Simon Thorpe

CNRS Research Director (DRCE), CerCo (CNRS-UT3)

  • Director of the CerCo UMR 5549 (CNRS-UT3)
  • Director of the Toulouse Mind & Brain Institute (ISC3T)


1974-77 : B.A. (First Class Honours) in Physiology, Psychology and Philosophy (P.P.P.) University of Oxford

1977-81 :    D.Phil. Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford. Supervisor : Edmund T. Rolls

1981-82  : Isaac Killam Walton Research Fellow (Direction: Max Cynader), Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

1982-83 : MRC-INSERM French Exchange Fellow (Direction : Michel Imbert) Laboratoire de Neurobiologie du Développement, Université de Paris Sud, Orsay, France

1983-1986  : Chargé de Recherche CNRS (CR1), Laboratoire de Neurobiologie du Développement, Université de Paris Sud, Orsay

1986-93  : Institut de Neurosciences (URA 1490), Dépt des Neurosciences de la Vision Active, Univ Paris 6, Paris

1993- present : Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse

HDR : Toulouse, 1994

I’m a CNRS Research Director (recently promoted to Classe Exceptionnelle) who studied Physiology, Psychology & Philosophy (PPP) at Oxford (graduating in 1977), got his PhD with Edmund Rolls, did a postdoc in Canada (with Max Cynader) and then came to France in 1982. Recruited by the CNRS in 1983, I moved from Paris to Toulouse in 1993 to help create the Brain & Cognition Research Center (CerCo). I became the lab director (taking over from Michèle Fabre-Thorpe) in 2014, and also took over the direction of the ISCT from François Chollet in January 2016.

I’m very keen on interdisciplinary research, and do a mix of neurophysiolgy, psychophyiscs, computer modelling and theoretical work. I’m currently half way through a 5 year ERC advanced grant called “M4 – memory mechanisms in man and machine”, which aims to understand how we can store sensory memories that can last for an entire lifetime. My hypothesis is that we store memories in “grandmother cells” that can remain totally silent for months or years – neocortical dark matter.

My personal website is here.

10 Key Publications Related to Brain & Mind
  1. Speed of processing in the human visual system S Thorpe, D Fize, C Marlot Nature 381 (6582), 520-522
  2. The orbitofrontal cortex: neuronal activity in the behaving monkey SJ Thorpe, ET Rolls, S Maddison, Experimental Brain Research 49 (1), 93-115
  3. The time course of visual processing: from early perception to decision-making R Vanrullen, SJ Thorpe Journal of cognitive neuroscience 13 (4), 454-461
  4. Spike-based strategies for rapid processing S Thorpe, A Delorme, R Van Rullen Neural networks 14 (6), 715-725
  5. Ultra-rapid object detection with saccadic eye movements: Visual processing speed revisited H Kirchner, SJ ThorpeVision research 46 (11), 1762-1776
  6. Rate coding versus temporal order coding: what the retinal ganglion cells tell the visual cortex RV Rullen, SJ Thorpe Neural computation 13 (6), 1255-1283
  7. Spike times make sense R VanRullen, R Guyonneau, SJ Thorpe Trends in neurosciences 28 (1), 1-4
  8. Parallel processing in high-level categorization of natural images GA Rousselet, M Fabre-Thorpe, SJ Thorpe Nature neuroscience 5 (7), 629-630
  9. A limit to the speed of processing in ultra-rapid visual categorization of novel natural scenes M Fabre-Thorpe, A Delorme, C Marlot, SJ Thorpe Cognitive Neuroscience, Journal of 13 (2), 171-180
  10. A cellular analogue of visual cortical plasticity. Y Frégnac, D Shulz, S Thorpe, E Bienenstock Nature 333 (6171), 367-370

5 recent Publications Related to Brain & Mind

  1. Investigating implicit statistical learning mechanisms through contextual cueing A Goujon, A Didierjean, S Thorpe Trends in cognitive sciences 19 (9), 524-533
  2. At 120 msec you can spot the animal but you don’t yet know it’s a dog CT Wu, SM Crouzet, SJ Thorpe, M Fabre-Thorpe Journal of cognitive neuroscience
  3. Animal detection precedes access to scene category SM Crouzet, OR Joubert, SJ Thorpe, M Fabre-Thorpe PLoS One 7 (12), e51471
  4. Extraction of temporally correlated features from dynamic vision sensors with spike-timing-dependent plasticity O Bichler, D Querlioz, SJ Thorpe, JP Bourgoin, C Gamrat Neural Networks 32, 339-348
  5. Fast recognition of musical sounds based on timbre TR Agus, C Suied, SJ Thorpe, D Pressnitzer The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 131 (5), 4124-4133
Pdfs of most publications can be downloaded here