SFN Neuroblogging: Performance-enhancing Ritalin

Sci will admit that blogging SFN has been harder than she thought it would be. This is partially due to the lack of wireless on the poster floor (which would be REALLY hard to remedy), and partially due to…exhaustion. By the end of the second or third day, the posters all begin to blur before your eyes, and you bless anyone who is willing to send you a copy of their poster. This is because your notes, however extensive, become steadily less and less legible (Sci’s netbook is not optimal for this kind of note-taking). So as Sci tries to write about all the cool stuff she’s seen, she ends up squinting curiously at her notes and saying things like “task indecent via 02??? That doesn’t make any sense!!!”
If they keep up this neuroblogging for next year (please do!!!) and if Sci is picked again (Same Sci-time…midnightish…and same Sci url!), Sci wants to start setting up interviews with people who have awesome abstracts, so I can take better notes. Or possibly I could start begging poster copies ahead of time. Many presenters aren’t so good about sending them, and who can blame them? Sci has forgotten many a time. (As to why all poster-presenters don’t hand out copies of their posters, or allow pictures of posters to be taken, well, Sci will save that for another post).
Anyway, I shall forge on, and attempt to decipher my own handwriting! Especially because I recall being very excited about this particular poster and the implications.
K. M. TYE, L. D. TYE, J. J. CONE, E. F. HEKKELMAN, P. H. JANAK, A. BONCI; “Methylphenidate (Ritalin) enhances task performance and learning-induced amygdala plasticity via distinct D1 and D2 receptor mechanisms “

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SFN Neuroblogging: Got Type 2 Diabetes on the Brain

As some of my readers from WAY back (all two of you, hi guys!) may know, diabetes is one of Sci’s favorite things. It’s one of those things that, if she could start her entire little sciency life over, would be something she would heavily consider as a focus. Heck, there’s always another post-doc, right?
Anyway, you might think that diabetes would not be one of the things generally discussed at Society for Neuroscience meetings. But you would be wrong. The symptoms of diabetes, type I or II, stem from not enough insulin, whether that is because you don’t produce any (type I) or you don’t have enough and aren’t sensitive enough to what you have (type II). Insulin isn’t just limited to the gut, pancreas, and muscles, however. It’s also important in the brain. Normally, your brain is pretty responsive to blood levels of glucose, no matter what, because you want your brain to be the last thing to go when your blood sugar levels drop. But insulin still plays an important role, and insensitivity to insulin, like that seen with type II diabetes extends to the brain as well.
This study taught Sci a lot of things that she didn’t necessarily know. First, it taught her that insulin sensitivity is affected by free fatty acid levels. And it taught her that both of these together could have major effects on cognitive impairment. Suddenly the major increases in type II diabetes are looking a little more scary.
V. E. COTERO, E. C. MCNAY “Effect of intrahippocampal FAs with varied saturations on spatial memory in adult Sprague-Dawley rats”
Doesn’t sound like anything to do with type II diabetes, does it? You would be surprised. :)

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SFN: Segways for Neuroscience!

Sci is still in SFN recovery. This usually involves attempting to make up for a SERIOUS lack of sleep, and a total lack of healthful eating. I have spent the last four days with a heartfelt salad craving.
salad.jpg
*lust*
Seriously, McCormick Place. We need to talk. About your prices. $12 for a ratty little vegetarian sandwich that is soggy and gross?! NOT COOL. For the next conference in Chicago, Sci personally recommends stopping by your local whatever (this year, Sci used Starbucks, Walgreens, and the Corner Bakery) and picking up a prepackaged sandwich or fruit and cheese on your way to the conference. Sci did this the instant she realized what McCormick Place was up to, and lo, her per diems were met! Save money, save your tummy some pain.
Anyway, Sci often has ideas while at conferences, and these usually occur whilst I am on my way to the conference on the shuttle, or even more often, while I’m trudging dazedly across the poster floor, completely at a loss to contemplate WHY two closely related topic fields are at poster row C and poster row EE, respectively. Not fair.
So Sci was trudging, and dodging and weaving around all the SFN n00bs, who somehow feel it is totally ok to stop in the middle of the walkway and gape at your booklet, causing people who KNOW where they are going to have to make emergency detours. Seriously, kids, you are stopping in the middle of what is essentially a crowded busy street in a temporary neuroscience town of 30,000 people. You get THREE poster sessions to figure out the difference between row A, G, and DD, and if you cannot seem to keep moving by then, Sci’s bowling you over, and throwing some elbows in her wake. If you really are lost, for the love of neurons, pull over!!
And as I dodged and wove, and contemplated how much my feet hurt and whether Starbucks in McCormick Place charges more than their national prices for a latte, I had the solution.
Segways.

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SFN Neuroblogging: The paralyzing effects of CO2

Sci is back from SFN, but she is by no means done with the neuroblogging! Unfortunately, due to a crazy schedule and spotty wireless, Sci was not able to get as much neuroblogging in as she wanted. So she’s going to continue for a few more days, with some of the coolest things she saw at this year’s conference.
For this post, we’re going to basic principles, made extra cool by two things: crayfish and videos!
*S. M. BIERBOWER, R. L. COOPER;
Univ. Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Synaptic mechanisms underlying carbon dioxide’s induced paralysis

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SFN Neuroblogging: Diets and binge eating

It’s the second to last day of SFN. Sci thought she was a grad student of boundless energy, but even she is beginning to feel…a little burned out. Posters, each one of the good and showing some seriously cool stuff, slide past her eyes. After a while you can barely remember what you just saw, even though you desperately want to, because you know you would never have seen it had it not been terribly cool. But at a conference this big, with so many people, it’s hard to remain “on” all the time, to ask the brilliant questions, to give the perfect presentation.
But press on we must! SFN comes only once a year. It’s like neuroscience Xmas! You have to soak in every inch of the experience. And even through your fog of exhaustion (and possibly your fog of hangover), there are some posters that stick out at you. Some that are elegant and interesting, no matter how tired you are:
*D. E. PANKEVICH, G. SMAGIN, T. L. BALE; Animal Biol, Univ. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; AstraZeneca, Wilmington, DE “Caloric restriction reprogramming of stress and reward neurocircuitry increases vulnerability to stress-induced binge eating”

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Speaking of Research at SFN

“They attacked all of neuroscience when they attacked me” -David Jentsch
This morning Sci attended the symposium on Animals in Research: Widening the Tent, a symposium on how to reach out and garner more support for animal research, and to encourage scientists to speak out. You’d think that would be a pretty easy thing, of course scientists want to support their own research! But it’s hard, and animal rights activists are determined to make it that way. It is very hard to speak out on the benefit of your research when you worry about your car being bombed, your children being threatened at school, your home being flooded, your laboratory attacked. When it happens to one of us, all of us feel the fear. And what can we do? For many years now, scientists have just kept their heads down. Keep your head down, don’t identify yourself, and maybe they won’t come after you.
But that is not helping. Without scientists speaking out in support of their work, the field goes to the small, but vocal animal rights movement, which hijacks our science and does their best to turn the public against us. They have money (PETA alone has a $120 MILLION budget), they have drive, and they have scared us into silence.
And that’s not going to happen anymore.

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On an Inpulse: SFN Neuroblogging

Today’s post is partially (or more than partially) for Bora, our great Blogfather, and patron saint of Open Access. :)
After seeing all the posters that Sci usually has to see according to her itinerary, Sci likes to wander and take in the little things that catch her eye. And when she does this, she usually heads over to Section H, the session catch-all that focuses on the history of neuroscience, science outreach, and basically anything that doesn’t fit well into basic science research. She usually manages to see a lot of things that grab her attention, and this year was no exception. But Sci was particularly grabbed by one poster, and by the enthusiastic people standing in front of it.
Jones, et al. “Impulse: an undergraduate journal for neuroscience”

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SFN: The Salmon Come Home to Spawn

Sci got a big project out the door today and is feeling pretty skippy! She wanted to have a few beers to celebrate and write something hilarious about erectile dysfunction, but duty calls! To the SFN blogging! And who says you can’t multitask? Beer and SFN happen to go particularly well together.
We’re skipping Friday Weird Science this week, in order to begin Sci’s graceful swan dive into the morass that is SFN. Sci’s been getting lots of email from awesome scientists, and she hopes to show up at their posters! And she’s also been getting tweets and emails from people wanting some advice, and she can see why.
SFN is big. Ok, Not as big as Experimental Biology. Or that one Microbiology meeting. But for many neuroscientists, it’s easily the biggest meeting we’ve ever been to, and often, it’s also the first. And so, Sci’s little heart aches in sympathy when she gets an email like this:

Hi Sci,
This is my first time to a meeting and to SFN.

I specifically would like to socialize with people who are working in my area of research…

I am generally a shy person and I am trying to break the ice this time. Advice on how to make connections and how to find and approach people in my area of research is what I am looking for.
Have you ever attended SFN sponsored socials? Are they useful? What should we expect at a social?
Any general advice to get the most out of the meeting.. It seems like there is a lot and very little time.
Thanks!

I’ve been there. Believe me. Her first time, Sci felt like a tiny speck in a sea of neuroscience. Or sometimes (depending on crowds) like a salmon swimming the wrong way in the current. But neuro-salmon, we aren’t just here to show our flashy pink tummies and research! No, we are here to SPAWN (not literally, well, some people are, I’ve heard rumors). We are here to network and spawn research ideas, and if we’re little grad salmon, we are here to spawn some possible collaborations and post-docs!
salmon1.jpg
(One of last year’s SFN attendees)

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SFN Neuroblogging: Who to Follow

So I know it may come as a surprise to all of you, but Sci is not the ONLY person covering this meeting. Though I know I could cover all 15 kabillion presentations and posters my ownself (Sci is VERY fast when on a lot of caffeine), I figure it’s best if there are other people there, too. :)
The offical list is here, and you should be dropping by the blogs of
Neurotopia!!!
Genes to brains to mind to me
Onesci Though I’m not sure what’s up with that link…
The shelled walnut, the name of which amuses Sci no end.
Mike Pascoe
Dormivigilia
Neurotechnica
and Neuroethics at the core
All good stuff, and all blogging different topics. Sci will be concentrating on a few of her favorite things, like studies on basic concepts, some drugs, some mood disorders, and other disorders like Parkinson’s. But she could easily make forays into other things if she finds your poster awesome! So send me your info (let’s say by…I don’t know…10pm on Friday?), and I’ll do my best.
And don’t let not being a “neuroblogger” officially stop you from spreading the SFN love! Drugmonkey has a growing list of others who might be blogging and tweeting the meeting. And DM has a habit of finding the coolest stuff (like that $100 electrophysiology setup last year). So check ‘em all out. After all, you’ll have time, right? Not like you’re at the biggest conference of the neuroscience year…

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