Category Archives: News

Neuroscience Distinguished Lecture Series

The UMass Neurosciences Distinguished Lecture Series hosts the highest profile speakers within neurosciences that represent the largest breadth of the field.

Seminars are held Wednesdays at 4pm in 222 Morrill Science Center as part of the Neuroscience and Behavior Seminar Series.

The lineup for the 2019/2020 academic year is:

 

Sept 18
Larry Young
Emory University
“The Neurobiology of Social Bonding, Empathy and Social Loss: Implications for Autism”
Host: Paul Katz , Biology



Nov 19 (Tuesday) –in collaboration with MCB
Ed Boyden
MIT
“Tools for Mapping and Controlling Complex Biological Systems”
Host: Peter Chien, Molecular and Cellular Biology



Jan 22
Naoshige Uchida
Harvard University
Host: Joe Bergan



Feb 19
Eve Marder
Brandeis University
Host: Paul Katz, Biology



Mar 25
Lynn Nadel
University of Arizona
Host: Rosie Cowell, Psychological and Brain Sciences



Apr 15

Larry Abbott
Columbia University
Host: Paul Katz, Biology


 


Apr 29 

Hollis Cline
Scripps Research Institute
Host: Paul Katz, Biology

 

 

 

 

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IONs Director’s Channel – August 2019

Katz lab members in Woods Hole.

A beautiful summer in New England is quickly drawing to a close. For me, it was a time to take my lab to Woods Hole to visit the MBL. Now as we start to think of fall, some of our new Neuroscience and Behavior graduate students are already here and working in labs through the new OnRamp program initiated through the Interdepartmental Graduate Programs. This gives new students the opportunity to ease into the rigors of graduate school before classes start. Students have been meeting other students, taking training classes and going to summer seminars. Speaking of summer seminars, our final three Neuroscience Summer Seminars are this month:  Aug 7th  – Kirby Deater-Deckard, Aug 14th – Sarah Pallas, and Aug 21st – Mariana Pereira.  Continue reading

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UMass Neurosciences Publications – July 2019

This month’s featured researcher is the UMass Director of Neurosciences, Paul Katz. His lab studies the neural basis of behavior. Three of his recent papers appeared in PubMed this month.  His recent commentary in Current Biology explores how often Life Scientists display a bias in their choice of experiments and their understanding of evolution. His work shows that different levels of biological organization undergo separate evolutionary history. In particular, his recent Journal of Neuroscience paper showed that the same neuron in different species have dramatically different functions in neural circuits that produce the same behavior. Another paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy, which appeared in PubMed this month showed convergent evolution of neural circuits and behaviors.  Katz is leading a collaborative team of researchers from four universities that form the Berghia BRAIN project to use high throughput methods to study the neural basis of behavior in a sea slug.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in June. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. Continue reading

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IONs Director’s Channel – July 2019

Paul Katz and Luke Remage-Healey at the NSB picnic enjoying a special dessert.

It’s summer and the fun never ends. We’re really pleased to hear that Dr. Ilea Karatsoreos has accepted a faculty position in Psychological and Brain Sciences. That further strengthens the great group of neuroendocrinologists at UMass.  Research is going strong across campus, which you can read about here. The Neuroscience Summer Seminar Series is in full swing. It’s been a great opportunity to learn about the research on campus. If you’re looking for other things to do this summer besides enjoying the beautiful weather in the valley, go cheer the NSB grad student softball team, Spikes ‘n Strikes.

 

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UMass Neurosciences Publications – June 2019

This month’s featured Researcher is Luke Remage-Healey. He recently received a renewal of $1.7 million grant from NIH to investigate fundamental mechanisms of how the bird brain learns and processes complex stimuli like song.  In general, his lab studies how neural circuits for vocal communication are modulated by the actions of local neurochemicals. For example, changing levels of brain estrogens can alter the pattern or ‘tone’ of neural circuit activity, enabling many flexible outputs from the same circuit. They think this modulation allows interconnected forebrain circuits to subserve a wide variety of complex behaviors, like singing, song learning, and song memory. Luke and his student Daniel Vahaba published a paper in the journal Hormones and Behavior that appeared this month in PubMed.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in June. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. Continue reading

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IONs Director’s Channel – June 2019

Barto award

UMass Neurosciences Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Andy Barto by Neurosciences Director Paul Katz and Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy

May was an exciting time for the Neurosciences at UMass and more is planned for the summer like the inaugural Neuroscience Summer Seminar Series.
The Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference was a great success and started a conversation on campus between the neurosciences and engineering. The Workshop on Methods in Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology,  laid out some of the newest techniques for understanding complex brain circuitry. Andy Barto was awarded a UMass Neurosciences Lifetime Achievement Award by Chancellor Subbaswamy. Tributes to Andy poured in from leaders in the fields of Machine Learning and Reinforcement learning.  Here is just a small sample.  Continue reading

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UMass Neurosciences Publications – May 2019

This month’s featured researcher is Margaret Stratton.  Meg is an assistant professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UMass. Her research focuses on  understanding the molecular components of memory. In particular, she works on a protein called calcium-calmodulin dependent protein kinase II or CaMKII. molecule is actually a complex of twelve subunits that provide it with unique properties that allow it to alter neuronal activity. In recent paper published in the journal Neuron, Meg and her collaborators demonstrated a novel mechanism that allows CamKII to have persistent effects.

Here’s what’ new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in May. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. Continue reading

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IONs Director’s Channel – May 2019

IONs Director: Paul Katz

As we enter May, there are many exciting developments to announce. The annual UMass Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference will be held at the end of the month on Tuesday May 28th. This year it will have an emphasis on Neuroengineering and features two keynote speakers and 5 shorter talks from UMass faculty and faculty from Worcester Polytechnical Institute. In the morning leading up the lectures, there will be a Workshop on Methods in Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology. In the evening there will be a poster session, which is not limited to neuroengineering, but open to all students, postdocs, and faculty to present their neuroscience-related research. Registration is free, but the deadline is May 10th. At the conference, Chancellor Subbaswamy will be presenting keynote speaker Andrew Barto with a UMass Neurosciences Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering research into reinforcement learning. Continue reading

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Andrew Barto presented UMass Neurosciences Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Andrew Barto has been selected to receive a UMass Neurosciences Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering research into reinforcement learning. The award will be presented to him by Chancellor Subbaswamy after his lecture at the UMass Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference on May 28th. Dr. Barto is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass.  He is perhaps best known for an influential book, which he co-wrote with Richard Sutton, called “Reinforcement Learning” (MIT Press). The book, which is now in its 2nd edition is considered almost a sacred text by neuroscientists studying the neural basis learning as well as engineers and computer scientists who work on artificial intelligence.

The extent to which Dr. Barto is loved and admired by researchers around the world is obvious in the tributes that are pouring in as a result of this announcement. If you would like to add your words to this website praising Dr. Barto’s contribution, send them to ions@umass.edu.

Continue reading

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