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Bloggers And Neuro-Tweeps Engaging Recreationally – or BANTER!

Guest post by Helena Ledmyr, INCF

In 2010, BANTER started with a “tweet-up” (which is exactly what it sounds like, a meet-up of people who know each other from twitter) at a bar in San Diego during the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). Natural born entertainer, @doc_becca, decided to make this a standard feature of the unofficial SfN program and ever since, BANTER has been an increasing success with neuroscience “tweeps” and bloggers. I ran some @symplur analytics for #sfn15 (official twitter hashtag for the main conference) to get this great dataviz on tweeps using the tag from Sept 16–Nov 16. There are more than 40 people among the top #sfn15 tweeps who also attended BANTER, which is a nice correlation. Are you in the picture?

Symplur graphic for #SfN15

This year’s BANTER was held at Frontier, a two-storey restaurant in West Town, Chicago. Again, proving the genius that is Becca, Queen of Entertainment, Frontier was the ideal place to host more than 300 (!) chatty neuroscientists. The service was great, food outstanding, not to mention they let us decorate and choose the style of music according to the 2015 BANTER theme, which was Blues Brothers (because, Chicago).

Frontier restaurant with assorted BANTERers. Photo: @BWJones

Frontier restaurant with assorted BANTERers. Photo: @BWJones

I attended my first BANTER in Washington DC in 2014, and realized that this would be the perfect event for INCF to sponsor – such a great community to be a part of. However, now being “the” party of SfN, BANTER has grown to attract hundreds of neuroscientists, which demanded a bigger effort than INCF had budgeted for. So, I approached NIF, longstanding INCF-collaborator, who were immediately interested. Due to the sheer numbers that we knew would attend we still needed additional funds, so I asked Nature editor Noah Gray to pull some strings within NPG. This resulted in Nature’s Open Research and Publishing Groups, being the third sponsors. A fitting trio with a common mission to facilitate the work of neuroscientists, by making resources and data accessible and standardized. We tried to convey this with some swag:


We also tried to get some input from the BANTERers, with varying results:

Photo: @RDHendrix

Neuroscience needs coasters from BANTER
Photo: @RDHendrix

@slars0n, photo: @Helena_LB

@slars0n‘s neuroscience needs
Photo: @Helena_LB

Scientific Data, the Nature data journal, provided disposable cameras, which at first I thought was a great idea.

Camera1 Camera2





However, to illustrate the problem of giving people cameras in a dark restaurant, this is, I think, the top of my head:


Luckily, we have a professional photographer among us, who has kindly provided some of the photos in this post. You can see more of the lovely BANTER community on Bryan Jones’ blog:

Blues Brothers balloons, helium provided by @nebula63 et al. Photo: @BWJones

Blues Brothers balloons, helium provided by @nebula63 et al.
Photo: @BWJones

I couldn’t resist showing you one more picture – could this be the secretive @drugmonkeyblog, the neuroscience twitter Phantom of the Opera, with the characteristic high top Converse? I have apparently and unknowingly met and spoken to this person, but their identity still eludes me. Maybe next year!

High-top Converse. Photo: @BWJones

High-top Converse
Photo: @BWJones

The BANTER community is a great, open-minded, welcoming group of neuroscientists, online as well as offline. Even though we only meet once a year, the literal banter continues on twitter, and I encourage you to join us. For science, for networking, and for entertainment. To date, there are over 500 people following @sfnbanter, and many more who are taking part of the discussions.

So, from all of us sponsors to all of you BANTERers – thank you! We hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did, and that we stay in touch. You can find our twitter handles and website addresses below. We hope to hear from you!

On a personal note, I’d like to extend my special thanks to:

Organizer and BANTER queen: @doc_becca

Nature attendees: @varsha_khodiyar and @MathiasAstell from @ScientificData

For pulling the strings @npgnews: @noahWG

Co-sponsor: @neuinfo (

Colleague and partner in crime: @msandstr at @INCForg (

The fantastic staff at @FrontierChicago

Helium balloon coordinators: @nebula63, @heather_berlin, @jaymebphd, and Peggy Groves Shaefer

Photographer: @BWJones

Post-BANTER donut provider: @neurofim

Helena Ledmyr (@Helena_LB) is the Development Officer at INCF (, where she coordinates the communications team and manages development initiatives. Her responsibilities also include serving as the secretary of the INCF Governing Board and Executive Committee, and managing the Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium, NPRC (


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