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Fellows Directory

Peter Dayan

Picture credit - Thomas Farnetti, Wellcome Trust

Professor Peter Dayan FRS


Elected: 2018


Peter Dayan studied Maths at Cambridge University, did his PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh with David Willshaw, and postdocs with Terry Sejnowski at the Salk Institute and Geoff Hinton at the University of Toronto. After three years as an assistant professor at MIT, he helped found the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at UCL in 1998. He won the Rumelhart Prize in 2012, and shared the Brain Prize in 2017.

Peter's interests centre on mathematical and computational models of neural processing, with a particular emphasis on representation, learning and decision making. He collaborates closely with a wide range of experimentalists, integrating modelling into the design and analysis of empirical investigations involving behavioural, neuroimaging, neuropharmacological, neurophysiological and optogenetic methods.

Peter's recent work has concentrated on the multifarious mechanisms by which humans and other animals approximately maximize reward and minimize punishment. The systems involved apparently recapitulate algorithms popular in artificial intelligence; this connection offers a fecund route for understanding their normal behaviour and their characteristic dysfunctions in neurological and psychiatric disease.

Professional positions

Professor of Computational Neuroscience, Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London (UCL)