Centre for Algorithms in the Cortex

Centre for Algorithms in the Cortex

Image by Richard Gardener/KISN.
The grid cells are known as the brain's GPS. To find your way, you need to know where you are, where you are going and how to get there. These grid cells are recorded by Richard Gardner at KISN using Neuropixels probes.

About the Centre for Algorithms in the Cortex

About the Centre for Algorithms in the Cortex



Centre for Algorithms in the Cortex (CAC) is a Centre of Excellence at the Research Council of Norway.

The Center for Algorithms in the Cortex (CAC) aims to uncover the algorithms that the cerebral cortex uses for cognitive functions. 

Since the birth of philosophy, humans have pondered the origin of the mind, or our ability to consciously perceive and analyse past, present and future experience to interact intelligently with the world.  

Today, intellectual functions such as sensory perception, memory, imagery, planning and decision-making are known to reflect neural processing in the cerebral cortex, the sheet of uniformly organised tissue covering the cerebrum.  

Yet the neural algorithms of the cortex – its computational rulesets – have remained in the dark because information in the cortex is distributed across billions of tiny synapses that connect intermixed, widespread populations of neurons.  

New experimental technology 

We now have an unprecedented opportunity to overcome this elusiveness. New experimental technology and new tools for large scale data analysis and modelling allow activity patterns – and algorithms – to be extracted at unprecedented precision from thousands of simultaneously active cortical neurons.  

We propose to take advantage of the emerging opportunities by bringing together 12 research groups at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in a Centre for Algorithms in the Cortex (CAC). The overarching mission of CAC is the use of new technology to identify the fundamental rulesets of higher-order neural-circuit computation in the cortex.  

A new generation of independent investigators 

A steppingstone will be the Nobel-awarded insights from hippocampal-entorhinal circuits obtained at CAC’s parent centres, but the CAC itself will be transformative in extracting the domain-general algorithms underlying cognitive operations.  

To facilitate this paradigmatic switch, we have recruited a new generation of independent investigators, who will help acquire large scale data from diverse higher-order cortical systems, at different stages of development and across species, hand in hand with theoretical model development.  

By identifying neural-circuit codes in these data, the CAC shall pioneer the next decade’s deep dive into the mechanistic basis of cognition 

Outcomes and impacts 

While the discovery of cortical computational algorithms will drive the development of a number of scientific disciplines – from biology to mathematics and artificial intelligence - it will also contribute to understanding, diagnosis and eventually treatment of cortical neurological and psychiatric diseases that as of today have no cure.  

Such diseases account for a major share of today's health burden. In a concerted effort with the co-localized K.G. Jebsen Centre for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) we shall use CAC insights from the healthy brain to fight neurodegenerative diseases. 

CAC will leave an impact on Norwegian science that extends beyond its contribution to solving specific scientific questions. We shall foster rising research leaders from new emerging research fields and, with them, establish a highrisk high-gain collaborative research environment that will transcend the era of the Nobel-awarded discoveries in the brain’s space circuit as well as the proposed agenda for CAC. 

Centre Leaders

Centre Leaders

Kavli Leader Team


Edvard Moser. Photo: Geir Mogen
Edvard Moser
Scientific Director
May-Britt Moser. Photo: Geir Mogen.
May-Britt Moser
Scientific Director
Bjarne Foss. Photo: Geir Mogen.
Bjarne Foss
Administrative Director

Work packages (WP)

Work packages (WP)

The research at the Centre of Algorithms in the Cortex is organized into four work packages (WPs), presented below: 


May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser. Photo.
WP1: Attractors for space and time

Lead: Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser
Jonathan Whitlock. Photo: Geir Mogen.
WP2: High-end sensory-motor systems

Lead: Jonathan Whitlock
Soledad Gonzalo Cogno, leader WP4. Photo: Geir Mogen.
WP4: Recurring cortical algorithms

Lead: Soledad Gonzalo Cogno




May-Britt Moser. Photo: Geir Mogen

Space and memory
Edvard Moser. Photo: Geir Mogen.

Space and memory
Jonathan Whitlock. Photo: Geir Mogen.WHITLOCK GROUP:
Cognitive motor function
Clifford Kentros. Photo: Geir Mogen

Transgenic investigation
of neural circuits
Emre Yaksi. Photo: Geir Mogen.

Sensory computations
Tobias Navarro Schröder. Photo: Geir Mogen.

Vision and navigation
Giulia Quattrocolo. Photo: Geir Mogen.QUATTROCOLO GROUP:
Circuit development
Maximiliano Nigro. Photo: Geir Mogen.
Perception and cognition
Maryam Ziaei. Photo: Geir Mogen

Aging Neuroscience
Soledad Gonzalo Cogno. Photo: Geir Mogen.

Neural dynamics and computation
Weijian Zong. Photo: Geir Mogen.


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