images Spring 2010 Neuroscience Seminars

Fall 2011 Seminar Series in Neuroscience

Location of Seminars: Muenzinger E214 (See map and directions)

Tuesday Sept. 13, 4-5 pm Dr. Elizabeth Corwin, Professor and Director of Nursing, College of Nursing, University of Colorado Denver

TITLE: “Uncovering the Biology of Postpartum Depression

Abstract: Postpartum depression (PPD) occurs in 12-15% of women in the first three months after childbirth, which in the United States alone comes to more than 600,000 women a year. Women afflicted often report devastating consequences including grief, guilt, and despair, while their infants show lower scores on intelligence tests, poorer peer relationships and delayed achievement of developmental milestones. Unfortunately, the etiology of PPD remains unknown. Psychosocial risk factors have been investigated but findings are inconsistent and interventions addressing psychosocial risk factors alone are largely unsuccessful. In our laboratory we seek to uncover the underlying etiology of PPD by exploring the contribution of two key biological systems, both of which undergo dramatic change during the first weeks of the postpartum period: the innate immune system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Interactions between these two systems are well established and dysfunction in either system is known to contribute to depression in non-pregnant, non-postpartum populations. Our data indicate that exaggerated postpartum inflammation occurring in the first weeks following childbirth significantly increases the risk of depression and that this risk is magnified in women who also experience concurrent HPA axis suppression. Only by identifying the underlying developed and implemented.
Tuesday Sept. 27, 4-5 pm Dr. Mike Davis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine

TITLE: "Lack of Safety Signal Learning in PTSD and Role of NMDA Receptors in Fear Extinction: Implications for Psychotherapy"

Abstract: Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder often do not feel safe and continue to have vivid memories of their trauma. A woman who was raped in an alley at night will avoid that alley, which is adaptive, but may then not feel safe at night or even when leaving the house and become housebound, which is not adaptive. We have developed a laboratory test of safety signal learning in rats, monkeys, and humans. We find that patients with PTSD do not respond appropriately to safety signals in this laboratory test and we eventually hope to understand the neural basis of this. We also have found that a protein in the fear center of the brain is necessary for rats to get over being afraid and discovered a medication taht can make them get over being afraid more rapidly, which also facilitates psychotherapy in several types of anxiety disorders.
Tuesday Oct. 11, 4-5 pm

Dr. Ron Duman, Director and Elizabeth Mears and House Jamison Professor of Psychiatry, Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine

TITLE: “New Treatments for Depression: Keeping Neurons Alive, Healthy, and Connected

Abstract: Dr. Duman's work has focused on the molecular and cellular actions of stress, depression, and antidepressant treatments, providing the basis for a neurotrophic hypothesis of depression. This hypothesis is based on work demonstrating that stress and depression decrease neurotrophic factor expression in the brain, contributing to atrophy and loss of neurons. In contrast, chronic antidepressant treatment increases neurotrophic factor levels and increases the proliferation of depression. Recent studies demonstrate that NMDA receptor antagonists rapidly increase treatment-resistant depressed patients. These findings represent groundbreaking advances in our understanding of stress and depression and provide a framework for developing novel therapeutic agents.

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 4-5 pm Dr. Sean Deoni,Assistant Professor of Engineering, Division of Engineering, Brown University, and MRC Research Fellow, Centre for Neuroimaging Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London

TITLE: “Imaging White Matter Maturation Throughout Infancy

Abstract: White matter represents the electric cabling of the brain, with pathways connecting disparate grey matter regions and forming the building blocks of the neuronal systems that underlie all aspects of brain function. Critical to the efficient performance of these networks is the fatty myelin sheath that surrounds the white matter axons and speeds information transfer throughout the brain. It has been widely hypothesized that the development of the myelin sheath (myelination) is temporally and spatially specific to evolving cognitive and behavioral functions. Further, it is hypothesized that abnormalities in myelination may underlie psychiatric and behavioral disorders, such as autism. Unfortunately, direct observation of the myelination process in healthy human infants has not been possible and, thus, testing of these hypotheses remains unapproached. In this talk, I will introduce a new myeline imaging technique that allows us, for the first time, to visualize this process in vivo, and document some of our ongoing results in associating myelin development with cognitive and behavioral maturation in healthy infants.
Tuesday Nov. 8, 4-5 pm TBA


Abstract: TBA

Tuesday Dec. 6, 4-5 pm

Dr. Jeff Tasker, Professor and Endowed Chair, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Tulane Univesrity, and Adjunct Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Tennessee College of Medicine

TITLE: Rapid Glucocorticoid Signaling in Hypothalamic Neuroendocrinology

Abstract: Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that, along with adrenaline, are secreted into the bloodstream as part of the generalized stress response. Glucocorticoids exert widespread effects throughout the body that are designed to increase the body's ability to attend to the stressor and to survive the threat to the organisms's well being that the stressor represents. In addition to acting on peripheral tissues to increase access to energy stores and to suppress the immune response and inflammation, glucocorticoids also act on the brain to affect memory and to terminate the stress response through a negative feedback mechanism. Glucocorticoids, like other steroid hormones , classically interact with nuclear receptors to alter gene transcription and modulate the long-term behavior of brain cells. However, glucocorticoids also have rapid actions on the brain that are thought to be mediated by rapid activation of membrane steroid receptors and induction of signal transduction mechanisms. I will talk about our studies of the membrane glucocorticoid receptor and how it signals to induce endocannabinoid and nitric oxide secretion in the hypothalamus via different biochemical signaling pathways with individual neuroendocrine cells, and how the glucocorticoid-induced endocannabinoid and nitric actions are targeted specifically to excitatory and inhibitory synapses, respectively, by astrocytes surrounding the neurons.