Michael A. Arbib, PhD
Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biological Sciences, Psychology, Neuroscience
Viterbi School of Engineering, College of Letters Arts & Sciences

(213) 740-9220
(213) 821-3046
Email: arbib(at)pollux.usc.edu 
Office: HNB-O3 
Dept. Mailing Address:

USC Brain Project
1333 San Pablo Street
Los Angeles 90089-2520
Express Mailing Address:

Hedco Neuroscience Building
Room 5
3614 Watt Way
Los Angeles 90089-9112
(213) 740-1176

BSc (Hons) 1960 Mathematics - University of Sydney, Australia
PhD 1963 Mathematics - Massachusettes Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships:
1964 Imperial College of London, United Kingdom
1965 Stanford University, California

Started at USC: 1986

Research Topics: Modeling neural mechanisms of visuomotor coordination; computational & cognitive neuroscience; neuroinformatics; neurolinguistics

Research Description

The thrust of Michael Arbib's work is expressed in the title of his first book, Brains, Machines and Mathematics (McGraw-Hill,1964). The brain is not a computer in the current technological sense, but he has based his career on the argument that we can learn much about machines from studying brains, and much about brains from studying machines. He has thus always worked for an interdisciplinary environment in which computer scientists and engineers can talk to neuroscientists and cognitive scientists. At the University of Massachusetts he helped found the Center for Systems Neuroscience, the Cognitive Science Program, and the Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics, for each of which he served as director. At USC, he was founder and first Director of the Center for Neural Engineering. His research focuses on the coordination of perception and action.This is tackled at two levels: via schema theory, which is applicable both in top-down analyses of brain function and human cognition as well as in studies of machine vision and robotics; and through the detailed analysis of neural networks, working closely with the experimental findings of neuroscientists on humans and monkeys. He is also engaged in research on the evolution of brain mechanisms for human language. The author or editor of more than 30 books, Arbib has for example edited The Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks, (The MIT Press, 1995, 2003) -- a massive compendium embracing studies in detailed neuronal function, system models of brain regions, connectionist models of psychology and linguistics, mathematical and biological studies of learning, and technologica applications of artificial neural networks -- and co-authored Neural Organization: Structure, Function, and Dynamics (The MIT Press, 1998) with Peter Érdi and the late John Szentágothai.

Role in ISNSR:

Michael Arbib works with Nicolas Schweighofer to analyze the role of the motor cortex in motor control and its plasticity, with special attention to intersubject variability and the effects of different training regimes. He analyzes the role of the mirror system in providing shared neural codes for the observation and execution of action and exploring its involvement in mental rehearsal and rehabilitation. He also works on the development and federation of databases for empirical data on rat, monkey & human with databases of computational models.

Selected Publications

Arbib MA. - From monkey-like action recognition to human language: an evolutionary framework for neurolinguistics. - Behav Brain Sci [ 2005 ] Apr;28(2):105-24; discussion 125-67 . PubMed

Arbib MA. - Autonomous robots based on inspiration from biology: the relation to neuroinformatics. - Neuroinformatics [ 2005 ] 3(3):281-6 . PubMed

Arbib MA, Mundhenk TN. - Schizophrenia and the mirror system: an essay. - Neuropsychologia [ 2005 ] 43(2):268-80 . PubMed

Arbib MA, Fellous JM. - Emotions: from brain to robot. - Trends Cogn Sci [ 2004 ] Dec;8(12):554-61 . PubMed

Oztop E, Bradley NS, Arbib MA. - Infant grasp learning: a computational model. - Exp Brain Res [ 2004 ] Oct;158(4):480-503 . PubMed

The Center is funded as part of the National Institutes of Health Roadmap Initiative, grant number P20 RR20700-01. NIH Program Administrator: Dr. Greg Faber