The Neurosynth Hackathon is an NIMH-supported event to be held in Boulder, Colorado, May 23 - 26, in affiliation with the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. Our goal is to bring together a creative, energetic, and interdisciplinary group of people for a 3-day marathon of brainstorming and hacking focusing on a core question in neuroimaging: How can we maximize the reliability, replicability, and interpretability of the functional neuroimaging data being collected in hundreds of labs around the world?

The event will be modeled after the highly successful Brainhack 2012 unconference held last year at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. The Boulder hackathon will be, in a sense, a conceptual replication of Brainhack, with a somewhat greater focus on software development and neuroimaging-specific applications, but all of the same ingredients (and many of the same people!) that made Brainhack such a success.


In the spirit of Brainhack 2012 and other unconferences, most of the hackathon will be dynamically organized by participants. Because Brainhack was such a success, we've decided not to mess with a good thing; we'll follow more or less the same recipe. Here's how the good folks at the Neuro Bureau organized the Brain Hack program:

Brainhack 2012 will last 3.5 days, with the first night being dedicated to registration, a brief introduction of participants, and a poster session / cocktail hour. Each of the next two days will begin with an “Ignite Session” in which distinguished neuroscience researchers will give 10 minute talks that will address wide questions in neuroscience that would benefit from open, interdisciplinary collaborations. The “Ignite Session” will be followed by a dynamic set of talks organized by attendees. This session will be scheduled on-site, and aims to reflect participants’ interests as they evolve over the course of the workshop. Each afternoon and evening will then include a brainhack session, in which participants will be encouraged to work together in small groups on relevant neuroscience projects. The workshop will culminate on the last day, when participants will have the opportunity to present a brief overview of their project.


We'll stick pretty closely to this plan, though we do expect the Neurosynth Hackathon to be somewhat more constrained than Brainhack topic-wise, and focus on primary analysis or secondary synthesis of neuroimaging data. But that still leaves plenty of latitude, and we hope to see a broad range of talks and projects! We've posted a tentative schedule here.


The primary goal of the hackathon is to facilitate collaboration on new or existing software tools for scientific organization, analysis, visualization, and interpretation of neuroimaging data. Since the hackathon is funded primarily by an NIMH grant to support development of the Neurosynth framework, our hope is that many of the projects will focus on extending the functionality of the Neurosynth framework and related software tools in various ways. But this is a pretty soft constraint, and we encourage unrelated projects too as long as they involve the same general themes.

To maximize productivity, we encourage participants to arrive at the hackathon with a project in mind. Feel free to add your project to the Projects page, or to browse through the existing projects and identify any you think you might like to contribute to.


Registration is now open to all, but to jumpstart things, we've also invited an all-star cast of folks with extensive experience in scientific software development and neuroimaging data analysis. Confirmed participants include:


The registration fee for the conference is $120, which covers the welcome reception on the 23rd and all meals except dinner (i.e., breakfast, refreshments, and lunch) for the duration of the hackathon. You can find the registration form here. Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible.


The Hackathon will take place at the Hotel Boulderado (pictured below), located in beautiful downtown Boulder, Colorado. The Boulderado is one block from the Pearl Street pedestrian mall, Boulder's prime shopping, dining and nightlife strip.

Hotel Boulderado

Travel and lodging

We've negotiated a discounted rate of $165/night at the Hotel Boulderado; we encourage you to stay there if you can, as it's right in the heart of Boulder (ask for the group rate "Neurosynth" when booking). Two other cheaper hotels within a 10 - 20 minute walk are the Boulder University Inn and the Quality Inn & Suites Boulder Creek. If you're driving, pretty much any hotel within the Boulder city limits is within 5 - 10 minutes of the Hotel Boulderado.

The registration fee includes all meals except dinner. The Boulderado is located one block from Boulder's main restaurant/bar/club strip (Pearl Street), so there are plenty of nearby options to suit every dinner budget.

Denver International Airport (DIA) is located about a 45-minute drive from Boulder. Valet parking is available at the Boulderado for around $10/day if you're driving. Most other area hotels provide free or cheap parking. But unless you're planning to extend your stay and spend some time in the mountains (which we recommend--late May is a beautiful time for hiking or camping!), you probably won't need a car. Boulder is very compact and you can walk or take the bus to everything. You can get to Boulder from DIA via the AB Skyride bus, which departs hourly from DIA and runs all the way to the Boulder downtown bus terminal (located 2 blocks from the Hotel Boulderado). The trip takes around 75 minutes and costs $13 each way (exact change required).

Things to do

We're not sure why you need to know anything about Boulder or the surrounding area seeing as you'll be spending all your time breathing code for 3 days alongside all your fellow hackers. But in the event you decide to, you know, "take a break", there's plenty to do in the Boulder area in May. The hackathon will take place the same weekend as the annual Boulder Creek Festival, which features a variety of concerts, live performances, exhibitions, and other events. If you have the time before or after the hackathon, we recommend going for a day hike in the mountains (there are dozens of great hikes nearby). Rock climbing, camping, and mountain biking are also possibilities. And of course, Denver is only 40 minutes away if you prefer urban exploration.


The Neurosynth Hackathon is generously supported by NIMH award R01MH096906.


If you have any questions or concerns about anything, please email Tal Yarkoni.