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BRAIN Initiative update to whet appetite for main ANA meeting


Before the main American Neurological Association annual meeting begins in San Diego, plan on attending a special premeeting symposium, “Big Science and the BRAIN Initiative,” on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 14, to learn what a panel of experts has to say about the project, which is now entering its 4th year.

The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is aimed at supporting the development of an arsenal of new tools, multiscale maps, and new knowledge of neural circuits in both health and disease.

Walter Koroshetz, MD, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Md., will chair the symposium and describe the structure of the initiative and its seven high-level research priorities.

Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, will describe his research groups’ efforts at using single-cell approaches to establish an integrative definition of cell types in the developing human neocortex.

Viviana Gradinaru, PhD, of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, plans to provide insight on how her lab has developed safe, efficient, and specific vectors for targeting specific cells in the brain to learn about the circuits underlying locomotion, reward, and sleep, and to report on their activity history.

Sydney Cash, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, aims to survey the history and current landscape of available approaches toward obtaining single-neuron level information from patients, and to describe how this level of precision complements both meso- and macroscale information. He will describe how the huge amount of information being generated from these approaches is being examined with “big data” analytics.

Anna Devor, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, intends to illustrate a “bottom-up” forward model for how to bridge the mechanistic insights we have gleaned from animal models and match them to noninvasive human neuroimaging data from functional MRI, functional near-infrared spectroscopy, magneto/electroencephalography, and positron emission tomography. This would involve identifying the noninvasive imaging signatures of specific neuronal cell types in order to derive better tools and techniques for estimating neuronal activity from multimodal noninvasive imaging data.

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