Meet-the-Expert: Session 2
. . Society for Neuroscience
Date & Time: Saturday, November 15, 2014 9:30am - 10:45am
Renaissance Washington, DC: Meeting Rooms 2, 4, 5, 8, 9
Rui M. Costa, DVM, PhD
The Acting Brain
Animal behavior has fascinated me since childhood. How are certain behaviors transmitted between generations based on a genetic code? And especially, how are new behaviors learned throughout life to build the unique repertoires of an individual? I will argue that the generation of new behavior is one of the most important and fascinating functions of the nervous system. We will discuss how the conceptual framework to study the neural bases of learned actions has evolved in the laboratory, and how it led us to focus on asking how novel actions are generated, how they are then shaped, and why they are being performed. We will also discuss if and when new tools may enable new research andconcepts.
Diane Lipscombe, PhD
Support contributed by: Yerkes National Primate Research Center
I Wanted to be a Detective but Discovered Neuroscience and Limitless Unsolved Mysteries
It never gets old to watch single channel currents, in real time, in a stochastic dance across the screen. The more you watch the more you see – an unquestionable truism in science and an especially apt description of my current research on cell-specific control of calcium ion channel splicing. Calcium ion channel genes have the capacity to generate numerous isoforms but does each have unique function? I will review our experimental approaches, including exon-specific targeting, asking if individual sites of alternative splicing impact behavior and if isoforms have therapeutic value.
Mark Schnitzer, PhD
Support contributed by Optical Imaging Ltd.
Large-Scale Optical Imaging of Ensemble Neural Activity in Freely Behaving Animals
Recently, there has been substantial progress in optical imaging studies in freely behaving rodents, allowing neuroscientists to monitor the dynamics of up to ~1000 neurons per animal during active behavior, over extended periods of weeks. This session will discuss the relevant optical imaging methodologies and data analysis methods, as well as their application in a variety of brain areas to studies of large-scale neural coding, long-term memory, and disease models. The presentation will also include an overview of Schnitzer's personal path from physicist to systems neuroscientist, and how technologies started in his lab have reached commercialization.
Michal Schwartz, PhD
Breaking the Conceptual Walls Between the Brain and the Immune System: Implications for Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases
We were pioneers discovering that circulating immune cells support brain plasticity in health, disease, and aging. Resolution of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases necessitates inflammation-resolving cell recruitment, orchestrated by brain-specific T cells (“Protective autoimmunity”), and requires circulating macrophages. The nexus of these activities lies at the brain's choroid plexus (CP), identified by us as a selective gate for “healing” leukocyte infiltration to the CNS, offering a novel target for modifying brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases.
Kenton Swartz, PhD
Exploring Ion Channel Structures and Gating Mechanisms Using Tarantula Toxins
My laboratory uses a growing collection of electrophysiological, molecular and biophysical technologies to investigate the structure and operational mechanisms of voltage-activated ion channels, ATP-activated P2X receptors, and, more recently, transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. We have been particularly interested in isolating protein toxins from venomous organisms and using them to investigate ion channel mechanisms. I will give an overview of the work we have done in this area, including our earlier work on voltage-sensor toxins and our latest results using toxins to explore gating and thermosensation in TRP channels, and discuss emerging roles of lipid membranes for these ion channels. I will also talk about my personal perspective on the process of science and what continues to excite me about the questions my laboratory has explored over the past 15 years.