Neuroscience Data Challenge

The Neuroscience Data Challenge is a collaborative workshop which will bring people together to apply modelling and data approaches to neuroscience. It will be a workshop and hackathon designed to give us the opportunity to work as colleagues to solve problems. The Neuroscience Data Challenge will be held in Bristol from 9-13 September 2019, all are welcome, there is no fee and there are some bursaries for students and postdocs.

What is the Neuroscience Data Challenge?

The Neuroscience Data Challenge follows the study group format that is popular and successful in applied mathematics - on the first day data sets in neuroscience will be presented; the idea is that we work on them in groups to see what we come up with. You can stick to one problem, change problems or move around; the key thing is that there'll be brain strorming, discussion, calculation and computation. On the last day all the progress will be presented. The workshop is open to all; people from any relevant discipline at any career stage.

What is the aim?

The main goal is working together; working with other people on a problem is a great way to learn what other people know and how other people think! Of course, we also hope that the Neuroscience Data Challenge to lead to collaborations that will last beyond the workshop. We might also make some interesting progress on the challenges themselve.

The Neuroscience Data Challenge is being supported by Reimagining Recruitment and this provides yet another goal: Reimagining Recruitment is a study funded by the EPSRC and hosted by Bath University, it aims to examine how collaborative workshops like this one can change how people think about each other as scientists.

In practice this just means that some of us may be asked to volunteer to fill in questionnaires, be interviewed by the Reimagining Recruitment research team or take part in a focus group.

What will happen day-by-day?

Most of the time will be working in groups on the challenges; this will mean some time spent brainstorming, some time spent in discussion and some time spent working alone or in small subgroups with a pen and paper or marker and whiteboard or on a computer; it will all be on an informal lets-get-this done basis. We do have an early draft timetable for the week as a whole:

and some notes here

What are these "Challenges"?

We haven't finalised these yet and if you would like to propose a challenge please get in touch (! In short we are going to present four problems based around a data set, these will span our discipline, so we aim to have a calcium imaging based challenge, an in vivo and / or in vitro electrophysiology based challenge, an EEG or fMRI based challenge.

Is it all going to be statistics / is it all going to be modelling?

Statisticians, modellers and others are very welcome. The Neuroscience Data Challenge will match the diversity of our field, we hope there will be statistics, probabilistic modelling, dynamical modelling at different levels and machine learning.

Is it just for computational neuroscientists?

Absolutely not, we are hoping to have a diversity of interests and expertise: mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, engineers, experimental neuroscientists and anyone else who feels they could contribute! The problems will be from neuroscience but the approaches that can be taken span lots of disciplines. We also hope for a good mixture of senior and junior people, PhD students to professors.

When is all this happening?

The Neuroscience Data Challenge will run from 2pm on Monday 9 September to 12 noon on Friday 13 September.

Who is running the Neuroscience Data Challenge?

The Neuroscience Data Challenge is being supported by Neural Dynamics

and Reimagining Recruitment and run by Bristol Computational Neuroscience Unit:

The local organizing committee are Conor Houghton, Cian O'Donnell, Rui Ponte Costa and Amelia Burroughs.

What's in it for me?

  • Meet some new people!
  • Learn and apply some new technical approaches!
  • Work in a team on some interesting problems!
  • Engage in some blue-sky thinking, the challenges will be quite open-ended!
  • Get stuck in with some data, coding, mathematics!
  • Have fun, a break or distraction from the normal way of doing science!

Is Bristol worth visiting?

Quite apart from our neuroscience and computational science communities, Bristol is a vibrant multicultural city with a vivid music and arts scene; it has an historic port, a wealth of museums and easy access to the countryside. It prides itself on a welcoming atmosphere and a spirit of exploration:

How can I attend?

Please apply by the 31 July 2019. There is no fee to attend and some bursaries of up to £500 are available for students and postdocs from outside Bristol. There is an application form:

Application Form (outlook forms)

You can email Conor ( or Amelia ( with any queries.




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