Smart Start Retreat 2018

Bernstein Center Freiburg, 15.-17.06.18

Retreat Schedule

Our three day retreat this year will include a diverse set of activities and talks, mostly centered around the fields of Computational Neuroscience and the applications of Machine Learning in the Neurosciences. Apart from talks by senior scientists on Saturday and Sunday, we will get introduced to the research done at the Bernstein Center in Freiburg during a tour through various labs on Friday.

All Smart Start students are additionally invited to present their past and current work in a poster session on Saturday. We will update this event homepage frequently during the next weeks and plan to announce all invited speakers soon. For any questions about the program, please contact one of the organizers.

Friday, 15 June 2018

  • 12 noon: Lunch in the city center (optional)
  • 2 pm - 2.30 pm: Welcome Address (Kathrin Hebert, SmartStart Coordination Office)
  • 2.30 pm - 3.30 pm: Survey Tour of Research Groups at the Bernstein Center Freiburg, Part I (Júlia Gallinaro)
  • 3.30 pm - 4 pm: Coffee Break. Posters should already be put up during the Coffee Break!
  • 4 pm - 4.30 pm: Survey Tour of Research Groups at the Bernstein Center Freiburg, Part I (Júlia Gallinaro)
  • 4.30 pm - 5 pm: Jan H. Kirchner, Dendritic STDP rules in spontaneously active cortical networks (Student Talk)
  • from 5 pm: BBQ & Get-Together

Saturday, 16 June 2018

  • 9.30 am - 10 am: Steffen Schneider, Domain Adaptation in Brains and Machines (Student Talk)
  • 10 am - 12 noon: Talk Session 1 (Dr. Radoslaw M. Cichy, FU Berlin)
  • 12 noon - 12.30 noon: Abib Duut, Deep Generative Models (Student Talk)
  • 12.30 noon - 2 pm: Lunch Break at Bernstein Center Freiburg
  • 2 pm - 2.15pm: Lighting Talks (12x 1min) announcing the posters
  • 2.15 pm - 4 pm: Student Poster Session
  • 4 pm - 6 pm: Talk Session 2 (Prof. Stefan Rotter, Bernstein Center Freiburg)
  • from 6 pm: Dinner & Get-Together

Sunday, 17 June 2018

  • 10 am - 11 am: Talk Session 3 (Dr. Michael Tangermann, University of Freiburg)
  • 11 am - 12 noon: Farewell
  • 12.30 pm - 2.00 pm: Lunch (optional)

Invited Speakers

Along with student presentations, we have three invited talks from the fields of Computational Neuroscience, Applied Machine Learning in Brain Computer Interfaces as well as the intersection of Deep Learning and Neuroscience.

Research Group Leader, Department of Education and Psychology, Free University Berlin

Dr. Cichy's research focuses on understanding human visual cognition – that is, investigating how the brain represents visual objects and scenes during veridical vision and imagery. In his lab in Berlin, he investigates how the brain transforms sensory into abstract representations, the dependency of those representation on tasks, and the plasticity of the underlying neural architecture by studying visual cortex in the blind. At the Smart Start Retreat, Dr. Cichy will talk about how a combination of fMRI, MEG and EEG data as well as machine learning techniques such as deep neural networks can be used to provide new insights about cortical circuitry.

Principal Investigator, Brain State Decoding Lab, University of Freiburg

Dr. Tangermann's research focus is on machine learning problems, which arise during the single-trial decoding of mental states from neuronal signals. Brain data is specifically challenging due to its low signal-to-noise ratio, high dimensionality, and ‒ as brain signals change over time ‒ its non-stationary characteristics. At the Smart Start retreat, Dr. Tangermann will talk about unsupervised classification of event-related potentials by continuous adaptation in the context of brain-computer interfaces.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Rotter

Professor of Computational Neuroscience, Managing Director, Bernstein Center Freiburg / University of Freiburg

Prof. Rotter's Computational Neuroscience Laboratory comprises a team of theoreticians from mathematics, physics, biology and various engineering sciences. His research interests range around the relations between structure, dynamics and function of the neuronal networks of the brain, with a specific focus on the mammalian neocortex. By applying modeling and data analysis approaches to multi-scale neuronal network topology, spiking activity dynamics of recurrent networks, and biological function and dysfunction of neuronal networks, his research goal is to develop a theory of the brain which also supports a better understanding of the neuronal mechanisms underlying some brain diseases. At the Smart Start retreat, Prof. Rotter will talk about experience-dependent plasticity and cortical network remodeling.


The Smart Start Retreat 2018 will take place in the Bernstein Center Freiburg. For travel within Germany, it is probably most convenient to travel to Freiburg via train.

Posters & Student Presentations

We are happy to announce several student presentations during our poster session on Saturday. Posters will be introduced in a quick session of Lightning Talks of one minute each, right before lunch break on Saturday. Posters should be put up during the Coffee Break on Friday.

  1. Mahraz Behbood, Jan-Hendrik Schleimer, Susanne Schreiber: A reduced model of Neural concentration dynamics
  2. Lisa Schmors, Dominic Gonschorek, Dr. Terrence C. Stewart: Biologically plausible model of olfactory learning in Drosophila melanogaster using the Neural Engineering Framework
  3. Maksims Ivanovs, Amir Kayvanjoo, Rajeevan Narayanan, Marcel Oberlaender: Cell Type-Specific Organization Of The Rat Vibrissal Motor Cortex
  4. Lukas Sonnenberg, Jan Benda: Classic Voltage-Clamp experiments cannot resolve important voltage ranges of voltage-dependent Na-channels
  5. Varsha Vasudevan, Julijana Gjorgjieva: Development of Cortico-Cortical Topographic Maps
  6. Steffen Schneider, Alexander Ecker, Jakob Macke, Matthias Bethge: Domain Adaptation in Brains and Machines
  7. Jan H. Kirchner: Exponential First Passage Time Approximations of Neuron Model with Conductance-Based Dynamics
  8. Christoph Miehl, Julijana Gjorgjieva: Inhibitory Plasticity as a Possible Homeostatic Mechanism
  9. Nabbefeld G, Günther M, Bexter A, Kampa BM: Mesoscale imaging of cortical activity in multisensory integration and mismatch negativity
  10. Markus Lohmeyer: Nociception in the medicinal leech
  11. Sandra Kohl, Soheil Mottaghi, Ulrich Hofmann: Phase Amplitude Coupling in hemiparkinsonian rats and the influence of DBS
  12. Sigrid Trägenap, Bettina Hein, David E. Whitney, Gordon B. Smith, David Fitzpatrick, Matthias Kaschube: The role of network interactions in coordinating neuronal tuning properties across visual cortex


The registration form is only relevant for Smart Start students. Registration closed on February 4, 12 noon. For late registration and any questions concerning your registration, please contact the organizers directly.

Contact & Organizers

The Retreat is part of the Smart Start Training Program in Computational Neuroscience and organized independently by Smart Start Students.

Nicolas Berberich


Technical University of Munich

Sebastian Onasch


Goethe University Frankfurt, MPI for Brain Research Frankfurt

Steffen Schneider


Technical University of Munich