Neuroscience 2013 Satellite Symposium

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Deciphering the Neural Circuit Basis of Brain Disease via In Vivo Imaging and Optogenetics


At Neuroscience 2013 Inscopix is pleased to host an esteemed group of speakers sharing insights on recent developments in in vivo brain imaging and optogenetics that are together poised to enable breakthroughs in the understanding of brain diseases.

We invite you to enjoy these exciting talks on their latest work.

When: Monday, Nov. 11, 6:30–9:30pm
Where: San Diego Convention Center, Room 25ABC



Modern understanding of brain disease is currently undergoing a sea change, gradually shifting away from theories that emphasize a dearth or excess of neurotransmitter, and towards more sophisticated theories in which neurons of specific types exhibit improper patterns of ensemble activity underlying aberrant human behavior. This shift is especially important for disorders such as autism, which defy simple neurochemical explanations and appear to arise from circuit-level abnormalities. For disorders for which there is altered neurochemistry, or neurodegeneration, there is rising appreciation for the equally important roles of pathologic neural circuit dynamics in causing disease phenotypes. Overall, this shift in how brain disease is conceptualized has led to a new set of scientific dilemmas as well as new opportunities for understanding the roots of disease and creating novel therapies.

One major dilemma that has emerged from the recent paradigm shift concerns the conceptual issue of how should aberrant neural circuit activity be optimally re-tuned via brain disease treatments of the future. Unfortunately, this question cannot yet be answered for the major human brain disorders, because crucial knowledge of both normal patterns of neural activity, and how these patterns go awry in disease, is still lacking. Towards addressing the issue, brain researchers have already created mouse models of many human brain diseases. However, until recently there was no technology that could visualize the activity of large numbers of individual, neurons of genetically identified types in the brains of freely behaving mice and ideally in multiple mice in parallel. The new-found capacity to obtain such large-scale data sets is important towards identifying neurophysiologic signatures of brain disease and is a prerequisite for developing therapeutic means of re-tuning aberrant activity patterns.

This symposium presents recent developments in in vivo imaging and optogenetics that are together poised to help researchers obtain the key, missing knowledge about normal and aberrant neural activity patterns in mouse models of human brain disease, and the subsequent means to develop novel therapeutic strategies to re-tune and correct aberrant patterns of neural circuit activity. Speakers will come from diverse areas of brain disease research, and will discuss optogenetic and in vivo imaging techniques that allow one to prove the role of large-scale neural ensembles in freely behaving mouse models of human disease. For example, by using miniaturized microscopes for brain imaging during active mouse behavior, one can monitor neural dynamics in over a thousand individual, genetically identified cells. The capacities to identify the type and circuit connectivity of the cells being studied, and for time-lapse imaging of their dynamical and coding properties over many weeks, provides unprecedented capabilities for studying how individual cells and ensembles respond as diseases progress, or before, during, and after candidate treatments.

Overall, the recent advances in optogenetics and imaging in freely behaving animal promise to yield crucial new knowledge of how circuit dynamics differ between normal and diseased brains, a key step towards providing the data to guide therapeutic strategies for re-tuning abnormal neural circuit dynamics.


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