Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind (part one)

Sunny San Diego plays host to annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience

October7th,2013
Jeffrey Bouley
Neuroscience 2013
43rd Annual Meeting of the Society forNeuroscience
San Diego Convention Center
November 9-13, 2013  
 

 
SAN DIEGO—Sure, the annual meeting of the Society forNeuroscience (SfN) is mostly about the human nervous system rather thanpsychology, but it seems that in planning the event, listening was key for SfNorganizers, just like it would be for any good therapist dealing with mattersof the mind.
 
 
"Listening to our members is critical to how we improve,"says SfN President Dr. Larry Swanson, noting that "last year, the graduateschool fair and dynamic poster presentations were very popular, so we haveexpanded them this year. Another popular feature last year was the Art ofNeuroscience exhibit, which will also be expanded."
 
 
SfN also took advice from last year's attendees to enhancethe free mobile app that visitors can use to set up their schedule while at themeeting, and made improvements to the way users can search through and read themore than 15,000 abstracts, he adds.
But even beyond listening to direct suggestions, the societykeeps its ear close to the ground to know what's important educationally.
 
 
"SfN recognizes that researchers are being asked to do morewith less," Swanson says, noting that some prominent presentations at the 43rdannual meeting reflect that. "Neuroscience 2013 features two panels onadvocating for science, geared toward those who would like to become involved.I will co-host 'Enhancing Global Cooperation on Advocacy,' with Sten Grillnerof the International Brain Research Organization. We will be discussing theimportance of biomedical research funding, and will examine ways to raisepublic awareness and advocate for government support for neuroscience acrossthe globe."
 
 
Another presentation in that vein is "Public Advocacy Forum:Policy Implications for the Science of Aging and End of Life," which focuses on"the profound challenges raised by an aging population and the rise inconditions such as Alzheimer's disease," Swanson says—an issue that stands tocost the healthcare market billions and thus will present researchers andclinicians with more than their share of doing more with less. The forum ismoderated by Anne Buckingham, who is searching for a treatment for Parkinson'sand other neurodegenerative diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital inBoston, Swanson says, and the forum is open to the public.
 
 
Looking toward the needs of DDNews readers, who mostly fall into the discovery, development anddiagnostics camps, Swanson note that the Presidential Special Lectures that hehad a hand in organizing are of potential interest, as they focus on the"connectome," a comprehensive diagram of how brain cells and brain regions areconnected.
 
 
"The human brain is a network of extraordinary complexity,and understanding its connectivity will have profound implications on diseasetreatment, drug targets and the development of diagnostic tools," Swansonnotes. "[The Presidential Special Lectures program] also focuses on the latestresearch at the basic level of brain science, which is important forresearchers and clinicians who need to know about the development of thecomplex neural pathways at the core of the challenges they face in correctingdisorders. These lectures provide new answers in fundamental brain science, andwill help researchers reach the next level in their own work."
 
In addition, attendees will also have the opportunity toview more than 15,000 presentations, plus workshops and symposia, spanning thedepth and breadth of the neuroscience field, he points out.
 
"It is an incredibly exciting time to be involved inneuroscience, no matter your research specialization. Our SfN SpecialPresentation, which is open to the public, will have global leaders from the fielddiscussing the important investments of President Obama's BRAIN Initiative andthe European Commission's Human Brain Project, and how those projects arelikely to affect scientific advances," Swanson says.
 
 
Also, he says, the intersection of neuroscience with otherareas of society is always of interest to SfN, and this year the "Dialoguesbetween Neuroscience and Society" speaker will be Ed Catmull, president of WaltDisney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios. Catmull will discuss "TheCreative Culture" and the dynamic balance between technology and art, and hislecture is open to the public.
 
 
As for why researchers in discovery, development anddiagnostics should strongly consider attending this year's meeting or futureones, Swanson notes, "We can't provide drugs for what we don't understand.Neuroscience 2013 is the world's largest marketplace of ideas and tools forglobal neuroscience. Attendees can make connections with more than 30,000professionals, including researchers, medical doctors, chemists, linguists,mathematicians, engineers and others from neuroscience-related disciplines fromnearly 80 countries."
 
 
Several lectures and presentations fall under themes thatspeak directly to those who work in drug discovery, drug development anddiagnostics, he notes, such as Theme C, which focuses on disorders of thenervous system, and Theme G, which focuses on Novel methods and technologydevelopment.
  
 

 
SOCIETY FOR NEUROSCIENCE NEWS:
 
SfN gets $525,000 forLatin American neuroscience training
 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has beenawarded $525,000 from The Grass Foundation to create a Latin AmericanNeuroscience Training Program. The five-year initiative will serve hundreds ofpromising young regional scientists, providing knowledge, networking and toolsto help them advance in their careers and contribute to the global neurosciencecommunity.
 
 
The program builds on the historic strengths of the SfNRicardo Miledi Program, a Grass Foundation-funded training initiative that ranfrom 2003 to 2012, and incorporates new formal partnerships with two regionalbodies of the International Brain Research Organization as well as institutionsthat will host the program. It is projected to serve approximately 650 traineesfrom Latin America and the Caribbean over five years. Each year, 15 outstandingstudents will be selected to participate in an onsite, advanced three-weektraining program. Additionally, more than 100 students from across the regionwill participate in an online training program, which will include webinars,videos, networking and discussions on professional development and the latestscience.
 
 
The new program's approach and curriculum were developedwith input from a core group of leading scientists from the Latin Americanneuroscience community. Additionally, the course will cover a wealth ofprofessional development topics, including manuscript publishing, theresponsible use of animals in research, research ethics and scientific conductand Brain Awareness Week activities.
 
 
"The Latin American Neuroscience Training Program willadvance the progress of science and understanding of the brain, and we thankThe Grass Foundation for their investment in the bright future of LatinAmerican science," SfN President Larry Swanson said. "By training the region'smost promising young scientists, the seeds for advancement planted here willhave a positive impact on the trainees and on the future of neuroscience in theregion for decades to come."
 
 
 
SfN announces winnersof brain awareness video contest
 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.— SfN recently announced the winners of thethird annual SfN Brain Awareness Video Contest, with winning topics covering alittle-known brain disorder, the mystery of memory and the question of mindreading. The video submissions were evaluated by scientists for creativity andscientific accuracy, and will join more than 1,000 resources available onBrainFacts.org. These resources are intended to engage visitors about thewonders of the brain and mind, such as brain anatomy, how the brain drives thesenses and our behavior and how diseases cause brain function to go awry.
 
 
The first-place video, "Congenital Anosmia," describes acondition in which people are born without a sense of smell. Scientists knowthat olfactory stimuli travel from the nose through a few parts of the brainbefore ending up in the frontal cortex, but they still do not know how or whythe signal gets lost along the way. The video's creator, Travis Grenier, a filmstudent at Full Sail University, won $1,000 and a trip to SfN's 2013 annualmeeting. Grenier worked with SfN member Pat Trimmer of Virginia CommonwealthUniversity to submit the video. 
 
The winners for second and third place were too close tocall, so the judges declared two second-place winners. The two videos—"Sketch ofa Memory" by graduate students Xavier Viñals and África Flores of UniversitatPompeu Fabra in Spain and "Population Coding: Mind Reading and More" by VaniaCao, who completed her Ph.D. at Brown University—each earned a $375 prize.
 The top ten videos from this year's contest will also go onto compete for SfN's $500 People's Choice Award. The public is invited to viewand vote for their favorite video at BrainFacts.org/BAVC, but voting closesOct. 16.
 
 
"This year's video submissions reflect enormous excitementabout brain research," said Jim McNamara, chair of SfN's Public Education andCommunication Committee. "And they are a valuable tool for the neurosciencecommunity to share the wonders of emerging research with the general public,whose support is critical to these endeavors."
 
 

 
ADDITIONAL PRE-SHOW COVERAGE OF NEUROSCIENCE 2013:
 
Co-headquarter hotels
 
 
Hilton Bayfront
1 Park Boulevard, San Diego

Manchester Grand Hyatt
1 Market Place, San Diego
 
San Diego MarriottHotel and Marina
333 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego
 



Presidential SpecialLectures
 
 
The Mind of a Worm:Learning from the C. elegansConnectome
Scott W. Emmons, Ph.D.
Saturday, Nov. 9, 5:15 p.m. to 6:25 p.m.
The connectome of the roundworm C. elegans reveals the neural pathways that underlie its motivatedand purposeful behavior. New connectomics data suggest the topology of a neuralnetwork contributes to integration of multiple sensory inputs in adecision-making process that guides a multistep behavioral pathway. Determiningthe wiring diagram of the nervous system of a tiny animal is a first steptoward learning how patterns of connectivity contribute to the rapid, robustand economic function of the brain.
 
 
A MolecularGeneticist's Approach to Understanding the Fly Brain
Gerald M. Rubin, Ph.D.
Sunday, Nov. 10, 5:15 p.m. to 6:25 p.m.
To probe the workings of the nervous system, we will need tobe able to assay and manipulate the function of individual neuronal cell types.The intellectual framework for such an approach has been apparent for manyyears, but the available tools have been inadequate for the job. This lectureaddresses efforts to develop and apply an advanced set of tools that will berequired for a comprehensive analysis of the anatomy and function of the flybrain at the level of individual cell types and circuits. 
 
Connectomics: What,How and Why
Jeff W. Lichtman, M.D., Ph.D.
Monday, Nov. 11, 5:15 p.m. to 6:25 p.m.
Connectional maps of the brain have value in modeling howthe brain works and fails when subsets of neurons or synapses are missing ormisconnected. Such maps also provide information about how brain circuitsdevelop and age. Efforts to obtain complete wiring diagrams of peripheral motorand autonomic axons provide insight into the way mammalian nervous systems moldin response to experience.
 
 
UnderstandingCortical Hierarchies: The Six-Piece Puzzle of Face Perception
Doris Y. Tsao, Ph.D.
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 5:15 p.m. to 6:25 p.m.
How the brain distills a representation of meaningfulobjects from retinal input is one of the central challenges of systemsneuroscience. Functional imaging experiments in the macaque reveal that oneecologically important class of objects, faces, is represented by a system ofsix discrete, strongly interconnected regions. Electrophysiological recordingsshow that these "face patches" have unique functional profiles. Byunderstanding the distinct visual representations maintained in these six facepatches, the sequence of information flow between them and the role each playsin face perception, we can gain new insights into hierarchical information processingin the brain.
 
 
 

 
Featured Lectures 
 
Dialogues BetweenNeuroscience and Society
The Creative Culture
Ed Catmull, Ph.D.
Saturday, Nov. 9, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Many think creativity is the result of singular genius.However, the reality of creativity is far more complex and interesting. Thecentral issues include removing hidden barriers to creativity and candor. Wepay special attention to protecting barely formed ideas; the dynamic balancebetween technology and art; the necessity of structured processes to get thejob done; and the random, unpredictable nature of what we do. In particular, weneed to give thoughtful attention to the culture itself, for out of thisculture arises new technology, new ideas and artistic expression. 
 
Peter and Patricia GruberLecture
Understanding Circuit Dynamics: Variability, Modulation andHomeostasis
Eve E. Marder, Ph.D.
Sunday, Nov. 10, 2:30 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.
Circuit function arises from the interplay between theintrinsic properties of neurons and their synaptic connections. This lecturewill present combined experimental and computational work suggesting thatrobust circuit performance can arise from highly variable circuit components.Animal-to-animal variability in circuit parameters raises interestingchallenges for reliable neuromodulation and responses to environmentalperturbation but allows important substrates for evolution.
 
 
David Kopf Lecture onNeuroethics
Blaming the Brain: Behavioral Sciences in the Courtroom
Nita A. Farahany, J.D., Ph.D.
Monday, Nov. 11, 10 a.m. to 11:10 a.m.
Recent scientific progress has dramatically advanced ourunderstanding of biological, neurological and environmental contributions tonormal and deviant human behavior. This lecture will present the firstcomprehensive empirical study on the use of biosciences in the United Statesand other legal systems. Focusing on criminal law and tort law, the lecturewill cover the nature of claims being advanced, shifting attitudes towardscientific evidence in the legal system and future implications for therelationship between law and neuroscience.
 
 
Albert and EllenGrass Lecture
The Neural Circuitry of Sex and Violence
David J. Anderson, Ph.D.
Monday, Nov. 11, 3:30 p.m. to 4:40 p.m.
Arousal states are integral to our emotional responses. Bothmating and fighting are associated with high states of arousal and,furthermore, these behaviors can reinforce one another. However, at the sametime, these behaviors are typically mutually exclusive. How can these behaviorsbe so opposed while reinforcing each other? This talk will describe efforts toaddress this problem by elucidating the functional neural circuitry underlyingaggression and its relationship to circuits controlling mating behavior in bothmice and fruit flies.
 
 
History ofNeuroscience Lecture
Reward Circuitry in the Brain
Roy A. Wise, Ph.D.
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.
The discovery that rats would work for brief electricalstimulation of the brain led to the notion of specialized brain circuitry forthe "stamping in" of learning. Longer stimulation at the same brain sitesinduced drive states for feeding, predatory attack and other motivatedbehaviors. Subsequent pharmacological and parametric studies implicatedforebrain dopamine systems as the final common path for these effects. Thesefindings formed the early basis for our current view and new optogeneticstudies of the special role of dopamine in learning, motivation and addiction.
 
 
 

 
Special Presentation
 
Understanding NewBrain Initiatives in the U.S. and Europe
 
Monday, Nov. 11, 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m.
 
The Special Presentation will feature a panel discussionabout emerging neuroscience projects in the United States and Europe. The panelwill include key leaders from the U.S. Brain Research through AdvancingInnovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative and the Human Brain Project,which is part of the European Flagship Programme. Learn more about recentinvestments in brain research initiatives, the scientific foci and the publicpolicy implications and opportunities in neuroscience.
 
 
Panelists:
 
  • Thomas Insel, M.D., U.S. National Institute of Mental Health
  • Story C. Landis, Ph.D., U.S. National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • Geoffrey Ling, M.D., Ph.D., U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • Cora Marrett, Ph.D., U.S. National Science Foundation
  • Daniel Pasini, Ph.D., European Commission
     
     
  • (To view part two of this pre-show coverage, click here)
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