[Comp-neuro] Conference in Janelia Farm

Rinberg, Dmitry rinbergd at janelia.hhmi.org
Tue Nov 6 17:53:46 CET 2007

Using In vivo Physiology to Understand Neural Circuits in Genetic Systems
April 20 - 23, 2008
Janelia Farm Research Campus (JFRC),
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Ashburn, Virginia

Registration/Abstract submission deadline: November 15th, 2007

Vivek Jayaraman, JFRC/HHMI
Dmitry Rinberg, JFRC/HHMI
Rachel Wilson, Harvard University

This small meeting will explore how best to use in vivo electrophysiology
and functional imaging in genetic model organisms (or other systems where
genetic tools can be usefully applied) to understand neural circuit
function. The focus will be on recent experimental advances, future
experimental plans, and general strategic and methodological issues in the
design and interpretation of these experiments. We will not focus on purely
technological advances.  A few notable features of this single-track meeting

(i) It will be entirely organized around workshops, each with a specific
theme and consisting of multiple short talks (15 minutes each). A list of
confirmed speakers and a tentative list of topics is provided below.
(ii) Invited speakers will give different short talks at multiple workshops,
and will be encouraged to directly address the workshop topics in their
talks, and to share their views on the issues at hand using their experience
and data for support.
(iii) There will be a "town hall" session near the end of the meeting. All
participants will be encouraged to give the organizers a few broad questions
they would like posed to particular speakers of their choice. We will then
select a few of these and request that a selection of invited speakers
answer the questions (possibly in a panel discussion).
Those interested should apply with an abstract on the Janelia conference web
page: http://www.hhmi.org/janelia/conf-016.html
Please note that there is a limit on the total number of participants at
Janelia conferences. Participants will be selected based on how well their
research fits in with the overall goals of the meeting. There is no charge
to attend this workshop (i.e. no registration fee or charges for
accommodation or meals). Housing will be provided on site.

Keynote speaker:
Eve Marder (Brandeis University)

Invited speakers (confirmed):
Richard Axel (Columbia University/HHMI)
Cori Bargmann (Rockefeller University/HHMI)
Alexander Borst (Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried)
Gyorgi Buzsaki (Rutgers University, Newark)
Thomas R. Clandinin (Stanford University)
Yang Dan (University of California, Berkeley)
Michael Dickinson (California Institute of Technology/JFRC)
Michale Fee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Rainer Friedrich (Friedrich Miescher Inst for Biomedical Research, Basel)
Miriam B. Goodman (Stanford University)
Vivek Jayaraman (JFRC/HHMI)
Gilles J. Laurent (California Institute of Technology)
Shawn Lockery (University of Oregon)
Markus Meister (Harvard University)
Dmitry Rinberg (JFRC/HHMI)
Aravi Samuel (Harvard University)
William R. Schafer (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology)
Karel Svoboda (JFRC/HHMI)
Glenn Turner (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories)
Matt Wachowiak (Boston University)
Rachel Wilson (Harvard Medical School)
Charles Zuker (University of California San Diego/HHMI)

Tentative list of workshop topics

Hypotheses and Explorations: When should research be hypothesis-driven, and
when should we simply observe and describe? What, in your experience,
illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches? Does the
"genome era" favor exploratory research or hypothesis-driven research? How
important, in your view, is an explicit model of circuit function in guiding
interpretation of experimental data, and at what stage is it best employed?

The Decoding Problem: What is the best way to test the relevance of a neural
code? How should features of neural responses be linked to downstream
decoders, ethology and/or behavior? How important is this, and how can we do
this correctly?

Silencing and Stimulating Genetically-specified Neurons: What's the best way
of designing and interpreting experiments where we either silence or
microstimulate a neuron or population of neurons? Various techniques make
these experiments increasingly feasible (e.g., laser ablation, synaptic
silencing, channelrhodopsin stimulation, etc.). What are their limitations
AND how might we work around them?

"The Connectome": How important is it simply to discover which neurons in a
circuit connect to each other? Do we need the resolution of the C. elegans
"connectome"? Is it important to know connectivity at nanometer-scale
resolution, given the enormous challenges in storing and analyzing these
types of images? How can we design powerful experiments to establish
connectivity on different scales?

Handling Complexity: Is the brain's complexity best tackled by reducing a
problem (using genetic manipulations of the circuit/simplified
stimuli/constrained behavior) to what seem like its basic elements? What, in
your experience, are the pros and cons of such an approach? How is it best
done in a genetic model organism? What, in your experience, are good
alternatives to handling complexity? What is the most useful way to
interpret data from either approach?

Electrophysiology and Functional Imaging: Electrophysiology permits fine
sensitivity and temporal precision, while functional imaging allows
simultaneous recording from many neurons. What kinds of questions can best
be approached by these techniques? What are disadvantages of both
approaches? How can we use these approaches to complement each other?

Behavior: How can we use behavioral assays to test specific hypotheses about
neural circuits? What questions are best addressed using naturalistic
behaviors and when are highly constrained behaviors more useful? Is it
problematic that all genetic model organisms are highly inbred? By choosing
to study genetic model organisms, are we inevitably rejecting the notion
that we should preferentially study virtuosic "specialists" like the barn

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