A New Framework for Neural Computation Based on Perturbations". Neural Computation 14 (11): 2531–2560.  

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