[Comp-neuro] First Workshop on Topics of the nEUro-IT.net Roadmap

Marc de Kamps kamps at in.tum.de
Mon Mar 20 17:27:20 CET 2006

First Workshop on Topics of the nEUro-IT.net Roadmap

Antwerp, 21/22 April 2006

Location:  to be announced

nEUro-IT.net  is about to present the new version of the Roadmap. The
Roadmap is a 
document which summarizes the state-of-the-art in nEUro-IT topics, and which
tries to recognize future developments in this field.

The Roadmap will serve as input for new calls in FP7. In order to 
promote the Roadmap, we will organize a workshop around theme's in the 
Roadmap. This workshop will take place in Antwerp on 21/22 April. Topics

                      1. Bio-inspired and evolvable hardware
                      2. Brain-Machine interfacing

                      3. Peripheral Processing 

On the 21st the three workshops will take place in parallel, on the 22nd
there will be a plenary session.  The talks here address a general audience
and allow people who have been participating in one of the workshops on the
21st to get a flavour from the other workshops. Officers from Future and
Emerging Technology (FET) will be present at the meeting and briefly comment
the preparations for FP7. They are also available for informal contacts
during the meeting.

Participation is free, but a registration is required. Please send an email
to kamps at in.tum.de

Programme webpage:

Key note speakers include (ordered by workshop): 

Tetsuya Higuchi (AIST, Japan), Pauline Haddow (NTNU, Norway), Gianluca
Tempesti (EPFL Switzerland), Andy Tyrrell (Univerity of York, UK), Gianluca
Tempesti (EPFL Switzerland), Jim Torresen(University of Oslo, Norway),
Adrian Stoica

Erik De Schutter, Ad Aertsen (Bernstein Center, University of Freiburg,
Germany), Paolo Dario (Polo Sant'Anna Valdera, Italy), Miguel Nicolelis
(Duke University, USA and Brain Mind Institute, Lausanne, Switzerland),
Eilon Vaadia (Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel)

Stefaan Peeters,Gijs Krijnen (Universiteit Twente), George Jeronimidis
(Reading University), Herbert Peremans (Universiteit Antwerpen), 
Leo van Hemmen (Technische Universität München), Annemie Van Der Linden
(Universiteit Antwerpen), Heike Scheuerpflug (Forschungszentrum Jülich)

Scope of the workshops is described in greater detail below:

1. Bio-inspired and evolvable hardware
Evolvable hardware techniques enable self-reconfigurability and adaptability
of programmable devices and thus have the potential to significantly
increase the functionality of deployed hardware systems. Evolvable hardware
is expected to have a major impact on deployable systems for space missions
and defence applications that need to survive and perform at optimal
functionality during long duration in unknown, harsh and/or changing
environments. Evolvable hardware is also expected to greatly enrich the area
of commercial applications in which adaptive information processing is
needed; such applications range from human-oriented hardware interfaces and
internet adaptive hardware to automotive applications.

Evolvable hardware is an emerging field that applies evolution to automate
design and adaptation of physical structures such as electronic systems,
antennas, MEMS and robots. The aim of this workshop is to bring together
leading researchers from the evolvable hardware community, representatives
of the automated design and programmable/reconfigurable hardware
communities, technology developers, and end-users from the aerospace,
military and commercial sectors. Presentations will consider some of the
following issues important now and in the future :

1. Design of large evolvable systems
2. Hardware design
3. Increased reliability using evolvable hardware
4. Analogue evolvable hardware and its applications
5. Real-world applications of evolvable hardware
6. Future evolvable systems

2. Brain Machine Interfaces: moving beyond limb control

Recent progress in fundamental neurophysiological research has made a
popular subject of science fiction movies seem possible: direct interfacing
of the human brain with computers and machines to create the cyborg. Indeed
in 2004 the first implant of an electrode array was performed in the brain
of a quadriplegic patient, allowing control of external devices including a
robot arm. This rapid development of a new field called neuroprosthetics has
been made possible by the development of better electrodes and of fast
signal processing techniques. This allowed chronic implantation of large
arrays of recording electrodes in rodents and monkeys. The major
breakthrough, however, was the discovery of a high level of plasticity of
the neural coding in the mammalian brain, allowing it to adapt its signals
to communication over a limited number of channels. This has led to an
explosion of application of brain machine interfacing (BMI) to control of
cursors on a computer screen or artificial upper limbs in monkeys and
recently also in patients.
But if we want to progress towards making cyborg-like applications, the
vision of the Brain Interface project should be more ambitious than just
simple motor control tasks such as using an artificial arm. This will
require interfacing of sensory input to the brain and interfacing to
cognitive tasks like memory. To achieve such goals the BMI needs to be
developed further and we will need a much better understanding of the
underlying brain plasticity and brain coding mechanisms. While research
oriented towards neuroprosthetic application needs to be done in monkeys to
prepare for human implementation, most of the visionary research proposed
here can first be done in cheaper rodents, as was the case for the original
BMI studies. This workshop will discuss both the current state of the field,
where the USA is clearly leading, and achievable goals for FP7 including the
development of awake animal models where the brain interacts with the
environment only through BMI techniques. 

3. Peripheral Processing

Sensory systems based on arrays of hairs occur widely in nature and function
in diverse sensing scenarios, for instance in air (cerci, external sensing
hairs in arthropods), in water (lateral line, neuromasts in fish) and in a
fluid-filled compartment coupled to air through impedance matching devices
and beamforming baffles (mammalian auditory apparatus). These
mechanosensor-systems are amongst the most sensitive sensors known. This
suggests that hair-based sensing organs, supported by appropriate neuronal
representation and processing, are a model system particularly well-suited
for studying the extraction of significant information from noisy

Organisms and their environments form tightly coupled interacting systems in
which all components: environmental characteristics and dynamics, sensory
and physical morphology, peripheral and central neural processing and
behavioural patterns, play a significant role.  Hence, the analysis of
hair-based sensing organs will need to be carried out at three levels
simultaneously: the morphology and mechanics, the neuronal processing, and
the behavioural strategies of the model-systems.  We emphasize peripheral
processing because we believe that knowledge of the transformations and
processes performed by peripheral systems is essential for true
understanding of the organisation and operation of central neuronal
processing, as peripheral systems provide the input to central ones. 

In this workshop we want to bring together everybody interested in
identifying the common principles underlying the widespread use in nature of
arrays of mechanical sensory cells for the extraction of significant
information as well as in making those principles available for design of
engineered systems. 

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