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My trip to Neuroscience 2009

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So, I went to Neuroscience 2009, which is hosted by the Society for Neuroscience. I visited today, which is Sunday, October 18th, 2009.


Basically, the event is where a bunch of neuroscientists, scientists, and enthusiasts get together and observe and discuss information about neuroscience.


When I got there, I had to obtain my badge. There was a mix-up, but that was quickly solved.


Anyway, I received my badge. It had a nice little orange plastic underlining to it, which represented that I was a guest. Members had blue underlinings. It had my name on it, the university I attend, and on the back side was a number representing the member whom allowed me to be a guest.


So, after meeting up with people from the university I attend and trading phone numbers, we all headed off in our own directions. I thought about taking pictures, but I didn't take too many pictures. I have some pictures of the events; but I took no pictures of what was presented. And anything that was presented cannot be read in my pictures, because the quality is not good enough.


During the SfN convention, people are not suppose to take pictures or record lectures, because some of the things presented are unpublished, thus people don't want their ideas to be stolen. Some people were taking notes, which is just as bad. Other people had laptops.


The main idea is don't steal another person's scientific work.

Anyway, I still took some pictures of generic stuff. :cool:


I went into hall B1, and there were soooo many chairs. I had never seen so many chairs in a hall before.




That picture shows the chairs on the left side of the hall. During the presentation, about 3/4 of all the chairs in the hall were filled. Those screens you see are the screens that would be showing the lecturer's slideshow. Thus, regardless of where people sat, they could hear and see what he had to say and show. One screen would be showing him talking, and another would be showing his slideshow, so you could see him talking and his slideshow presentation. Quite an effective presentation, I must say.


I sat down, looked ahead, and saw the Neuroscience 2009 logo and the podium that the orator was going to be at.




I wanted to listen to what Dr. Richard L. Huganir had to say about the brain. His lecture was titled "Receptors, Synapses, and Memories."



He didn't seem to discuss memories too much (he discussed the mechanics). He seemed to have discussed learning, synapses, LTP, and LDP. It was an ok lecture to listen to. The speech was well put together, understandable if you know a little about synapses, phosphorylation, genetics, insertion of genes, behavioral traits, LDP, LTP, and learning. These are some basic neuroscience things, thus anyone who has read a fundamental neuroscience book might have been able to keep up.


From the various research articles he sourced, you could generate the idea that he and his research team have yet to lockdown how to produce reduced LDP and increased LTP. I saw some people leave the hall once they caught onto the idea that his research didn't lead to a successful find of increased LTP and decreased/eliminated LDP.


In general, his speech ran about an hour. It gave me a couple of ideas about genetic research in mice. I questioned what a synthesis of Joe Tsien and Richard Huganir's research would look like. Simply put, it takes time to mess with the genetics of mice and watch for changes in psychology and learning. Furthermore, his introduction gave me a couple of ideas about genetics and memories.


For instance, what if we could encode memories into DNA, thus having them instated at a later stage in an adult specie's life? And what if the DNA could have those memories and perhaps have dominant alleles created to overpower general species' genetics? For instance, maybe encoding the memories of a soldier into DNA, thus to be later accessed in an adult stage.


Even though an experiment came up with little to few productive results, it gives people the ability to know what not to do or what to do: X is not Y. X is Y. X is similar to Y. X is not similar to Y.


I couldn't help but think that perhaps what was wrong with his experiment, or perhaps something that was just missing in the puzzle, was the amount of chemicals being transported between cells. Maybe the increase in receptors became a burden for the cellular structure, because they weren't being activated enough... something...


Furthermore, after listening to the lecture, I was curious about possible applications of the knowledge obtained from the research. It took me a while to remember that he was discussing plasticity rather than elasticity, but I became curious about the applications of the research in terms of elasticity.


After that, I went to a bunch of poster sessions. There were many, many poster sessions. Some people were presenting and explaining their posters, and other people simply had their posters on billboards with no presenter in sight.


Look at all those neuroscientists:



It seemed like a lot of people were about 20 years of age and older. I believe there was a higher proportion of men compared to women. In general, it was interesting to see what kind of population of individuals would show up, since this event is an annual national event. Throughout the duration of the convention, which goes from Friday to Tuesday (I think), about 30,000 persons roam throughout the convention.


I stood around, and watched some people discuss their posters from introduction to conclusion. It was entertaining. I saw a lot of Alzheimer's posters. Many posters were about aging, preventive medicine, and treating neurological disorders: Things that allow scientists to keep a job by trying to figure out and solve. And then there were a lot of posters about experiments with mice. The walls had posters on both sides, not a single side of the wall. The topics were wide and varied. Luckily, there were nearby computers to help attendees search for posters, sessions, and events that may be of interest to them.


Also, people whom planned on attending could have viewed the documentation SfN offered on the Neuroscience 2009 website: This website had .pdfs discussing events, posters to be presented, sessions, workshops, lectures, and more.


If there is a topic in neuroscience that you are interested in, the chances are high that you'll find someone there who will be talking about it. It's a great way to brush up on neuroscience and fine-tune one's knowledge about various topics.


There were workshops and the such, but I did not go to any of them. Some of the more interesting things to view were all of neuroscience equipment suppliers. So, if you ever wanted to be an independent neuroscience, say "screw academia," and do things your own way, then you would be interested in seeing all of the equipment suppliers. Furthermore, there was an area titled "Neurojobs," which presented people with the opportunity to talk to businesses about prospective employment.


The SfN conventions are nice if you need to lift your spirits by being around a lot of neuroscientists, talk to other people about broad or narrow neuroscience topics, or are interested in a lot of unpublished work and viewing it to help you save time on your own research. There are many other reasons people go to these conventions. I would have to say that the whole convention was awesome, and I'm glad I was able to participate and observe.

Edited by Genecks
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Does look sweet. Where was this? (I could google, but that wouldn't help the conversation) :)


It was in Chicago, Illinois, USA and still is for the rest of today.

Today is the last day for this year.


Perhaps it is a little "low-level."

I'm not too sure what you mean by that.


Either way, I must say that because of recent social/ecological/political events with the former places the event has been hosted in America, it was held in Chicago, Illinois. So, perhaps there wasn't as much advanced planning and consideration into the detail of the event. Either way, it was nice that it was able to come into the midwest, thus allowing a more centralized access point for those in the U.S. to attend.

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I was there too :)


And specifically iNow, it was at McCormick Place - a super-gigantic convention center.



edit: the reason why there were some posters without presenters was that the posters were up for 5 hours, and the presenters were scheduled to be there for only 1 hour of that time.

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Thanks for posting on it, Genecks. I would have loved to have been there, but just being so far off over here in this corner of the world, I just couldn't make it--besides, we are in the middle of the Fall/Winter semester here, and I would be able to cancel those classes so easily.

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  • 2 months later...

There are usually some 25 to 30K attendees at a SFN meeting. It may be the biggest scientific meeting. The number of posters is awesome. There are 4 days with 2 poster sessions per day and maybe 4000 posters going at any time. So maybe 30,000 posters are done at each SFN.

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