Simulators for spiking neural network models are increasingly used in brain research. They enable scientists to run models of information processing, learning, plasticity, and more.
These simulation tools are very powerful but not always easy to use. They typically require prior knowledge of a programming language and are difficult to install. These requirements often exclude students and early career researchers from using the simulators.
NEST Desktop was developed to help overcome these barriers to entry. The web-based application for the NEST Simulator allows users to rapidly construct neuronal network models on their laptop. NEST Desktop features an intuitive graphical user interface which helps users without programming skills to get started more easily. The application can be used in an internet browser, so no installation is necessary.
The simplicity and accessibility of the application make it an ideal tool for teaching purposes. “NEST Desktop is intuitive, fast, and user-friendly”, explains Sebastian Spreizer from the University of Trier. “Universities from Norway, Italy and Bulgaria are considering NEST Desktop for different courses.” NEST Desktop is now freely available as an online tool on the EBRAINS research infrastructure, contributing to equal opportunities for students and early career researchers.
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