images Spring 2010 Neuroscience Seminars

Fall 2013 Seminar Series in Neuroscience

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

Tuesday Sept. 10th, 4-5 pm Dr. Sheryl Beck, Research Associate Professor, Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute

TITLE: “Vulnerability and Resilience: Control By Serotonin and GABA Neurons In the Raphe

Abstract: The serotonin neurotransmitter system is involved in physiological homeostasis. Alterations in the serotonin system have been shown to lead to changes in basic functions such as sleep, circadian rhythm, heart rate or blood pressure, respiration, cognitive functions, and learning and memory to name a few. Dr. Beck's laboratory has been investigating the physiology, anatomy and behavioral functions mediated by the serotonin system for over 15 years. The majority of the serotonin neurons that influence cortical functions are located in an area of the brain called the dorsal and median raphe. In recent years our investigations have focused on the development of these serotonin neurons and perturbations of the development during the critical period between postnatal days 0-21. Changes in the development of the raphe leads to anxiety and maladaptations in social skills as an adult. In addition we have determined that GABA neurons within the raphe have a major impact on the physiology of the raphe neurons and their output. These inhibitory neurons seem to act as a rely between forebrain nuclei and the raphe, and inhibition of these neurons can make a vulnerable or anxious mouse into a resilient one following chronic stress. Therefore both the serotonin and GABA neurons are important within the neural circuitry of the raphe, which has pronounced control over forebrain structures involved in stress regulation and etiology of mood disorders.
Tuesday Sept. 24th, 4-5 pm Dr. Monika Fleshner, Professor, Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado Boulder

TITLE: "Protecting Our Troops From Damaging Stress"

Abstract: Members of the military, especially warfighters, are exposed to a plethora of stressors that include negative affective states (i.e., fear/anxiety), physical stressors (pain, injury, environment) and sleep deprivation/disturbances. The stressors suffered by our warfighters are often complex and include a combination of acute, chronic and repeated stressors. The negative impact such stressors have on the cognitive, emotional, and physical well being of our warfighters is irrefutable. Warfighters suffer high incidences of depression, anxiety and anger/impulsivity disorders, and PTSD. Although some progress has been made in treating these disorders, it would be valuable to find ways to prevent the development of the problems in the first place. In this presentation I will present the results from a series of animal studies supported by the Army Research Office (DARPA) and designed to test the impact of repeated exposures to complex stressors on physiology, and to search for physiological markers that may be predictive of the "tipping point" i.e., when the stress response changes from adaptive to maladaptive (stress sensitization).
Tuesday Oct. 8th, 4-5 pm

Dr. Isabel Muzzio, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

TITLE: “Encoding of Emotional and Neutral Contexts Along the Longitudinal Hippocampal Axis: Evidence From Single Cell Population Coding

Abstract: The hippocampus has long been implicated in the contextual gating of aversive events. Yet, the ways in which information is stored in this region and the contribution of different hippocampal areas to this process are still not fully understood. Lesion and neuroanatomical studies indicate that the dorsal hippocampus specializes in spatiral processing while the ventral hippocampus is more involved in emotion and anxiety. However, it is currently unclear if these regions work as independent modules processing distinct types of information or if emotional and spatial inputs are integrated along the longitudinal axis. To investigate this question, my lab has conducted in vivo recordings from freely moving mice while animals form and retrieval contextual representations of different emotional valence. We have found evidence that space is coded in both the dorsal and ventral regions in different manners. In the dorsal hippocampus, single cell representations change in response to the altered valence of a context, whereas in the ventral hippocampus space is represented through population coding and emotional valence is coded through changes in firing rate. Our data indicate that spatial and emotional information are integrated along the longitudinal hippocampal axis to properly encode episodic events.

Tuesday, Oct. 22nd, 4-5 pm

Dr. Bruce McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor, Harold and Margarat Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, Rockefeller University

TITLE: "The Brain On Stress: Role of Glucocorticoids In Resilience and Pathophysiology Via Novel Mechanisms "

Abstract: The brain is the central organ of stress and adaptation to stressors and it is a plastic and vulnerable organ throughout the life course. Among the many interacting mediators that affect brain and body function, glucocorticoids stand out because they are involved in so many different processes via multiple cellular and molecular mechanisms, in which epigenetic mechanisms are prominent. Their actions follow a U-shaped (hermetic) dose reponse relationships and they have both trophic and protective effects at one end and damaging-facilitating effects at the other. This will be discussed in relation to the role of the hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex in effects of acute and chronic stress in animal models and humans. Implications for therapy of stress-related disorders will be discussed.

Tuesday, Nov. 5th, 4-5 pm Dr. Gregg Stanwood, Assistant Professor, Investigator, Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University

TITLE: “Neurotransmitter Modulation of Forebrain Development: Implications for Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Abstract: Developmental dysfunction in brain catecholamine systems contribute to the origins and expression of brain disorders and mental illness. Our laboratory focuses on examining the developmental influences of dopamine and other trasmitters on the formation and function of the forebrain. These neurotransmitters are expressed early in brain development, prior to the formation of synapses, and modulate neuronal differentiation, circuit formation, and Biobehavioral development during sensitive periods. In this seminar, I will present data demonstrating how specific dopamine and serotonin receptors can influence dendritic morphology, interneuron differentiation, and behavioral and emotional responses. Disruptions in these signaling mechanisms produce significant behavioral, cognitive, neuroanatomical and pharmacological changes, sometimes for the lifetime of the organism.
Tuesday Dec. 3rd, 4-5 pm Dr. Christopher Lowry, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado Boulder

TITLE: “Can We Vaccinate Against Anxiety and Affective Disorders?

Abstract: In 2006, Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, highlighted that mental health research is far behind research in cardiovascular disease and other fields, where researchers have made progress in identifying risk factors and formulting strategies for prevention. In a provocative article, he proposed a need for transformative approaches to mental health research, including approaches for prevention of anxiety and affective disorders.