Neuroscience Seminar Series--Spring 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.

Our inaugural series began Spring 2011

  • February 7, 2011, 3:00pm. Morris Library Auditorium
    Poster Session

    Faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students were invited to present their work in an open poster session. This was a great opportunity to discuss research with your colleagues. Posters previously presented at other meetings were welcome. See HERE for a flyer (pdf file).

  • February 21, 2011, 2:30pm. Morris Library Auditorium
    A Gene Delivery Approach to Study Learning and Memory Using Adeno-Associated Viral Vectors
    Dr. Corinna Burger, Dept of Neurology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Dr. Burger's laboratory is trying to understand the molecular rules that govern memory formation and plasticity in the CNS with a special interest in cognitive aging. She uses recombinant Adeno-associated virus (rAAV) as a gene delivery system to overexpress or knockdown function of putative cognition genes in the rat hippocampus and examine the resulting phenotypes using well established behavioral tests. She uses this technology to understand the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory formation in vivo. To illustrate the power of this technology, she discussed her studies implicating the gene Homer1 in learning and memory formation.

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

  • March 7, 2011, 1:00pm. Morris Library Auditorium
    Learning to Remodel the Injured Brain
    Dr. Theresa Jones, Dept of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin
  • This talk focused on how behavioral experience contributes to the reorganization of neural connectivity after stroke and other types of brain damage. The ability to learn new skills and to remember life events is possible because behavioral experiences continue to shape neural activity and connectivity patterns throughout the lifespan. Stroke triggers cascades of growth promoting and inhibiting responses and prolonged periods of neuroanatomical reorganization in connected brain regions. Experience-dependent neural plasticity interacts with these processes, and this has good, bad and mixed consequences for long-term functional outcome. However, this experience-dependent neural plasiticity can usurp the potential for more effective neural rewiring for an impaired forelimb. These and other findings indicate that experience is a potent factor in determining neural and behavioral outcome after brain injury, and that it interacts with injury-induced brain changes in a complex and time dependent manner. At this point, we know far too little about the rules of this interaction to know how to intervene behaviorally to optimiaze brain remodeling and functional outcome.

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

  • March 21, 2011, 3:00p.m. Morris Library Auditorium.
    Neural Corre
    lates of Self-Initiated Encoding Strategies
    Dr. Brenda Kirchhoff, Dept of Psychology, University of Missouri at St. Louis
  • Memory abilities differ greatly across individuals. The types of encoding (learning) strategies that individuals spontaneously use to learn new information play an important role in individual differences in memory. Recently, neuroimaging studies have begun to elucidate the neural correlates of self-initiated encoding strategy use in young and older adults. Dr. Kirchhoff presented their functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research on the neural correlates of self-initiated encoding strategy use in young and older adults, and the effects of encoding strategy training on older adults’ brain activity patterns during encoding and memory retrieval.

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

  • April 1, 2011, 2:00p.m. Morris Library Auditorium.
    The Pathway Less Traveled: A Molecular Approach to Understanding How Estrogens Affect Memory
    Dr. Karen Frick, Dept of Psychology, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee
  • Memory abilities differ greatly across individuals. The types of encoding (learning) strategies that individuals spontaneously use to learn new information play an important role in individual differences in memory. Recently, neuroimaging studies have begun to elucidate the neural correlates of self-initiated encoding strategy use in young and older adults. She presented their functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research on the neural correlates of self-initiated encoding strategy use in young and older adults, and the effects of encoding strategy training on older adults’ brain activity patterns during encoding and memory retrieval.

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

  • April 4, 2011, 3:00p.m. Morris Library Auditorium.
    Dissecting the Role of Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis in Memory
    Dr. Michael Drew, Center for Learning and Memory, University of Texas at Austin
  • The broad aim of his research program is to understand how adult hippocampal
    neurogenesis influences learning and memory processes. The work is based on growing evidence that adult neurogenesis constitutes a functionally and, perhaps, clinically significant form of brain plasticity. Neurons are added to the adult hippocampus of nearly all mammalian species studied to date. Young neurons constitute as much as 10% of the dentate gyrus (DG) granule cell population and exhibit physiologic properties that may confer unique functional significance. Our research has used irradiation, inducible genetic manipulations, and behavioral analysis in mice to addresses questions such as (1) what underlying psychological processes depend on adult-generated neurons and (2) and what properties of adult-generated neurons are instrumental in their psychological function? In this talk he presented a series of behavioral experiments demonstrating that arresting neurogenesis impairs contextual memory while leaving several forms of spatial and emotional hippocampal processing intact. The context memory deficit is reflected in impaired contextual fear conditioning as well as an apparent, paradoxical improvement in another task. Both behavioral effects arise 4-6 weeks after neurogenesis was arrested, suggesting that the effects depend specifically on the elimination of 4-6-week-old adult- generated neurons, which have been shown to have an enhanced capacity for plasticity. The data suggest that highly plastic immature neurons have a unique role in contextual memory.

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

  • Apirl 18, 2011, 1:00p.m. Morris Library Auditorium.
    Searching for Lost Synapses: Synaptology in Alzheimer's Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment
    Dr. Stephen Scheff, Dept of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Kentucky
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia resulting in a progressive loss of intellectual function that is characterized in its earliest stages as a loss of memory. Neuropathological studies have centered on neuritic amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles as the principal lesions of the cognitive decline. However, the loss of synaptic connectivity in key association regions of the cortex has a much stronger association with cognitive performance. This talk focused on the loss of synapses in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and what factors may be contributing to this loss of brain connectivity. Emphasis was placed on recent findings obtained from individuals with mild cognitive impairment, which is thought to be one of the early transition stages of the disease.

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

  • May 2, 2011, 3:00p.m. Morris Library Auditorium.
    Dr. Art Kramer, Beckman Insitute of Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
  • Dr. Kramer's presentation focused on both cognitive and fitness training, and their effects on behavior and brain.  With regard to cognitive training he addressed two questions.  First, can we develop biomarkers which enhance our ability to predict learning on complex cognitive tasks?  Second, can neuroimaging be used to enhance our understanding of the interaction between training strategies and practice?   He also discussed the extent to which fitness training can be used to enhance cognition, brain structure and function – across the lifespan.  Finally, gaps in the literature on cognitive and fitness training were discussed along with proposals for future research.

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