Computational models in neuroscience typically contain many parameters that are poorly constrained by experimental data. Uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis provide rigorous procedures to quantify how the model output depends on this parameter uncertainty. Unfortunately, the application of such methods is not yet standard within the field of neuroscience. Here we present Uncertainpy, an open-source Python toolbox, tailored to perform uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis of neuroscience models. Uncertainpy aims to make it quick and easy to get started with uncertainty analysis, without any need for detailed prior knowledge. The toolbox allows uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis to be performed on already existing models without needing to modify the model equations or model implementation. Uncertainpy bases its analysis on polynomial chaos expansions, which are more efficient than the more standard Monte-Carlo based approaches. Uncertainpy is tailored for neuroscience applications by its built-in capability for calculating characteristic features in the model output. The toolbox does not merely perform a point-to-point comparison of the “raw” model output (e.g., membrane voltage traces), but can also calculate the uncertainty and sensitivity of salient model response features such as spike timing, action potential width, average interspike interval, and other features relevant for various neural and neural network models. Uncertainpy comes with several common models and features built in, and including custom models and new features is easy. The aim of the current paper is to present Uncertainpy to the neuroscience community in a user-oriented manner. To demonstrate its broad applicability, we perform an uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis of three case studies relevant for neuroscience: the original Hodgkin-Huxley point-neuron model for action potential generation, a multi-compartmental model of a thalamic interneuron implemented in the NEURON simulator, and a sparsely connected recurrent network model implemented in the NEST simulator.
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