All lectures will take place in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. New this year, Real Time Captioning Services will be provided for all lectures in Hall D. There will be dedicated seating areas and screens that will display the captioned text.


Featured Lectures

ALBERT AND ELLEN GRASS LECTURE: On Balance: Fine-Tuning Protein Levels for Neurological Health - Huda Y. Zoghbi

Speaker: Huda Y Zoghbi, MD
Baylor College of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Support contributed by: The Grass Foundation
Date & Time: Monday, November 13, 2017 3:15pm - 4:25pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

When we think of the genetics of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, we tend to think about mutations that alter a protein's function. An emerging theme among both classes of disorders, however, is the vulnerability of neurons to modest increases or decreases in protein levels — even when those proteins are wild type. This sensitivity to protein levels provides a new avenue to understanding pathogenesis and suggests we should search for regulators of disease-driving proteins that could provide therapeutic entry points for various neuropsychiatric disorders.

DAVID KOPF LECTURE ON NEUROETHICS: The Fallacy of Fairness: Diversity in Academic Science - Jo Handelsman

Speaker: Jo Handelsman, PhD
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Support contributed by: David Kopf Instruments
Date & Time: Monday, November 13, 2017 10am - 11:10am
Location: Hall D

Most people carry unconscious biases about other people that shape their evaluations of them and their work. Evidence shows scientists are no exception and, despite our belief in objectivity, we apply substantial prejudice to many decisions. There are, however, proven methods and best practices that mitigate the impact of bias.


Speaker: Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil
Columbia University
Support contributed by: Elsevier
Date & Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017 11am - 1pm
Location: Hall D

Mukherjee, a physician and researcher, wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which explores the disease that has plagued humans for thousands of years. His new book, The Gene: An Intimate History, examines the quest to decipher how human heredity combines with life experiences to control our lives. In this lecture, Dr. Mukherjee will engage in a conversation with SfN President Eric Nestler about the excitement and importance of communicating the promise of scientific inquiry to the public.

Pasko Rakic Headshot

HISTORY OF NEUROSCIENCE LECTURE: Neuronal Migration and Brain Map Formation During Evolution, Development, and Disease - Pasko Rakic

Speaker: Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD
Yale School of Medicine
Date & Time: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 2:30pm - 3:40pm
Location: Hall D

Neuronal position is fundamental to a neuron's identity, synaptic connections, and ultimately, function. For example, cortical neurons are not generated locally and acquire their areal, laminar, and columnar positions by migration from multiple distant sites of origin. Over the years, new experimental approaches have enabled identification of cellular mechanisms, genes, and molecular pathways that control neuronal production, fate, and migration to the proper position. These findings provide insight into brain evolution and development and the pathogenesis of its congenital disorders.

Joshua Sanes headshot

PETER AND PATRICIA GRUBER LECTURE: Assembling Neural Circuits: Cells and Synapses - Joshua R Sanes

Speaker: Joshua R Sanes, PhD
Harvard University
Support contributed by: The Gruber Foundation
Date & Time: Sunday, November 12, 2017 2:30pm - 3:40pm
Location: Hall D

The retina is emerging as a leading model system for elucidating mechanisms that govern neural circuit assembly and function. Visual information is passed from retinal photoreceptors to interneurons to retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and finally to the rest of the brain. Each of the more than 40 types of RGCs responds to specific visual features, and the features to which each RGC type responds depend on which of the more than 70 types of interneurons synapse on it. This lecture will describe genetic, morphological, and physiological studies that have led to identification of some molecules and mechanisms that underlie assembly of these circuits. The lecture will then discuss new molecular methods that are enabling a comprehensive cataloging of neuronal cell types and the recognition molecules they use.

PRESIDENTIAL SPECIAL LECTURE: Illuminating Neurobiology at the Nanoscale and Systems Scale by Imaging - Xiaowei Zhuang

Speaker: Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD
Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Support contributed by: Janssen Research & Development LLC
Date & Time: Sunday, November 12, 2017 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Imaging has helped to advance many areas of neurobiology. This lecture will describe super-resolution imaging methods that allow fluorescence imaging of cells and tissues with nanometer-scale resolution, as well as discoveries of novel cellular structures in neurons enabled by this approach. The lecture will also highlight a single-cell transcriptome imaging approach that allows the expression of thousands of genes to be profiled in situ in a spatially resolved manner. The application of this method to neurobiology studies will also be discussed.

PRESIDENTIAL SPECIAL LECTURE: Insights From Nonhuman Animals Into the Neurobiology of Language - Erich D. Jarvis

Speaker: Erich D Jarvis, PhD
The Rockefeller University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Support contributed by: Tianqiao & Chrissy Chen Institute
Date & Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Understanding language can be considered a final frontier toward understanding brain mechanisms of complex behaviors. Language was once considered unique to humans. However, the past several decades have seen a surge in nonhuman animal studies that inform us about language. This lecture will present a modern synthesis of these studies, from molecular, circuit, and behavior levels. A key new concept is that components of language, such as vocal learning, are continuous among species and therefore can provide insight into the mechanisms and evolution of language.

Jeffrey Gordon Headshot

PRESIDENTIAL SPECIAL LECTURE: The Gut Microbiota and Childhood Undernutrition: Looking at Human Development From a Microbial Perspective - Jeffrey I. Gordon

Speaker: Jeffrey I Gordon, MD
Washington University School of Medicine
Date & Time: Monday, November 13, 2017 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Human postnatal development is typically viewed from the perspective of our "human" organs. As we come to appreciate how our microbial communities are assembled following birth, there is an opportunity to determine how this microbial facet of our developmental biology is related to healthy growth as well as to the risk for and manifestations of disorders that produce abnormal growth. This lecture will describe how this hypothesis is being examined in the context of childhood undernutrition.

PRESIDENTIAL SPECIAL LECTURE: What Does the Fiendish Genetic Complexity of Schizophrenia Portend for the Future of Neuroscience?

Speaker: Steven E Hyman, MD
Broad Institute
Date & Time: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 5:15pm - 6:30pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

The highly polygenic and heterogeneous nature of schizophrenia and other common psychiatric disorders creates profound challenges for experimental neuroscience. Once-successful reductionist methods—optimized to study one gene at a time—now fall well short of what is needed to transform rapidly emerging genetic information into therapeutically useful biological insight. In this lecture, Dr. Hyman will argue for experimental approaches to the study of psychiatric disorders that embrace polygenicity.

Theme A: Development

Genetic Dissection of Neural Circuit Assembly and Organization - Liqun Luo

Speaker: Liqun Luo, PhD
Stanford University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Date & Time: Sunday, November 12, 2017 1pm - 2:10pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

This lecture will discuss recent work on the development and function of neural circuits in flies and mice. Discussion of development will focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate the establishment of wiring specificity between pre- and postsynaptic partners. Discussion of function will focus on applications of viral-genetic tracing and TRAP methods we developed to interrogate circuits involved in neuromodulation and remote memory.

Neuroepigenetic Pathways in Learning and Memory in Mouse and Ant - Shelley L. Berger

Speaker: Shelley L Berger, PhD
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 1pm - 2:10pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Epigenetic pathways are important for controlling learning and memory. Epigenetics encompasses mechanisms that alter the structure of chromatin, composed of DNA and packaging proteins called histones, and these alterations in turn modulate neuronal gene expression in ways that shape behavior. This lecture will present findings from studies of epigenetic transcriptional mechanisms in mice and ants, eusocial insects living in complex societies, to explore the functional consequences of neuroepigenetics for behavioral plasticity.

Theme B: Neural Excitability, Synapses, and Glia

Bridge Over Troubled Synapses: C1q Proteins, GluD Receptors, and Beyond - Michisuke Yuzaki

Speaker: Michisuke Yuzaki, MD, PhD
Keio University School of Medicine
Date & Time: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 8:30am - 9:40am
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

The C1q complement family has emerged as a new class of synaptic organizers. C1q is shown to regulate synapse elimination. In the cerebellum, Cbln1 binds to its pre- and postsynaptic receptors neurexin (Nrx) and the δ2 glutamate receptor (GluD2), respectively. The Nrx/Cbln1/GluD2 tripartite complex across the synaptic gap is essential not only for synapse formation but also for synaptic plasticity. Similar mechanisms are beginning to be revealed for other Cbln- and C1q-like proteins in various circuits in the forebrain.

Dwight Bergles Headshot

Spontaneous Activity in Developing Sensory Systems - Dwight E. Bergles

Speaker: Dwight E Bergles, PhD
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 10am - 11:10am
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Spontaneous electrical activity within developing sensory systems promotes the maturation and survival of neurons as well as the refinement of nascent circuits. This sensory-independent activity is initiated within immature sensory organs, providing a highly structured version of sensory experience with features that ensure propagation of activity from the periphery to the cortex. This lecture will describe the diverse mechanisms used to initiate this stereotyped activity, highlighting the unexpected role of glial cells in stimulating sensory neurons.

Theme C: Neurodegenerative Disorders and Injury

CLINICAL NEUROSCIENCE LECTURE: Insights Into Neural Degeneration From Drosophila Genetics - Nancy M. Bonini

Speaker: Nancy M Bonini, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Date & Time: Monday, November 13, 2017 11:30am - 12:40pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Generating models of key human neurodegenerative diseases in Drosophila is leading to discoveries about the molecular genetic pathways that modulate neural integrity. This lecture will illustrate how using the fly as a model for disease provides insight into modifier pathways. This lecture will also highlight the fundamental biological pathways of neural maintenance as well as reveal the weak links and processes that can serve as protective players. This research highlights the importance of proper protein folding and stress pathways and identifies new players critical for protection of the brain for the long term.

From Mechanisms of Neurogenesis to Neural Repair: Turning Scar-Forming Glia Into Neurons - Magdalena Götz

Speaker: Magdalena Götz, PhD
Ludwig Maximilian University and Helmholtz Center's Institute of Stem Cell Research
Date & Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017 2pm - 3:10pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Much is known about molecular and cellular mechanisms of neurogenesis, but it is not clear how to trigger these mechanisms after brain injury. This lecture will review some of the key regulators of neurogenesis and discuss to what extent neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain differs from neurogenesis in development. The lecture will also address our knowledge about scar formation, direct in vivo reprogramming that turns glia into neurons after brain injury, and the state-of-the-art efficiency and maturity of neurons. The lecture will close with data on how new neurons can functionally integrate and connect in brain regions that normally never integrate new neurons.

Theme D: Sensory Systems

Neural Circuits Controlling the Selection and Persistence of Sensory Information - Tirin Moore

Speaker: Tirin Moore, PhD
Stanford University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Date & Time: Monday, November 13, 2017 8:30am - 9:40am
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

The processing and retention of sensory input is influenced by a number of endogenous factors, such as arousal, motivation, and cognitive control. These factors appear to constrain the sensory information guiding adaptive behavior. This lecture will discuss recent evidence on the neural circuits involved in the modulation, filtering, and persistence of sensory information and their relation to basic cognitive functions such as attention and working memory. The lecture will include evidence from a range of model systems and approaches as well as a discussion on the relevance to mental disorders.

Processing Gustatory Information in Drosophila - Kristin Scott

Speaker: Kristin Scott, PhD
University of California, Berkeley
Date & Time: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 10am - 11:10am
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

The gustatory system is intimately associated with feeding decisions, allowing animals to identify food that is caloric and to avoid toxic substances. Drosophila melanogaster detects many of the same taste compounds as do mammals and provides an excellent model system for comparative studies of gustatory processing. This lecture will discuss how taste information is encoded in neural circuits and how activity in taste circuits is modulated by internal states to regulate feeding behavior.

Theme E: Motor Systems

Diversified Spinal and Brain Circuits for Locomotor Behavior - Ole Kiehn

Speaker: Ole Kiehn, PhD
Karolinska Institutet and University of Copenhagen
Date & Time: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 11:30am - 12:40pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

The capacity for movement is at the center of most behaviors. Of movements, locomotion is one of the most fundamental. It requires complex coordination, temporal alteration, and dynamic control. This lecture will focus on recent work that has elucidated the functional diversification of locomotor circuits needed to perform these roles. The lecture will show that spinal locomotor networks are composed of molecularly defined circuit modules adapted to produce changes in timing and coordination of locomotion. The lecture will also address the role of designated brainstem circuits involved in gating or context-dependent selection of the motor behavior.

Theme F: Integrative Physiology and Behavior
Joseph Takahashi Headshot

Molecular Architecture of the Circadian Clock in Mammals - Joseph S. Takahashi

Speaker: Joseph S Takahashi, PhD
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Date & Time: Sunday, November 12, 2017 8:30am - 9:40am
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Circadian rhythms are an adaptation to the cyclic environment on Earth. In animals, circadian behavior can be analyzed as an integrated system, beginning with genes and ultimately leading to behavioral outputs. The mechanism of circadian clocks in mammals is cell-autonomous and generated by a set of genes forming a transcriptional autoregulatory feedback loop. The cellular autonomy of clocks has raised a number of questions concerning synchronization and coherence of rhythms at the cellular level as well as circadian organization at the systems level.

Theme G: Motivation and Emotion

Carving the World Into Useful Task Representations - Yael Niv

Speaker: Yael Niv, PhD
Princeton University
Date & Time: Sunday, November 12, 2017 11:30am - 12:40pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Studies in reinforcement learning have famously explained the role of dopamine in learning. However, reinforcement learning relies on representations of tasks as a sequence of "states." Where do these states come from? This lecture will first demonstrate that by learning the latent structure of a task, animals and humans form a state of space through experience. The lecture will then show that the frontoparietal attention network interacts with valuation in the basal ganglia to learn these representations. Finally, the lecture will suggest that the orbitofrontal cortex represents a cognitive map of learned states for decision-making.

Theme H: Cognition

Building Models of the World for Behavioral Control - Timothy E. J. Behrens

Speaker: Timothy E. Behrens, PhD
University of Oxford
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:30am - 12:40pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

This lecture will discuss how basic models of the world might be stored in the brain to allow flexible control of behavior. Relevant studies try to investigate neural codes and mechanisms that are used to organize this knowledge into a form that can be used efficiently and flexibly. The lecture will mostly focus on interactions between the frontal cortex and the medial temporal lobe. The neuronal codes and mechanisms discussed are often measured in both humans and model species, so there may be methodological interest in how to measure these mechanistic types of signals in humans.

Using Memory to Guide Decisions - Daphna Shohamy

Speaker: Daphna Shohamy, PhD
Columbia University
Date & Time: Sunday, November 12, 2017 10am - 11:10am
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

From robots to humans, the ability to learn from experience turns a rigid response system into a flexible, adaptive one. This lecture will discuss the neural and cognitive mechanisms by which learning shapes decisions. The lecture will focus on how multiple brain regions interact to support learning, what this means for how memories are built, and the consequences for how decisions are made. Results emerging from this work challenge the traditional view of separate learning systems and advance understanding of how memory biases decisions in both adaptive and maladaptive ways.

Theme I: Techniques
Dennis Hassabis Headshot

Artificial Intelligence and Imagination: Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge - Demis Hassabis

Speaker: Demis Hassabis, PhD
Date & Time: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 1pm - 2:10pm
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

Artificial intelligence (AI) research has been advancing at an incredible pace. Neuroscience plays a big role in both inspiring and validating AI architectures and algorithms. This lecture will look at the deep connection between AI and neuroscience and how both fields can help each other, drawing on examples of work in areas such as imagination, memory, and planning.

Loren Looger Headshot

Tools for Optically Monitoring Neural Activity and Signaling Pathways - Loren Looger

Speaker: Loren Looger, PhD
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Research Campus
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 8:30am - 9:40am
Location: Hall D
CME: 1.25

This lecture will discuss recent progress in reagents for the study of neural circuit structure and function. Topics will include genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) like GCaMP; red GECIs like RCaMP and RGECO; and neurotransmitter sensors for glutamate (iGluSnFR), GABA, acetylcholine, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, etc. The lecture will also show reagents and techniques for connectomic mapping and sequencing, and for construction of whole-brain atlases.

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