Brain researchers move conference to Twitter


Follow #brainTC 20 April 2017 for recent advances in neuroscience.

Participation in scientific conferences can be costly and difficult. In addition, travelling burdens the environment, and only the researchers participating in the conference get to discuss the results.

A group of neuroscientists at Aalto University promotes openness in their field by organizing a conference on Twitter – for the first time in the field of neuroscience. The idea originates from seabird researchers of the World Seabird Union who have previously organised two Twitter conferences of their own.

During the conference, state-of-the-art research will be presented as series of tweets. The presentations are selected based on scientific criteria, but anyone can follow the conference free of charge and participate in the discussion. This will provide a platform for a broad range of people to share and discuss their findings in line with the theme of the conference, Neuroscience Making an Impact. 

‘We expect to see interesting perspectives and examples of applications of brain research. In addition, we hope that the presentations will increase public awareness about normal and abnormal brain function. For example, Professor Uta Frith’s keynote presentation will shed light on the mechanisms of autism, social interaction and developmental psychology’, says one of the organizers, researcher Tommi Himberg from Aalto University.

Twitter increases creativity and expectations

The keynote presentations at the conference are ten tweets long, whereas regular presentations consist of six tweets. The tweets in each presentation are numbered to make the presentation easier to follow. The Human Brain Project, a flagship project of the European Commission, will give one of the keynotes.

"As a keynote tweeter, we will speak with one voice from the @HumanBrainProj account, while people can directly interact with members of the consortium via their individual accounts. That these conversations can happen at the same time, feeding off each other, is why Brain Twitter Conference is a brilliant idea", tells Martin Telefont, Scientific Coordinator of the Human Brain Project.

Academician Riitta Hari, from Aalto University, will discuss the relationship between art and brain functions in her keynote.

‘Organizing a Twitter conference is a bold and interesting initiative, the first of its kind in Finland and among the very first in the world. At first, I thought it would be impossible to tell my story in tweets. However, having thought more about it, I think it will be possible by attaching images to the tweets’, says Hari.

The conference has been received with enthusiasm. The limited number of characters on Twitter encourages creativity.

‘It will be interesting to see how the information that is usually presented in a lecture or a conference poster can be fitted into six tweets. I imagine that the use of images, graphs and other visual elements will play a key role in it’, Himberg adds.

The schedule of the conference will take into account different time zones. The deadline for the abstracts has just been extended; brain scientists should submit their abstracts by 3 April 2017. Anyone can register for the conference as a member of the audience. The general public can also follow the conference on Twitter under the hashtag #brainTC. The language of the conference is English.

Further information:

Tommi Himberg
Aalto University
Tommi Himberg
Postdoctoral researcher
tel. +358 50 313 9439

Conference website and registration:

Follow on Twitter: #brainTC, @abc_aalto

Keynote speakers: pseudonymous brain researcher @Neuro_Skeptic, Riitta Hari @aivoAALTO, Uta Frith @utafrith, Human Brain Project @HumanBrainProj