Minisymposia focus on advances or present conflicting views in rapidly developing areas of neuroscience. Speakers are typically junior investigators, and researchers at all career levels are encouraged to attend. Minisymposia taking place during Neuroscience 2019 are listed below.
Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis in Humans and Rodents: New Evidence and New Perspectives
Juan Song, PhD
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Co-Chair: Shaoyu Ge, PhD
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Adult neurogenesis in mammals including humans affords remarkable structural and functional plasticity and regenerative capacity to mature circuits. This minisymposium will cover the most recent topics in adult hippocampal neurogenesis, including new evidence for human adult hippocampal neurogenesis, visualization of neural stem cells in living mice, regulation of adult neurogenesis by niche cells and neural circuits, and adult neurogenesis in the contexts of behavior and diseases.
Functional Maturation of Cerebello-Cerebral Interactions
Freek E. Hoebeek, PhD
University Medical Center Utrecht
Co-Chair: Roy V. Sillitoe, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine
The developmental processes that connect the cerebellum to the cerebrum constitute critical morphogenetic events that span embryogenesis through postnatal life. It is argued that disrupting these mechanisms results in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, movement diseases such as cerebral palsy, and language defects such as dyslexia. This minisymposium brings together recent experimental and clinical advances to better define the cerebellum?s role in cerebral maturation.
Mechanisms of Basal Ganglia Maturation: Insights Into Health and Disease
Rui Peixoto, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
Co-Chair: Ori Lieberman
The basal ganglia are critical for action selection and motivated behaviors, and growing evidence points to striatal dysfunction in numerous neurodevelopmental disorders. This minisymposium will highlight recent advances in our understanding of the molecular and activity dependent mechanisms regulating the maturation of basal ganglia circuits, how these contribute to unique behaviors in adolescence, and how they might be implicated in the pathophysiology of human neurodevelopmental disorders.
New Insights in Understanding Fragile X Syndrome (FXS): Focus on Neural Development in Human Models and Non-Neuron Glial Cells
Yongjie Yang, PhD
Tufts University School of Medicine
Co-Chair: Gary J. Bassell, PhD
Recent development to establish stem cell or iPSC-derived human models of FXS has begun to provide new insight about the molecular and synaptic alterations in human neurons. This minisymposium will describe recent progress on utilizing human cell models to not only understand the roles of FMRP in human neuron development, but also test reactivation of the fmr1 gene as a potential therapeutic strategy. In addition, new knowledge about how non-neuronal glial cells are involved in the pathogenic process of FXS will be presented.
Novel Mechanisms of Neuronal Alternative Splicing and Strategies to Correct Aberrant-Splicing
Eduardo J. Lopez Soto, PhD
Dynamic changes in alternative splicing support virtually every neuronal process, ranging from development and plasticity to complex behaviors and cognition, and is implicated in disease pathology. This minisymposium will focus on novel cell-specific mechanisms that regulate alternative splicing in neurons and how these findings inform promising new therapies to correct and control splicing defects.
Cell-Type Specificity, Strength, and Dynamics of Long-Range Synaptic Input
Gabe J. Murphy, PhD
Allen Institute for Brain Science
Co-Chair: Leopoldo T. Petreanu, PhD
The specificity and functional properties of long-range synaptic input is less understood than that of local input. New optogenetic, viral tracing, and imaging techniques enable a deeper understanding of the interactions between cell types in discrete brain areas. New data from these approaches indicate that the specificity of local and long-range input can be comparable and raise the possibility that long-range input specificity may play a larger role than previously appreciated.
Novel Mechanistic Roles for Sodium Channels in Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Kevin J. Bender, PhD
University of California, San Francisco
Co-Chair: Ethan M. Goldberg, MD, PhD
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Disease-related alterations in ion channel function, termed channelopathies, contribute to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders. This minisymposium will highlight advances in our understanding of how pathogenic variation in sodium channels contributes to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, including new insight into well-established sodium channelopathies leading to epilepsy and new associations between sodium channels and other developmental disorders, including autism and schizophrenia.
Pleiotropic Mitochondria: The Influence of Mitochondria on Neuronal Development and Disease
Julien Courchet, PhD
Co-Chair: Seok-Kyu Kwon, PhD
Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)
Mitochondria are a central organelle in the regulation of neuronal metabolism and synaptic transmission. This minisymposium aims to present exciting novel developments regarding mitochondria biology and its role in neuronal development in a physiological and pathological context.
The Gut-Brain Axis in Health and Brain Disease
Arthur Liesz, MD
University Medical Center Munich
Co-Chair: Jane A. Foster, PhD
The gut microbiome is a critical player in neurodevelopment and aging as well as in brain diseases including stroke, Alzheimer?s disease, and Parkinson?s disease. Intestinal bacteria act along the gut-brain axis in part by modifying the immune response. Bacteria also produce neuroactive mediators and can modulate neuronal function, plasticity and behavior. This minisymposium will highlight recent insights on the bi-directional communication along the brain-gut-microbiome-immune axis.
The Synaptic Vesicle Cycle Revisited: New Insights Into the Modes and Mechanisms
Jennifer R. Morgan, PhD
Marine Biological Laboratory
Co-Chair: Shigeki Watanabe, PhD
Johns Hopkins University
Neurotransmission relies critically upon the ability of nerve terminals to locally recycle synaptic vesicles with precise efficiency. Recently, the field has witnessed many exciting discoveries on synaptic vesicle recycling. Novel pathways have been identified; multiple modes of vesicle exo-/endocytosis have been reported, distinguished by speed; and new points of molecular regulation are now known. This minisymposium will present these findings and discuss how they impact the classical view of the vesicle cycle.
Myelin Degeneration and Remyelination in Health and Disease
Carlos E. Pedraza, PhD
Co-Chair: Tarek Samad, PhD
Myelin speeds the transmission of the nerve impulse and insulates and protects the neuron. Defects in myelin formation and demyelination result in developmental disabilities and neurological deficits. A better understanding of myelin dynamics is the key to developing effective therapies for demyelinating diseases. Current studies on myelinating cell biology (specifically oligodendrocyte and Schwann cells) during development and pathology will provide the basis for innovative drug discovery.
Necroptosis and Other Non-Apoptotic Processes in Microglial Pathophysiology and Neurologic Diseases
Dimitry Ofengeim, PhD
An emerging view is that inflammation and altered innate immunity drive the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases. The identification of a RIPK1-mediated necroptotic pathway that sits at the intersection of cell death and inflammation presents a new opportunity to explore the role of inflammation in degenerative diseases. This minisymposium will explore the immune response in the context of cellular stress in neurodegenerative diseases.
Phenotype Suppression in Neurodegeneration
Kristi Wharton, PhD
The underlying causes of neurodegeneration remain elusive in many diseases, including ALS and FTD. This minisymposium will focus on the hallmark phenotypes of these diseases and the molecular and cellular pathways that suppress them. Rather than uniting around a specific genetic mutation or model organism, this minisymposium will highlight models with clinically relevant symptoms that enable mechanistic studies based on genetic or pharmacological suppressors.
Expecting the Unexpected: Cortical Circuits for Novelty Detection
Jordan P. Hamm, PhD
Georgia State University
Efficient sensory processing involves building predictions based on context and detecting when events betray these predictions. Recent findings indicate that whether a stimulus is context-typical vs context-deviant/novel may be encoded by separate circuit mechanisms or even neural subpopulations (e.g. ?deviance detecting? cells) distributed across sensory, associative, and prefrontal cortices. This minisymposium will highlight this discovery with converging results and insights from mice, ferrets, and humans.
Parabrachial Complex: A Hub for Pain and Aversion
Mary M. Heinricher, PhD
Oregon Health & Science University
The parabrachial nucleus complex (PBN) has long been recognized as a sensory relay for taste, nociception, and interoception, but how this information is integrated and used to inform different behavioral outputs is only now being elucidated. This minisymposium will provide a context for interrogation of PBN circuits involved in aversion and avoidance and consider how information is integrated within PBN and transmitted to distinct targets to signal alarm and engage appropriate behavioral responses.
Progress in Pain and Itch Research
Qin Liu, PhD
The Washington University School of Medicine
Co-Chair: Hongzhen Hu, MD, PhD
Washington University in St. Louis
Although acute pain and itch are two of the most fundamental protective somatosensory processes, chronic pathological pain and itch inflict significant clinical challenges and economic burdens. The coding and processing of pain and itch in the peripheral and central nervous systems are highly complicated processes. This minisymposium will highlight the recent research advances in the cross-system regulations of pain and itch, and maladaptive processes that lead to chronic pain and itch.
Sensory Circuits for Vision and Smell: Integrating Molecular, Anatomical, and Functional Maps
Alexander Fleischmann, PhD
Co-Chair: Andreas T. Schaefer, PhD
Francis Crick Institute
The past decade has witnessed major advances in the development of molecular, anatomical, and functional techniques for large scale brain mapping. However, integrating these complementary techniques has remained challenging. This minisymposium will demonstrate how novel approaches can be combined to bridge these gaps and systematically generate insight into the molecular and functional topology of sensory neural circuits.
What Do Neurons Want?
Gabriel Kreiman, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Co-Chair: Carlos R. Ponce, MD, PhD
Washington University at St. Louis
Sixty years after Hubel and Wiesel, there remain important questions about the shapes that visually responsive neurons learn to abstract from the natural world. Recent advances in computational neuroscience have paved the way to rethinking neural coding for visual shapes. This minisymposium will discuss recent findings and theories about neuronal representations in the visual cortex, as revealed through experiments, simulations and the novel use of machine learning tools including generative neural networks.
Adaptive Control of Movements and Emotional States by the Cerebellum
Reza Shadmehr, PhD
Johns Hopkins University Department of Biomedical Engineering
An unexpected sensory event can be emotionally charged or neutral and can occur during movements or stillness. In every case, the cerebellum learns to eliminate the sensory prediction error. When this learning fails, results are motor as well as anxiety disorders. This minisymposium will present recent discoveries regarding the neural basis of this learning process, demonstrating the role of prediction errors in sculpting activity of Purkinje cells and leading to better control of brain structures outside of the cerebellum.
Beta Oscillations in Sensorimotor Function, Executive Action Control, and Working Memory
Robert Schmidt, PhD
University of Sheffield
Co-Chair: Adam R. Aron, PhD
University of California, San Diego
Beta oscillations in cortical and basal ganglia networks remain mysterious, yet they are closely linked to network function and dysfunction. While beta is classically seen as representing an akinetic state, this minisymposium will highlight new insight into beta in the sensorimotor system and in cognitive control. Results across three species as well as from computational modelling, deep brain stimulation and electrophysiology that explain the mechanisms and function of beta and closed-loop methods in patients will be presented.
Gain Control in the Sensorimotor System: From Neural Circuit Organization to Behavioral Function
Kazuhiko Seki, PhD
National Institute of Neuroscience
Co-Chair: Eiman Azim, PhD
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Coordinated movement depends on communication between neural circuits that produce motor output and those that report sensory consequences. Fundamental to this interaction are mechanisms for controlling the influence that feedback signals have on motor pathways ? for example, reducing feedback gains when disruptive and increasing gains when advantageous. This minisymposium will discuss the organization and function of diverse forms of sensory gain control across species at multiple levels of the nervous system.
The Neural Basis of Manual Dexterity
Sliman J. Bensmaia, PhD
University of Chicago
Human hands are remarkably versatile and constitute the principal means by which we physically interact with the environment. This minisymposium will investigate the neural mechanisms that mediate manual dexterity by examining both motor control of the hands and the sensory input necessary for manual precision. Manual dexterity from evolutionary and comparative perspectives and recent efforts to confer anthropomorphic dexterity to brain-controlled bionic hands will also be considered.
Insights Into Neural Coding and Behavior From Large-Scale Population Recordings Across Cortical Areas
Jerry L. Chen, PhD
Cognitive functions involve information processing within and across the neocortical areas. This minisymposium aims to unravel how local and global cortical dynamics contribute to sensory processing, attention, working memory, and decision making. Novel optical and electrophysiological methods for simultaneous recordings across multiple areas, their application across mammalian species, and computational approaches for analyzing large-scale population activity will be discussed.
Redefining Neuromodulation of Behavior: Impact of a Modular Locus Coeruleus Architecture
Nelson K. B. Totah, PhD
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
The locus coeruleus (LC) is a brainstem nucleus critical for survival (wakefulness, autonomic responses, and analgesia) as well as cognition. LC neurons project throughout the central nervous system and could transmit a homogenous noradrenergic signal that uniformly regulates these diverse functions. This minisymposium will present work reconceptualizing LC as a differentiated system for targeted neuromodulation on the basis of developmental, molecular, anatomical, and neurophysiological diversity.
Regulation and Dysregulation of Activity Homeostasis in Central Neural Circuits
Inna Slutsky, PhD
Tel Aviv University
Co-Chair: Samuel Barnes, PhD
Imperial College of London
A fundamental challenge in the field of neuroscience is to understand how neurons and neural networks maintain stable firing rates in the face of continuous synaptic, metabolic and molecular turnover. This minisymposium will explore how neural homeostasis is implemented at different spatial scales and across diverse brain regions. Importantly, how current findings can be reconciled with other plasticity mechanisms and the disease implications of homeostasis failures will also be discussed.
Sex Differences in Drug Craving and Addiction-Like Behaviors in Rodent Models
Mathieu E. Wimmer, PhD
Co-Chair: Jessica A. Loweth, PhD
Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine
Women tend to have greater vulnerability than men to developing symptoms that define Substance Use Disorder, including escalation of drug taking and withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, the limited treatment options for addiction are less effective in women compared to men. This minisymposium highlights recent advances in rodent models of addiction that dissect the molecular, hormonal, and neuronal circuits underlying sex differences in addiction-like behaviors and craving and relapse vulnerability.
Brain Circuits for the Selection and Scaling of Defensive Behavior
Stephen Maren, PhD
Texas A&M University
Threatening stimuli evoke a range of behavioral responses that are selected and scaled according to the proximity of the danger. This minisymposium will examine the neural circuits that underlie defensive behaviors under threat. Sex, context, threat proximity, and safety signals regulating defensive responses in both rodents and humans will be considered.
Cannabis and the Developing Brain: Insights Into Its Long-Lasting Effects
Yasmin Hurd, PhD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Co-Chair: Miriam Melis, PhD
University of Cagliari
Increasing evidence suggests that cannabis exposure during neurodevelopment (perinatal and adolescent stages) results in persistent alterations in brain circuits underlying neuropsychiatric disorders and leads to an increased risk for certain psychiatric conditions later in life. This minisymposium will explore gene x environment interactions that appear to play a significant role in such sensitivity and will provide translational insights about molecular, epigenetic, neurophysiological, and in vivo neuroimaging disturbances in the human brain and animal models.
Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) Cell Heterogeneity in Health and Disease
Nicholas W. Gilpin, PhD
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Co-Chair: Elyssa B. Margolis, PhD
University of California, San Francisco
Historically, most research on the ventral tegmental area (VTA) has tested dopamine function as it relates to reward processing. Recent progress indicates 1) non-dopamine VTA neurons significantly impact behavior, 2) VTA inputs and outputs have multiple, sometimes opposing, behavioral effects, and 3) the VTA subserves various functions impacted by mental health disorders. This minisymposium will describe newly elucidated roles of specific VTA cell populations in addiction, reward, aversion, fear and sleep.
Awakening the Engram: The Etiological Role of Engram Cells for Memory Formation, Storage, and Retrieval in Health and Disease
Johannes Gräff, PhD
Co-Chair: Tomas J. Ryan, PhD
Trinity College Dublin
Converging evidence over the past several years suggests that memories are stored at least in part as specific populations of ?engram? cells. In this symposium, leading experts in engram biology share their continuously refined insights on how engram cells contribute to information encoding and storage, across diverse brain regions and behavioral modalities. Particular emphasis is placed on their emerging translational value for memory dysfunctions in age and stress-related disorders.
Brain Mechanisms of Concept Learning
Dagmar Zeithamova, PhD
University of Oregon
Co-Chair: Michael L. Mack, PhD
University of Toronto
Concept learning, the ability to extract commonalities and highlight distinctions across related experiences to build organized knowledge, is uniquely supported by interacting neural systems related to memory, attention, and executive control. This minisymposium will highlight research that directly assesses the multiple neural mechanisms of concept learning with innovative approaches that bridge computational modeling and neural measures.
Cognitive Cerebellum: Role in Motivation, Emotion, Executive, Social, and Sensory Processing
Iaroslav A. Savtchouk, PhD
Co-Chair: June Liu, MD, PhD
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
The cerebellum has been predominantly studied as a sensory-motor integrator, but anatomic studies reveal its extensive reciprocal connections with non-motor cortical regions. It is now increasingly implicated in higher-order cognition, such as complex planning as well as emotional, social, linguistic, and reward processing. This minisymposium will review how these recent advances in beyond-motor cerebellar research will reshape our view of brain function and dysfunction, including autism and cognitive affective syndrome.
Grid-Like Hexadirectional Modulation of Neural Activity in Humans
Nanthia Suthana, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles
Neurons have been shown to increase in firing rate with a hexagonal grid pattern as an animal navigates an environment. Recently, studies show that population signals of neural activity (i.e., LFP and fMRI) exhibit similar hexadirectional modulation in humans. These findings from human grid-like oscillatory and fMRI signals will be discussed as well as how they relate to each other and rodent studies. This minisymposium will also focus on how findings relate to spatial navigation and memory in humans.
Naturalistic Paradigms in Awake Monkeys: Bridging fMRI and Extra-Cellular Activities
Sze Chai C. Kwok, PhD
East China Normal University
Co-Chair: Brian E. Russ, PhD
Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research
Naturalistic viewing paradigms have become increasingly popular, as they translate to the real world conditions that shaped brain evolution. Recent advances in non-human primate research allow for the monitoring of large numbers of neurons, and the collection of richer behavioral and neural data than ever before. This minisymposium will present evidence that naturalistic paradigms reveal neural specializations and interaction patterns in the brain that would be dormant otherwise.
Advanced Circuit and Cellular Imaging Methods in Non-Human Primates
Stephen L. Macknik, PhD
SUNY Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine
Optogenetic and microscopic imaging techniques have proven successful in manipulating neuronal populations with high spatial and temporal fidelity in species ranging from insects to rodents. However, significant obstacles remain in their application to non-human primates (NHPs). Robust optogenetics-activated behavior and long-term monitoring of target neurons have been especially challenging in NHPs. This minisymposium will present recent advances that overcome many such obstacles.
Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience: From Neural Dynamics to Artificial Agents
Jonathan W. Pillow, PhD
Machine learning research is advancing at a fast pace, with substantial impacts on neuroscience. Data-analytic approaches have helped to uncover and characterize dynamical structure in neural population activity, while artificial networks have provided insights into representations and computations in the brain. This minisymposium will explore topics at the intersection of machine learning and neuroscience, demonstrating recent advances and how both fields can benefit from a close interaction.
BRAIN Initiative: Cutting-Edge Tools and Resources for the Community
Walter J. Koroshetz, MD
National Institute of Health
A core principle of the BRAIN Initiative is to develop and share novel technologies, tools, methods, and resources to advance understanding of healthy and disease brain states. This minisymposium features BRAIN-funded investigators who are driving forward toward this goal; it will inform and educate the community about opportunities and applications of their advances and encourage broader understanding of the methodological and technological advances developed as a part of the BRAIN Initiative.
Optical Recording of Neural Transmission: From Tool Development to Applications
Haining Zhong, PhD
Vollum Institute, OHSU
Co-Chair: Loren L. Looger, PhD
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Imaging of genetically encoded calcium indicators have revolutionized systems neuroscience. However, crucial complementary information, such as when and where neurotransmission takes place, are required for revealing the full picture of brain function. This minisymposium aims to highlight the most recent development of the fluorescent indicators for imaging key neurotransmitters and their downstream events, and the exciting applications of these indicators for dissecting neuronal function.
Timing is Everything: Temporally Irregular Stimulation Patterns for Brain Mapping and Clinical Therapeutics
Alik S. Widge, MD, PhD
University of Minnesota
Brain stimulation therapies have revolutionized movement disorder treatment, hold promise in mental disorders, and are powerful tools for studying the brain. Clinical stimulation is delivered without consideration of how it interacts with ongoing brain activity. This minisymposium explores the growing evidence that when we stimulate is as important as where. New, precisely timed stimulation sequences, each of which has useful physiologic effects, will be described.