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Third Annual Aspen Brain Forum to Bring Together Neuroscientists Working to ‘Crack the Neural Code’

Hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences and the Aspen Brain Forum

Published August 23, 2012

NEW YORK, August 7, 2012 — One of the greatest challenges in neuroscience today is deciphering how the activity of individual neurons and neuronal circuits gives rise to higher order cognition and behavior - the world as we experience it day to day. On August 23 - 25 in Aspen, Colorado, the New York Academy of Sciences and The Aspen Brain Forum Foundation will present "Cracking the Neural Code: Third Annual Aspen Brain Forum," bringing together leading researchers working at the forefront of systems and computational neuroscience to discuss cutting-edge developments in the quest to crack the neural code. Efforts to crack the neural code and model the human brain hold the promise of improved diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of brain diseases and disorders.

The conference will kick off on the evening of August 23 with a public talk by keynote speaker Christof Koch, PhD, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle. Dr. Koch will discuss his life-long quest to solve the mysterious neurobiology of consciousness and his recently published book, "Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist." Says Dr. Koch, "Once we understand the whispering language of nerve cells, interconnected by thousands of gossamer threads, we will be close to unraveling the ancient mind-body riddle-how the brain generates consciousness."

The following morning, August 24, Dr. Koch will open the scientific conference with a keynote lecture on "Neural Coding: Building Brain Observatories at the Allen Institute." Joining Dr. Koch as keynote speakers are:

  • Allan Jones, PhD, Allen Institute for Brain Science, speaking on "Mapping Gene Expression and Connections in the CNS";
  • David Van Essen, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis, speaking on "The Human Macro-connectome";
  • Sean Hill, PhD, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, speaking on "The Blue Brain Project: Insights from the Synthesis of a Cortical Column"; and
  • George Church, PhD, Harvard Medical School, speaking on "Reading and Writing All Basepairs in a Genome and All Impulses in a Brain".

Plenary talks, given by an array of neuroscience experts, will cover neural coding from a variety of angles, including advances in tools, technologies, imaging, informatics, neural prosthetics and computational models for mapping neural networks.  

"To decipher the brain's neural codes, we need a systematic and coordinated attack at multiple levels of organization, from the microscopic realm of individual neurons and their intricate synaptic connections to the macroscopic realm of highly coordinated brain networks and subnetworks," says Dr. Van Essen. "Computational models can provide a critical 'glue' for linking across levels by providing explicit hypotheses of how information encoded at one level is communicated and processed at other organizational levels."

For more information and to register, visit

Media must RSVP to Diana Friedman (; 212.298.8645).

About the Aspen Brain Forum
The Aspen Brain Forum is a high level think tank in the retreat setting of Aspen, Colorado. The mission of the Aspen Brain Forum is to organize, fund, produce, and host an annual high level meeting of international brain researchers leading to breakthroughs in brain science. For more information please visit:

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at