Cajal course on Quantitative Approaches to Behaviour

Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal

Organiser: CAJAL Advanced Neuroscience Training


Attendance type(s): In Person

Event Dates: 22 May—11 Jun 2022

Registration Deadline: 6 Dec 2021

Apply here:

Quantitative studies of behaviour are fundamental in our effort to understand brain function and malfunction. Recently, the techniques for studying behaviour, along with those for monitoring and manipulating neural activity, have progressed rapidly. This course provides promising young scientists with a comprehensive introduction to state-of-the-art techniques in quantitative behavioural methods. This course’s content is complementary to other summer courses that focus on measuring and manipulation neurophysiological processes.

Our focus is on methodologies to acquire rich data representations of behaviour, dissect them statistically, model their dynamics, and integrate behavioural measurements with other kinds of neurobiological data. To this end, students will 1) fabricate devices for recording the behaviour experimental organisms, 2) learn, under the guidance of the scientists developing these methods, the modern tools to analyze behavioural data from these organisms, and 3) in a week-long independent project develop and conduct a behavioural study of their own design, with the support and guidance of the course instructors and teaching assistants.

This 3-week course is a practical “hands-on” introduction to advanced methods in behavioural tracking and analysis. Our educational goal is to cover sufficient background such that all participants will be able to establish these techniques in their home laboratories.

In the pedagogical portion of the course (blocks 1 and 2, see below) we will use two main experimental model systems: flies (Drosophila melanogaster) and zebrafish (Danio rerio). Several days of instruction will focus on analysis of video data, and on these days, students may use videos of flies and fish, videos we provide of mammals behaving, or videos of their own organism of choice. In the student project portion of the course (block 3), students may use these experimental organisms, as well as, subject to their availability, organisms in use at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.

We will cover data acquisition (software, hardware, tools), preprocessing (single animal, body parts and multiple animals tracking systems), data analysis (clustering, ethograms) and modeling.

Course directors:
Benjamin de Bivort, Harvard University, USA,
Gordon Berman, Emory University, USA,
Gonzalo G. de Polavieja, Champalimaud Research, Portugal
Orit Peleg, University of Colorado, USA
Greg Stephens, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Keynote Speakers:
Sama Ahmed – Center for the Physics of Biological Function, Princeton University, USA
Kristin Branson – hhmi, Janelia Research Campus, USA
Bing Brunton – University of Washington, USA
Serena Ding – Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Germany
Giorgio Gilestro – Imperial College London, UK
Alex Jordan – Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Germany
Ilona Kadow – Technical University of Munich, Germany
Ann Kennedy – Northwestern University, USA
Natasha Mhatre – Western University, Canada
Ilya Nemenman – Emory University, USA
Talmo Pereira – Princeton University, USA
Sam Reiter – Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan
Barbara Webb – University of Edinburgh, UK


Stipends are available.

Contact Details

Name: CAJAL Advanced Neuroscience Training Programme




Champalimaud Centre For The Unknown, Avenida Brasília, Lisbon, Portugal