SAND Home
  SAND I   (2004)
  SAND II  (2005)
  SAND III (2006)
  SAND IV (2007)
  SAND V  (2008)
  SAND VI (2009)
  SAND VII (2010)
  SAND VIII (2011)
  SAND IX  (2012)
  SAND X   (2013)
  SAND XI  (2014)
  SAND XII (2015)

La Jolla, California
July 27-29, 2009

  Sand 2009 La Jolla

Call For Presentations:



A multi-disciplinary meeting exploring free dynamics in networks and the relation of autonomous neurodynamics to neurological conditions.

The 6th annual meeting of the Society for Autonomous Neurodynamics (SAND) will take place on July 27th, 28th and 29th, 2009 at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.

We are soliciting participants from a range of fields interested in Autonomous Neurodynamics. If you would like to present work relating to these topics please send in a 250-word abstract by July 17th, 2009 to:

Register online at:

Presentations should be 15 minutes in length. We encourage entries from a diversity of backgrounds and welcome both exploratory and advanced research. Sessions are meant to be fun, dynamic and will include open discussions.

Conference Scope
La Jolla, San Diego and Activities
Accessibility and Child Care
Conference Topics
Organizing and Scientific Committee
Meeting Sponsors
Why Autonomous Neural Systems?
Why Autonomous Neurodynamics and Neurological Conditions?
Meeting Background


Autonomous Neurodynamics describes interactive systems that can change activity both in response to and independently of the environment. Presentations will focus on the theoretical underpinnings and implications of autonomous dynamics in relation to neural activity, cognition, social systems and general network dynamics. Sessions may encompass a broad array of approaches including presentations from mathematics, physics, philosophy, psychology, computational and theoretical neurosciences.


Research presentations: Monday July 27 - Wednesday July 29, 2009
Post-presentation activities (Sea, Surf & Desert Adventures): Wednesday, July 29 - Sat, August 1, 2009

Recommended latest arrival: Sunday, July 26, 2009
Recommended earliest departure, presentations portion only: Thursday, July 30, 2009
Recommended earliest departure, California Adventure participants: Sunday, August 2, 2009


Click here for additional information on accommodations.


The conference will take place in La Jolla, California. La Jolla is major international hub for neuroscience research (sometimes called "neuron valley") and the home to UCSD and the Salk institute. The UCSD Cognitive Science Department was the first of its kind in the world. The picturesque town is located on the legendary palm-lined shores of Southern California and only minutes away from the city of San Diego with its many attractions. As in previous years, the conference presentations will be followed by an outdoor adventure in which ideas are exchanged and collaborations planned in a more informal, free and dynamic environment. This year the post-presentation events will include surfing, diving and a desert excursion. Limited spots. First-come first-served policy

Additional excursion information will be made available on this page.


All presentations will take place in wheelchair accessible venues. Limited grants to assist with child care arrangements may be available, please indicate requirement during online registration.


SAND conference presentations typically encompass a wide range of themes that have included:

  • Physiology, Sensorimotor Systems & Behavior
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Neurogenetics and Pathobiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Hormones and Reproduction
  • Nutrition and Biochemistry
  • Personal Narratives
  • Gender and Social Sciences
  • Neurology and Clinical Perspectives
  • Neuropsychoanalysis
  • Dynamical Systems
  • Embodied Modeling / Autonomous Agents
  • Nonlinear Analysis
  • Computation and Information Processing
  • Network Theory
  • The Role of Noise / Stochasticity / Randomness

  • In addition to these topics we welcome novel approaches and interdisciplinary research that can synthesize findings from various fields. Presentations may also consider the implications of research findings on ethical theory, autonomy and health. We particularly encourage presentations that examine changes in neurodynamics in neurological conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s that can have a tremendous impact on an individual’s autonomy and quality of life. Investigations may also include more common conditions in which changes in neural dynamics impact volitional activity such as sleep.


    • Ping Wang, Computational Neurobiology Laboratory (CNL), Salk Institute, USA (CHAIR)
    • Ann Lam, University of Saskatchewan, Canada & Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience, Salk Institute, USA (CO-CHAIR)
    • Elan Liss Ohayon, University of California Riverside & CNL, Salk Institute, USA (CO-CHAIR)
    • Peter Carlen, University of Toronto, Toronto Western Research Institute, Canada
    • Ariel Garten, Toronto, Canada
    • Janina Hesse, CNL, Salk Institute, USA
    • Kathryn Hum, University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program, Canada
    • Stiliyan Kalitzin, Dutch Epilepsy Clinics Foundation (SEIN), The Netherlands
    • Yariv Levy, Computer Science Department, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
    • Piotr Suffczynski, Warsaw University, Poland



    Clearly neural systems can perform incredibly complex computations but what are the features that underlie their autonomy? How do healthy embodied brains remain independent from the dynamics of the world while also being responsive? How do neural networks find balance yet avoid infinite repetition or silence?

    Emerging techniques in complexity sciences and neural modeling provide the tools to explore dynamics in such systems but have yet to explain how daily computational tasks are accomplished in a continuous and autonomous fashion. These questions regarding system autonomy are often independently explored in physics, mathematics, philosophy and other fields. The issue of increasing freedom in systems is at the foundations of cognitive and social sciences.


    The most devastating aspect of a neurological condition is often the impact on independent activity. For example, in epilepsy the changes in neurodynamics result in an acute and often devastating loss of freedom, in which an individual's autonomy is lost and regained in very sudden and dramatic ways. The generally unpredictable nature of this transition to a state of partial or total functional neuronal impairment makes epilepsy more a dynamical system condition than a product of any single factor. Why and how does the transition occur and why and how does the epileptic state terminate? Are these transitional states a by-product of a complex neuronal system meant for autonomous operation in changing environments? Do these transitions hint at fundamental neuronal mechanisms? At the other extreme, aging is an example of a process in which changes to neurodynamics come about very gradually but can be no less devastating.

    Neuroscience researchers are often focused on controlling phenomena, forgetting that an important goal is to increase individual autonomy. There are many routes to changing neural dynamics (increasing activity, stopping a seizure), the difficulty is ensuring that as a consequence the individual becomes more autonomous rather than less so. What can theories of autonomous systems tell us about treating these conditions? What can these conditions tell us about how complex systems maintain freedom in the environment?


    The first meeting of the Society for Autonomous Neurodynamics was held at the University of Toronto, in August 2004. Subsequent meetings took place at the Institute of Experimental Physics, Warsaw University (2005), the Marine Biology Station, Eilat (2006), Université Laval in Québec (2007) and SEIN in the Netherlands (2008).

    The meetings have included empirical scientists, theoreticians and personal reports. They have proven to be cognitively intense, high-energy, autonomous events in a fun and informal atmosphere. The gatherings also mark the continuation of an international collaboration on the subject between researchers in the Netherlands and Canada including the Dutch Epilepsy Clinics Foundation (SEIN), the University of Amsterdam and the University of Toronto Epilepsy Program.

    Please send comments to:
    Last modified: Thursday July 5, 2009
    Society for Autonomous NeuroDynamics (SAND) Home Page
    University of Toronto home page