New Keynote Speaker: Prof. Matthew Botvinick, DeepMind, UK

Prof. Matthew Botvinick

Director of Neuroscience Research and Team Lead in AGI Research, DeepMind

Honorary Professor, Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, UCL

Matthew Botvinick is Director of Neuroscience Research at DeepMind and Honorary Professor at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London. Dr. Botvinick completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University in 1989 and medical studies at Cornell University in 1994, before completing a PhD in psychology and cognitive neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University in 2001. He served as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania until 2007 and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University until joining DeepMind in 2016. Dr. Botvinick’s work at DeepMind straddles the boundaries between cognitive psychology, computational and experimental neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

New Keynote Speaker: Prof. Timothy Behrens, University of Oxford, UK

Prof. Timothy Behrens, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, UK

Professor of Computational Neuroscience

Timothy E.J. Behrens FRS is a British neuroscientist. He is Deputy Director of the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Professor of Computational Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, and Honorary Lecturer, Wellcome Centre for Imaging Neuroscience, University College London. He earned an M.Eng. and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. In 2020 he won the UK Life Sciences Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists, having been a finalist for this award in 2018 and 2019. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in the same year.

New Keynote Speaker: Prof. Karl Friston, University College London, UK

Prof. Karl Friston, FMedSci FRSB FRS

Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Scientific Director
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging
Professor: Institute of Neurology, University College London
Honorary Consultant: The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UK

Karl Friston is a theoretical neuroscientist and authority on brain imaging. He invented statistical parametric mapping (SPM), voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and dynamic causal modelling (DCM). These contributions were motivated by schizophrenia research and theoretical studies of value-learning, formulated as the dysconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia. Mathematical contributions include variational Laplacian procedures and generalized filtering for hierarchical Bayesian model inversion. Friston currently works on models of functional integration in the human brain and the principles that underlie neuronal interactions. His main contribution to theoretical neurobiology is a free-energy principle for action and perception (active inference). Friston received the first Young Investigators Award in Human Brain Mapping (1996) and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999). In 2000 he was President of the international Organization of Human Brain Mapping. In 2003 he was awarded the Minerva Golden Brain Award and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2006. In 2008 he received a Medal, College de France and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of York in 2011. He became of Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2012, received the Weldon Memorial prize and Medal in 2013 for contributions to mathematical biology and was elected as a member of EMBO (excellence in the life sciences) in 2014 and the Academia Europaea in (2015). He was the 2016 recipient of the Charles Branch Award for unparalleled breakthroughs in Brain Research and the Glass Brain Award – a lifetime achievement award in the field of human brain mapping. He holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Zurich and Radboud University.

Theoretical Neurobiology

New Keynote Speaker: Prof. Claudia Clopath, Imperial College London, UK

Prof. Claudia Clopath, Professor of Computational Neuroscience 

Computational Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Bioengineering,  Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London, UK

Professor Claudia Clopath is based in the Bioengineering Department at Imperial College London. She is heading the Computational Neuroscience Laboratory.

Her research interests are in the field of neuroscience, especially insofar as it addresses the questions of learning and memory. She uses mathematical and computational tools to model synaptic plasticity, and to study its functional implications in artificial neural networks.

Prof. Clopath holds an MSc in Physics from the EPFL and did her PhD in Computer Science under Wulfram Gerstner. Before joining Imperial College, she did postdoctoral fellowships in neuroscience with Nicolas Brunel at Paris Descartes and in the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University. She published highly cited articles in top journals such as Science and Nature, has given dozens of invited talks and keynotes around the world, and received various prizes such as the Google Faculty Award in 2015.



ACAIN 2021 has been postponed (October 5-8, 2021 @ Wordsworth Hotel in Grasmere)

ACAIN 2021 has been postponed (October 5-8, 2021 @ Wordsworth Hotel in Grasmere) due to the ongoing, and dynamic, situation relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The new dates are the following: from  October 5-8, 2021

Venue: The Wordsworth Hotel & SPA in Grasmere – Lake District, England, UK

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to get all of the information together.

We will publish additional details (in this web site) as soon as they are available.

Special Session on “Free Will in Artificial Intelligence”

Free Will in Artificial Intelligence: What volition neuroscience says about free behaviour and implications for the design of autonomous artificial intelligence agents
Organizer and Chair: Catalin Mitelut, Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, USA
The human capacity for free will or volitional (i.e. voluntary) behaviour has intrigued scientists and philosophers for thousands of years. Over the last few decades, neuroscientists have uncovered many neural correlates of voluntary behaviours and identified several decision stages involving specific neuroanatomy and dynamics (Haggard 2008). While a reward-optimized decision framework lies at the core of most fast decisions it is supported by slower time-course motivational systems that identify long-term needs (e.g. feeding, offspring care; Maslow 1943, Kenrick 2010). In the absence of naturally evolved motivational drives, autonomous general artificial agents will require the design of motivational systems that will pose unique challenges to our understanding of free will while offering creative opportunities.

This symposium seeks submissions focusing on extending evolutionary biology and the neuroscience of volition towards the design of internally motivated, freely behaving autonomous artificial agents.


Paper & Abstract submission deadline: April 9, 2021 (Anywhere on Earth)

Paper notification: June 30, 2021

Submission site: