Seminar Series 2012 Spring | Neuroscience Research Center | SIU

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Neuroscience Research Center

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Seminar Series

The Neuroscience Seminar Series was initiated to foster interdepartmental research by sponsoring lectures with an opportunity to share findings with colleagues on and off campus. Chat and refreshments are served in the First Floor Rotunda following the formal presentation providing an opportunity to discuss research interests.

January 30, 2012. 3:00-5:00pm, Morris Library Rotunda
Spring 2012 Neuroscience Lecture Series Poster Session

The Center for Integrated Research in Cognitive and Neural Sciences' spring lecture series started with a session to share interests and information between departments and with the general public. Presentations of work were made by faculty, post-docs and students in an open poster session. The poster session provided a great opportunity to learn about new and cutting-edge brain research from SIU scientists.

February 13, 2012. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
Jog Your Memory: How Physical and Mental Activity Modulate Subsequent Cognition
Dr. Donna Korol, Dept of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Regular physical activity can improve brain and cognitive health, particularly with advancing age. Like physical activity, it is thought that regular mental activity can also preserve neural function with age, leading to the well known “Use it or Lose it” theory of brain health. We have recent evidence suggesting that both physical and cognitive activity improve subsequent learning and memory. In some cases, prior activity has different effects on different tasks, likely reflecting the brain structures engaged during learning.  Moreover, both physical and mental activity may modulate cognition through a common cellular pathway, namely signaling through brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its cognate tyrosine kinase B receptor. Our results have implications for understanding the neural mechanisms of memory modulation and developing healthy interventions for brain and cognitive aging.

February 27, 2012., 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
Dr. Li-Ru Zhao, Depts of Anatomy and Neurology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Growth factors and brain repair


March 5, 2012. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
Optogenetic Regulation of Neuronal Activity during Sensorimotor Development of the Chick
Dr. Andrew Sharp, Dept of Anatomy, Southern Illinois University

Dr. Sharp's laboratory is interested in understanding how embryonic neuronal activity and movement contribute to the development of sensorimotor circuitry. For example, they would like to determine if and how sensory feedback from spontaneous embryonic motility, such as leg kicks, modulate or help establish circuitry in the spinal cord. Controlled manipulation of neuronal activity during embryogenesis has traditionally been difficult due in part to the small size and delicate nature of embryonic tissues. However, optogenetics, the use of light-driven microbial opsins to regulate neuronal activity, provides a powerful new tool to non-invasively regulate neuronal populations during development. Using this approach, they have achieved light-controlled activation of movement in early embryos and selective control of leg movement in mid-stage chick embryos. While this work is in its beginning stages, their ability to regulate the activity of peripheral motor and sensory neurons during development opens the door to 1) explore the importance of this activity in structuring neural circuitry, 2) determine how changes in motor activity, typical of many developmental disorders, plays into the ultimate pathology of these diseases and 3) possibly develop light-based therapeutic strategies to treat neuronal and/or muscular disorders. 

March 19, 2012. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
The Power of Control: The Past, Present, and Future of Self-Controlled Motor Learning
Dr. Will Wu, Dept of Kinesiology, California State University at Long Beach

Learning is commonly considered a “two-way street” between the learner and instructor.  However, until recently motor learning has been studied using a “one-way” approach in which the experimenter or instructor shaped the practice environment. A number of motor learning studies have shown the effectiveness of paradigms where learners are able to control various aspects of their learning environment. Studies on augmented feedback (Janelle, Kim, & Singer, 1995), practice schedules (Wu & Magill, 2011), observational learning (Wulf, Raupach, & Pfeiffer, 2005), and physical assistance devices (Wulf & Toole, 1999) have demonstrated enhanced learning effects when individuals are provided control within their practice environment. This lecture discussed significant findings within the self-controlled literature, directions for future research, and avenues for application.

April 2, 2012. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
Discriminating Healthy Aging from the Earliest Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease: From Attentional Control Systems to Personality
Dr. David Balota, Depts of Psychology and Neurology, Washington University

CANCELLED until later date. 

April 16, 2012., 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
Advanced MRI Detection of Blast-Related Traumatic Brain Injury in US Military Personnel
Dr. David Brody, Dept of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine

Blast-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been common in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but fundamental questions about these injuries remain unanswered. We tested the hypothesis that blast-related TBI causes traumatic axonal injury using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), an advanced MRI method sensitive to axonal injury. Participants were 63 US military personnel evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, clinically diagnosed with mild uncomplicated TBI, and scanned 1-90 days after injury. All had primary blast exposure plus another blast-related mechanism of injury (e.g. struck by a blunt object, fall, motor vehicle crash). Controls were 21 similar personnel with blast exposure and other injuries but no clinical diagnosis of TBI. DTI revealed abnormalities consistent with traumatic axonal injury in many TBI subjects. None had detectible intracranial injury on CT. DTI was markedly abnormal in the middle cerebellar peduncles (p=<0.001), cingulum bundles (p=0.002), and right orbitofrontal white matter (p=0.007). In 18/63 individual TBI subjects, there were significantly more DTI abnormalities than expected by chance (p<0.001). Follow-up scans performed 6-12 months later in 47 TBI subjects demonstrated persistent DTI abnormalities consistent with evolving injuries. In 3 of 4 additional subjects with isolated primary blast-related TBI, there were abnormalities in the middle cerebellar peduncles but all other white matter tracts examined appeared normal. In summary, DTI findings in US military personnel support the hypothesis that blast-related mild TBI can involve axonal injury.


April 30, 2012. 3:00pm. Morris Library Guyon Auditorium
From Feet to Fingers: Developing a Translational Model of Spatial Orientation
Dr. Douglas Wallace, Dept of Psychology, Northern Illinois University

Spatial orientation depends on multiple neural systems processing information from environmental and self-movement cues. Both acute and progressive neurological disorders can result in disruptions in spatial orientation. For example, during the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, patients frequently engage in episodes of wandering. One line of the research that will be discussed focuses on developing behavioral tasks in rats that characterize the role of the septohippocampal system in spatial orientation. Our work supports a role for this system in processing self-movement cues. Another line of research that will be presented evaluates whether these tasks can be adapted to investigate self-movement cue processing in humans. The parallels between human and rat movement characteristics provide a foundation to establish a translational model of spatial orientation.