Scott Sterrett

In the Zoom era and under the restrictions of COVID-19, the neuroscience community has found creative ways to transform lectures, seminars, conferences, and even summer schools to online experiences. The adversity has also led to the invention of some entirely new platforms. One exciting virtual forum that started this fall is The Learning Salon, a weekly discussion which explores “bridges and contentions in biological and artificial learning”.

UW CNC Co-Director Adrienne Fairhall with the hosts of the Learning Salon on September 11, 2020.

Hosts Ida Momennejad (Microsoft Research), Josh Vogelstein (Johns Hopkins), and John Krakauer (Johns Hopkins) invite a guest each week to give a brief presentation of their choice which is then followed by discussion with the hosts as well as attendees through the CrowdCast platform. Past guests, including CNC Co-Director Adrienne Fairhall, Konrad Koerding, Blake Richards and Tony Zador, have instigated lively and broad-based community discussions that step back from the usual research talk to examine the questions the field is asking from a philosophical viewpoint. The Friday afternoon events are typically attended by around 1000 users, all of whom can comment in a live chat or submit questions, moderated by Kanaka Rajan and Brad Wyble. “The enabling of such a large worldwide group to genuinely interact, through passionate exchange in the chat and by participants being occasionally brought ‘on stage’ to join the discussion live, is truly a new and exciting way to interact. And the brilliant hosts keep the dialogue about big picture ideas”, said Dr Fairhall. The Salon has speakers lined up through the rest of the year, and can be found at