November 07


SFN 2013: Writers’ picks

This weekend, San Diego is the host city to the unbelievably huge Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. 30,000 neuroscientists from all over the world will flood downtown and the zoo (and maybe the conference center). If you’re one of those neuroscientists, we’ve all put together our recommendations for things to do at the conference, as well as things to do, eat, and drink in San Diego that might be less crowded and more interesting than lunch every day in the Gas Lamp district. Also, check out this awesome blog post by UCSD Neurosciences graduate student Adam Calhoun for another great set of San Diego recommendations.

Melissa T

SfN pick: At the Society for Neurobiology of Language Conference (a pre-meeting, November 6-8), the discussion panels, where two respected scientists debate a topic, are always lively and informative. This year, Mark Seidenberg debates Max Coltheart and on the role of semantic information in reading aloud (Thursday evening) and Miriam Faust counters Alexander Rapp on right-hemisphere contributions to processing figurative language.

SD pick: Little Italy, near to downtown San Diego, has some great restaurants sprouting up. If you’re into good food, good atmosphere, and a short break from the neuroscience crowds, check out Craft and Commerce, 675 W Beech St  San Diego, CA 92101. Personal favorites include the macaroni and cheese, the veggie burger, and the booze-y punch bowls, perfect for groups.

Rachel T

SfN pick:  This year’s Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society talk will be given by Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.  He will provide advice on how to promote creativity in the workplace that I’m sure we can apply to our brainstorming processes in the laboratory.  See you on Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 11am-1pm in Ballroom 20.  Added bonus: this talk is open to the public if you wanted to bring a non-neuroscientist friend with you.

SD pick: If you’re lucky enough to extend your stay in San Diego after SfN, check out Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s Thursday Night Thing on Thursday, November 14th from 7-10pm.  For $10 ($8 for students) check out the latest exhibits while enjoying live music, gourmet food truck bites and cocktails!


SfN pick: Kay Redfield Jamison from Johns Hopkins University will be speaking at the Fred Kavli Symposium on Creativity on Saturday (1:30-4:00pm @ 6A).  Although there’s no abstract up for her talk yet, I have enjoyed her books Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament and An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, and I am looking forward to what she has to say about “Mood and Imagination” (the title of her talk and two of my favorite topics!).

SD pick: Lobster tacos at World Famous for $1.75 on Wednesdays!!!

SfN presentation: 308.05 Protein Inhibition by the DISC1-Boymaw Fusion Gene in Carriers of the Scottish t(1;11) Translocation on Monday at 9:00-9:15 am in Room 30B


SfN pick: If you, like yours truly, have an unhealthy obsession with the hippocampus, don’t miss the Multi-level Analysis of Pattern Separation and Completion: A Role for Subregions of the Hippocampus symposium on Saturday, November 9 from 2:30-5pm (room 6B). It will cover pattern separation and completion from hippocampal head to tail, and is sure to appeal to the behavioral, computational, cognitive and systems neuroscientists alike.

SD pick: Rejuvenate your brain and body with a run along the San Diego Harbor. Starting from the convention center, run north past Seaport Village, the USS Midway, the airport and countless parks and scenic bay views. From the convention center to Spanish Landing Park, you can cover 4-8 miles one way, depending on your route.

SfN presentation: 845.13 A BOLD Medial Temporal Lobe Code For Spatio-Temporal Memory on Wednesday from 1-5 pm at ZZ4


SfN pick: While my favorite topic, astrocytes, is mostly being ignored at SfN, cool underappreciated neuroscience is still alive and well with the Evolution and Comparative Anatomy I poster session on Sunday, 8am-12pm. With posters on mapping the forebrain of the elephant shark, the neural basis of sensation in the armadillo, neuronal connections in possums, evolution of manatee cortex, and so much more, it should be interesting to say the least, if only to look at pictures of funny-looking brains and talk to people about shark dissection.

SD pick: While San Diego is home to some of the best breweries in world, this is your opportunity to get out of the lab and into the sunshine, so I say go kayaking. The best kayaking around is in La Jolla Shores, where there’s a half dozen or so rental and touring places that will have you on the water in minutes, mucking about La Jolla’s kelp beds, exploring sea caves, playing with sea lions, and, if you’re lucky, paddling in a pod of dolphins.


SfN pick: As someone whose idea of a “wet lab” is when I spill coffee on my desk, I’m especially looking forward to the nanosymposium on Computational Neuroimaging on Sunday from 8:00 to 11:15 in Room 1B. The presentations look great – lots of cool new ways to look at human neuroimaging data.

SD pick: If you’re in the La Jolla area for hiking, ocean fun, or a hike down to Black’s Beach, I’d recommend also making a stop at the Salk Institute, one of my favorite buildings in the world. You can walk around the courtyard and take pictures during business hours on the weekdays, and you can sign up for architecture tours that start around noon M-F. But, most importantly, you get to be on the set of our music video, #GetData! Nearby, grab lunch at Promiscuous Fork (June Gloom Burger) or Bahia Don Bravo (lobster tacos/enchiladas)

SfN presentation: 851.07 Delay-Period Spatial Representations Of Remembered Stimuli In Human Visual, Parietal & Frontal Cortex Depend On Memory Load on Wednesday from 1-5 pm at EEE22. There will be so much jet colormap (sorry in advance).


SfN pick: DARPA recently announced a plan to spend $70 million advancing and improving brain implants like those used in deep brain stimulation. But why spend money to improve a technology when the mechanisms remain such a mystery? Join me at the Mechanisms of Deep Brain Stimulation Efficacy in Neuropsychiatric Disorders symposium on Sunday, November 10th at 8:30am to learn more about this issue.

SD pick: Take a break from the conference and enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean with a leisurely hike through Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla.

SfN presentation: 453.07 Investigating Auditory Processing In Awake Marmosets Using FMRI on Monday from 1-5 pm at RR7

Melissa G:

SFN Pick: If you love dopamine as much as I do, you should check out this special lecture- When Good Neurons Go Bad: Dopamine Neuron Regulation and its Disruption in Psychiatric Disorders by A. A. Grace from Univ. of Pittsburg on Sunday, Nov 10, 2013, 10:00 AM -11:10 AM in Ballroom 20. Find out how disruptions to the dopamine system can lead to all sorts of psychiatric disorders.

SD Pick: Indulge your sweet tooth at my favorite place to treat visitors, Extraordinary Desserts (link: nearby dowtown SD in either Balboa Park or Little Italy (See SD picks from Rachel T and Melissa T). Everything here is absolutely delicious!


SfN pick: The talk by Dr. Muriel Niederle at the Empirical Approaches to Neuroscience and Society Syposium (Sunday, 10:20-10:55 am, Room 6A) looks particularly interesting.  This year the topic is Gender Bias, and her talk is entitled “Gender, competitiveness and career choices”.  The whole symposium should be fantastic and well-worth everyone’s time.

SD pick: Take a stroll down Harbor Drive and check out the USS Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that’s been turned into an awesome museum!

SfN presentation: 191.03 Lesions Of The Parietal Cortex Impair Path Integration But Not Performance In The Water Maze on Sunday from 8 am – noon at III29


 SFN pick: A topic close to my heart: Special Lecture – Transgenerational Epigenetics: Programming Behavior in a  Dynamic Landscape (Sunday November 10th, 1-2 pm, Ballroom 20). For many behavioral disorders without a known genetic cause, periods of epigenetic “vulnerability” may be important in determining disease outcomes.

SD pick: Polite Provisions located in North Park offers classy cocktails with an old-timey feel. Open til2 am, with food options from Soda and Swine


SfN Pick: What’s the point of discovering anything if no one cares to learn about it? And how to do science when the public doesn’t seem to care about shrinking budgets? Got to get to the kids early to teach them what they’re missing out on! Come to the Teaching Development Workshop taking place Monday, November 11, 2013 from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

SD Pick: Mexican Food. Find a $5 burrito place, loosen your belt, and slather on the salsa. They go by the names Lolita’s, Rigoberto’s, Cotixan’s etc. etc. etc. but they all mean ‘delicious’. Stay away from Fresh MXN though. If you’re only in San Diego once every three years for SFN, you have no time to waste on posers. (Bonus points if you grab a burrito from Lolita’s and take it over over to Ashley’s pick Societe for a brew).


SfN pick: Sensory neuroscience is traditionally divided into the different senses that we’re taught as little kids, but more and more it’s obvious that this is only one dimension along which the brain processes information. Considering the geometry of a space and how the brain interacts with it is giving us more insight into how the brain constructs a perception; that’s why I’m gonna check out Perceptual Spaces: Mathematical Structures to Neural Mechanisms on Tuesday, November 12th at 1:30 pm.

SD Pick: If you’re coming to San Diego and like beer, you’ve gotta check out our craft breweries. Take a ride up to Societe for a range of solidly delicious Belgian brews, Green Flash for clean and hoppy IPAs, or AleSmith for a real artisan microbrew.

SfN presentation: 360.21 Plaid Motion Responses In Mouse V1 And Extrastriate Visual Areas on Monday from 8 am – noon at YY7 and 24.11SU From Neurons To Perception: Using Art To Elucidate The Visual System on Monday from 8 am to noon at MMM44

Melissa L:

SfN Pick:  Want to hang out with the members of Neuwrite?  Join us for thoughtful discussion and general merriment at the ScienceOnline San Diego meeting San Diego on Tues Nov 12 at 6:30pm at Evonexus Downtown.  This event will feature neuroscience efforts that are using social media to build an online community, including NIF, OpenWorm, and NeuWrite!  Registration (here), for $5, includes food and drinks!

SD Pick:  If you’re still in San Diego on Thursday… take a taxi over to Wine Vault and Bistro.  Unwind with their special 3-course prix fixe menu ($20) and definitely indulge in the tasty wine pairings (only $15 extra)!

(ps- This place is right by Andy’s burrito pick, Lucha Libre!  Second dinner, anyone?)

SfN presentation: 315.09 Interactions Between Radial Glia Endfeet And Vasculature During Early Neurogenesis on Monday from 8 am – noon at A23


SfN pick: Symposium 683. Neocortex: Why So Many Layers and Cell Types? on Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013, 8:30 AM -11:00 AM, 6B. Four talks which are set up to provide a great cohesive view on diversity in the neocortex and how that ties into major discoveries of the past year. Good for anyone looking for a cross section of cutting-edge cortical research.  Maybe we’ll finally be convinced that the neocortex isn’t just a cooling mechanism for the rest of the brain. Also includes UCSD’s own Massimo Scanziani!

SD pick: The best burrito in San Diego is the Surfin’ California at Lucha Libre. It’s in Mission Hills, not exactly walkable from the convention center, but it’s worth it if you can find a ride. You also get a discount if you wear a Luchador mask.

SfN presentation: 566.11 Motor Cortex Ensemble Dynamics Imaged During Motor Learning on Tuesday from 8 am – noon at GGG8


SFN pick: I love the DIY ephys movement, and a couple relevant poster abstracts on Wednesday caught my eye:






New Methods for Electrophysiology: Multi-Electrode Arrays


Puggle; a miniature, real-time data acquisition system for electrophysiology that’s cheaper than your smartphone






New Methods for Electrophysiology: Multi-Electrode Arrays


A low-cost open-source system for combining high channel count electrophysiology with closed-loop optogenetic feedback (OpenEphys project)

SD pick: About 20 minutes north of downtown, try grabbing a sandwich at the Torrey Pines Gliderport and hiking down to one of best surfing breaks in SD County and one the largest nudist beaches in America: Black’s Beach.  For directions, search for “Torrey Pines Gliderport” or “Black’s Beach”.  Plenty of free parking just north of the Salk Institute.