Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition

The CNBC is the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University’s joint neuroscience research and education program.


Nov 30 – Dec 2 all-day

What is BrainPlay?

BrainPlay is a new interdisciplinary conference that brings together neuroscientists and game designers. Our goals are to increase mutual understanding between the fields; share technologies and research techniques; and foster new collaborations.

Whether you are already working at the intersection of neuroscience and games, or you are interested in learning more, this conference is for you!

In addition, we would like to extend special invitations to:

– Professional game designers (digital and/or analog)

– Early-career researchers in neuroscience and/or games

– Postdoctoral fellows and advanced PhD students

BrainPlay is a collaboration between the Neuroscience Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and Carnegie Mellon’s game research community. We are grateful to the Chen Institute for their sponsorship of the event.

What will happen during the event? 

BrainPlay will feature a combination of academic talks, hands-on activities, game play, and collaborative workshops. Attendees can expect to learn about cutting-edge game and neuroscience research; hear from people working at the intersection of neuroscience and play; meet potential new collaborators; and try out some brand-new games.

How do I attend? 

Please apply to participate by completing our form:

Applications must be received by October 10, 2022.

Acceptance notification will be emailed by October 25, 2022.


Admission to the conference is free for all accepted participants. All talks will be available for viewing online, but interactive workshops and other activities will be limited to in-person participants.

All official BrainPlay functions will be held in the Simmons Auditorium of the David A. Tepper Quadrangle (4765 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213) Please email for any questions about accessibility. 

Reserve your hotel room before November 8, 2022 at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center. We have negotiated a room rate of $159/night; please use our link to get the conference rate. Room rates might increase after November 8. (Parking is an additional $29/night.) 

A limited number of fellowships are available to cover transportation and lodging. Please indicate your interest on our application form, or contact us at for more information. 

Health and Safety: 

Our COVID-19 policy is available here, and is shaped by the Carnegie Mellon University policies available here.

All BrainPlay attendees must agree to our Code of Conduct

PNC Milestone: Jack Burgess
Nov 30 @ 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Presenter: Jack Burgess
Time: 2:00pm, Wednesday 11/30
Title: ImaginAgents: adaptive imagination-augmented agents for prospective learning
Advisor: Timothy Verstynen
Committee: Lori Holt, Jonathan Rubin


The cognitive capacity of imagination – the generation of synthetic data from an internal model – provides naturally intelligent creatures (e.g., mammals) an advantage in flexibly adapting to constantly changing environments. Here I 1) propose a general framework for artificial agents that use “imagination” to prepare for a future that may differ from their preceding experience, and 2) investigate initial implementations of this framework in supervised and reinforcement learning tasks. I find that in these base tasks, adaptive reliance on synthetic data generated from an internal “imagination” model can aid performance immediately following task changes. I raise essential questions and plan requisite next steps to thoroughly investigate this exciting research focus.

CNBC Colloquium – John Krakauer
Dec 1 @ 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

John Krakauer, MD

John C. Malone Professor – Endowed Chair, Johns Hopkins University

Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Neurology, and Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University


Thursday, December 1, 2022

4:00 pm

2nd floor Auditorium, Mellon Institute

Abstract: I will first discuss how cognition and movement interact during skill acquisition in health.   

I will then discuss ways that this interaction might be exploited in restorative behavioral approaches for neurological conditions.