images Spring 2010 Neuroscience Seminars

Spring 2012 Seminar Series in Neuroscience

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

Tuesday Feb 5, 4-5 pm

Dr. Eric Nestler, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Chairman, Department of Neuroscience, Director, Friedman Brain Institute, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York

Transcriptional and Epigenetic Mechanisms of Addiction

Abstract: Eric Nestler will discuss the role played by changes in gene expression, and related changes in chromatin remodeling, in the brain's reward circuits in mediating the long-lasting alterations induced by chronic exposure to drugs of abuse that underlie aspects of drug addiction. Particular attention will be given to the transcription factor, ΔFosB, and to its numerous target genes and downstream functional consequences, as important mediators of drug action.

Tuesday Feb 19, 4-5 pmDr. Kent Hutchison, Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder

TITLE: "Genetic and Epigenetic Biomarkers for Alcohol Dependence: Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full?"

Abstract: The etiology of alcohol dependence is related to changes in the neuronal systems involved in the anticipation of reward and executive control. The identification of biomarkers associated with these changes are critical for predicting the course of dependence and treatment outcomes. While there has been an explosion of candidate gene and genome wide studies designed to identify genetic risk markers over the last 10 years, these markers often fail to account for significant variance in risk, often fail to replicate, and have had minimal clinic impact. On the other hand, the relatively nascent field of epigenetics is underdeveloped and underutilized. Epigenetic variations that are associated with individual differences in the neural adaptations that underlie addiction may be important in terms of predicting the course of the disease as well as treatment outcomes. While our recent research has led to the identification of several genetic biomarkers associated with both clinical phenotypes and neural phenotypes (e.g., BOLD response to alcohol cues and functional connectivity), a parallel line of research with epigenetic markers has yielded more promising results. The epigenetic findings in clinical samples have been validated and extended using post-mortem brain tissue samples (n=24) to examine the correlation between methylation in DNA from buccal cells versus DNA methylation and mRNA from cells in the putamen and precuneus. Based on both the clinical data and the post-mortem data, a custom 96 methylation marker has been developed for replication studies in new samples. Implications and the future of both genetic and epigenetic lines of research will be discussed.
Tuesday Mar 5, 4-5 pm

Dr. Tor Wager, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Colorado Boulder
Dr. Sona Dimidjian, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder

TITLE: “Psychological and Neural Mechanisms of Compassion and Methods to Train Compassion

Abstract: Recent research has advanced our scientific understanding of compassion and methods by which compassion can be trained. However, the brain pathways underlying compassionate behavior and the mechanisms by which clinical interventions train compassion have not been well characterized. In this presentation, we will review primary approaches that have been used to train individuals to increase compassionate behavior and highlight important questions we endeavor to address in our current work. In addition, we review what is known about the neural correlates of compassion and present findings from a series of recently completed behavioral studies and our ongoing study that integrates both clinical intervention and neuroimaging methods.

Tuesday, Mar 19, 4-5 pm

Dr. Luis de Lecea, Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University

TITLE: “Optogenetic Control of Arousal and Hyperarousal

Abstract: Optogenetics has revolutionized the way we analyze neuronal circuits. The reticular activating system was defined in the 60's was the bundle of fibers that had a major role in promoting arousal. We are now using cell-specific manipulation of circuit-level activity to uncover the different computational modalities encoded by the components of the arousal networks. We have also started to manipulate monoaminergic neurons to reveal their contributions to the arousal and hyperarousal constructs. These experiments have major consequences in our understanding of the circuit dynamics associated with arousal, stress, anxiety and addiction.

Tuesday April 9, 4-5 pmDr. Lisa Brenner, VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Denver CO

TITLE: “Traumatic Brain Injury, Comorbid Disorders, and Negative Psychiatric Outcomes Among Veterans and Military Personnel

Abstract: Military personnel and veterans are returning from recent conflicts with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and comorbid psychiatric symptoms (post-traumatic, depressive, anxiety-related). In addition, rates of suicide are on the rise and increasing numbers of returned personnel are seeking psychiatric and medical care within the Veterans Health Administration. The utility of traditional assessment strategies is limited in terms of differential diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment options are nearly non-existent for those mild TBI and co-morbid psychiatric conditions. Current research regarding assessment-related challenges will be presented, as well as potential contributions from the field of neuroscience.

Tuesday April 23, 4-5 pm

Dr. Okihide Hikosaka, Neuronal Networks Section Chief, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

TITLE: “Long-Term Object-Value Memories in the Basal Ganglia Underlying Visuomotor Skill

Abstract: Many objects around us have values which have been acquired through our life-long history. This suggests that the values of individual objects are stored in the brain as long-term memories. We discovered that such object-value memories are represented in part of the basal ganglia including the tail of the caudate nucleus (CDt) and the substantia nigra pars reticula (SNr). Many of the SNr neurons projected to the superior colliculus, suggesting that the reward-dependent visual signals are used for controlling saccadic eye movements. Thus, the CDt-SNr-SC system enables animals to choose and look at high-valued objects automatically.