Human Brain Project & Dutch Neuroscience: Shaping Collaborations

14 February 2020 | Amsterdam, Netherlands




Amsterdam by plane

Amsterdam Schiphol ist the primary international airport in the Netherlands and located about 20 km south-west of Amsterdam. The city can be reached in just half an hour by train, taxi or hotel shuttle. About 260 destinations worldwide are reachable from Schiphol.

Get to Amsterdam from the airport:

By bus:
The Connexxion Amsterdam Airport Express (bus number 397) departs every 15 minutes from bus stop B9 every 15 minutes and takes you directly to the city centre in about 30 minutes and costs €10.

By taxi:
You find the taxi rank at the airport’s exit. A ride to the city centre costs €40 - €60.

Don’t take rides from drivers within the airport as they are no approved taxi drivers.
à Info on authorised taxis

By hotel shuttle:
The Connexxion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle brings you to a large number of hotels in the airport area and Amsterdam city.

By train:
Schiphol train station connects you to Amsterdam Central Station (city centre), Amsterdam Zuid (World Trade Center) and Amsterdam RAI (conference centre). Train tickets are available in the airport’s main hall from yellow ticket machines. Here the Amsterdam Travel Ticket is recommended. It includes the return ride as well as free public transport in the city.

Regional airports:

Smaller airlines fly to regional airports like Rotterdam or Eindhoven, from these, Amsterdam is well reachable via public transport or taxi as well.


Amsterdam by train:

If arriving in Amsterdam by train, you most probably will arrive at the Central Station. If travelling from somewhere else in the Netherlands, also one oft he other 8 train station nearer your accommodation can be better suited.


Public transport in Amsterdam:

The public transport network in Amsterdam is well established. Metros, buses, trams and ferries get you around. To save money here you can travel with the I amsterdam City Card.


Pakhuis de Zwijger
Piet Heinkade 179
1019 HC Amsterdam, Niederlande



You can get to Pakhuis De Zwijger by Bus, Train, Tram or Metro. Lines and routes that have stops nearby are the following:

  • Bus 48, Station: Jan Schaeferbrug
  • Tram 26, Station: Kattenburgerstraat
  • Metro 51 – Amsterdam Centraal

Pakhuis De Zwijger is in 20 minutes walking distance to Amsterdams main station Amsterdam Centraal.

Please note that the information provided on this site has been obtained from several different sources and therefore the organisers cannot accept any responsibility for errors therein.

The Human Brain Project (HBP) is a large EU-funded project of the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagship program, employing scientists and engineers from more than 100 European universities, hospitals and research institutions. The project’s goal is to interconnect computer science, medicine and neuroscience to accelerate the understanding of the human brain and its diseases, and to harness that knowledge to the benefit of the society.

To achieve this, the project is building EBRAINS, the world’s first integrated ICT infrastructure for brain research and development, offering growing capabilities for neuroinformatics, brain simulation, medical informatics, neuromorphic computing and neurorobotics, underpinned by high-performance analytics and computing.  The development of EBRAINS is supported by involvement of neuroscientists active in HBP.

Briefly, this one-day event is organized as follows. First, HBP experts and leadership will present EBRAINS, and demonstrate the capacities of the underlying HBP platforms. They will present a range of opportunities for engagement of researchers in the project’s activities.  Second, these presentations will be coupled to talks by Dutch researchers who may be interested in using HBP facilities in the near future. The goals of the event are thus:

  • To make potential users aware of the HBP infrastructure, plus opportunities for grants and services to foster collaborations;
  • To stimulate interaction with HBP developers and researchers;
  • To promote growth of the Dutch research community using HBP facilities.

The event will be open for the wider research community and will take place at Pakhuis De Zwijger in Amsterdam, on 14 February 2020, and is organized by the University of Amsterdam in collaboration with the Medical University Innsbruck.








Katrin Amunts did a postdoctoral fellowship at the C. & O. Vogt Institute of Brain Research at Duesseldorf University, Germany. In 1999, she set up a new research unit for Brain Mapping at the Research Center Juelich, Germany. In 2004, she became professor for Structural-Functional Brain Mapping, and in 2008 a full professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at the RWTH Aachen University as well as director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1) at the Research Center Juelich. Since 2013, she is a full professor for Brain Research, director of the C. and O. Vogt Institute of Brain Research, Heinrich-Heine University Duesseldorf and director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1), Research Center Juelich.

Katrin Amunts is a member of the editorial board of Brain Structure and Function. She is member of the German Ethics Council since 2012, and has been elected as vice chair in 2016. Katrin Amunts is the programme speaker of the programme Decoding the Human Brain of the Helmholtz Association, Germany. She is leading Subproject 2 Human Brain Organization of the European Flagship Project The Human Brain Project (HBP). In 2016, she has been elected as Scientific Research Director and Chair of the Science and Infrastructure Board (SIB) of the HBP. Since 2017 Katrin Amunts is co-speaker of the graduate school Max-Planck School of Cognition and since 2018 she is a member of the International Advisory Council Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives, Canada.

In order to better understand the organizational principles of the human brain, she and her team aim to develop a multi-level and multi-scale brain atlas, and use methods of high-performance computing to generate ultra-high resolution human brain models.


The Human Brain Project: New perspectives for brain sciences

Jan Bjaalie, M.D., Ph.D., is professor at the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, and Infrastructure Operations Director and leader of the Neuroinformatics Platform of the EU Human Brain Project. He was founding Executive Director of the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF) and is currently head of the INCF Norwegian Node and member of the INCF Council for Training, Science, and Infrastructure. His research group has studied wiring patterns in the brain and developed data systems for organizing and managing heterogeneous neuroscience research data by use of a new generation of digital brain atlases. The group develops software and workflows for analysis of data integrated in the atlases (“Google maps of the brain”). Jan Bjaalie is Chief editor of Frontiers in Neuroinformatics and Section editor of Brain Structure and Function.



The EBRAINS infrastructure: integrated services adressing current and future challenges in brain research

Steve Furber CBE FRS FREng is ICL Professor of Computer Engineering in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, UK. After completing a BA in mathematics and a PhD in aerodynamics at the University of Cambridge, UK, he spent the 1980s at Acorn Computers, where he was a principal designer of the BBC Microcomputer and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor. Over 130 billion variants of the ARM processor have since been manufactured, powering much of the world's mobile and embedded computing. He moved to the ICL Chair at Manchester in 1990 where he leads research into asynchronous and low-power systems and, more recently, neural systems engineering, where the SpiNNaker project has delivered a computer incorporating a million ARM processors optimised for brain modelling applications.


The Neuromorphic Computing Platform

The Neuromorphic Computing Platform within the Human Brain Project incorporates two neuromorphic computing systems that represent the opposite ends of the scale of the trade-off between biological realism and ease of use. At one end, SpiNNaker is the world’s largest neuromorphic system, incorporating over a million ARM processors, offering the flexibility of software neural and synapse models with and biological real-time performance. At the other end of the scale, the BrainScaleS system offers physical emulation, wherein analogue electronic circuits closely emulate the behaviour of biological neurons and synapses, operating at wafer scale and at 10,000x the speed of the biology.

Wouter Klijn completed an MSc in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Groningen, with a thesis on cortical micro-columns. He currently is software architect in the Simlab Neuroscience part of the Jülich Supercomputer Centre, Forschungzentrum Jülich, with a focus on in AI, real-time big data streaming systems and complex HPC processing pipelines. He is responsible for science and use case management in the HBP, and ICEI/FENIX. He is also creating the science and software infrastructure architecture for the HBP.


HPAC and FENIX: HPC platform for storage and computing in the HBP

With FENIX five European supercomputing centres, namely BSC (Spain), CEA (France), CINECA (Italy), CSCS (Switzerland) and JSC (Germany), have aligned their services to deliver as set of services requirements based primarily on neuroscience use-cases. The distinguishing characteristic of this e-infrastructure is that data repositories and scalable supercomputing systems are in close proximity and well integrated. The High Performance Analytics and Computing Platform develops and provides supercomputing, storage, visualization and simulation technology that can run on supercomputers and this FENIX infrastructure. Requesting FENIX resources is done with small proposal, which is internally reviewed. Requesting supercomputers resources entails more effort but support teams are available.

Prof. Dr. Cyriel Pennartz, head of the research group Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (UvA), is coordinating subproject 3 (SP3) of the Human Brain Project: Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience. In this subproject, he and 15 other research groups within the EU are working to uncover the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive processes, such as sleep, memory and consciousness.


Welcome and Overview

As host of the event Prof. Dr. Cyriel Pennartz will give a short introduction and welcome the speakers and guests.

Betty Tijms is an associate professor at the Alzheimer center Amsterdam at the Amsterdam UMC, the Netherlands. She obtained a PhD in Neuroinformatics at the University in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is fascinated by the brain’s capability to learn and adjust itself in health and disease. To study such inter-individual differences in such processes, she invented methodology to measure grey matter networks using MRI in single patients. Her group sat the Alzheimer center focusses on studying the relationship of changes in brain networks, biomarker levels in cerebrospinal fluid and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease.


Heterogeneity in Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Drug trials so far have been mostly disappointing. Individual patients show differences in terms terms of clinical symptoms, age of onset, disease progression, pathological markers and genetics, and so it is possible that treatments may need to target specific subgroups. In this talk I will give an overview of disease heterogeneity in Alzheimer’s disease based on with structural MRI and cerebrospinal fluid proteomics, and I will argue that combining different modalities will be key for finding new leads for treatment.

Fleur Zeldenrust studied physics and neurobiology at the University of Amsterdam, and did a PhD in computational neuroscience at the same university, studying neural coding in bursting neurons and microcircuits. After a postdoc at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, investigating models of predictive coding and information transfer, she returned to the Netherlands, where she set up a computational neuroscience track in the BSc Psychobiology in Amsterdam. In 2016, she started her own group with a Veni grant at the Donders Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, studying the relation between physical properties and coding in neural systems.


Understanding information transfer in the brain: from single cell to network

The brain is a unique system, in that its dynamics have a clear function: making its owner respond to the world around it. In order to perform this function, the brain continuously processes information. How do the dynamics of neurons and networks result in information processing? The physical structure of the brain (its ‘hardware’) shapes this information processing and vice versa: the computations needed for information processing (the ‘software’) are adapted to the physical structure of the hardware. Here, I will discuss this relationship between information processing and neural properties on different levels, from single neurons to networks, and from different perspectives, from single cell electrophysiology to network modelling. In particular, I will focus on how neuromodulators such as dopamine influence the information processing and dynamics of single inhibitory and excitatory neurons, and how we can incorporate these effects in network models to ultimately understand how such networks produce behaviour.


Cyriel Pennartz | University of Amsterdam 



Hanna Bodde | University of Amsterdam 
Angelica da Silva Lantyer | University of Amsterdam 
Tina Kokan | Medical University Innsbruck



Pakhuis de Zwijger
Piet Heinkade 179
1019 HC Amsterdam, Netherlands