Neuroscience Seminar Series--Fall 2011

The Neuroscience Seminar Series was initiated to foster interdepartmental research by sponsoring lectures with an opportunity to share findings with colleagues on and off campus. Chat and refreshments are served in the First Floor Rotunda following the formal presentation providing an opportunity to discuss research interests.

September 12, 2011. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
Evolved Decision Heuristics in the Mind's Adaptive Toolbox
Dr. Peter Todd, Dept of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University at Bloomington

Traditional views of rational decision making assume that individuals use a few powerful mechanisms to solve most of the problems they face. But given that human and animal minds have evolved to be quick and just “good enough” in environments where information is often costly and difficult to obtain, individuals instead often draw on an “adaptive toolbox” of simple, fast and frugal heuristics that make good decisions with limited information processing. These heuristics typically ignore most of the available information and rely on only a few important cues. Yet, they make choices that are accurate in their appropriate application domains, achieving ecological rationality through their fit to particular information structures. Individuals not only have to decide when to stop searching for information for making choices, but also when to stop searching for choice options themselves that appear sequentially over an extended period of time, as in mate choice or food choice. In this talk he described some of the heuristics in the adaptive toolbox and how they have been studied.

    This lecture was videoconferenced to the Atrium Conference Room on our Springfield School of Medicine campus. See HERE for a flyer (pdf file).


  • September 26, 2011., 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
    Strategies for Enhancing Recovery Following Traumatic Brain Injury: Gene Therapy, Neurogenesis, and Rehabilitation
    Dr. Dorothy Kozlowski, Dept of Biological Sciences, DePaul University
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects millions of individuals on a yearly basis, yet no viable treatment is available. The Kozlowski lab has been exploring how the brain fixes itself following TBI and how we can potentially develop treatments using gene therapy, bone marrow stem cells, and endogenous neurogenesis. In addition, they are also interested in the neuroplastic response to TBI, how it is different from stroke, and how it is affected by physical rehabilitation. These topics were discussed in the presentation.

    This lecture was videoconferenced to the Atrium Conference Room on our Springfield School of Medicine campus. See HERE for flyer (pdf).


  • October 24, 2011. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
    Axonal Plasticity in the Adult Mammalian Nervous System
    Dr. Jeff Petruska, Dept of Anatomical Science and Neurobiology, University of Louisville
    Plasticity of neuronal structure in the adult is a fundamental neurobiological mechanism of adaptation and also underlies some pathological conditions. Dr. Petruska's lab has identified a set of factors regulated during axonal collateral sprouting of non-injured spinal sensory neurons, but not during axonal regeneration of injured sensory neurons. They also identified factors known to be involved in dendritic plasticity in the CNS. One of these, necessary in the brain for dendritic structural plasticity underlying functions such as learning and memory, is necessary for extension of collateral axon branches by non-injured peripheral sensory neurons. Regulation of this factor in both collateral sprouting and development appears to involve mRNA stabilization or transport for local translation. These findings could have significant implications for understanding structural plasticity mechanisms of non-injured neurons in the adult and developing nervous system, and indicate that peripheral sensory neurons may use dendritic-plasticity-like processes.

    This lecture was videoconferenced to the Atrium Conference Room on our Springfield School of Medicine campus. See HERE for flyer (pdf).

  • November 7, 2011. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
    Not(ch) your Average Developmental Pathway: Setting up the Hypothalamic-Pituitary Axis
    Dr. Lori Raetzman, School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
    Dr. Raetzman's research addresses how differentiated cells arise from proliferating progenitor cells and to what extent the development of hypothalamic neurons and the pituitary gland rely on the presence of each other. Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved signaling system that is important for cell fate choice during development in many contexts. They hypothesize that Notch signaling is necessary to maintain precursor cells within the hypothalamus and that it may play a role in lineage specific differentiation. They have demonstrated that Notch signaling is sufficient to maintain proliferation of hypothalamic progenitors and prevent their differentiation into POMC, NPY, and GHRH neurons. Additionally, they have uncovered a novel role of Notch signaling in axon guidance of AVP neurons through the ME to the posterior lobe. Taken together, their studies demonstrate a role for Notch signaling in the coordinated development of the HP axis. Ongoing studies will elucidate the downstream pathways that account for the observed effects.
  • This lecture was videoconferenced to the Atrium Conference Room on our Springfield School of Medicine campus. See HERE for flyer (pdf).

  • December 5, 2011. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
    The Neural Correlates of Choosing Between Smaller, Sooner Rewards and Larger, Later Rewards
    Dr. Suzanne Mitchell, Dept of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University

    Would you prefer $8 now or $10 in a week; eat one M&M candy now or a handful in 15 min? Preference for smaller, sooner rewards over larger, later rewards is a characteristic of a number of psychiatric disorders, including conduct disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD and drug dependence. Interest has focused on whether the difference in preference preceded the onset of the disorder or is a consequence of the disorder. Preclinical rodent models have been used to examine the neurochemical and neurostructural correlates of this type of decision making, while human studies have used fMRI techniques to characterize regions of activation. Dr. Mitchell's presentation critically compared rodent and human tasks with the goal of understanding the extent to which the same cognitive processes are involved. Research was described illustrating dopamine’s role in these decisions in rodents, while studies using fMRI examine contributions of prefrontal cortex and limbic areas in drug dependent and healthy control humans.

    This lecture was videoconferenced to the Atrium Conference Room on our Springfield School of Medicine campus. See HERE for flyer (pdf).