Ernst Niebur

Ernst Niebur

Professor of Neuroscience

PhD, Universite de Lausanne, Switzerland

Krieger 335A

Research Interests: Computational Neuroscience


Dr. Ernst Niebur is a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a professor of pscychological and brain sciences at the Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. His research examines neuronal function at the system level focusing particularly on a function known as selective attention, which is the capability of humans and higher animals to scan sensory input for the most important information and to discard other non-essential information.

He received his BSc and MSc from the University of Dortmund in West Germany. He was awarded his PhD at Universite de Lausanne in Switzerland. He also received a certificate in Artificial Intelligence from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL).

Dr. Niebur has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and his work has been cited more than 10,000 times.


Computational Neuroscience

In the Computational Neuroscience Laboratory, we construct quantitative models of biological nervous systems which are firmly based on their neurophysiology, neuroanatomy and behavior, and which are developed in close interaction with experimentalists. The main interest is neuronal function as the system level, reflecting the interaction of subsystems to generate useful behavior. Modeling is particularly important for understanding this and other system level functions since it required the interaction of several pathways and neural functions. One of the functions studied is selective attention, that is the capability of higher animals to scan sensory input for the most important information and to discard all other. Models of the neuronal basis of visual selective attention are constructed by simulating them on digital computers and comparing the results with date obtained from the visual and somatosensory systems of primates. We pay particular attention to the study of mechanisms involving implementation of neural mechanisms which make use of the temporal structure of neuronal firing, rather than just the average firing rate.


Pierre Sacré, Matthew S. D. Kerr, Sandya Subramanian, Zachary Fitzgerald, Kevin Kahn, Matthew A. Johnson, Ernst Niebur, Uri T. Eden, Jorge A. Gonzalez-Martinez, John T. Gale, and Sridevi V. Sarma.
Risk-taking bias in human decision-making is encoded via a right-left brain push-pull system. Proc
Natl Acad Sci USA, 116(4):1404–1413, 2019

B. Hu, S. Khan, E Niebur, and B. Tripp. Figure-ground representation in deep neural networks. In
IEEE-CISS 2019, pages 1–6. IEEE,  2019

Daniel M Jeck, Michael Qin, Howard Egeth, and Ernst Niebur. Unique objects attract attention
even when faint. Vision research, 160:60–71, 2019

Brian Hu, Rüdiger von der Heydt, and Ernst Niebur. Figure-ground organization in natural
scenes: Performance of a recurrent neural model compared with neurons of area V2. eNeuro,
pages ENEURO–0479–18, 2019

Massimiliano Iacono, Giulia D’Angelo, Arren Glover, Vadim Tikhanoff, Ernst Niebur, and Chiara Bartolozzi. Proto-object based saliency for event-driven cameras. In Proceedings of the 2019 IEEE/RSJ
International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2019), 2019 (CP)

Moshe Glickman, Orian Sharoni, Dino J Levy, Ernst Niebur, Veit Stuphorn, and Marius Usher. The
formation of preference in risky choice. PLoS Computational Biology, 15(8):e1007201, 2019

B Hu, I. Johnson-Bey, M. Sharma, and Niebur E. Head movements are correlated with other measures of visual attention at smaller spatial scales. In 52nd Annual Conference on Information Systems and Sciences IEEE-CISS. IEEE Press, March 2018 (CP)
Updated December 30, 2018 Ernst Niebur, Page 8 of 9

Yao Xu, Chun-Hui Zhang, Ernst Niebur, and Jun-Song Wang. Analytically determining frequency and amplitude of spontaneous alpha oscillation in Jansen’s neural mass model using the describing function method. Chinese Physics B, 27(4):048701, 2018

Elena Mancinelli, Ernst Niebur, and Ralph Etienne-Cummings. Computational stereo-visionmodel of proto-object based saliency in three-dimensional space. In BIOCAS 2018 – Biomedical Circuits and Systems Conference, Cleveland OH, October 2018. IEEE (CP)

Takeshi Uejima, Ernst Niebur, Rüdiger von derHeydt, and Ralph Etienne-Cummings. Proto-Object Based Saliency Model with Second-Order Texture Feature. In BIOCAS 2018 – Biomedical Circuits and Systems Conference, Cleveland OH, October 2018. IEEE (CP)

B Hu, I. Johnson-Bey, M. Sharma, and Niebur E. Head Movements During Visual Exploration of Natural Images in Virtual Reality. In 51st Annual Conference on Information Systems and Sciences IEEE-CISS. IEEE Press, March 2017 (CP)

Daniel R. Mendat, James E. West, Sudarshan Ramenahalli, Ernst Niebur, and Andreas Andreou. Audio-visual beam forming with the eigen mike microphone array an omni-camera and cognitive auditory features. In 51st Annual Conference on Information Systems and Sciences IEEE-CISS. IEEE Press, 2017 (CP)

Chetan Singh Thakur,Jamal Molin, Tao Xiong, Jie Zhang, Ernst Niebur, and Ralph Etienne-Cummings. Neuromorphic visual saliency implementation using stochastic computation. In IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS 2017), Baltimore, MD USA, May 2017. Elsevier (CP) 

DanielM.Jeck, Michael Qin, Howard Egeth, and Ernst Niebur. Attentive pointing in natural scenes correlates with other measures of attention. Vision Research, 135:54–64, 2017. PMID: 28427890 119. Brian Hu and Ernst Niebur. A recurrent neural model for proto-object based contour integration and figure-ground segregation. Journal of computational neuroscience, 43(3):227–242, 2017 120.

Grant Gillary, Rudiger vonderHeydt, and ErnstNiebur. Short term depression and transient memory in sensory cortex. Journal of computational neuroscience, 43(3):273–294, 2017. PMID: 29027605

Brian Hu, Ralinkae Kane-Jackson, and Ernst Niebur. A proto-object based saliency model in three dimensional space. Vision Research, 119:42–49, 2016. PMID: 26739278

Junsong Wang, Ernst Niebur, Jinyu Hu, and Xiaoli Li. Suppressing epileptic activity in a neural mass model using a closed-loop proportional-integral controller. Scientific reports, 6:27344, 2016

N. Wagatsuma, R. von der Heydt, and E. Niebur. Spike Synchrony Generated by Modulatory Common Input through NMDA-type Synapses. Journal of Neurophysiology, 116(3):1418–1433, 2016 (CP)

Nobuhiko Wagatsuma, Rüdiger von der Heydt, and Ernst Niebur. Modeling Attention-Induced Reduction of Spike Synchrony in the Visual Cortex. In A. Hirose and S. Ozawa, editors, Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Neural Information Processing (ICONIP 2016), pages 1–8, Kyoto, Japan, October 2016

Manuel Gomez-Ramirez, Kristjana Hysaj, and Ernst Niebur. Neural mechanisms of selective attention in the somatosensory system. Journal of Neurophysiology, 116(3):1218–1231, 2016

Grant Gillary and Ernst Niebur. The Edge of Stability: Response Times And Delta Oscillations in Balanced Networks. PLoS Comput Biol, 12(9):e1005121, 2016. PMID: 27689361

B.Hu, R.vonderHeydt, and E.Niebur. A neural model for perceptual organization of 3D surfaces. In IEEE CISS-2015 49th Annual Conference on Information Sciences and Systems, pages 1–6, Baltimore, MD, 2015. IEEE Information Theory Society

Jamal Molin, Ralph Etienne-Cummings, and Ernst Niebur. How is Motion Integrated into a ProtoObject Based Visual Saliency Model? In 49th Annual Conference on Information Sciences and Systems IEEE-CISS-2015. IEEE Press, 2015

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