How can machine learning be used to generate insights and theories in neuroscience?


Alexander Ecker | University of Göttingen, Germany
Fabian Sinz | University of Göttingen, Germany
Mohammad Bashiri, Pavithra Elumalai, Michaela Vystrcilová | University of Göttingen, Germany


Machine Learning (ML) as a tool for investigating the mechanisms underlying brain function has been a topic of intense debate in recent years. Some researchers argue that ML and Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) as models of the brain can offer deep insights into the computations carried out by neuronal populations, while others view these models as black boxes that provide only limited understanding of neural processes. With this workshop, we aim to bring together experts from both sides of this debate for a stimulating and productive discussion. Our goal is to explore the potential of ML for generating concrete theories and insights in neuroscience. To facilitate this conversation, we have invited a diverse group of speakers with contrasting perspectives on the topic. Each speaker will deliver a talk presenting their views and research findings, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Paul Middlebrooks, the host of the Brain Inspired podcast.

Schedule (CEST)

Tuesday, Sept 26


Starting remarks


Katrin Franke | University of Tübingen, Germany
Understanding visual processing in the brain using deep learning


Ralf Haefner | University of Rochester, USA
MCMC sampling as a metaphor for neural activity


Gemma Roig | Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
On Aligning Machine and Visual Cortex Representations


30 min coffee break


Johannes Jaeger | University of Vienna, Austria
Brains are not machines, and why this matters in practice


Martin Hebart | Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany
Data-driven and computational modeling approaches for revealing core representational dimensions in brain and behavior


Fred Wolf | Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Germany 
How to decode a major transition in cortical architecture


End of first day

Wednesday, Sept 27


Group Discussion
Group discussion about the talks on the first day


30 min coffee break


Panel discussion
Moderated by Paul Middlebrooks


Closing remarks