Neuroscience speakers discuss disorders, psychiatry, consciousness and more…


LabRoots is proud to present the 6th Annual world-renowned Neuroscience virtual conference, broadcast live for free this week. Neuroscience 2018 aims to explore the mechanisms of neural function from the molecular to the network level in health and disease.

World renowned experts and thought leaders will discuss the dynamics of brain function at various levels of consciousness, the mechanisms of functional networks and their modulation, and neuronal plasticity in recovery, as well as therapeutic approaches for symptomological amelioration. Speakers include Harvard professors Dr. Jeremy D. Schmahmann, Dr. Emery Brown, and Dr. Larry Benowitz; Stanford professor Dr. Natalie Rasgon, USC professor Dr. Terence D. Sanger; and Federal University of Pernambuco professor Dr. Mauro Copelli.

Here are this year’s highlighted Keynote Speakers:

jeremyKeynote Presentation: Ataxia, Dysmetria of Thought, and the Cerebellar Cognitive Affective Syndrome presented by Jeremy Schmahmann, MD, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Founding Director, Ataxia Unit Cognitive Behavioral Neurology Unit Director, Massachusetts General Hospital

The cerebellum is incorporated into the distributed neural circuits subserving motor control, cognitive processing and the modulation of emotion. Dr. Schmahmann provides an overview of anatomical studies in monkey and functional magnetic resonance imaging studies in humans demonstrating topographic arrangement in the cerebellum of motor and non-motor domains.  He will consider motor impairments such as ataxia, dysmetria and dysarthria as resulting from lesions of the motor cerebellum predominantly in the anterior lobe, whereas executive, linguistic, spatial, and emotional impairments (the cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome, CCAS) arise following lesions of the cognitive cerebellum in the posterior lobe.

Patient studies reveal that the affective component of the CCAS manifests as deficits in the domains of attentional control, emotional control, social skill set, autism spectrum disorders and psychosis spectrum disorders. This new appreciation of cerebellar circuits, functions, and deficits has relevance for understanding and treating adults and children with cerebellar disorders; investigating neuropsychiatric diseases including autism and schizophrenia; and for new therapeutic possibilities in neuropsychiatry.

Dr. Schmahmann is the Founding Director (1994) of the Ataxia Unit, Director of the Laboratory for Neuroanatomy and Cerebellar Neurobiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a member of the Cognitive Behavioral Neurology Unit. His research and clinical practice focuses on the neurology and basic science of the ataxias and other cerebellar disorders, and he has pioneered the role of the cerebellum in cognition and emotion.

emadKeynote Presentation: Reinforcement Learning: Mechanisms and Implications presented by Emad Eskandar, MD, MBA.

Reinforcement learning is a critical process thought to involve the cortex, striatum, and dopaminergic circuitry.  Dr. Eskandar and his group have found that the caudate (Cd) and dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) encode unexpectedly positive outcomes, consistent with a reward prediction error.  In addition, neurons in both structures encode unexpectedly negative outcomes, which is not yet well-explained.  Moreover, this process is amenable to modulation.  Experiments in rodents, primates, and humans have consistently demonstrated that it is possible to enhance learning with timed stimulation in the Cd.  In animal models of brain injury, this stimulation resulted in accelerated recovery.   Many clinical entities can be conceptualized as disorders of this process, whether it is reduced ability to learn new associations or the inability to replace useless or maladaptive associations such as tics or compulsions. The broader implication is that timed stimulation could be clinically useful in treating disorders beyond brain injury.

Dr. Emad Nader Eskandar, MD, is a Professor and Chairman in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center. He attended and graduated from University of California, California College Of Medicine in 1993, having over 25 years of diverse experience, especially in Neurosurgery.

emeryKeynote Presentation: The Dynamics of the Unconscious Brain Under General Anesthesia presented by Emery N. Brown, MD, PhD, Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Computational Neuroscience at MIT, Director, Neuroscience Statistics Research Laboratory, Anesthetist at Massachusetts General.

General anesthesia is a drug-induced, reversible condition comprised of five behavioral states: unconsciousness, amnesia (loss of memory), analgesia (loss of pain sensation), akinesia (immobility), and hemodynamic stability with control of the stress response. Dr. Brown and his lab have shown that a primary mechanism through which anesthetics create these altered states of arousal is by initiating and maintaining highly structured oscillations. These oscillations impair communication among brain regions.

Findings will be presented from human studies of general anesthesia using high-density EEG recordings and intracranial recordings. These studies have allowed a detailed characterization of the neurophysiology of loss and recovery of consciousness due to propofol. Dr. Brown will show how the oscillatory dynamics change systematically with different anesthetic classes and with age. Finally, Dr. Brown will demonstrate that the state of general anesthesia can be rapidly reversed by activating specific brain circuits.

Emery N. Brown, M.D., Ph.D. is the Director of the Neuroscience Statistics Research Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the co-director of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and an associate director of M.I.T.’s Institute for Medical Engineering & Science. Brown also works as a doctor in the department of anesthesiology, critical care and pain medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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