Meeting of the minds

Neuroscience 2012 offers five days of cutting-edge research, networking, career opportunities and more in New Orleans

Jeffrey Bouley
NEW ORLEANS—From the "big brains" talking about nervoussystem topics to conversations about fledgling organ-on-a-chip "microbrain"technologies, your place for all things neurological in mid-October may beNeuroscience 2012, organized by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN)—if for noother reason than you might not be able to find some of your neurosciencecolleagues unless you attend the conference.
 
 
"SfN's meeting is the single opportunity each year toimmerse oneself in the latest advances in neuroscience research," notes Dr.Moses Chao, SfN's president. "With more than 31,000 attendees, nearly 16,000scientific abstracts being presented and more than 500 exhibitors of productsand services, Neuroscience 2012 is an unparalleled event for science,networking and professional development." 
 
The professional neurological society brings its five-dayevent to New Orleans this year, running from Oct. 13-17 at the Ernest N. MorialConvention Center and various other venues for some of the special events,after holding its 41st annual meeting in Washington, D.C., lastyear, where SfN is headquartered.
 
 
As Chao notes, the field of neurology is both dynamic andbroad, and pinning down a handful of topics to highlight is difficult, but theexperience overall will be worthwhile to attendees of all stripes as it talksabout latest advances and the future of neuroscience.
"At the SfN annual meeting, you get a sense of how itchanges from the shifts in the scientific program, and from the science beingpresented on the poster floor," Chao says. "SfN is committed to making thescientific experience at the meeting as rewarding as possible."
 
 
Also on tap is to try out some new twists, Chao says,explaining that SfN is piloting new technologies to enhance the presentation ofscience at the meeting.
 
"Dynamic posters—computer-driven poster presentationsdisplayed on LCD screens that can incorporate interactive and multimediacontent such as videos, animated graphics and scrolling text—will be piloted bynine volunteers at the meeting," Chao notes, adding that the dynamic posterscan be viewed in Hall I, poster Row JJ, near SfN's own booth.
 
 
One highlight of the meeting that Chao is particularlypleased to share is that artist Chuck Close will be this year's speaker for"Dialogues between Neuroscience and Society," which is open not only to registeredattendees but also the general public.
 
 
"He is a National Medal of Arts awardee and is known for hishighly inventive techniques used to paint the human face," Chao explains."Close produced his iconic portraits while coping with serious impairments ofhis body and brain, hence the title of his talk, 'My Life as a RollingNeurological Clinic.' There will also be a special symposium open to the publicon the impact of traumatic brain injury in sports and veterans returning fromwar."
 
 
Among many other offerings at Neuroscience 2012 are thePresidential Special Lectures, the speakers for which Chao had a direct hand inselecting. 
 
"There is a fascinating, diverse line-up this year,including two speakers discussing research involving language and languagedevelopment," Chao says.
 
 
The speakers for the Presidential Special Lectures are Dr.James Rothman of the Yale University School of Medicine, who will discussefforts to understand the brain's machinery for cell communication; Dr. CarlaShatz of Stanford University, who will present on her work exploring criticaldevelopmental periods, and talk about how manipulating them has relevance notonly for understanding brain wiring and developmental disorders, but also forenhancing recovery from injury; Dr. Janet F. Werker of the University ofBritish Columbia, who will address how exposure to language in the womb andearly infancy affects the brain and subsequent language development; and Dr.Simon E. Fisher of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, who willdiscuss the human "gift of gab" and research uncovering critical genes involvedin speech and language. 
 

 
Planning your days at Neuroscience 2012 
 
NEW ORLEANS—Once again this year, the Neuroscience MeetingPlanner (NMP) is available for the annual meeting of the Society forNeuroscience (SfN) on the www.sfn.org/am2012/ website for the meeting.Attendees can use the NMP to search abstracts and sessions, as well as createtheir own personalized itinerary for the annual meeting.
 
 
Features of the NMP include advanced search functions tofind specific results based on session type, session title, presentation title,author name and institution; a presenter index to find authors from a last-namealphabetical list and search for their presentations and sessions; and ageneral browsing function to explore sessions by type or date.
 
Another thing that can help with planning your days if youare attending Neuroscience 2012 is to have something for your kids to do if youbring the family along to New Orleans. To that end, on-site child-care andyouth programs will be provided through KiddieCorp, a national firm with morethan 20 years experience in on-site conference child care. Details and contactinformation are on the conference website but space is limited and if youhaven't reserved a slot already, you may have to take advantage of it at afuture conference.
 
 
 
Study identifies how muscles are paralyzed during sleep
 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Two powerful brain chemical systems worktogether to paralyze skeletal muscles during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep,according to new research in the July 11 issue of SfN's The Journal ofNeuroscience, a finding that may help scientists better understand andtreat sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, tooth grinding and REM sleep behaviordisorder.
 
During REM sleep, the deep sleep where most recalled dreamsoccur, muscles that move the eyes and those involved in breathing continue tomove, but the most of the body's other muscles are stopped, potentially toprevent injury. In a series of experiments, University of Torontoneuroscientists Patricia L. Brooks and Dr. John H. Peever found that theneurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid and glycine caused REM sleepparalysis in rats by switching off the specialized cells in the brain thatallow muscles to be active. This finding reversed earlier beliefs that glycinewas a lone inhibitor of these motor neurons.
 
 
"The study's findings are relevant to anyone who has everwatched a sleeping pet twitch, gotten kicked by a bed partner, or has knownsomeone with the sleep disorder narcolepsy," said Dr. Dennis J. McGinty, abehavioral neuroscientist and sleep researcher at the University of California,Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. "By identifying theneurotransmitters and receptors involved in sleep-related paralysis, this studypoints us to possible molecular targets for developing treatments forsleep-related motor disorders, which can often be debilitating."
 
 

 
Mission of theSociety for Neuroscience
 
 
1. Advance the understanding of the brain and the nervoussystem by bringing together scientists of diverse backgrounds, by facilitatingthe integration of research directed at all levels of biological organizationand by encouraging translational research and the application of new scientificknowledge to develop improved disease treatments and cures.
 
2. Provide professional development activities, informationand educational resources for neuroscientists at all stages of their careers,including undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral fellows, and increaseparticipation of scientists from a diversity of cultural and ethnicbackgrounds.
 
3. Promote public information and general education aboutthe nature of scientific discovery and the results and implications of thelatest neuroscience research. Support active and continuing discussions onethical issues relating to the conduct and outcomes of neuroscience research.
 
4. Inform legislators and other policymakers about newscientific knowledge and recent developments in neuroscience research and theirimplications for public policy, societal benefit and continued scientificprogress.
 
 
 

 
A chance to guide others
 
As part of its mission to advance the professionaldevelopment needs of its members, SfN already offered an online mentoringprogram with a user-driven mentor matching resource. But new this year, SfNoffers the ability for people to enroll as a mentor or mentee specifically forthe annual meeting. 
According to the SfN, this new option "allows youngneuroscientists to gain valuable mentoring experience by coaching first-timeannual meeting attendees to help them get the most out of the annual meetingexperience; at the same time, first-time annual meeting attendees learn how tomaximize their time at the busy annual meeting for an optimal experience."
 
 
Those who are interested in enrolling in the annualmeeting's mentoring program can email AMmentormatch@sfn.org for moreinformation.
 
To enroll in the mentoring program in general or forNeuroscience 2012, begin by going to http://neuronline.sfn.org to visit SfN'sNeurOnLine site, then complete a profile in the "My Profile" tab. Click oneither the "Mentee Profile" or "Mentor Profile" tabs on the top of your profilepage and you will find a link to the mentor and mentee enrollment page. Onceyou have completed the appropriate sections and enrolled as a mentor or mentee,you may select which type of mentor or mentee you'd like to be, either one forthe annual meeting mentor or for scientific mentoring. SfN members aren't limitedto one role; they can be a mentor or mentee in the annual meeting or scientificmentoring programs, in any combinations thereof.
 
 
SfN notes that after enrolling as a mentor, mentee or both,members can search the database of SfN members to find mentors and/or menteeswith whom they can connect online, by telephone or face-to-face.
 
 
Also, members of NeurOnLine's mentoring community will beable to use features that allow for such activities as tracking mentoringrelationships, participating in online discussions related to mentoring andaccessing the resource library.
 
 
More generally, NeurOnLine is a members-only onlinecommunity where neuroscientists can, as SfN notes, "share great science,network, forge collaborations and keep in touch—anytime, anywhere—within atrusted forum."
 
 
 

 
NeuroJobs Career Center
 
 
With recruiters from industry, non-profit organizations andacademia on-site and concurrent career development workshops, the NeuroJobsCareer Center is popular among meeting attendees and "one of the mosttrafficked areas of the SfN annual meeting," according to the Society forNeuroscience.
 
 
NeuroJobs Career Fair
Saturday, Oct. 13
8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. and 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
 
This second-annual NeuroJobs Career Fair brings togetheremployers from industry, academia, government and the non-profit sector withjob seekers thanks to exhibit booths, interview rooms and concurrent careerdevelopment workshops. Career Fair-related events are free for all registeredmeeting attendees.
 
After Saturday's Career Fair, employers and job seekers areinvited to continue using the NeuroJobs Career Center throughout the rest ofNeuroscience 2012, with the Career Center providing a space for employers tonetwork and interview job candidates. It includes dedicated interview boothsthat employers can reserve, as well as computer terminals for job seekers tofind jobs and post resumes and for employers to post positions.
 
 
Graduate School Fair
Sunday, Oct. 14 and Monday, Oct. 15
Noon-1 p.m.
 
New this year at Neuroscience 2012 is the first-annualGraduate School Fair, providing prospective students and graduate schools withan opportunity to meet face-to-face during the annual meeting.
 
 
 
 

 
SfN goes social (networking) for annual meeting
 
 
Neuroscience 2012 is getting a new high-tech twist with thedynamic posters, as noted in the main article on page 20, but that isn't theonly electronic twist. On the more low-tech side, SfN is tapping the power ofsocial networking with officially selected bloggers who will post aboutNeuroscience 2012 live via such means as Twitter and their blogs.
 
 
"Is there an interesting Special Lecture that yourcolleagues should not miss? What about that poster that caught your eye? Wantto gather colleagues at a SfN-sponsored social?" SfN asks on its annual meetingwebsite. "These experiences and more are all at your fingertips when you applyto become an official blogger."
 
 
Official SfN bloggers will share their Neuroscience 2012experience through personal blogs linked to from the SfN website and be able toshare their thoughts and reactions about science, the meeting, New Orleans andmore with the Neuroscience 2012 audience of more than 30,000 attendees.
 
Applications were due by Sept. 5, so if you are interestedin participating but haven't applied, you probably will need to wait for nextyear, but SfN encourages you to follow those bloggers who will be sharing theannual meeting through social networks.
 
 
 

 
Featured lectures
 
 
My Life as a RollingNeurological Clinic
Chuck Close
Saturday, Oct. 13
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
 
 
The Gift of Gab: HowYour Genome Helps You Speak
Dr. Simon E. Fisher
Saturday, Oct. 13
5:15 p.m.-6:25 p.m.
 
 
Peter and PatriciaGruber Lecture
In Search of Molecular Underpinnings of NeuronalMorphologies and Function: From Drosophila Neurogenetics toEvolutionarily Conserved Machineries in Mammals
Drs. Lily Jan and Yuh Nung Jan
Sunday, Oct. 14
2:30 p.m.-3:40 p.m.
 
 
Molecular Mechanismsof Synchronous Neurotransmitter Release
Dr. James Rothman
Sunday, Oct. 14
5:15 p.m.-6:25 p.m.
 
 
The Impact of Neuroscienceon Society: The Neuroethics of "Smart Drugs"
Dr. Barbara J. Sahakian
Monday, Oct. 15
10 a.m.-11:10 a.m.
 
 
Special Presentation
The Changing Global Neuroscience Ecosystem: Why It MattersTo Our Future
Dr. Steven E. Hyman
Monday, Oct. 15
1 p.m.-2 p.m.
 
 
Albert and EllenGrass Lecture
The Collective Wisdom of Neurons
Dr. Larry Abbott 
Monday, Oct. 15
3:15 p.m.-4:25 p.m.
 
 
Circuit Tuning DuringDevelopmental Critical Periods
Dr. Carla Shatz
Monday, Oct. 15
5:15 p.m.-6:25 p.m.
 
 
The Emergence of ContemporaryPain Neuroscience
Dr. Lorne M. Mendell
Tuesday, Oct. 16
2:30 p.m.-3:40 p.m.
 
 
Prenatal ExposureModulates Language Attunement in Infancy
Dr. Janet F. Werker
Tuesday, Oct. 16 5:15 p.m.-6:25 p.m.


Jeffrey Bouley

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