28th Annual Neuroscience Day at Dartmouth

On March 19, 2014 by Grad Forum
Professor David Ginty from Harvard Medical School gives the Keynote Lecture describing the development and organization of the neural circuits underlying our sense of touch.

Professor David Ginty from Harvard Medical School gives the keynote lecture describing the development and organization of the neural circuits underlying our sense of touch.

Co-sponsored by the Neuroscience Center at Dartmouth and the Society for Neuroscience New Hampshire Chapter, the 28th Neuroscience Day took place last month on February 21. Attendees included students and professors from Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine, researchers and clinicians from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), and visitors from a number of nearby universities.

The daylong conference began with a research poster session that covered a diversity of topics ranging from translational and clinical research addressing human disease to more basic science questions examining the complex principles behind nervous system function. Although medical students and undergraduates were included, presenters consisted primarily of graduate students who represented numerous programs, including the Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine (PEMM), the Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) Program, and the Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS) Program.

Mike Hasse, a PEMM graduate student, presents his poster describing experiments that examined feedback mechanisms in the ferret visual system.

Mike Hasse, a PEMM graduate student, presents his poster describing experiments that examined feedback mechanisms in the ferret visual system.

James Peck, a PBS graduate student working with Professor Jeffrey Taube, presented a poster describing his research on head direction cells, specialized neurons in the brain that function like a compass and provide us with a sense of direction. Reflecting on the event, Peck said that he “appreciate[d] the interdisciplinary nature of Neuroscience Day. I shared my research with peers that study everything from tumor invasion of the central nervous system to how dieters differentially process pictures of food.”

The morning poster session was followed by a series of short talks. “I felt a little nervous at first,” reflected Katelyn Wong, an undergraduate who presented about her work with Professor Hermes Yeh involving neural development, “but I had great support from everyone in my lab, and in the end it was a great experience.” The morning was concluded by a wonderful talk given by Dr. Alan Green, a DHMC researcher and clinician, and a professor in the medical school. Dr. Green shared a wealth of data gathered over many years investigating the connection between substance abuse and schizophrenia.

PBS graduate student James Peck presents his poster examining head direction cells to Professor Allan Gulledge, a physiology professor.

PBS graduate student James Peck presents his poster examining head direction cells to Professor Allan Gulledge, a physiology professor.

Following a break for lunch, everyone reconvened for a second poster session, followed by another series of short talks. Again, the speakers covered a fascinating range of topics, with some discussing fMRI data from human subjects, and others describing rodent experiments involving neural recording and inactivation techniques. Professor David Ginty from Harvard Medical School served as the keynote lecturer and concluded the conference by discussing his work examining the development and organization of the neural circuits underlying our sense of touch. Ginty illustrated the complex ways in which sensory nerves attach to hair follicles.

Neuroscience Day, once again, proved to be a productive and stimulating event for all those involved. See you next year!

by Max Mehlman

photographs by Emily Stephens

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