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Toronto, Canada
August 23-25, 2010

Call For Presentations:

& UTERP 2010


  Sand 2010 Toronto

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

The 7th annual meeting of the Society for Autonomous Neurodynamics (SAND) will take place on August 23th, 24th and 25th, 2010 at the University of Toronto (U of T) in Toronto, Canada. This year SAND will be held in collaboration with the University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program's (UTERP) Annual Meeting (August 23rd).
We are soliciting participants from a range of fields interested in Autonomous Neurodynamics. If you would like to present work relating to these topics at SAND and UTERP please send in a 250-word abstract by August 9th, 2010.

Register online at:

Abstracts can also be emailed to:

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.

SAND Conference Scope
University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program (UTERP)
City of Toronto & Canadian Wilderness 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, social studies, legal theory, computational and theoretical neurosciences.


The University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program consists of epilepsy researchers at the University of Toronto and its teaching hospitals as well as other individuals interested in epilepsy research. UTERP has been a founding sponsor of SAND since the first SAND meeting in Toronto in 2004. This year will be SAND's first return to Toronto since that inaugural meeting. In celebration of the return and ongoing collaborations, the annual UTERP meeting will be held jointly with the opening day of SAND 2010 on August 23rd. The day will include special sessions on epilepsy research and autonomy.


Presentations and roundtable: Monday, August 23 - Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Post-presentation activities (Canoe Expedition): Wednesday, August 25 - Sunday, August 29, 2010

Recommended latest arrival: Sunday, August 22, 2010
Recommended earliest departure, presentations portion only: Thursday, August 26, 2010
Recommended earliest departure, Canoe Expedition participants: Monday, August 30, 2010


Click here for additional information on accommodations.


This year SAND returns to its original meeting place in Toronto, Canada. Toronto is Canada's largest city and is famous for its diversity and vibrant culture. Returning and new participants alike will enjoy the eclectic mix of small distinctive neighborhoods, museums, festivals and night life as the city comes alive with summer energy.

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 a canoe excursion on Georgian Bay in the beautiful Massasauga Provincial Park near Parry Sound, Ontario. The canoe excursion will include portages, swimming, hiking, and outback style camping. We will paddle by islands, inland forests and lakes as we continue to discuss and consider the scientific and philosophical questions in the Canadian wilderness. 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
  • Addiction
  • Nutrition and Biochemistry
  • Neurology and Clinical Perspectives
  • Neuropsychoanalysis
  • Dynamical Systems / Nonlinear Analysis
  • Embodied Modeling / Autonomous Agents
  • Cognitive Science
  • Personal Narratives
  • Gender and Social Sciences
  • Network Theory
  • Computation and Information Processing
  • Philosophy of Mind / Epidemiology / Metaphysics
  • 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. This year, we particularly encourage discussion of the social and environmental factors that restrict and enable autonomy. We also 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.


    • Melanie Jeffrey, University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program, University of Toronto, Canada (CHAIR)
    • W. McIntyre Burnham, University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program, Canada (CO-CHAIR)
    • Peter Carlen, University of Toronto, Toronto Western Research Institute, Canada (CO-CHAIR)
    • Marija Cotic, University of Toronto, Canada
    • Kathryn Hum, University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program, Canada
    • Stiliyan Kalitzin, Dutch Epilepsy Clinics Foundation (SEIN), The Netherlands
    • Ann Lam, University of Saskatchewan, Canada & Salk Institute, USA
    • Elan Liss Ohayon, University of California San Diego & Salk Institute, USA
    • Piotr Suffczynski, Warsaw University, Poland
    • Ping Wang, Computational Neurobiology Laboratory (CNL), Salk Institute, USA



    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, 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), SEIN in the Netherlands (2008), the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California (2009).

    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 23, 2010
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