Department of Statistics Unitmark
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

MONA2 - Modelling Neural Activity

June 22-24
Waikoloa, Hawaii

Computational neuroscience has grown, in distinct directions, from the success of biophysical models neural activity, the attractiveness of the brain-as-computer metaphor, and the increasing prominence of statistical and machine learning methods throughout science. This has helped create a rich set of ideas and tools associated with ``computation'' to studying the nervous system, but it has also led to a kind of balkanization of expertise. There is, especially, very little overlap between mathematical and statistical research in this area. Important breakthroughs in computational neuroscience could come from research strategies that are able to combine what are currently largely distinct approaches. Of course, all computational methods should be closely tied to experimental data.

One purpose of this workshop is to explore potentially fruitful interactions of modeling ideas that come from mathematics, statistics, and biophysics, and the ways these ideas can be most useful in understanding neural activity. An additional purpose of the workshop is to bring together U.S. and Japanese researchers in this area. While computational neuroscience is represented strongly in both the U.S. and Japan there has been too little concrete communication and interaction between research groups across our two countries. Interaction across American and Japanese researchers should facilitate the advance of cross-disciplinary work.

Follow-up message from Rob Kass

1. Reimbursements. For those not coming from Japan who were promised funding, you will shortly receive an email from Tim Wainwright with a short document you must fill out. You will have to send the document and original receipts to Tim, though pdf copies of receipts may be emailed ahead to get things moving (and airline receipts, which are electronic, may suffice to cover the amount claimed). You may notice that the document says you can request more than the amount you were promised; however, please don't get your hopes up very high; we might have a little extra left over, but it won't be a lot and might be zero.

2. Feedback and suggestions for the future. I have already received many useful comments. Please do feel free to send more---I would like to have them---but please send them to, with subject MONA2 comments. (You may also go to the "comments" link on this page.) There are 4 obvious things to comment on: (1) meeting content, (2) meeting structure, (3) meeting location, and (4) strategies for future meetings, especially ideas that can help generate funding. For meeting structure, I think you should consider specific design features including (a) 20 minute talks, (b) 30 minute breaks, (c) 1.5 hour lunch, (d) total of 3 days, (e) one afternoon open for informal discussion, (f) a single poster session of 2 hours, and (g) start time of 9 am. Any suggestions you might have (all welcome) should consider the impact they might have on the overall design. ALSO, if you are willing to be actively involved, you should let me know that too.

3. New collaborations. As I mentioned, it would be very useful for me to be aware of any collaborations that can possibly be tied to MONA. This could include extended conversations----it doesn't have to involve a publication. US-Japan is by far the most important, but other collaborations would be of interest too. If you want to cite grants, we are funded by MH 064537, NSF-DMS 1612914, and by the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, and you should include something like "travel grant to the Modeling Neural Activity conference in June, 2016." Technically, each person's support will come from one of these sources, but I don't think that matters (if you disagree, let us know after you get reimbursed and we'll figure it out).

MONA1 2013