Alexander von Humboldt Professorship for Artificial Intelligence 2020

Peter Dayan

At the University of Tübingen, Peter Dayan will connect informatics and neuroscience, also building bridges to clinical psychiatry. As the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics with a focus on computational neuroscience he will play a pivotal role in realigning the institute and reinforcing Tübingen as a centre for neuroscience and machine learning.

  • Nominating University: University of Tübingen together with the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen

Theoretical Neuroscience

How do living creatures think and make decisions? And how does artificial intelligence do it? Peter Dayan, a leading international researcher in theoretical neuroscience, focusses on the intersection between the intelligence of living creatures and machines, and has made numerous important contributions to this field of research. Using theoretical models, he has studied various forms of learning and his work on so-called reinforcement learning is regarded as pathbreaking. He has also worked on the influence of messenger substances such as dopamine and serotonin on decision-making processes in the brain and investigated how failure modes in these processes can cause mental disorders.

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Peter Dayan at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics
Peter Dayan in an interview on

Brief bio

Prof. Dr. Peter Dayan was born in the United Kingdom. In his most recent position, he was a professor at University College London and Director of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit. Following his undergraduate and doctoral studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, United Kingdom, he initially became a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, United States. In 1993, he moved to the University of Toronto, Canada, becoming an assistant professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, United States, in 1995. In 2012, Dayan received the Rumelhart Prize for Contributions to the Theoretical Foundations of Human Cognition and, in 2017, the Brain Prize from the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation. In 2018, he was elected to the Royal Society. In January 2020 he took up his position as a Humboldt Professor at the University of Tübingen and is now also Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen.

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