Meeting Registration

Festive symposium 2021

Ding Dong Merrily on AI

The 2021 Festive symposium 'Ding Dong Merrily on AI' on the 13th of December will mark the launch of The BNA’s annual theme for 2022 - Artificial Intelligence: What can AI tell us about biological intelligence, and how can AI be used to interrogate neuroscience data and learn more about the nervous system?

We look forward to you joining us online for a fun and festive day of exploring AI, neuroscience, and the brain.

BNA Festive symposia

BNA Awards
Festive Fancy Dress competition

Could you benefit from a BNA-Brain carer grant?
Up to £200 for anyone with caring responsibilities (children or others) to help you attend!
Apply here


We are excited to have a wonderful group of speakers and talks lined up.  Please check back for further details and timings over coming weeks.

The day will start at 10:00 GMT and finish approximately 15:30 GMT.

Confirmed speakers:

Dan Jamieson - Biorelate Ltd
Title TBC
Dan Jamieson is CEO and co-founder of Biorelate Ltd, which is using the power of AI to provide comprehensive and up-to-date curation of biomedical research. Articles are put through a series of deep learning and natural language processing software services that have been built to understand biomedical research, enabling over 30 million articles to be auto-curated in under 6 hours, and accelerating research intelligence for drug discovery.  Dan started his career with an undergraduate degree in Biology, followed by MRes Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and PhD in text mining molecular interactions, before moving into the commercial sector and working for Merck, Pfizer and most recently Biorelate.

Mihaela van der Schaar - University of Cambridge
Quantitative Epistemology: How machine learning can help humans become better decision-makers
Mihaela van der Schaar is the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Medicine at the University of Cambridge, where she leads the van der Schaar Lab, one of the most impactful and diverse teams in the field.  They employ a wide range of Machine Learning approaches including deep learning, causal inference, AutoML, time series analysis, ensemble learning, and many more, with the goal of improving healthcare and medical knowledge.

Aldo Faisal - Imperial College London
Title TBC

Professor of AI & Neuroscience, Aldo is Founding Director of the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in AI for Healthcare, as well as leading the Brain & Behaviour Lab focussing on AI & Neuroscience and the Behaviour Analytics Lab at the Data Science Institute. He is Associate Investigator at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and is affiliated faculty at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit (University College London).  His work on AI features regularly across global media such as BBC, CNN, TED, TEDx, and WIRED, and in 2016 Scientific American voted his research on gaze-based control as 1st of 10 most transformative ideas of year.

Thomas Nowotny - University of Sussex
Insect AI – what we can learn from humble creatures

Thomas is a co-director of the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics, and leads a research group using computational and hybrid systems approaches to better understand the properties and function of sensory and motor systems.  His research is focused around chemical sensing, in both animals and machines, GPU acceleration of computational neuroscience methods, bio-mimetic robot controllers, and hybrid computer-brain experimentation, with interests including machine learning methods for chemical sensing with electronic noses.

Eleni Vasilaki - University of Sheffield
Title TBC
Eleni Vasilaki is a lecturer in the department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield, and the head of the Machine Learning group. Eleni specialises in Bioinspired Machine Learning, Neuromorphic Computing, Computational Neuroscience; some of her most recent work has focussed on Echo state networks in reservoir computing. Accordant with her early education in Athens, she has also written a very interesting article on Epicurus, as the father of Reinforcement Learning.

George Cevora- Arca Blanca
Adversarial Examples are not a failure of Machine Vision models but rather our failure to cast the task properly
George Cevora is the chief data scientist at Arca Blanca and illumr. During his PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, he collaborated with Rik Henson on the role of Prediction Error in Probabilistic Associative Learning. George also programmed Rosa, a system that fights discrimination in data analytics and machine learning, and his current research explores how even very small datasets can be used to improve decision-making and policy.


BNA Festive Symposia

The BNA Festive Symposium is one of the most popular events in the neuroscience calendar, with a reputation for lively and inclusive programmes which attract people interested in neuroscience across all stages of their career. Previous years' events have sold-out weeks in advance and have been covered by BBC Radio Four's 'All in the Mind.

This year’s symposium will be held online.  This is because of ongoing travel anxiety and uncertainty due to the COVID19 pandemic, and also because we found that holding the previous year's Festive Symposium online (in 2020) greatly increased the accessibility and ability of people to attend from further away.

To maintain the sense of occasion, excitement and interaction, the talks will be delivered live, to maximize engagement of all attendees.  We have also made the talks and the day shorter than the in-person event, to allow for those who are multi-tasking and home-working. 

BNA Awards 

The BNA Festive Symposium will feature the presentation of the following BNA Awards for 2021.

  • Undergraduate prize 
  • Postgraduate prize 
  • Outstanding contribution to neuroscience 
  • Public engagement of neuroscience 

The application deadline for the above awards is 31st October 2021. Please click here for full details on how you can apply for one of our award. 


Fancy-dress competition

Our Festive meetings are always an opportunity for enjoyment and socializing as well as science, and we're determined to make sure the online version is no different!

We will be running a fancy-dress competition for all speakers, participants and delegates, on the theme of 'Festive', where we encourage you to embody the festive spirit in any way shape or form, whether relating to any religion or none, and where creativity and individuality is especially welcomed.

Prizes of suitable frivolity will be on offer!

To enter the competition:

  • dress up in your costume of choice on 13th December
  • send in a photo of yourself via Twitter or Instagram, making sure to tag the BNA (@BritishNeuro on Twitter or @britishneuroscienceassociation on Instagram) and with hashtags #RobeYourLobes (geddit...) and #BNAFestiveSymposium
  • or, if you prefer, send by email to
  • Please ensure you have entered the competition by 2pm (GMT) on Monday 13th December 

Winners will be announced at the end of the day, and invited to 'the stage' to share their costumes in all their glory!


Miltenyi Biotec

Sponsor the Festive Symposium for just £350 + VAT!
Click here for full information about the sponsorship package and how your organisation can get involved. 

If your organisation is interested in supporting this event or other BNA activities, then please contact


In order to register your place:

  1. Please complete the online registration form, below, to save your place
    (If you are a BNA member, please log in to the website first, in order to register for FREE)
  2. Look out for the email you'll receive, nearer the time, with your joining link for the symposium
  3. The joining link will be sent to the email address you give when registering
  4. The link is unique to you.  Each individual wishing to attend needs to complete their own registration.

Please note that any attendees registering after 13:00 GMT on Friday 10th December will receive the link to join the symposium on the morning of Monday 13th December. We cannot guarantee that individuals registering after the start of the event on Monday 13th December will recieve their joining link within a certain time period, but will do our best to get it to you as soon as we can!

Please note that as this is an online event catering requirements are not neccessary. Please disregard the section referring to catering during the registration process. 


The BNA Festive Symposium 2021 is FREE for members!  Please click here to join if you are not already a member - membership brings with it loads of benefits and costs as little as £12 per year

There are costs associated with holding the event and therefore a fee will apply to non-members as follows:

Type Fee
BNA Member fee FREE
Standard non-member fee (including early career researchers and retirees) £10.80 (£8.50+VAT)
Subsidised non-member fee (for school students, undergraduates and postgraduates, and those from Low or Middle Income Countries*) £5.10 (£4.25+VAT)

*To be eligible for Low and Middle Income Countries subsidised fee rates, you must be based full time (working or studying at an institution) in one of the countries listed here on the Wellcome website, which uses information from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Please note that we may follow up with individuals who register using LMIC rates to check they are based in one of the eligible countries.


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