Unfortunately there is not a lot hardware implemented spiking neural networks, so the best way to start working with spiking neural networks is to use simulator. One of the oldest SNNS (spiking neural network simulator) is NEST.

NEST is ideal for networks of spiking neurons of any size, for example:

  1. Models of information processing e.g. in the visual or auditory cortex of mammals,
  2. Models of network activity dynamics, e.g. laminar cortical networks or balanced random networks,
  3. Models of learning and plasticity.


Before start modeling your first network you have to install NEST. To do that clone nest repository and prepare all dependencies.


Install Xcode from AppStore, it will take some time it’s size is about 6 Gb.

Install Brew – package manager for macOS.

Install dependencies:

Clone nest repository and compile it.

Install nest-server and nest-desktop – GUI for simulator.

In my case I had to add path to nest python API to global system paths. You can use any other way for example update your environment or use conda

At the end launch service and open browser

There is NEST desktop with issue.

If you have the same issue with server, launch server

Any other issue you can start resolving from reading server log:

Now you can run you first simulation.