Connecting European Neuroscience

Artificial and natural computations for sensory perception: what is the link?

6-12 June 2021 - Bertinoro, Italy

! Due to the COVID-19 latest developments, the Summer School has been rescheduled to 6-12 June 2021.

Recent advances in machine learning have yielded deep neural network models with impressive performance in artificial perception, based in part on principles established by experimental studies of sensory neuroscience. This is an exciting time for research in this field, as such models provide quantitative theories for the key computations that give rise to perception in biological sensory systems. However, unlike brains, current deep neural network models are often brittle and do not generalize well to new situations. At the same time, many structural and functional aspects of real sensory systems appear to be incompatible with the very simple design of neural networks used in artificial intelligence (AI).
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In this school, we will discuss analogies and discrepancies between sensory system computations and artificial intelligence models and how the two fields can interact more to advance each other. A set of international lectures will provide an overview of modern algorithms in artificial intelligence and recent breakthroughs in the neural mechanisms of sensory perception.

The students will also learn how to practically implement machine learning tools from recent AI technologies, such as deep neural networks, and to apply them in concrete example relevant for neuroscience experimental or theoretical research.

Please note that this school will require pre-school preparations in programmes such as Python. More information will be provided after the selected students have been invited to attend.

Scientific chairs


Brice Bathellier Paris-Saclay Institute of Neuroscience,


Andrew King
Centre for Integrative Neuroscience,
Oxford University, UK

  Andreas Tolias
Baylor College of Medicine,
Houston, USA 

Faculty members

Matthias Bethge, University of Tübingen, Germany
Michael Brecht, Bernstein Center Berlin, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany
Na Ji, University of California Berkeley, USA
Jennifer Linden, The Ear Institute, Faculty of Brain Sciences, UCL, UK
Mackenzie Mathis, EPFL, Switzerland (2020) & Rowland Institute at Harvard University, USA
Alexander Mathis, Harvard University, USA & EPFL (May 2020), Switzerland
Josh McDermott, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT MA, USA
Maneesh Sahani, Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, UCL, UK
Edgar Y. Walker, Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA
Dan Yamins, Departments of Psychology and Computer Science, Stanford University, USA

Registration and stipends

  • Fee: FENS Members: 520 EUR
             FENS Non-members: 640 EUR
  • Registration fee covers tuition, accommodation and meals.
  • FENS offers 4 stipends (covering the registration fee) available for candidates from disadvantaged countries. Any applicant in need of a grant should however first try to request it from the lab, institution or government if possible. You can apply for a stipend inside the application form. 
  • Please note that if you already benefited from a FENS training grant in 2020, you are not eligible to receive a stipend.
  • Applications closed on 3rd February 2020.
  • The school was originally schedulded on 7-13 June 2020.


Bertinoro, Training Center of the University of Bologna, Italy









For enquiries, please contact: 

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Winter School rescheduled

FENS regrets to announce that the FENS Hertie Winter School on Multiscale approaches to probe psychiatric disorders is rescheduled to 9-15 January 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will reopen in the summer 2021.



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The students' perspective

The students who attended the FENS-SfN Summer School 2015 on Shared mechanisms and specifity in neurodegenerative diseases (7-13 June 2015, Bertinoro, Italy), tell you about their experience:

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