Latin American School on Computational Neuroscience – LASCON
LASCON is a biennial school aiming at introducing advanced undergraduate, graduate students and young researchers, mostly from Latin America, to the use of mathematical and computational methods for modeling neurons and neural networks of the brain. The school also aims to foster systematic as well as informal interactions between faculty members and students.
LASCON is an intensive four-week school with morning, afternoon and evening activities. The morning periods are dedicated to theoretical classes on the fundamentals of neuron and neural network modeling, the afternoon periods are dedicated to hands-on training in computer programs commonly used in neural network simulation and analysis, and the evening periods are dedicated to exercises. The faculty is composed of researchers with large experience in computational neuroscience and the use of these programs. Besides attending the classes and doing the exercises, students have to carry out small research projects using the tools taught at the school and present them orally at the end of the school.
The long term goal of LASCON is to promote the field of computational neuroscience in Latin America and stimulate the creation of a culture of using mathematical modeling and computer simulation methods to approach neuroscience problems among Latin American researchers and students.
The rationale behind LASCON’s program is to cover basic and fundamental topics of computational neuroscience to give students a background solid enough for them to undertake more advanced and specialized studies. The set of lectures is designed to start with single neuron modeling approaches, ranging from biophysically detailed to simplified, and then build up from these to models for synaptic circuits, networks and systems. The tutorials also follow this sequence and at each stage provide a practical introduction to some software widely used as research tools to simulate and investigate the corresponding neural structures.
The school is open to applicants of different backgrounds. Computational neuroscience is an interdisciplinary subject, which historically has benefited considerably from the crosstalk between people with very different scientific origins: physics, mathematics, computer science, engineering, biology, medicine, psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, etc.
Regarding the geographical origin, most of the selected students are from Latin American countries but students from other areas of the world may be accepted as well.
LASCON has been continually supported since its inception in 2006 by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO). Occasional support has also been given by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), the Brazilian Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), the Organization for Computational Neurosciences (OCNS), and the Biophysical Society.