Snowbird Symposium Fall 2016

"Neural Circuits and Connectomes"

October 28, 2016
Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort


POSTER ABSTRACT SUBMISSION: SUBMIT ABSTRACT HERE (If you are attending the Symposium, you must also register for the meeting)

Snowbird Village

9:00AM-12:00PM SCIENTIFIC SESSION I (Snowbird Center, Cottonwood Room: NEW LOCATION)
12:00-1:45PM Lunch (Snowbird Center, Rendezvous Room)
1:45-5:00PM SCIENTIFIC SESSION II (Snowbird Center, Cottonwood Room)
5:00-6:30PM Poster session and mixer (Snowbird Center); sponsored by the SfN Intermountain Chapter; Hard Deadline: Wednesday, October 19. ABSTRACT submittal (Snowbird Center)
6:30-8:00PM Dinner, The Aerie Restaurant, Cliff Lodge, Level 10
8:00-9:00PM Keynote Speaker
9:30-11:00PM Mixer, The Aerie Restaurant, Cliff Lodge, Level 10


KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Stephen J. Smith, Ph.D.; Senior Investigator, Allen Institute for Brain Science

Stephen Smith

Title: "Shotgun Analysis of Cortical Synaptic Networks"

Research Summary: The understanding of cortical circuit function will require quantitative information about synaptic connectivity amongst numerous cortical cell types. Physiological methods and electron and fluorescence microscopy offer complementary opportunities to sample cortical network structure and function, and the underlying synapse molecular architectures. "Shotgun" fluorescence labeling of sparse, stochastic subsets of neurons can be achieved by transgenic, viral or gene-gun infection and offers special advantages of easy image acquisition and analysis, with potentially unbiased sampling of multiple cell types within individual networks. With sufficient repetition of shotgun sampling experiments and reliable means of post hoc cell type identification, it should be possible to define cortical network "wiring" statistics and synaptic properties in ways that circumvent limitations of each individual method. My talk will address progress at the Allen Institute toward a shotgun connectomic analysis of human cortex based on sparse fluorescence labeling, physiology and fluorescence and electron modes of array tomography.

Speaker: Richard D. Mooney, Ph.D.; George Barth Geller Professor of Neurobiology, Duke University
Richard Mooney

Title: "From Song to Synapse: Vocal Communication in Sparrows, Finches, and Mice"

Research Summary: Richard Mooney, Ph.D., has served as a George Barth Geller Professor of Research in Neurobiology since 2010. He joined Duke's Department of Neurobiology in 1994. Dr. Mooney's research examines the role of auditory experience in the development of brain and behavior, and the interplay between auditory and motor brain regions that enables vocal communication. He and his colleagues have identified how auditory experience alters the structure and function of nerve cells important to learned vocal communication, how these neurons are activated during expressive and receptive aspects of vocal communication, and the link between the auditory properties of these neurons and vocal perception. His group uses a wide variety of methods to this end, including in vivo multiphoton imaging and electrophysiological recordings of neurons in freely vocalizing animals, viral methods to manipulate gene expression in neurons, and acoustic analysis of vocalizations. Dr. Mooney has received a Wiersma Visiting Professorship at Caltech, a Dart Foundation Scholar's Award, a McKnight Investigator Award, a Sloane Research Fellowship, a Klingenstein Research Fellowship and a Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship. He was also honored to receive the Master Teaching Award, the Davison Teaching Award and the Langford Prize from Duke University. Dr. Mooney earned a B.S. in Biology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, he was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Neurobiology in the Duke University School of Medicine.

Speaker: Elly Nedivi, Ph.D.; Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Elly Nedivi

Title: "Visualizing Synapse Structural Dynamics in vivo"

Research Summary: The introduction of two-photon microscopy for in vivo imaging has opened the door to chronic monitoring of individual neurons in the adult brain and the study of structural plasticity mechanisms at a very fine scale. Perhaps the biggest contribution of this modern anatomical method has been the discovery that even across the stable excitatory dendritic scaffold there is significant capacity for synaptic remodeling, and that synaptic structural rearrangements are a key mechanism mediating neural circuit adaptation and behavioral plasticity in the adult. To monitor the extent and nature of excitatory and inhibitory synapse dynamics on individual L2/3 pyramidal neurons in mouse neocortex in vivo, we labeled these neurons with a fluorescent cell fill as well as the fluorescently tagged synaptic scaffolding molecules, Teal-Gephyrin to label inhibitory synapses, and mCherry-PSD-95 to label excitatory synapses. We then simultaneously tracked the daily dynamics of both synapse types using spectrally resolved two-photon microscopy. We found that aside from the lower magnitude of excitatory synaptic changes in the adult, as compared to inhibitory ones, excitatory synapse dynamics appear to follow a different logic than inhibitory dynamics. Excitatory synapses are generally very stable once established in the naive animal, but many spines are added and removed all along the dendritic branch on a relatively rapid timescale. These short-lived transient spines potentially represent a sampling strategy to search for and create connections with new presynaptic partners, and most of these attempts fail. In contrast, many inhibitory synapses are added and removed at the same location on a rapid timescale and likely represent input-specific regulation at particular dendritic locales.

Speaker: Alessandra Angelucci, M.D., Ph.D.; Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Utah
Alessandra Angelucci

Title: "Feedforward, Lateral, and Feedback Circuits in the Visual Cortex: Structure and Function"

Research Summary: Brain functions emerge from the coordinated activity of thousands of neurons connected in specific ways forming neural circuits. The broad goal of my laboratory's research is to understand how specific circuits in the visual cortex generate the specific receptive field properties of cortical neurons. To this goal we use a combination of anatomical, physiological, optical imaging, and optogenetics methods combined with computational modeling to understand (1) the precise wiring of circuits, (2) how their anatomical structure maps onto the functional architecture of the cortex and the neuronal response properties, and (3) the consequences of disrupting circuit activity on the responses of V1 neurons to visual stimuli. We focus on the intrinsic circuitry of the primary visual cortex (V1) and the feedforward and feedback connections V1 makes with the secondary visual area (V2). Our animal model is the non-human primate, the model closest to human and, therefore, the most important for understanding cortical circuit function and dysfunction. I will present data supporting a model of visual cortical circuits whereby: (1) information between areas V1 and V2 is processed by specialized parallel and reciprocal feedforward and feedback pathways, (2) feedforward pathways process local visual information confined to the receptive field of the connected neurons, (3) feedback pathways process more global visual information extending beyond the spatial extent of neuronal receptive fields, (4) V1 operates in a regime of strong local recurrent connections; neuronal response properties result from the interaction of the long range intrinsic and extrinsic (feedforward and feedback) connections with these local recurrent circuits.

Speaker: Sophie Caron, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah
Sophie Caron

Title: "Sensory Perception in the Drosophila Brain"

Research Summary: The brain understands the outside world through different senses. But sensory information can often be noisy, misleading or insufficient. To overcome this, the brain collects information across different sensory channels, weighs that information based on its reliability and integrates it into a unified percept. This process – also referred to as 'multisensory perception' – enables the brain to form a richer and more reliable representation of the outside world. Multisensory perception is the basis for many subsequent brain functions such as learning and decision making. How the brain is organized to achieve that feat remains practically unknown. Multisensory perception is a fundamental property of all brains equipped with different senses. We propose to study this brain function in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. We choose to focus our attention on the mushroom body, a memory center that consists of about 2,000 neurons, named the Kenyon cells. The mushroom body has primarily been studied for its role in olfaction. However, growing evidence suggests that it processes information from other sensory modalities. Our lab is currently identifying how these different sensory modalities are connected to the mushroom body, how from these connections it can represent sensory information and how use it to learn and ultimately instruct meaningful behavior.

Speaker: Bryan Jones, Ph.D.; Research Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Utah
Bryan Jones

Title: "Retinal Circuitry and Remodeling"

Research Summary: The retina is a complex, parallel circuit processor, highly optimized to detect light and process visual signals. Identifying the participants of these networks and their connectivities or network topologies is one of two goals in the lab. Our other efforts are directed at exploring what goes wrong in diseases that alter retinal networks, again using retina as a model. Retinal degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are progressive, currently irreversible neural degenerative diseases that alter retinal network topologies in a process called retinal remodeling. Most, if not all retinal cell classes are impacted or altered by retinal remodeling. Therefore, defining disease and stage-specific cytoarchitectural, metabolic and circuits in degenerative disease is critical for highlighting targets for intervention.

Graduate student speakers:
Feliks Furmanov (John White lab): "Balanced Excitation-Inhibition Underlies Theta Oscillations in the Whole Hippocampal Preparation"

Punitha Subramaniam (Deborah Yurgelun-Todd lab): "Orbitofrontal Connectivity is Associated with Depression and Anxiety in Marijuana Using Adolescents"

Andrew Taibi (Shepherd lab): "Plasticity Jones and the Lost Arc!"

Anthony Umpierre (Karen Wilcox lab): "Altered Astrocyte Calcium Pathway Responsivity During Epileptogenesis"

Brent Young (Ning Tian lab): "From the Retina to the Brain"