Telluride Neuromorphic Engineering Workshop

February 17, 2010

  The annual gathering of the worlds most eminent Brain-Machine research engineers takes place in Telluride, Colorado each June and is an event that has opportunities for public interaction. This group of scientists will be discussing state of the art innovations in things like intelligent motor control, spike based sensory signals and silicon retinas. They do a lot of robotics and always march in the fourth of July parade. The list of presenters is a who’s who for the field of cognitive neuroscience and they are really an entertaining and interesting group.  If you are one of those Augmented Reality, Cloud Computing, GBxml folks you might want to take a look at what this workshop is about.

Neuromorphic engineers design and fabricate artificial neural systems whose organizing principles are based on those of biological nervous systems. Over the past 12 years, this research community has focused on the understanding of low-level sensory processing and systems infrastructure; efforts are now expanding to apply this knowledge and infrastructure to addressing higher-level problems in perception, cognition, and learning. In this 3-week intensive workshop and through the Institute for Neuromorphic Engineering (INE), the mission is to promote interaction between senior and junior researchers; to educate new members of the community; to introduce new enabling fields and applications to the community; to promote on-going collaborative activities emerging from the Workshop, and to promote a self-sustaining research field.

The 2010 Workshop and Summer School on Neuromorphic Engineering is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Institute of Neuromorphic Engineering, Air
Force Office of Scientific Research, Institute for Neuroinformatics – University and ETH Zurich, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Maryland – College Park, Johns Hopkins University, Boston University, University of Sydney, and the Salk Institute.

The three week summer workshop will include background lectures on systems and cognitive neuroscience (in particular sensory processing, learning and memory, motor systems and attention), practical tutorials on analog VLSI design, mobile robots, hands-on projects, and special interest groups. Participants are required to take part and possibly complete at least one of the projects proposed. They are furthermore encouraged to become involved in as many of the other activities proposed as interest and time allow. There will be two lectures in the morning that cover issues that are important to the community in general. Because of the diverse range of backgrounds among the participants, some of these lectures will be tutorials, rather than detailed reports of current research. These lectures will be given by invited speakers. Projects and interest groups meet in the late afternoons, and after dinner. In the early afternoon there will be tutorials on a wide spectrum of topics, including analog VLSI, mobile robotics, auditory systems, central-pattern-generators, selective attention mechanisms, cognitive systems, etc.

* Attention and Selection (Ernst Niebur & Malcolm Slaney)
The group will study and implement mechanisms of attention, the selection of relevant sensory information, without which cognition is impossible in complex environments.
* Spike-based Robotic Systems (Jorg Conradt & Matt Cook)
This topic area involves projects where spike-based sensory signals (e.g., from silicon retinae or cochleae) are categorized into higher level interpretations (which may be learned/abstracted from prior experiences), enabling mobile robots to understand and reason about their perceptions and purposefully act in their environment.
* Multimodal Sensory Fusion/Self 0rganization (Bert Shi & Patrick Kanold)
We will look at how neural systems and smart robots can learn from, work in, and interact with an unpredictable environment. We will study how information from multiple modalities is integrated and processed to form a coherent percept of the world.
* Spike-based Computation (John Harris & Shih-Chii Liu)
We will discuss and implement spike-based computation. In particular, we will investigate spike-based primitives and representations, algorithms for real-time sensory processing that can be embedded into spike-based networks, and spike-based computational models that support cognitive tasks.
* Brain-Machine Interfacing (Chuck Higgins & Justin Sanchez)
In this Brain-Machine Interface workshop, we will study and test the cognitive and computational principles of intelligent motor control and more importantly the learning of goal-directed behavior through a hybrid sensorimotor neural interface.
* Education/Tutorials/Methods (Ralph Etienne-Cumnmings)
This topic area will coordinate lectures that serve as general overviews of the other Topic Areas. The goal is to expose all workshop participants to topic areas that may be out of their direct interest. Hence, we expect the educational talks to be tutorial in nature, to provide an overview of the field, to identify major problems and/or methods in the field, and to conclude with some recent results and developments.
* Terry Sejnowski – Computational Neuroscience (invitational mini-workshop)

The summer school will take place in the small town of Telluride, 9000 feet high in Southwest Colorado, about 6 hours drive away from Denver (350 miles). Great Lakes Aviation and America West Express airlines provide daily flights directly into Telluride. All facilities within the beautifully renovated public school building are fully accessible to participants with disabilities. Participants will be housed in ski condominiums, within walking distance of the school. Participants are expected to share condominiums.

The workshop is intended to be very informal and hands-on. Participants are not required to have had previous experience in analog VLSI circuit design, computational or machine vision, systems level neurophysiology or modeling the brain at the systems level. However, we strongly encourage active researchers with relevant backgrounds from academia, industry and national laboratories to apply, in particular if they are prepared to work on specific projects, talk about their own work or bring demonstrations to Telluride (e.g. robots, chips, software). Wireless internet access will be provided. Technical staff present throughout the workshops will assist with software and hardware issues. We will have a network of PCs running LINUX and Microsoft Windows for the workshop projects. We encourage participants to bring along their personal laptop.

No cars are required. Given the small size of the town, we recommend that you do not rent a car. Bring hiking boots, warm clothes, rain gear, and a backpack, since Telluride is surrounded by beautiful mountains.

Unless otherwise arranged with one of the organizers, we expect participants to stay for the entire duration of this three week workshop.

Notification of acceptances will be mailed out around mid March 2010.

The Workshop covers all your accommodations and facilities costs. You are responsible for your own travel to the Workshop. For expenses not covered by federal funds, a Workshop registration fee is required. The fee is $550 per participant, however, due to the difference in travel cost, we offer a discount to non-US participants. European registration fees will be reduced to $300; non-US/non-European registration fees will be reduced to $150. The cost of a shared condominium will be covered for all academic participants but upgrades to a private room will cost extra. Participants from National Laboratories and Industry are expected to pay for these condominiums.

—— HOW TO APPLY: ——-
Applicants should be at the level of graduate students or above (i.e. postdoctoral fellows, faculty, research and engineering staff and the equivalent positions in industry and national laboratories). We actively encourage women and minority candidates to apply.

Anyone interested in proposing specific projects should contact the appropriate topic leaders directly.

The application website is (after January 1st, 2010):

Application will include:

* First name, Last name, Affiliation, valid e-mail address.
* Curriculum Vitae (a short version, please).
* One page summary of background and interests relevant to the workshop, including possible ideas for workshop projects.
Please indicate which topic areas you would most likely join.
* Two letters of recommendation (uploaded directly by references).

The application deadline is March 1, 2010.
Applicants will be notified by e-mail.

1 January, 2010 – Applications accepted on website
1 March, 2010 – Applications Due
mid-March – Notification of Acceptance

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