There’s one week remaining before the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting begins. That means you have about 6 days before you really really have to start tallying a list of presentations. Of course, WITH HUBBIAN*, you actually could put it off that long and still gather a great list of presentations. This is because Hubbian allows you to see related content, popular presentations, and presentations that are generating discussion. The key ingredient, which was missing until now, was the ability to save a list of presentations you’ve discovered on Hubbian.
How do the physiological properties of new neurons translate to a behavioral role? Are they just like mature neurons or are they unique? One idea that’s been thrown around is that their plastic period, their critical period, might endow them with an enhanced ability to associate information and contribute to memory formation. While we know that hippocampal neurons are already plastic and very capable of physiologically linking together different stimuli the big hope seems to be that maybe immature neurons are even better at this.
A related question is how fewer synapses and unique inhibitory connectivity affects their information processing capabilities. The verdict is out on whether new neurons are more or less involved in information processing than their mature counterparts. Currently, the best information we have is from studies looking at activity, measured by immediate early gene expression, in response to behavioral stimulation. The true measure of whether a neuron is involved in information processing / representation is if it spikes, i.e. fires action potentials, in response to a specific stimulus. Since new neurons have fewer synapses it’s very possible that they aren’t able to represent many different types of information, and therefore aren’t capable of associating information during memory formation. On the other hand, new neurons synapses are more plastic, perhaps making them better able to associate information even if they have fewer synapses. Continue reading →
The annual most insanely huge neuroscience meeting is rapidly approaching and I am pleased to announce that I will be blogging about the meeting again this year, here at Functional Neurogenesis. The meeting will be held at the Washington DC convention center, located in “China” town, which is cool because in addition to learning about neuroscience attendees will have the opportunity to also learn the Chinese characters for “Starbucks” and “TGI Fridays.” Below is a list of the “official” neurobloggers, chosen by SFN, where you can keep up with some of the most exciting neuroscience presented and discussed at the meeting. For the most part, only 1 neuroblogger was chosen per theme and so you can be sure that there wil be a lot of non-official coverage throughout Twitter and the blogosphere. For starters I would stay tuned to the official hashtag #SFN11 but also check out this list of active bloggers and tweeters that will be covering the meeting. Nature Publishing Group will also be aggregating posts at the Action Potential blog. And the bloggers are:
It’s surprising that it’s 2011 and there’s no regular meeting on adult neurogenesis. There have been neurogenesis sessions at other meetings and perhaps the occasional, sometimes closed, neurogenesis meeting here and there, but nothing regular for all to attend. This Keystone meeting on adult neurogenesis will hopefully mark the end of this. About 180 people attended this meeting organized by Jenny Hsieh, Fred Gage, Alejandro Schinder and Pierre-Marie Lledo. The attendees included a large proportion of old and new adult neurogenesis researchers from around the world. And from the scientific program you can see that the interests were diverse, spanning molecular and cellular regulation, anatomy and physiology of new neurons, behavioral functions, clinical relevance and cross-species comparative studies. Data aside, it was also a chance to meet people whose names you’ve seen for years in print but never encountered in the haystack that is SFN. For me, some of these people were long time giants in the field while others were newcomers. A number of people told me they read this blog. And even find it useful!
I didn’t take notes but a number of presentations and themes left an impression. I’ll summarize them in a way that is both brief and poor, so as to minimize any prepublication conflicts: Continue reading →
Yesterday morning I checked out the technically-heroic dissection of mossy fiber function from the Tonegawa lab that employed a quadruple transgenic mouse: Mossy fiber input for pattern separation and pattern completion
*T. NAKASHIBA1, J. CUSHMAN2, K. A. PELKEY3, C. J. MCBAIN3, M. S. FANSELOW2, S. TONEGAWA1; 1The RIKEN-MIT Ctr. For Neural Circuit Genetics, The Picower Inst. For Lear, CAMBRIDGE, MA; 2Dept. of Psychology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; 3NICHD, NIH, Bethesda, MD Continue reading →
Some posters get more attention than others. Either there’s an interesting abstract, an attractive/famous presenter or, my favorite, additional passersby get sucked in by the gravitational force of an existing crowd. Whatever the reason, I’ve started a game called Photos of Popular Posters (PPP). It doesn’t in any way attempt to determine why the poster attracts attention. It’s just a tribute to popularity. So this morning, playing PPP in aisles JJJ and KKK, with an admittedly-small sampling (1 stroll), the largest crowds could be found at:
Supplemental Methods & Results: Afternoon strolls in the development and in vivo-electrophysiology-during-behavior themes revealed a number of potentially far more popular posters. However, these posters were excluded from the experiment because many of the poster “viewers” were not actively engaged with a poster. Instead, they displayed dazed looks in other directions and appeared to actually be moving, perhaps suffering from SFN exhaustion and traffic jamming.
Today was great because there was a ton of hippocampal-cortical posters I was excited to check out except I was also presenting so I couldn’t actually check them out. Plus, it wasn’t like I could just pop over when my crowd died down because they were all the way in aisle KKK (worst aisle name ever ). Fortunately there were a couple of special presentations I was able to visit, namely the CIA is Demon guy, who had his brain controlled by the CIA. This sounded really interesting but unfortunately I didn’t have time to check out the data – I had a poster to set up.
Culling through the SFN abstract browser is an imperfect process. Keyword searches can be helpful, particularly if you’re interested in a fairly specific topic, like, say, “1-bromopropane” (1 hit). But if you’re interested in “postnatal neurogenesis” (292 hits) or “hippocampus memory” (1118 hits), make sure your scrolling finger is rested and well-fed. Because there will be scrolling. Or you might try searching by name. You’ll avoid delayed-onset finger soreness, but you’ll inevitably forget about so-and-so and that other guy, and -worse- you’re certain not to discover anyone new.
So you end up supplementing your name searches with some combinatorial keyword strategy. You find some cool posters. And then you discover that your blogging partner already found the same posters and posted about them two days ago. So you ice your scrolling finger and post about a few cool abstracts he didn’t already mention. Continue reading →