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)

Paris, France
July 7-9, 2014

Call For Presentations:


SAND 2014 Program (PDF)

SAND 2014 Poster (PDF)

  Paris Obscura

The 11th annual meeting of the Society for Autonomous Neurodynamics (SAND) will take place on July 7th, 8th and 9th at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.

This multi-disciplinary meeting explores free dynamics in networks and the relation of neurodynamics to neurological conditions and autonomous activity. We are now soliciting participants from a range of fields applicable to questions of autonomy, dynamics and the brain. Perspectives range from the atomic level to the social and environmental contexts required for free activity. If you would like to present work relating to these topics at SAND please send in a 250-word abstract by Friday, May 30th, 2014.

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. A central theme this year will be, "Intersections of Open Science and Autonomous Dynamics". Sessions are meant to be fun, dynamic and will include open discussions. Although the main language of communication will be English, we are also welcoming abstracts in French and can provide assistance with translation.

SAND Conference Scope
Conference Topics
Paris, Cévennes and Stevenson Trail Activities
Accessibility, Fees and Child Care
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, evolutionary factors, developmental biology, anthropology, computational and theoretical neurosciences.


Presentations and roundtable: Monday, July 7 - Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Post-presentation scientific retreat activities: Wednesday, July 9 - Saturday July 12, 2014

Recommended latest arrival: Sunday, July 6, 2014
Recommended earliest departure, presentations portion only: Thursday, July 10, 2014
Recommended earliest departure, SAND Cévennes activities participants: Sunday, July 13, 2014


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

  • Physiology, Sensorimotor Systems & Behavior
  • Neurogenetics & Neuroanatomy
  • Biochemistry, Pharmacology & Nutrition
  • Particle & Statistical Physics
  • Hormones & Reproduction
  • Neurology & Clinical Perspectives
  • Attention, Sleep, Addiction & Creativity
  • Social Sciences & Social Work
  • Neuropsychoanalysis
  • Environmental Factors, Green Neuroscience
  • Embodied Modeling / Autonomous Agents
  • Dynamical Systems / Nonlinear Analysis
  • Cognitive Science & Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Personal & Community Narratives
  • Gender & Cultural Studies
  • Art & Creativity
  • Network Theory
  • Computation & Information Theory
  • Philosophy of Mind / Epistemology / 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. This year will include a special focus on the interactions of open science and autonomous dynamics. We particularly encourage discussion of whether the current trends in open science are conducive to increasing autonomy. Conversely, what is the relation between autonomy and how we practice science? Presentations may also consider the implications of research findings on ethical theory, autonomy and health. Accordingly, we 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. Presentations may be considered for inclusion in a special post-conference publication.


    Several accommodations options may be available during the meeting. Please indicate your interest on the registration form. Limited spots. First-come, first-served policy. Click here for additional information on accommodations.


    A world center of culture, the arts and intellectual gatherings, Paris is so much more than the romantic versions depicted in movies. As the capital and largest city in France, Paris has borne witness to some of the most dramatic scientific, philosophical, social and cultural movements. Whether the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, the Enlightenment or Romanticism's response, Paris has so often been a hotspot and crucible for the evolutions of cultures. The nature of autonomy and freedom has been the subject of long-standing existentialist, artistic and political debates sparked in legendary Parisian cafes and salons that engrossed local and expat visionaries alike (think Camus, de Beauvoir, Sartre, Foucault, Orwell, Hemingway, Beckett, Chanel, Picasso, Goncharova, Modigliani, and so many others). Dynamical theory and analysis has many roots here including the likes of Fourier, Poincaré, and Morlet. Today Paris and France continue to play a central role in the development of notions of liberté and openness.

    Fittingly, the 11th annual SAND meeting will be held in the center of Paris at the Pasteur Institute, one of France's most celebrated and internationally recognized institutions of research and higher learning. A short metro ride or walk away from the Sorbonne, l'École Normale Supérieure (ENS), Pierre and Marie Curie University, the Jardin du Luxembourg, the National Museum of Natural History and the Seine, we will discuss and debate science by day and continue conversations while exploring Paris by night.

    As is the tradition of SAND, the post-talk activities will include an outdoor component. This year, the scientific retreat will take place in the Cévennes of south-central France. Planned activities include a hike along the Robert Louis Stevenson trail with options for camping. We will walk through the mountain range giving time for ideas to be exchanged and collaborations planned in a more informal, free and dynamic environment. Limited spots available.

    Additional retreat and excursion information will be made available on this page.


    Accessibility and diverse participation are important SAND principles. All presentations will take place in accessible venues and there are no registration, attendance or presentation fees. Travel, accommodation and food costs for post-presentations retreat activities are kept to a minimum.

    Grants to assist with child care arrangements may be available. Please indicate any requirements during online registration.


    • Guillaume Dumas, Pasteur Institute, Paris & Hack Your PhD, France (CO-CHAIR)
    • Célya Gruson-Daniel, Hack Your PhD, Paris, France
    • Ann Lam, The Green Neuroscience Laboratory, Neurolinx Research Institute, Canada & USA (CO-CHAIR)
    • Elan Liss Ohayon, The Green Neuroscience Laboratory, Canada & USA (CO-CHAIR)
    • Peter Carlen, University of Toronto, Toronto Western Research Institute, Canada
    • Marija Cotic, University of Toronto, Canada
    • Stiliyan Kalitzin, Dutch Epilepsy Clinics Foundation (SEIN), The Netherlands
    • Maciej Labiecki, Warsaw University, Poland
    • Alisa Munoz, Green Neuroscience Laboratory & University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 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, 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), Laval University, Quebec (2007), SEIN in the Netherlands (2008), the University of California San Diego (UCSD) & the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California (2009) and the University of Toronto (2010). In 2011 SAND held its first meeting in Asia at the Bangkok General Hospital and Srinakharinwirot University in Thailand. In 2012 the meeting was held at the Green Neuroscience Laboratory, San Diego, California and at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Ensenada, Baja California. Last year, SAND 2013 took place in Pune, India at the Indian Institute for Science Education and Research (IISER).

    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, USA, Thailand and Canada including the Dutch Epilepsy Clinics Foundation (SEIN), the Thai Neurological Society, Neurolinx Green Neuroscience Laboratory and the University of Toronto Epilepsy Program.

    Please send comments to: or
    Last modified: Tuesday, Jun 29, 2015
    Society for Autonomous NeuroDynamics (SAND) Home Page
    University of Toronto Home Page