Call for Participation: 2017 IEEE Brain Data Bank Challenges and Competitions


The IEEE Brain Initiative, in partnership with the IEEE Big Data Initiative and the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society, is excited to sponsor new hands-on events throughout 2017, to explore Brain Data storage retrieval and analytics, the so called Brain Data Bank (BDB) Challenges and Competitions. This “Call for Participation” is an extension of the popular brain-computer interface (BCI) Hackathons held in the prior year.

In the fall of 2016, the IEEE Brain Initiative co-sponsored three BCI hackathons. There were two standalone events in the United States, San Diego, CA and Philadelphia, PA respectively, and one during the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC) Society annual conference in Budapest, Hungary. There were over 200 “hackers” who participated across these three events.

In the fall of 2016, the IEEE Brain Initiative co-sponsored three brain-computer interface (BCI) hackathons.

These competitions provided hands-on learning experience and encouraged creativity of the participating teams to develop innovative applications from extracted signals. Teams were given hardware tools to extract brain signals (EEG – electroencephalogram) and other bio-signals, and common software tools to embed brain signals into games, robotic control, music, healthcare and IoT-related web services. Competitions took place in a stimulating and guided environment that enabled collaboration and hard-working fun. Winning projects in each location were recognized with certificates and prizes.

While the focus in the 2016 BCI Hackathons had been on data extraction (left side of Figure 1, below), the 2017 BDB Challenges and Competitions will focus on data utilization (right side of Figure 1). In particular, these events will explore the accessibility and usability of brain data.

Figure 1

Source: N. Bigdelys-Shamlo, T. Mullen, C. Kothe, N. N. Chu, & K. A. Robbins, 2015

The driver for these challenges and competitions stems from the scattered and massive amount of neuroscience data that is available today. The processed data may provide information about the structure, development or function of the brain. But the raw imaging data are the basis for new analytics. Some of the brain data are from human while others are non-human. The data may be available online from open source, while other data remain proprietary. Such diversity is both an advantage and a challenge since suitable tools are necessary for proper archiving and exploitation of the ever-growing brain datasets.

The 2017 BDB Challenges and Competitions will give an opportunity for the participating teams to investigate the collected brain data that are available from open sources, including the IEEE DataPort and beyond. Individuals or teams of up to five (5) members are welcome to enter the competition. The challenge presented will be to create value and demonstrate usability of the collected data by asking tough questions of published interpretations, also applying Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence, and deep learning techniques.

The preliminary schedule and location for the series of the 2017 Brain Data Bank Challenges and Competitions (which are subject to change) is shown below:

Visit the BDB page for the latest updates and specifics to each event. Recognitions and/or awards will be given to top projects.

About BrainInsight

BrainInsight, the IEEE Brain Initiative eNewsletter, is a quarterly online publication, featuring practical and timely information and forward-looking commentary on neurotechnologies. BrainInsight describes recent breakthroughs in research, primers on methods of interests, or report recent events such as conferences or workshops.


Yiwen Wang
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
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Jun Wang, Managing Editor, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University, US

Sung-Phil Kim, Associate Professor, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea

Ning Jiang, Associate Professor, University of Waterloo, Canada

Dongrui Wu, Professor, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China

Yuxiao Yang, Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida, US


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