2017 Data on the Mind Workshop

Tackling the new data frontier

Big data and naturally occurring datasets (NODS) are increasingly of interest to cognitive scientists and psychologists. With the proper tools and mindset, these data can provide compelling evidence of human behavioral, cognitive, and social process in natural settings. Big data and NODS present an unprecedented opportunity to explore theory-driven questions -- questions rooted in theories developed in rigorous lab studies -- in real-word datasets. These naturalistic explorations can generate new ideas that can be further refined in follow-up lab studies, creating a virtuous cycle of theory development.

However, along with this unique opportunity comes unique challenges. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in cognitive science and psychology have often been trained to collect and handle data that are relatively small and that come from tightly controlled lab settings. Although early-career scientists have deep theoretical knowledge of their research areas that would be powerfully applied to big data and NODS, many lack experience dealing with the challenges posed by these messier (and often exponentially larger) datasets, including analysis selection, computational capacity, and data collection.

Our (free) 2017 workshop

To help cognitive scientists and psychologists tackle these issues, Data on the Mind has been funded by the Estes Fund to create a 4-day workshop of hands-on introductions to topics that are essential for theory-driven research using big data and NODS. Each tutorial is taught by an expert in that area and will include real code and other exercises that will empower participants to immediately apply these techniques to their own research.

We'll be holding our workshop during June 26-29, 2017, in the bright collaborative space of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science in the historic Doe Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

Join in remotely with our free live stream

While we're no longer accepting applications for the in-person event, we are excited to announce that we will also be publicly broadcasting the event live via YouTube (at no cost). After the workshop, we'll be converting the broadcast into a series of online tutorials—all of which will also be posted for free on YouTube after the event. All workshop materials will also be made available for free to remote participants during the event and will be released publicly after the event. Find out more at here.

If you're on Twitter, let everyone know you're here with our event hashtag: #dataonthemind

Scope of the workshop

This workshop will rely on programming in both R and Python, and tutorials will assume that all participants will start out with at least a beginner's level of programming in both languages. We anticipate that all tutorials should be accessible to anyone with a beginner's level of programming in R and Python. Check out our list of tutorials (including abstracts and instructors) here.

Pleaes keep in mind that we will not be covering any introductions to basic programming in our workshop, so be sure to complete some basic R and/or Python tutorials before attending in person or remotely. We link to some free online basic programming tutorials here.


Contact Alex Paxton at <paxton [dot] alexandra [at] berkeley [dot] edu>.

Organizing committee

  • Tom Griffiths (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Alexandra Paxton (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Michael C. Frank (Stanford University)
  • Todd Gureckis (New York University)

Our funding partners

We'd like to thank our funding partners who made this possible: