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 whose methods are essential for understanding and modeling the brain, as well as for designing and interpreting 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 entail intensive lecturing 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.

  • When?

    January 9th - 28th 2017

  • Where?

    Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa


The School

The school will consist of 6 working days a 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.
Watch this page for future information!

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:
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.


The school is aimed at Masters and early PhD level students though Honours students and Postdoctoral researchers may also apply. Students should have strong quantitative skills, (e.g. a background in mathematics, physics, computer science, statistics, engineering or related field). Some knowledge of neural biology will be useful but not essential. Experimental neuroscience students are encouraged to apply, but should ensure that they have a reasonable level of quantitative proficiency (ie mathematics and computer programming skills).

Course Fee

The course fee is €1,000 and includes accommodation, meals, transport to and from the airport and group excursions on non-academic days.

Partial and full scholarships are available and will be distributed on the basis of merit and need. Additional travel bursaries are also available. If you would require either of these forms of financial assistance, please be sure to specify as such in the applicable section of the application form.


Applications close at 23:59 GMT on July 31st 2016


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Essential Information

Please be aware of the important dates below




23:59 GMT




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

Should I apply as a TA or a student?

Teaching Assistants will be expected to supply high-quality supervision for student projects in various topics of computational and theoretical neuroscience research. For this reason, teaching assistants will need to have (or be close to obtaining) a Doctoral degree in computational/theoretical neuroscience or a very closely related field (neural biophysics, mathematical neuroscience, neuromorphic computing etc.)

If you do not hold such a qualification, please consider applying as a student.

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 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 assistant where asked.

I'm not sure if I know enough math/stats/coding?

There will be a significant analytic component to the problem sets and projects students are required to do. There will also be a significant neuroscience component. Students are expected to work together and complement each others' skills.
Students should at least have done mathematics, physics or statistics at undergraduate level: for example, as part of an engineering, computerscience, psycology, neurobiology/neuroscience degree. Students should have at least some coding experience, i.e. have completed at least one coding based course at university or advanced secondary school level.

My referees have not heard from the organisers, is something wrong?

The organising committe will only contact the referees of short-listed applicants. This can obvioulsy only take place after application have closed. In summary: do not expect to hear about the outcome of your application until mid-September 2016.

Get in Touch

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