Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

pp 1849-1852


NEST: the Neural Simulation Tool

  • Hans Ekkehard PlesserAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematical Sciences and Technology, Norwegian University of Life SciencesInstitute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-6), Computational and Systems Neuroscience, Jülich Research Centre Email author 
  • , Markus DiesmannAffiliated withInstitute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-6) and Institute for Advanced Simulation (IAS-6), Jülich Research Centre and JARAMedical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University
  • , Marc-Oliver GewaltigAffiliated withBlue Brain Project, École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne
  • , Abigail MorrisonAffiliated withInstitute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-6), Computational and Systems Neuroscience, Jülich Research CentreSimulation Laboratory Neuroscience – Bernstein Facility for Simulation and Database Technology, Institute for Advanced Simulation, Jülich Aachen Research Alliance, Jülich Research CentreInstitute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum


Neural simulation tool; NEST; SYNOD


The neural simulation tool NEST is designed for large networks of simple spiking model neurons. NEST includes a wide range of neuron and synapse models and provides high-level commands to create spatially structured networks. NEST is controlled through a Python-based interface and supports parallel simulation. NEST is available from www.​nest-initiative.​org under a GNU Public License.

Detailed Description

NEST is optimized for networks of neurons whose subthreshold dynamics can be described by a small number of differential equations. By default, NEST simulations operate on a fixed time grid. However, NEST also supports precisely timed spikes (Hanuschkin et al. 2010), combining the precision of event-driven simulators (Henker et al. 2012) with the efficiency of grid-based simulation.

NEST supports hybrid parallelization with MPI processes and multithreading, permitting lightweight thread-only parallelization for small simulations on lapt ...

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