Brainhack EDT

Brainhack is a unique conference that convenes researchers from across the globe and a myriad of disciplines to work together on innovative projects related to neuroscience.


Brainhack is a unique conference that convenes researchers from across the globe and a myriad of disciplines to work together on innovative projects related to neuroscience. Year after year, global Brainhack events have brought together researchers to participate in open collaboration, and now we are proud to introduce regional Brainhack events that will keep the momentum going throughout the year.

To kick off the new model, Brainhack Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) will unite several regional Brainhack events during October 18 & 19, 2014. Having several simultaneous events will help build a critical mass for the regional Brainhack movement and will provide opportunities for inter-Brainhack collaboration. Local events will be connected by videoconference to expand collaborative opportunities so that smaller sites can plug into the content and energy generated at larger sites. To maximize the potential for interaction between sites, Brainhack EDT will connect sites that are within two hours of EDT (UTC-4 hours).

Sites in Ann Arbor, Boston, Miami, Montreal, New York City, Porto Alegre, Toronto and Washington DC have already signed on, and we hope to partner with additional sites throughout North, Central, and South America. Please contact Cameron Craddock if you are interested in hosting a Brainhack in your area. Every attempt will be made to minimize the cost of attendance at these events.

Regional Events

Ann Arbor, MI

Location: University of Michigan Museum of Art Dates: October 18 & 19, 0900 – late EDT Organizers: Scott Peltier, PhD, Acting Co-Director, Laboratory Manager and Associate Research Scientist, Functional MRI Laboratory, Associate Research Scientist, Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI Robert Welsh, PhD, Research Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Research Associate Professor, Department of Radiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI Registration and Information: Email, flyer

Boston, MA

Location: TBD @ Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dates: October 18 & 19, 0900 – late EDT Organizers: Satra Gosh, PhD, Research Scientist, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA Matt Hutchison, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Boston, MA Donald McLaren, PhD, Research Fellow, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA and Postdoctoral Research Fellow, GRECC, Bedford VA Registration and Information: Sign up online

Miami, FL

Location: TBD @ Florida International University Dates: October 18, 0900-1700 EDT Organizers: Angie Laird, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Florida International University, Miami, FL Lucina Uddin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Miami, Miami, FL Registration and Information: Sign up online

Montreal, QC, Canada

Location: Centre de Recherche de l’Institut de Gériatrie de Montréal (CRIUGM) Dates: October 18 & 19, 0900 – late EDT Organizers: Benjamin De Leener, PhD Candidate, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal, Québec, Canada Pierre Bellec, PhD, Chercheur, Research Centre of the Montreal Geriatric Institute Professeur adjoint sous octroi, Department of Computer Science and Operations Research University of Montreal, Québec, Canada Julien Cohen-Adad, PhD, Associate Professor, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal, Functional Neuroimaging Unit, CRIUGM, Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada Costs: Free Sponsors: Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, Département d’Informatique et de Recherche Opérationnelle (DIRO), Université de Montréal, Quebec Bioimaging Network Registration and Information: Sign up online

New York, NY

Location:Board Room (6601) and Multipurpose Room (6602) on the 6th floor @ New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032 Dates and Times: October 18 & 19, 0900 – late EDT Costs: Free Ignite Speakers: Alan Anticevic, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine Guillermo Horga, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Division of Translational Imaging, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center Organizers: Andrew Gerber, MD, PhD, Director, MRI Unit, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY and Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, NY Cameron Craddock, PhD, Director, Computational Neuroimaging Lab, Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY and Director of Imaging, Center for the Developing Brain, Child Mind Institute, New York, NY Sponsors: New York State Psychiatric Institute Child Mind Institute Registration and Information: Email Cameron Craddock or sign up online Instructions: On the day of the event you will have to show photo ID to the security guard at the entrance of NYSPI. Tell them that you are attending the Brainhack and then proceed to the 6th floor where you will be met by greeters.

Porto Alegre, Brazil

Location: TBD @ Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul Dates: October 18 & 19, 0900 – late BRT Organizers: Alex Franco, PhD, Coordenador de Pesquisa em Neuroinformática e Pós-Processamento, Instituto do Cérebro do Rio Grande do Sul, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Pontifícia Universidade Catòlica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil Caroline Froehlich, MSc Candidate, Faculdade de Informática, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil Felipe Meneguzzi, Associate Professor, Faculdade de Informática, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil Registration and Information: Sign up online. More details, or mail Caroline Froehlich.

Toronto, ON, Canada

Location: Discovery Commons, Room 3172, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, 1 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8 Dates and times: October 18 & 19, 0900 – 1700 EDT Organizers: Jonathan Downar, MD, PhD, Director, MRI-Guided rTMS Clinic, Toronto Western Hospital Stephen Strother, PhD, Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Katie Dunlop, MSc Candidate, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto Registration and Information: Sign up online, email Katie Dunlop with questions.

Washington DC

Location: SW107 MedDent, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3900 Reservoir Road NW Dates and times: October 18 & 19, 0900 – 1700 EDT Organizers: John Van Meter, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Director, Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington DC Lei Liew, PhD, MA, OTR/L, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Human Cortical Physiology and Neurorehabilitation Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, MD Ziad Saad, PhD, Scientific and Statistical Computing Core Facility, Research Fellow, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD Prantik Kundu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY Registration and Information: Sign up online

What will happen at local Brainhack events?

Brainhack is unconventional – the event eschews a prearranged schedule of scientific sessions and instead structures activities onsite based on the interests of the community. This model encourages active participation and interaction between attendees. Regional Brainhack events will span 2 days and are comprised of several unique components: • Welcome reception and icebreaker: Opportunity for attendees to get to know each other and to identify scientific challenges they would like to tackle during Brainhack. • Ignite sessions: Brief talks to inspire attendees and set the pace for the rest of the day. • Open hacking sessions: Most conference time will be devoted to these sessions during which attendees collaborate on neuroscientific projects. • Unconference sessions: Oral presentations by attendees that are dynamically scheduled onsite. • Presentations and wrap up: Reporting on progress made on each project and a summary of the event. The schedule across sites will be synchronized so that Ignite and Unconference sessions can be broadcast between event locations. Time for meals has not been explicitly included in the schedule – attendees are encouraged to have working meals with food from local establishments.


Saturday, October 18, 2014 08:30 Attendee Arrival 09:00 Welcome reception and icebreaker 10:00 Ignite Talk 10:15 Open Hacking 13:30 Unconference Session 15:00 Open Hacking Sunday, October 19, 2014 09:00 Ignite Session 09:15 Open Hacking 11:00 Unconference Session 12:30 Open Hacking 17:00 Project Summaries and Wrap-up 18:30 Adjourn

Who comes to Brainhack?

Brainhack attendees come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are interested in working together on projects related to brain science. Although the nature of the Brainhack makes it most amenable to projects that can be completed with a computer, effective contribution is not limited to those with computational backgrounds. Brainhack welcomes expertise from all fields, including but not limited to: engineering, math and computer science, neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, neurology, art, and philosophy – from undergraduate students to established principal investigators. All have found opportunities to make valuable contributions to the Brainhack.

What do people work on at Brainhack?

Attendees are free to work on any project that they like. In order to assist with the process of choosing a project, attendees are encouraged to post project ideas to weeks before the event. A poster session will occur during the welcome reception to offer another opportunity for attendees to discuss their project ideas. Local organizers may also wish to present a “grand challenge” or unifying problem to offer an additional project opportunity for attendees. As the purpose of local Brainhack events is to build new relationships and to set the foundation for longer-term collaborations, the project need not be completed during the course of the Brainhack. Some attendees may not work on a project, but instead use the Brainhack as an opportunity to learn from other attendees about different domains of brain science. Example projects from previous years of Brainhack can be viewed at and run the gamut from large-scale analyses of cortical thickness in autism, to developing better tools for analyzing and visualizing brain imaging data, to establishing standards for assessing the quality of functional MRI data. These projects have led to ongoing international collaborations and in some cases resulted in scientific publications.

Hosting a regional Brainhack

Regional Brainhacks can range in size from just a few participants to something much larger. Depending on the size of the regional Brainhack, two or more individuals may be needed to host the event. Most of the details below are flexible and ultimately left up to the local organizing committee. If you are interested in hosting an event, please contact Cameron Craddock ( Some items to take into consideration as you begin planning your Branhack:


The primary requirements for the Brainhack location are Internet, electricity, and sufficient workspace for the attendees. Ideally the facilities will be accessible around the clock to allow attendees to work late into the night. Some level of video conferencing capabilities will be needed to connect with other sites, but a web camera and projector will be sufficient. Having multiple workrooms would be convenient (though not necessary) for the open hacking sessions, and there should be at least one room that is large enough to host the entire group during Unconference sessions and other oral presentations. Limiting the event to a single room will make it easier to link sites via video. We have found that it works best to arrange desks or tables in the workrooms into small clusters that fit 4-6 people, with Internet connections and power available at each cluster. Ideally, a university or research institution would provide the facilities for free. Community based organizations, such as libraries or hacker spaces, are also good places to find meeting spaces.

Getting the Word Out

Announcements and materials for Brainhack EDT will begin being distributed on relevant web channels and mailing lists starting July 2014. Regional hosts are encouraged to contact brain science researchers at all local Institutions to solicit their involvement. Enlisting high profile researchers from the area for the Ignite sessions can help attendance. The central organizing committee will also help to develop recruitment materials such as web pages and posters.

Welcome reception and icebreaker

The Welcome Reception is the first opportunity for Brainhack attendees to interact with one another and to start self-organizing into project groups. Ideally refreshments would be available during the welcome reception, and if there is any money available for the event it should be spent here. Depending on the size of the attendance, each attendee should be asked to briefly introduce themselves to the group, or another icebreaker activity (such as a poster session, round of 3-min 1-slide introductions, speed dating) could be employed.

Food and Refreshments

All meals are typically catered at global Brainhack events to encourage the attendees to eat together and to minimize interruptions to the working sessions. For the regional Brainhacks this requirement can be forgone to minimize attendee costs, but ideally some refreshments should be available. Attendees are encouraged to sit together during meals, which can be either delivered or takeout. This will require that the Brainhack be located near food vendors.

Ignite Speakers

Ideal speakers for the Ignite sessions are established brain scientists who have a broad view of brain research and understand the long terms goals of the research community. The primary role of these speakers is to set the tone for each day of hacking. Local events will be able to tune in to Ignite sessions from other sites by videoconference.

Unconference Sessions

Unconference sessions offer attendees the ability to dynamically create scientific content at the Brainhack event. Sign up sheets for the Unconference sessions will be hung each morning and will be available up until the time of the Unconference sessions. Based on experience from previous Brainhacks, we anticipate presentations to include: tool demonstrations, explanations of complex concepts in neuroscience and data analysis, clinical background on mental disorders, and open debates about the future of neuroscience. Local events will be connected by videoconference so all can tune in to Unconference talks presented at other locations.

Project Summaries and Wrap-up

Teams will be given an opportunity to provide a 2-5 minute description of their projects and their progress during a lightening talk session at the end of the day on Sunday. Any remaining time should be spent getting feedback from the attendees about their Brainhack experience and making plans for future regional Brainhack events.

Budgetary Concerns

A major goal of Brainhack EDT is to have attendance be as inexpensive as possible (and in some cases completely free). Some local budget will likely be necessary to cover incidental expenses as well as refreshments at the welcome reception and during the working sessions. The primary concern is arranging a location to host the event. In the past, we have had success raising small amounts of funding from local universities and research institutions. We have also had success obtaining corporate sponsorship. The central organizing committee is more than happy to work with regional organizing committees to help them obtain funding.

Attending a local Brainhack

  1. Pre-register to make sure that you are accounted for.
  2. If you have a project idea, post it to and make sure that you indicate which of the local Brainhacks that you will be attending. This will make other attendees aware of your project idea, so that they can prepare to join your team. If the project involves working with a specific dataset, make sure that it is organized before the Brainhack and consider bringing it on a thumb drive or external hard drive for easy sharing.
  3. If you do not have a project idea, read the list of projects occurring at your local Brainhack event at to get an idea of what will be available. If you find a project team, feel free to contact other project members so that you can prepare to work on the projects.
  4. Prepare to participate in the icebreaker activity. Depending on the local site this might involve preparing a poster, a single slide, or a brief introduction, that showcases your research and interests to present at the welcome ceremony. This will be a valuable means for introducing yourself to others and to tell them about your project ideas.
  5. Come to the Brainhack local event well rested and ready for hardcore collaboration. Bring along any presentations that you may have lying around in case you are called upon to provide a talk at an Unconference session.