Karl J. Friston

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Karl Friston
Karl John Friston

(1959-07-12) 12 July 1959 (age 59) [1]
York, England, UK[ citation needed ]
ResidenceRickmansworth, UK
Alma mater Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (BA, 1980)
Known for Statistical parametric mapping, Voxel-based morphometry, Dynamic causal modelling, Free energy principle
Spouse(s)Ann Elisabeth Leonard [1]
Scientific career
Fields Neuroscience
Institutions University College London [3]
Influences Geoffrey Hinton, Donald O. Hebb
Website fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/~karl

Karl John Friston FRS, FMedSci, FRSB, is a British neuroscientist and authority on brain imaging. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the UK Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

Fellowship of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB), previously Fellowship of the Society of Biology (FSB), is an award and fellowship granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Biology has adjudged to have made a "prominent contribution to the advancement of the biological sciences, and has gained no less than five years of experience in a position of senior responsibility".

Neuroscientist individual who studies neuroscience

A neuroscientist is a scientist who has specialised knowledge in the field of neuroscience, the branch of biology that deals with the physiology, biochemistry, anatomy and molecular biology of neurons and neural circuits and especially their association with behaviour and learning.



Friston studied Natural Sciences (physics and psychology) at the University of Cambridge in 1980, and went on to complete his medical studies at King's College Hospital, London. [1]

The Natural Sciences Tripos (NST) is the framework within which most of the science at the University of Cambridge is taught. The tripos includes a wide range of Natural Sciences from physical sciences to biology which are taught alongside the history and philosophy of science. The tripos covers several courses which form the University of Cambridge system of Tripos. It is known for its broad range of study in the first year, in which students cannot study just one discipline, but instead must choose three courses in different areas of the natural sciences and one in mathematics. As is traditional at Cambridge, the degree awarded after Part II is a Bachelor of Arts (BA). A Master of Science degree (MSci) is available to those who take the optional Part III. It was started in the 19th Century.

University of Cambridge University in Cambridge, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Kings College Hospital Hospital in London

King's College Hospital is an acute care facility in Denmark Hill, Camberwell in the London Borough of Southwark, referred to locally and by staff simply as "King's" or abbreviated internally to "KCH". It is managed by King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. It serves an inner city population of 700,000 in the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, but also serves as a tertiary referral centre in certain specialties to millions of people in southern England. It is a large teaching hospital and is, with Guy's Hospital and St. Thomas' Hospital, the location of King's College London School of Medicine and one of the institutions that comprise the King's Health Partners, an academic health science centre. The chief executive is Dr Clive Kay.


Friston subsequently qualified under the Oxford University Rotational Training Scheme in Psychiatry, and is now a Professor of Neuroscience at University College London. [11] He is currently a Wellcome Trust Principal Fellow and Scientific Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. [12] [13] He also holds an honorary consultant post at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. He invented statistical parametric mapping: SPM is an international standard for analysing imaging data and rests on the general linear model and random field theory (developed with Keith Worsley). In 1994 his group developed voxel-based morphometry. [14] VBM detects differences in neuroanatomy and is used clinically and as a surrogate in genetic studies. These technical contributions were motivated by schizophrenia research and theoretical studies of value-learning (with Gerry Edelman). In 1995, this work was formulated as the disconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia (with Chris Frith). In 2003, he invented dynamic causal modelling (DCM), which is used to infer the architecture of distributed systems like the brain. Mathematical contributions include variational (generalised) filtering and dynamic expectation maximisation (DEM), which are Variational Bayesian methods for time-series analysis. Friston currently works on models of functional integration in the human brain and the principles that underlie neuronal interactions. His main contribution to theoretical neurobiology is a variational Free energy principle [15] (active inference in the Bayesian brain). According to Google Scholar Karl Friston's h-index is 220. [3]

University College London, which has operated under the official name of UCL since 2005, is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom. It is a member institution of the federal University of London, and is the third largest university in the United Kingdom by total enrolment, and the largest by postgraduate enrolment.

National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery Hospital in London

The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery is a neurological hospital in Queen Square, London. It is part of the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It was the first hospital to be established in England dedicated exclusively to treating the diseases of the nervous system. It is closely associated with University College London (UCL) and in partnership with the UCL Institute of Neurology, which occupies the same site, is a major centre for neuroscience research.

Statistical parametric mapping or SPM is a statistical technique created by Karl Friston for examining differences in brain activity recorded during functional neuroimaging experiments using neuroimaging technologies such as fMRI or PET. It may also refer to a specific piece of software created by the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience to carry out such analyses.

Awards and achievements

In 1996, Friston received the first Young Investigators Award in Human Brain Mapping, and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999) in recognition of contributions to the bio-medical sciences. In 2000 he was President of the international Organization for Human Brain Mapping. In 2003 he was awarded the Minerva Golden Brain Award and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2006 and received a Collège de France Medal in 2008. In 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of York and became a Fellow of the Society of Biology. His nomination for the Royal Society reads

The Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) is an organization of scientists with the main aim of organizing an annual meeting.

Royal Society English learned society for science

The President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, commonly known as the Royal Society, is a learned society. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society is the United Kingdom's and Commonwealth of Nations' Academy of Sciences and fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement.

Collège de France Higher education and research establishment

The Collège de France, founded in 1530, is a higher education and research establishment in France. It is located in Paris, in the 5th arrondissement, or Latin Quarter, across the street from the historical campus of La Sorbonne.

In 2016 he was ranked No. 1 by Semantic Scholar in the list of top 10 most influential neuroscientists. [16]

Semantic Scholar is a project developed at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Publicly released in November 2015, it is designed to be an AI-backed search engine for scientific journal articles. The project uses a combination of machine learning, natural language processing, and machine vision to add a layer of semantic analysis to the traditional methods of citation analysis, and to extract relevant figures, entities, and venues from papers. In comparison to Google Scholar and PubMed, Semantic Scholar is designed to highlight the most important and influential papers, and to identify the connections between them.

Related Research Articles

Functional magnetic resonance imaging an MRI procedure that measures brain activity by detecting associated changes in blood flow.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI (fMRI) measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. This technique relies on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation are coupled. When an area of the brain is in use, blood flow to that region also increases.

Savant syndrome

Savant syndrome is a condition in which someone with significant mental disabilities demonstrates certain abilities far in excess of average. The skills at which savants excel are generally related to memory. This may include rapid calculation, artistic ability, map making, or musical ability. Usually just one special skill is present.

Functional integration is the study of how brain regions work together to process information and effect responses. Though functional integration frequently relies on anatomic knowledge of the connections between brain areas, the emphasis is on how large clusters of neurons – numbering in the thousands or millions – fire together under various stimuli. The large datasets required for such a whole-scale picture of brain function have motivated the development of several novel and general methods for the statistical analysis of interdependence, such as dynamic causal modelling and statistical linear parametric mapping. These datasets are typically gathered in human subjects by non-invasive methods such as EEG/MEG, fMRI, or PET. The results can be of clinical value by helping to identify the regions responsible for psychiatric disorders, as well as to assess how different activities or lifestyles affect the functioning of the brain.

Brain mapping is a set of neuroscience techniques predicated on the mapping of (biological) quantities or properties onto spatial representations of the brain resulting in maps.

BrainMaps NIH-funded interactive zoomable high-resolution digital brain atlas and virtual microscope

BrainMaps is an NIH-funded interactive zoomable high-resolution digital brain atlas and virtual microscope that is based on more than 140 million megapixels of scanned images of serial sections of both primate and non-primate brains and that is integrated with a high-speed database for querying and retrieving data about brain structure and function over the internet.

Voxel-based morphometry set of methods for image analysis

Voxel-based morphometry is a computational approach to neuroanatomy that measures differences in local concentrations of brain tissue, through a voxel-wise comparison of multiple brain images.

<i>NeuroImage</i> journal

NeuroImage is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering research on neuroimaging, including functional neuroimaging and functional human brain mapping. The current Editor in Chief is Michael Breakspear. Abstracts from the annual meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping have been published as supplements to the journal. Members of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping are eligible for reduced subscription rates. In 2012, Elsevier launched an online-only, open access sister journal to NeuroImage, entitled NeuroImage: Clinical.

Brain-reading uses the responses of multiple voxels in the brain evoked by stimulus then detected by fMRI in order to decode the original stimulus. Brain reading studies differ in the type of decoding employed, the target, and the decoding algorithms employed.

Vittorio Gallese Italian physioloigst

Vittorio Gallese is professor of Psychobiology at the University of Parma, Italy, and was professor in Experimental Aesthetics at the University of London, UK (2016-2018). He is an expert in neurophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, social neuroscience, and philosophy of mind. Gallese is one of the discoverers of mirror neurons. His research attempts to elucidate the functional organization of brain mechanisms underlying social cognition, including action understanding, empathy, language, mindreading and aesthetic experience.

Sophia Frangou is Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where she heads the Psychosis Research Program. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Vice-Chair of the RCPsych Panamerican Division. She is a Fellow of the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) and of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). She served as Vice-President for Research of the International Society for Bipolar Disordersfrom 2010-2014. She has also served on the Council of the British Association for Psychopharmacology. She is founding member of the EPA NeuroImaging section and founding chair of the Brain Imaging Network of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. She is one of the three Editors of European Psychiatry, the official Journal of the European Psychiatric Association.

Medical image computing (MIC) is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of computer science, information engineering, electrical engineering, physics, mathematics and medicine. This field develops computational and mathematical methods for solving problems pertaining to medical images and their use for biomedical research and clinical care.

Eleanor Maguire Irish neuropsychologist

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Resting state fMRI

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Russell Poldrack American psychologist and neuroscientist

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Dynamic causal modeling (DCM) is a framework for specifying models, fitting them to data and comparing their evidence using Bayesian model comparison. It uses nonlinear state-space models in continuous time, specified using stochastic or ordinary differential equations. DCM was initially developed for testing hypotheses about neural dynamics. In this setting, differential equations describe the interaction of neural populations, which directly or indirectly give rise to functional neuroimaging data e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG) or electroencephalography (EEG). Parameters in these models quantify the directed influences or effective connectivity among neuronal populations, which are estimated from the data using Bayesian statistical methods.

Bayesian model reduction is a method for computing the evidence and posterior over the parameters of Bayesian models that differ in their priors. A full model is fitted to data using standard approaches. Hypotheses are then tested by defining one or more 'reduced' models with alternative priors, which usually – in the limit – switch off certain parameters. The evidence and parameters of the reduced models can then be computed from the evidence and estimated (posterior) parameters of the full model using Bayesian model reduction. If the priors and posteriors are normally distributed, then there is an analytic solution which can be computed rapidly. This has multiple scientific and engineering applications: these include scoring the evidence for large numbers of models very quickly and facilitating the estimation of hierarchical models.

Vince Daniel Calhoun is the President of the Mind Research Network and a Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico.

Raymond Joseph Dolan is an Irish neuroscientist and the Mary Kinross Professor of Neuropsychiatry at University College London, where he was also the founding director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. In 2015 he presented the Paul B. Baltes Lecture at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He was one of three recipients of the 2017 Brain Prize, along with Peter Dayan and Wolfram Schultz. He is a fellow of the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Association for Psychological Science. In 2016, he was ranked by Semantic Scholar as the second-most influential neuroscientist in the modern world, behind only his UCL colleague Karl Friston.

Ganesan Venkatasubramanian is an Indian psychiatrist and clinician-scientist who works as a professor of psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore (NIMHANS). Venkatasubramanian is known for his studies in the fields of schizophrenia, transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), brain imaging, neuroimmunology, neurometabolism and several other areas of biological psychiatry. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the apex agency of the Government of India for scientific research, awarded him the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, one of the highest Indian science awards, for his contributions to medical sciences in 2018.


  1. 1 2 3 "FRISTON, Prof. Karl John". Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press.(subscription required)
  2. 1 2 "EC/2006/16: Friston, Karl John". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 Karl J. Friston publications indexed by Google Scholar
  4. Friston, K (2003). "Learning and inference in the brain". Neural Networks. 16 (9): 1325–52. CiteSeerX . doi:10.1016/j.neunet.2003.06.005. PMID   14622888.
  5. Friston, K (2002). "Functional integration and inference in the brain". Progress in Neurobiology. 68 (2): 113–43. doi:10.1016/s0301-0082(02)00076-x. PMID   12450490.
  6. Friston, K (2005). "A theory of cortical responses". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 360 (1456): 815–36. doi:10.1098/rstb.2005.1622. PMC   1569488 . PMID   15937014.
  7. Karl J. Friston's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  8. Penny, W; Ghahramani, Z; Friston, K (2005). "Bilinear dynamical systems". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences . 360 (1457): 983–93. doi:10.1098/rstb.2005.1642. PMC   1854926 . PMID   16087442. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  9. Harrison, L. M.; David, O; Friston, K. J. (2005). "Stochastic models of neuronal dynamics". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 360 (1457): 1075–91. doi:10.1098/rstb.2005.1648. PMC   1854931 . PMID   16087449.
  10. David, O; Harrison, L; Friston, K. J. (2005). "Modelling event-related responses in the brain". NeuroImage. 25 (3): 756–70. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.12.030. PMID   15808977.
  11. "Iris View Profile". University College London. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  12. "Professor Karl Friston – Selected papers".
  13. Brown, Harriet (2012). "Free-Energy and Illusions: The Cornsweet Effect". Frontiers in Psychology. 3: 43. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00043. PMC   3289982 . PMID   22393327.
  14. Wright, I.C. (1995). "A Voxel-Based Method for the Statistical Analysis of Gray and White Matter Density Applied to Schizophrenia". NeuroImage. 2 (4): 244–252. doi:10.1006/nimg.1995.1032. PMID   9343609.
  15. Raviv, Shaun (13 November 2018). "The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI". WIRED. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  16. Bohannon, John (11 November 2016). "A computer program just ranked the most influential brain scientists of the modern era". sciencemag.org. Retrieved 5 January 2017.

The word aeon, also spelled eon, originally meant "life", "vital force" or "being", "generation" or "a period of time", though it tended to be translated as "age" in the sense of "ages", "forever", "timeless" or "for eternity". It is a Latin transliteration from the koine Greek word ὁ αἰών, from the archaic αἰϝών (aiwon). In Homer it typically refers to life or lifespan. Its latest meaning is more or less similar to the Sanskrit word kalpa and Hebrew word olam. A cognate Latin word aevum or aeuum for "age" is present in words such as longevity and mediaeval.