Imbizo is a Xhosa word meaning "a gathering to share knowledge". The IBRO-SIMONS Computational Neuroscience Imbizo, or ISi-CNI is exactly that: an opportunity for African and international students to learn about cutting edge research techniques in computational neuroscience.

Computational neuroscience is a rapidly expanding subject focussed on understanding and modeling the brain, while helping to designing and interprete future experiments. This school aims to promote computational neuroscience in Africa by bringing together international and local students under the tutelage of world-leading experts in the field.

The format of the school will be a combination of intensive lectures on advanced topics in computational and theoretical neuroscience as well as practical exercises in simulation and data analysis. In addition, students will perform a mini-research project under the supervision of one of the school tutors, to be presented at the end of the school.


The School

The school will consist of a 6 working day week. Each week will be focused around one of the themes appearing below.
Days off will be spent exploring some of the beautiful wonders around Cape Town.
Each work day will consist of lectures in the morning, followed by either further lectures/practical tutorials in the afternoons.

Week 1:
neural anatomy and higher order brain function

What do brains do? Neural function can be categorised into various tasks: sensory processing, action selection, motor control etc. In week one we will consider the problems posed by understanding each of these. Students will also be taught introductory anatomical and computational concepts as necessary.

Week 2:
biophysics, plasticity and machine learning

How do neurons work? How can we model them mathematically? How do they encode information and communicate that information to one another? Week two will address some of these questions, focusing on cellular biophysics, synaptic plasticity and how techniques from machine learning can help us understand information processing in brains.

Week 3:
learning & computations in spiking networks

Real networks of neurons display some interesting characteristics, like the balance of excitation and inhibition and highly variable firing statistics. In week three students will consider how computations can be performed subject to some of these constraints.

Who should apply?

The school is aimed at students who are completing their Masters or beginning their Doctoral studies, though Honours or Postdoctoral students should also apply. Students should have a strong quantitative background: in physics, engineering, statistics, etc. Though experimental neuroscientists should also apply. Example baseline analytics skills would be:

  • A second-year level course in physics, statistics, mathematics or computer science.
  • At least one course involving programming in either Python or Matlab.

If you're still unsure but think this course would really benefit you - APPLY!

Organising Committee

Alex Antrobus (UCL) | Peter Latham (UCL) | Joseph Raimondo (UCT) | Tim Vogels (Oxford)


Applications have closed for the 2018 Imbizo. Results will be announced via e-mail towards the end of September.


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Affiliated Partners

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IBRO African Center for Advanced Training in Neurosciences at UCT

Essential Information

Please be aware of the important dates below




End September 2017




If your question is not answered here, please don't hesitate to contact us

I am a resident of Cape Town, do I need to pay the full fee?

A key aim of this school is to foster close colaboration and comaraderie between students, teaching assistants and faculty. Students will be working hard on their projects and taking part in many social activities with each other and the faculty. For this reason, all students will be required to stay in the student accommodation, attend all meals and activities etc. This also means costs are essentially the same for all students. Note though that bursaries and travel grants will be provided to as many students as possible, on a basis of need and merit. In your application, specify what financial contribution you can make and be sure to request financial assistance where asked.

I didn't get into the #isiCNI2018, What should I do?!

Apply next year. Applications for the #isiCNI2019 should open in June 2018.

I already have a PhD in computational neuroscience / machine learning. Should I apply?

This school will be most beneficial for students at the end of their Masters or beginning of their PhD studies. If you already have a PhD, perhaps you would be better suited as a Teaching Assistant?! If you are interested in this option, please contact us with the address below to enquire.

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us below.