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#PLOS #SfN15 Preview: Hidden variables of behavior

Of the many mysteries that first enticed me to become a neuroscientist, perhaps the most compelling was the mechanism by which brain function translates into behavior. How, exactly, does a blob of neural tissue give rise – via electrical impulses and chemical signals – to the complex actions, thoughts and emotions that define the human experience? These questions will be the focus of the symposium “Hidden Variables of Behavior: Neuronal Parameters Underlying Brain States,” at the Society for Neuroscience meeting this Sunday, October 18, 2015 from 1:30-4:00 pm. The session will feature four experts discussing how neurophysiological dynamics, life experience and epigenetics shape the brain-behavior relationship. Here’s a sneak peek into the exceptional line-up for this symposium.

DulacCatherine Dulac. Neural control of parental behaviors

Dr. Dulac is the Higgens Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. Her lab uses a multimodal approach, including electrophysiological, molecular and genetic tools, to explore innate social behaviors in the mouse. A major area of interest, which she’ll focus on in her upcoming talk, is the role of genomic imprinting on the brain. Her research suggests that epigenetic regulation via genomic imprinting has a significant impact on brain development and function.

schnitzer_mark_107Mark Schnitzer. Large-scale neural dynamics in states of environmental exploration versus those of learned exploitation

Dr. Schnitzer is Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Applied Physics at Stanford University. His research uses and develops advanced imaging and computational techniques to probe the neural circuits underlying behavior. His work explores the neuronal dynamics of motor control, learning and memory in a range of organisms from fruit flies to mice to humans.

YIR_RH_DanYang Dan. Fast modulation of visual perception by basal forebrain cholinergic neurons

Dr. Dan is Professor of Neurobiology at UC Berkeley. Her lab combines electrophysiology, imaging and behavior to understand visual perception. Her group takes a multi-level approach to understanding the neural circuits underlying the visual system and how sensory experience, in turn, modifies these neural systems.

frankLoren Frank. Coordination of entorhinal-hippocampal ensemble activity during navigation behaviors

Dr. Frank is Professor of Physiology at UC San Francisco. His research uses electrophysiology and optogenetics to explore how the hippocampus supports learning and memory. His lab aims to understand causal relationships between neural activity in the hippocampus and beyond, and learning and memory-guided behavior.

Don’t miss what’s sure to be an enthralling symposium addressing one of the most pressing questions of Neuroscience! But if you can’t attend, be sure to follow @PLOSNeuro on Twitter, where I’ll be live-tweeting the session highlights, and check back here for a post-SfN recap.

See you in Chicago!

Emilie Reas received her PhD in Neuroscience from UC San Diego, where she used fMRI to study memory. As a postdoc at UCSD, she currently studies how the brain changes with aging and disease. In addition to her tweets for @PLOSNeuro she is @etreas.

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