Connecting European Neuroscience

CAJAL Course in Computational Neuroscience

6 - 26 August 2017, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Portugal


Computational Neuroscience is a rapidly evolving field whose methods and techniques are critical for understanding and modeling the brain, and also for designing and interpreting experiments. Mathematical modeling is one of the few tools available to cut through the vast complexity of neurobiological systems and their many interacting elements.  This school teaches the central ideas, methods, and practice of modern computational neuroscience. Our mission with the course is to train the future generation of both computational and experimental neuroscientists, and to foster theory-driven experimental research. We provide a broad overview of theoretical techniques, from the introductory to the more advanced that are critical for understanding and modeling the brain, and for designing and interpreting experiments. A range of theoretical topics is covered, including cellular biophysics, neural network dynamics, neural coding and computation, statistical analysis of neural data, and behavioral and cognitive aspects of neural function. The course includes a strong hands-on and project-oriented component. Furthermore, the course will be held in Lisbon, Portugal with its many nearby sites and beaches offering ample opportunities to relax/explore during course breaks.

Course directors

Jakob Macke
research center caesar,
an associate of the
Max Planck Society, Germany

Gilles Laurent 
MPI Brain research, Germany

  • On-site chair

Christian Machens
Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Portugal


Pre-school on Programming and Mathematics (1-4 August 2017)

The main course ‘Advanced Course in Computational Neuroscience’ is aimed at students with a biological/experimental background (“experimentalists”) and with a quantitative background (“theorists”). Two of the primary objectives of the course are to help students cross the traditional discipline boundaries that most are still trained in, and to get experimentalists and theorists to collaborate on a research project.

As a consequence, the experimentalists will have to improve their level of mathematics and programming skills; and the theorists, their level of (neuro-)biology. However, while theorists engaged on a course project would usually manage with limited neurobiological background, experimentalists would need some proficiency in programming and a solid understanding of the underlying mathematics.

To level the playing field and counterbalance this asymmetry, we wish to offer a pre-school to teach students with little or no programming skills the basics of modern programming languages (e.g., MATLAB or Python). The pre-school will also provide refreshers on standard math topics such as linear algebra and calculus, important to better follow the course.

It is understood that a three-day school cannot be a replacement for the mathematical education that students from quantitative disciplines enjoy. However, many experimentalist course applicants have had mathematics in high school and at university, but are no longer used to working with those disciplines on a daily basis. The pre-school is thus considered as a helpful review, which will prevent students from losing time during the actual course.

Please note that the Pre-school is not included in the main course tuition fee and therefore, an extra fee applies. In order to register for the pre-school, please click on the "yes" option under the "Do you wish to register for the Pre-school on Math and Programming?" question in the main application form. 

For further information on the course programme, instructors and techniques go to the course local website.

This course is organised in partnership with INCF (International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility)


Fee : 2.500 € (includes tuition fee, accommodation and meals)
Pre-school fee: 350 € 

The CAJAL programme offers 4 stipends per course (waived registration fee, not including travel expenses and pre-school fee). Please apply through the course online application form. In order to identify candidates in real need of a stipend, any grant applicant is encouraged to first request funds from their lab, institution or government.

If you are a member of the Japan Neuroscience Society (JNS) or the Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS), partial grants are available. Please apply inside the application form.



Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal

For enquires, please contact: