Recently Dr. Cameron Craddock, director of imaging for the Center for the Developing Brain, helped organize a genre-defying event—a scientific conference, convention for academic hacker/neuroscientists, and collaborative brainstorm/barnstorming session on the future of research into the mysteries of the brain, all rolled into one. It was Brainhack Americas, or “Brainhack AMX,” and it took place in person and online across 8 cities over the weekend of October 23rd.
Our own web producer, Curt White, was at Mount Sinai School of Medicine to participate, along with many representatives of the Child Mind Institute’s Center for the Developing Brain and Healthy Brain Network. He described a lively atmosphere of standing room only talks and “open hacking” sessions where attendees put their heads together to use cutting edge computer technologies of today to anticipate tomorrow’s big questions.
Along with Dr. Adriana Dimartino’s keynote on using open science tools to accelerate our understanding of autism spectrum disorder through things like her, Curt was drawn to miniclasses on powerful web-based software tools. These have been pretty alien to academic scientists until now—Amazon AWS for hosting and cloud computing, GitHub for distributed software development.
The fact that academic computer and data scientists and neuroscientists are embracing these tools is telling. GitHub is central to the conception of the modern internet, Curt says. By introducing brain science to that arena, these scientists are trying to “bring a fast-paced, transparent way of software development to academics.” And that could mean a faster, clearer improvement in our understanding of the brain and its disorders.
Stay tuned to Brainhack’s website for more information on proceedings published through their partnership with Gigascience, a open-access open-date online journal, and to childmind.org for more on how data sharing and open science are revolutionizing the study of the developing brain. And thanks again to Curt for attending Brainhack AMX, and the Child Mind Institute science team for pulling off an amazing event.