My thanks to all those who participated in SAN2014 in Utrecht making it an exceptionally strong scientific occasion. This built on the successes of the previous meetings held in Thessaloniki, Seville, Swansea, Istanbul and a Dubrovnik workshop. Following the tradition of meeting with other organisations, in Utrecht SAN met with The Netherlands National Initiative Brain and Cognition. This contributed greatly to the success of the occasion.
Previous meetings had been held in collaboration with the EU COST B27 initiative Electrical Neuronal Oscillations & Cognition, and in case of SAN2011 with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the South-East European Research Centre, and participating Greek Societies including the Hellenic Societies of Neuroscience, of Biomedical Engineering, and of Neurophysiology, and the Psychological Society of Northern Greece.
The conference dinner was held in the exhibition centre alongside a NASA exhibition, and the space theme was extended with a presentation of Professor Guy Chevron's research on weightlessness involving a Dutch astronaut.
At the dinner Mrs Corinne Evens of the Evens Foundation and Professor Patrick Cras, the chairman of the jury, presented the award of the Foundation's 2013 scientific challenge: 'the neuroscience of empathy' - to the submission by Gruzelier, Sadler, Ros and Klimecki. The research will examine the effect of alpha desynchronisation feedback on an empathic concern task in an fMRI scanner.
While the submissions did not match the number in Greece, in Utrecht attendance increased by 50% to reach around 300 attendees, and the growing strength of the submissions reflected the exponential increase in publications in the field since Thessaloniki, especially research on neurofeedback.
The notable increase in young scientists in the field, that was seen in the attendance at SAN2013 in Thessaloniki, was complemented in Utrecht by empirical studies showing their keen awareness of key issues in cognitive neuroscience, which are necessary to advance the field.
The meeting also saw a welcome increase in the number of scientists willing to put their shoulders to the wheel and support the running of the Society, which has fallen on just a small band of dedicated scientists and practitioners up until now. There are currently quite a wealth of new initiatives that are under consideration to broaden the reach of the Society and its structure. These will be the subject of a Newsletter in forthcoming weeks. There is likely to be a return to warmer Mediterranean shores for the next SAN meeting, tentatively scheduled for September, 2015.
In conclusion special thanks to Martijn Arns, the conference-organiser-in-chief, assisted by Leon Kenemans for the NIBC, and Panos Bamidis, Soren Andersen and Manos Klados for SAN, and to the various organising committees.
President, Society of Applied Neuroscience