November 01

SfN 2018 NeuWriter Picks!

It’s that time of year again…the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting (SfN) starts on Saturday, and this year it’s happening on our home turf! There are a lot of reasons to be excited about SfN in San Diego…the weather is beautiful (sunny and 79 degrees in November!), neuroscience friends come to town, NeuWriteSD presents a poster (info below!), and UCSD Neurosciences students put together an epic music video to promote their party (info also below), featuring some of our very own NeuWriters!

If you’re heading to SfN this weekend but are feeling overwhelmed by the massive program of lectures, workshops and posters, here’s somewhere to start! Like we do every year, we have compiled a short itinerary of some of the program items that we’re most looking forward to – we hope you enjoy! (And come visit us at our poster on Sunday morning!)


Saturday, November 3

2:00 PM – 3:10 PM – Neural Dynamics of the Primate Attention Network – Sabine Kastner (SDCC Ballroom 20)

Dr. Kastner gave a really interesting talk at UCSD some months ago, and I’m looking forward to hearing her discuss her research on the temporal dynamics of thalamo-cortical interactions underlying attention in even greater depth! Since she emphasizes a comparative approach and studies attention in both humans and non-human primates with a complementary suite of techniques, I think a lot of people will find something that interests them in this talk! – Megan Kirchgessner


Sunday, November 4

8:00 AM – 12:00 PM – NeuWriteSD: Building skills in science communication through writing  – M. ROSSA, J. LOVELETT, D. SCHREINER, B. SPENCER & M. KIRCHGESSNER (Poster – Board no. MMM11)

NeuWriteSD has our own SfN poster! Come stop by to chat with current NeuWriters about what we’re up to, how to start a NeuWrite at your own institution, or anything! You can also pick up your copy(ies) of the NeuWrite Times!


8:00 AM – 12:00 PM – taste of science: A fest to feed your curiosity (Poster – Board no. LLL61)

taste of science is a national festival that takes place simultaneously in cities across the US. Since 2014, this annual festival has provided San Diegans a unique opportunity to get a flavor for the latest research by attending accessible science events in their favorite local hangouts. We bring prominent local scientists to bars and cafes to share their expertise in an entertaining way. Stop by to learn more about our approach to science communication, get involved in taste of science SD, or get information about bringing a taste of science to your city. – Barbara Spencer


8:30 AM – 9:40 AM – Bidirectional Interactions Between the Brain and Implantable Computers – Eberhard Fetz (Special Lecture – SDCC Ballroom 20)

Brain-machine interface is our future. Someday we will be able to walk up to our cars (or spaceships) and unlock them with our minds while changing songs on our brain-implanted iPods and opening a direct mental communication line with a friend from the other side of the world. We may not be there quite yet, but in this special lecture, Eberhard Fetz will review how far we’ve come with closed-loop interactions between brains and implantable computers. As the title suggests, this will review bidirectional interactions, meaning not only does this lecture cover brains controlling computers, but also computers influencing the brain. It’s gonna be cool. – Alana Gibson


1:30 PM – 4:00 PM – Telling Stories of Science (Minisymposium – SDCC 6E)

In this minisymposium, speakers will demonstrate how to incorporate the art of storytelling into science communication. Get excited for presentations such as “Who speaks for science? Storytelling and cultural diversity in science communication” and “Science and stagecraft: Using lessons from the performing arts”. This minisymposium will also include three “powerful personal stories”, so maybe bring some tissues? – Alana Gibson


1:30 PM – 4:00 PM – Blood-Brain Barrier in Health and Disease: Role in Neurodegeneration, CNS Autoimmunity, and Gene Transfer (Symposium – SDCC 6B)

If your interest was piqued by my post about the blood-brain barrier (BBB), check out this symposium! The talks will give you a better picture of the structure and function of the BBB and how it can regulate immune cell infiltration into the brain during disease. Catie Profaci


Monday, November 5

10:00 AM – 11:10 AM – When is an Adolescent an Adult? Implications for Justice Policy –

B J Casey (Lecture – SDCC Ballroom 20)

If you liked the NeuWriteSD post on the intersection of neuroscience and law, check out this lecture by BJ Casey! Her lab spearheaded the studies highlighted in the post. While being a scientist at the top of her field, BJ Casey has also been an outspoken advocate for reforming the justice system based on some of her findings. Particularly if you are interested in science and policy, this will be a great lecture! – Catie Profaci


1:00 – 2:00 PM – Gamma: Fumes or Fundamental? (Dual Perspectives – SDCC 10)

“Dual perspectives” is a new SfN session this year, where neuroscientists Jess Cardin (Yale) and Vikaas Sohal (UCSF) will face off on what importance gamma oscillations – fast rhythms of brain activity on the order of 20-100Hz – have for sensory processing, cognition, memory, and attention…if they have any importance at all. I’m looking forward to hearing two preeminent researchers in systems neuroscience debate on this contentious topic! – Megan Kirchgessner


1:30 – 4:00 PM – Global Efforts to Build More Predictive Animal Models of Neurodegenerative Disease (Symposium – SDCC 6B)

The four talks in this symposium will focus on mouse models for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. How can we make mouse models that do a better job of mirroring the human pathology and predicting the effect of drug therapies? How can we create therapeutics based on new genetic risk factors? I’m looking forward to hearing scientists address some of these questions! Catie Profaci


2:15 – 2:30 PM – Virus-assisted single-cell transcriptomics for the genetic dissection of neural circuits (Nanosympsoium – SDCC 5)

Nobel Laureate Linda Buck’s group is presenting “Connect-Seq,” a breakthrough new approach that allows researchers to figure out the genes specific to very small circuits in the brain by co-opting rabies viruses. This new method could open up the brain to answer longstanding questions about developmental biology, emotion, and cognition. I am really interested in hearing about what they plan to apply this technique to first! – James Howe


7:00 PM – 1:30 AM – UCSD Neurosciences SfN Social (Parq)

7:00 – 9:00 PM – UCSD Neurosciences private social for UCSD NGP students, faculty and alumni

9:00 PM – 1:30 AM – Open event for all SfN attendees

Come join us at Parq for what’s sure to be the party of the year! Check out the facebook event here. If you’re still unconvinced, we recommend watching the video above one or two or twenty more times… – UCSD Neuro NeuWriters


Tuesday, November 6

8:00 – 10:30 AM – Brain Blood Flow and Blood Brain Barrier (Nanosymposium – SDCC 30E)

I am particularly excited for the first two talks of this nanosymposium as both are from my lab and highlight really incredible, unexpected results! The first talk will cover how neural activity can regulate the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, and the second talk will discuss how regional specifications to the blood-brain barrier can regulate behavior! I’m very proud of my labmates and can’t wait to see them present. If you’re not too hungover from the UCSD Neurosciences SfN Social,  you should definitely come check out the work our lab is doing! – Catie Profaci


8:00 – 12:00 PM The role of the secondary motor cortex in feedback integration to guide decision-making (Poster – Board no. BBB8

Have you ever had the humbling experience of repeatedly trying to turn the light on during a power outage?  That’s a habit and turns out the same thing can happen in mice. Come check out my poster where I’ll talk about how mice make decisions and alter their actions using their past history and current motivational state.  – Drew Schreiner


8:30 – 11:00 AM –The Feeling Within: Molecules to Behavior Underlying Interoception (Symposium – SDCC 6B)

If you’re interested in how your brain figures out if you’re hungry, or ready to pee, or how your blood pressure changes so you don’t faint when you get up, this is the session for you. Drs. Stowers, Patapoutian, Mazmanian and Knight will help us understand how our internal physiological states can impact our emotions and behavior. I’m particularly looking forward to the mixture of molecule and systems neuroscience approaches! – Emily Baltz


3:30 – 5:00 PM – Advocacy Reception (SDCC Room 16)

If you’re interested in science policy and advocacy, this is an opportunity to hear from SfN and global leaders on the importance of advocacy, see over 20 posters (including SciPAC at UCSD) of activities being conducted by advocacy leaders, and network with colleagues from around the globe to discuss best practices and opportunities to support basic research and neuroscience. Refreshments will be served. The reception is held as a companion piece to the Public Advocacy Forum: Advocacy in Four Dimensions (Tuesday, November 6, 2:00 – 3:30 PM; SDCC Room 10). – Jess Haley


Wednesday, November 7

9:00 – 10:00 AM – Novel astrocyte-secreted factor promotes synapse maturation and limits plasticity through GluA2-AMAR clustering (Poster – Board no. K18)

If you still think that the only cells in the brain that matter are neurons, you should visit my poster on Wednesday. I will be presenting my recently published research on astrocytes, another type of brain cell, and their role maturing neuronal connections. I will tell you how this is crucial for plasticity, the brain’s ability to remodel its own circuits in response to different experiences. – Elena Blanco-Suarez


9:00 AM – 10:00 AM – What are the molecular mechanisms of blood-brain barrier dysfunction in disease? (Poster – Board no. SS13)

Come visit me and hear about one of my thesis projects! Based on RNA sequencing data from a few different mouse models of disease, I am focusing on a particular novel gene and its potential role in regulating vascular integrity during disease. – Catie Profaci


1:30 PM – 4:00 PM – Unveiling the Extracellular Space of the Brain: From Super-Resolved Microstructure to In Vivo Function (Symposium – SDCC 6A)

Do you know what is taking up all that space in between cell bodies in the brain? Do you really know? I sure don’t, but I’m psyched to find out at this symposium! Alana Gibson