November 09

SfN 2017 NeuWriter Picks!

You’ve probably heard about music festivals like Coachella, ACL and Bonnaroo: these are multi-day extravaganzas where thousands of individuals converge to sample from an elaborate menu of musical acts. As an attendee, you would likely be constantly shuffling back and forth across the festival grounds, trying to see as many of your favorite artists as possible and inevitably griping when two of your most anticipated acts are happening at the same time but on different stages separated by half a mile. At the end of the day, thousands of festival goers stampede toward one or two of the biggest stages where some of the biggest names in music close out the night with great pomp and circumstances.


They look pretty darn similar, or is it just me?


Now, just replace musical acts with neuroscience lectures and festival goers with lanyard-clad, poster-tube-wielding scientists, and you’ve got the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, aka SfN. This year, SfN 2017 is happening on November 11-15 in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., where over 40,000 neuroscientists from around the world will converge to share and discuss all of the latest and greatest brain research. Much like a music festival, there will be dozens of meeting halls in which symposia of different sizes and topics – things like “Dendritic Computation”, “Neuroethology of Listening”, and “Adolescence and Reward” – will all be happening simultaneously. Meanwhile, the poster hall will be packed with thousands of demure, budding neuroscientists standing next to a 6’ by 4’ display of their blood, sweat and tears, hoping that people will be interested enough to ask them questions about their work.

Each year, we here at NeuWriteSD like to compile a list of what we’re most looking forward to at SfN2017, including some shameless plugs for some of our own posters and presentations.


Saturday, November 11

1:00-3:30 PM – Spatial and Feature-Based Attention (Nanosymposium – Room 156)

Come see me talk about the mouse model of sensory selection (dare I say attention?) that we’ve developed, and how running can either help or hurt the visual perceptual abilities of the mice, depending on what task they perform. If you watch closely, you may see some primate neuroscientists in the audience being very skeptical that mice can do anything close to attention. – Ethan McBride

2:30 – 4:00 PM: Brain Awareness Campaign Event, Hall E

Alison Caldwell, a Neurosciences graduate student at UCSD and NeuWrite contributor, and her husband Micah Caldwell will be recognized for winning first prize in the 2017 Brain Awareness Video Contest with their video, “What are Optogenetics?

5:15-6:30 pm – Insights from Non-human Animals into the Neurobiology of Language (Erich Jarvis) – Hall D

Erich Jarvis kicks off the Presidential Lecture series with what is sure to be a fascinating talk about one of the biggest questions in neuroscience: how language is represented in the brain, and how – contrary to popular opinion – animals can be used to understand a complex behavior that is widely considered unique to humans. 


Sunday, November 12

8:00 AM-12:00 PM – Measures of signal complexity track memory performance across individuals and time scales, SS63

First-year NeuroGrad and new NeuWriter Tim Sheehan presents a poster from his post-bac research at the NIH!

8:30-9:40 AM – Molecular Architecture of the Circadian Clock in Mammals (Joseph Takahashi), Hall D

Since circadian rhythms were recently anointed a Nobel Prize-winning discovery, this lecture by Joseph Takahashi about the mechanisms underlying mammalian circadian rhythms is particularly timely and exciting! 

12:00-2:00 PM – A Practical Guide to Science Communication, Room 207B

UCSD professor and science communicator extraordinaire Brad Voytek helps lead this active workshop on building science communication skills. Participants will make a compelling story for their research and will work on strategies for flexibly communicating their stories with a variety of audiences.

2:30-3:40 PM – Assembling Neural Circuits: Cells and Synapses (Joshua Sanes), Hall D

Harvard Professor Joshua Sanes will present his highly influential work elucidating some of the molecular mechanisms underlying the formation of complex circuits in the retina and will also discuss new approaches to characterizing different retinal cell types.

6:30-9:00 PM – taste of neuroscience, Bier Baron Tavern

Have you ever seen a neuroscientist dance their research? Well, now you can! taste of science is a fantastic organization that many of us NeuWriters are closely involved with, and in honor of SfN they are hosting a neuroscience-themed event in which researchers step away from their PowerPoints and onto the dance floor” for a sci-comm dance off! Tickets are $5, doors open at 6:30pm.


Monday, November 13

9:00-11:00 AM – The Power of Effective Storytelling: Communicating the Value of Brain Research, Room 207B

This sounds like a fun, hands-on workshop in which “experienced scientists will give TED-style talks and science press will share insight so that you walk away knowing how to present complicated research in ways that engage an audience and establish rapport while also translating the impact of incremental discoveries.” Right up NeuWriteSD’s alley!

1:30-4:00 PM – From Salient Experience to Learning and Memory: Instructive Signals for Aversion and Reward, Ballroom B

How emotional experiences are represented in the brain and how they interact with and influence memories is a “hot” topic in neuroscience right now and highly relevant for understanding complex mental health disorders like PTSD. This symposium features some big names in this field (Andreas Luthi, Ilana Witten, Patricia Janak and Joshua Johansen) sharing some of the latest research on this complicated but fascinating topic.


Tuesday, November 14

8:00 AM-12:00 PM – Functional characterization of distinct cortical inputs to higher-order visual thalamus, DD17

Come chat with me about my research looking at different types of neurons that project from the cortex to the thalamus and how they might be important for vision! – Megan Kirchgessner

8:00 AM-12:00 PM- Robustness of central pattern generating circuits to changes in pH, II19

Jess Haley is a first-year NeuroGrad. Come chat with her about her research working with crabs in the lab of Dr. Eve Marder.

1:00-3:15 PM – Functional Basis of Attention (Nanosymposium – Room 150B)

See long-time NeuWriter Steph Nelli present her research on how specific neural processes influence visual detection in this short talk for a Nanosymposium all about attention!


Wednesday, November 15

8:00 AM-12:00 PM – Multisensory enhancement during audiovisual looming responses in mice, GG26

1:30-4:00pm – Deep-Layer Projection Neurons in the Neocortex (Minisymposium – Room 151B)

NeuWriteSD co-founder and alumnus Ashley Juavinett has a busy day! Check out her poster on her latest research about multisensory integration in the morning, and then in the afternoon see her give a talk about some of her research about how different types of projection neurons in the visual cortex care about different visual features from when she was a UCSD Neurosciences Graduate Student!


Logo and poster hall image from