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#PLOS #SfN15 preview: taking an early start with the satellite meetings

As Chicago is readying itself for the arrival of some thirty thousand neuroscientists between October 17 and 21 for Neuroscience 2015 (#SfN15), the largest meeting in the field, a few hardy souls, including myself, are planning on taking an early start: dozens of satellite meetings are happening all over town on the couple of days immediately before the main event. These more specialized and more intimate meetings are a great way to get the scientific conversation started with experts about your favorite topic, be it acetylcholine receptors, rat whiskers, or comparative cognition.

Two years ago, in San Diego, I got a little bit carried away and attended two overlapping satellite events. That almost used up all my energy, leaving me exhausted just as the meeting itself was starting. This year, I’ll be more reasonable: I am planning to attend the Advances and Perspectives in Auditory Neuroscience (APAN) symposium. This one-day event will take place on Friday, October 16, at the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Although I’ll be attending for the first time, this meeting is already in its 13th installment. With just over a hundred posters and a handful of talks, it’s going to be a great way for me to open the neuroscience floodgates. Further, I’ll get to present my poster and even tease it with a 3-minute, 2-slide presentation!

The keynote lecture will be given by Cynthia Moss, PhD. Dr. Moss directs the Auditory Neuroethology Lab at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. From the lab’s awesome nickname, “Batlab”, you might guess which model organism they use: echolocating bats. As you may know, bats have evolved an extraordinary way of seeing (and flying!) in pitch-black darkness: the bat emits an auditory signal that hits objects in the environment and bounces back to the animal, whose highly refined auditory system processes these echoes into a spatial representation of the environment. Dr. Moss’s lab has developed unique methods to record the activity of multiple neurons deep in the brain of free-flying bats. Using these recordings, they have found place cells in the bats’ hippocampus, just like in rodents. (By the way, those will be the subject of a Presidential Special Lecture by Dr. May-Britt Moser, recent laureate of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, during the main meeting. And since I’m digressing already, let me mention here that bats are not the only animals that use echolocation; in fact, humans do it too, and blind persons can even bike thanks to it!) Dr. Moss’s talk at APAN will focus on 3-D Auditory Scene Analysis by Echolocation in Bats. I’ll be live-tweeting the lecture and the entire event, so stay tuned!

What are your experiences of satellite meetings before SFN? Sound off in the Comments section!

And check out this preview of the October 14th PLOS Science Wednesday AMA on redditscience featuring fMFI scientists Ben Inglis and J.B. Poline.

sfm medFollow @PLOSNeuro on Twitter and track #PLOS #SfN15 for up-to-the-minute coverage of the world’s premier neuroscience meeting by our team of volunteer neuroscientists!

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