School of MCB COVID-19 Information

Mark E Nelson

Mark E Nelson

Office: (217) 244-1371

Mail to: Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
524 Burrill Hall
407 S. Goodwin Ave
Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page
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Professor Emeritus
of Molecular and Integrative Physiology,
Biophysics and Quantitative Biology,
Bioengineering, and

Research Topics

Computational Biology, Neurobiology, Sensory Processing


B.S. 1976 Wichita State University
PhD. 1983 University of California, Berkley
Postdoc. 1983-91 California Institute of Technology

Computational Neuroscience; Neuroethology; Adaptive Behaviour

The goal of our research is to understand the neural mechanisms and computational principles that allow animals to function effectively in complex, dynamically changing environments. Our focus is on understanding general principles of "smart sensing" in animals. We're interested in how the nervous system extracts and enhances behaviorally relevant information and suppresses irrelevant background noise. We investigate these issues by studying how weakly electric fish detect, localize, and discriminate prey in the dark using their electric sense. Our research involves a combination of behavioral, neurophysiological, computer modeling, and biorobotic approaches.

(Prof. Nelson is retired - no current research opportunities)

Representative Publications

Nelson ME (2011) Electrophysiological Models of Neural Processing. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med 3(1):74-92 [Abstract]

Snyder JB, Nelson ME, Burdick JW, MacIver MA (2007) Omnidirectional sensory and motor volumes in electric fish. PLoS Biol. 5(11):e301. [Abstract]

L├╝dtke N, Nelson ME (2006) Short-term Synaptic Plasticity Can Enhance Weak Signal Detectability in Nonrenewal Spike Trains. Neural Comp. 18(2):2879-2916. [Abstract]

Chen L, House JL, Krahe R, Nelson ME (2005) Modeling Signal and Background Components of Electrosensory Scenes. J. Comp. Physiol. A 191(4):331-45. [Abstract]

Complete Publications List