Big Easy? More like Huge and Difficult

The annual Society for Neuroscience meeting that is. This meeting is seriously massive and my behavior at it is an ever-changing, ever-growing compendium of coping strategies, far too many of which entail inordinate amounts of time in hotel bars. Lucky for my liver and probably the neurogenic capacity of my hippocampus, I have a new coping strategy: neuroblogging and following along with the awesome neuroscience social media community.

Last year we were thrilled to be selected as an official SfN “neuroblog” to serve as a voice for and of undergraduate neuroscience students attending the meeting. That worked out great because I was teaching a seminar on Psychology & Neuroscience, for which this blog was started, and 3 students from that class were attending SfN with me. It was really illuminating to read what they wrote and to see their reactions to the meeting as first-time attendees. I thought they all did an outstanding job. I also had a lot of fun being the twitter feed for the blog and found my experiences at the meeting to be greatly enhanced by my attention to SfN tweets and the other bloggers.

This year I am thrilled that we are once again officially neuroblogging for SfN. This time we have themes and will be out and about, experiencing, learning, and mingling in the marvelously stimulating world of Cognition & Behavior and History, Teaching, Public Awareness, and Societal Impacts in Neuroscience. I’m excited to have 3 of my student bloggers from last year joining me at the meeting, and we have a new ‘old hat’ joining us. The students, in no particular order, are highlighted below.

Kristen Erickson graduated from Colby in the spring and she has a position as Lab Manager and Outreach Coordinator at the University of New England. She is arriving in NOLA bright and early Saturday morning and I’m looking forward to her first posts on her experiences with the many wonderful events showcasing outreach and brain awareness on Saturday afternoon. She has a poster on her honors thesis research on Wed afternoon. If you are still around, I highly recommend it! Even though we can barely make sense of some of the data, she has one of the coolest findings ever. I’ll give you a hint: her title starts with “Triggering the epigenome to combat stress”. UU14 to find out more!

John Gardner also graduated from Colby in the spring and he is having the time of his life in the mountains of Montana. I’m very interested to see what sorts of influences living off the grid has had on his perspectives on neuroscience and I expect his will be, as always, engaging and detailed insights. On Monday morning, John will be presenting a very nifty study that he conducted for a senior thesis project. Hippocampal lesions, dietary choline, emotion, and memory. What else do you need?? EEE50!

Chelsea Nickerson is a senior biology major and I think it is silly awesome that she is attending her second SfN meeting before even finishing her undergraduate degree. She too is presenting in the general session. She is just getting her honors thesis research off the ground as we speak but she will be presenting some research that formed the basis for her thesis project. This work was conducted in the lab last year and was aimed at understanding the ways in which dietary choline prevents MK-801-induced memory deficits and anhedonia. Her poster is Wed morning and in a weird coincidence is also EEE50! (cue twilight zone music)

Jenn Corriveau did not blog with us last year. I’m not sure why not now that I think of it. Jenn has more than her fair share of posts on the blog from when she was a student in the Psych/Neuro seminar in 2010. I wrote about Jenn and her recently published work on choline and a rat model of schizophrenia in my last post. She has a very unique voice and I look forward to bullying her into writing many posts while at the meeting. She has been a graduate student at UConn since graduating from Colby in 2010 and has a poster on Wed morning pertaining to her work there on memory and ketamine (let’s hear it for more NMDA antagonists): EEE43! (just down the lane from Chelsea).

It looks like Wed morning is when all the cool kids are presenting (with John and KK being two very cool exceptions of course): I too have a poster then detailing all the awesome things we learned about the emotional behaviors of BDNF knockout rats. Yes that’s right, RATS not mice. Rats missing one copy of their BDNF gene. This leaves them without about 1/2 the typical amount of this wonderful growth factor. An excellent model for certain neuropathological conditions like depression or schizophrenia? Maybe. A great way to explore hypothesis about the actions of dietary factors, like choline levels, via BDNF mechanisms? Hell yes! Check it out: FF12!

Yes neuroscience is huge and can be difficult to navigate. But we, and the other SfN neurobloggers, will be posting and tweeting about all the interesting things we encounter and hope that in so doing we can enrich your experience. This is my 15th neuroscience in 16 years and my 4th SfN in NOLA. I’m really excited to return and I’ll be sure to also drop hints about some great places to visit and eat. Let the (neuro)games begin!

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One thought on “Big Easy? More like Huge and Difficult

  1. SO EXCITED to be a part of this neuro blog team! It is going to be amazing to run around the conference and the city with fellow Colby students & alums (& of course Melissa!!). Excited for my poster (which, I might add, has ketamine AND MK-801 data on it! If you’re interested in proactive interference/episodic memory paradigms in RATS, stop by!!) I will also be trying my hand at tweeting (which I have had for some time, but haven’t utilized nearly as much as I should!) so follow me @ohambiguity on twitter for my 2 cents on the conference and NOLA! See you at Neuroscience!

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