Larry Abbott – Vector computations in the fly brain

On February 10, Professor Larry Abbott of Columbia University to kicked off the spring 2021 Neuroscience Distinguished Lecture Series with a fantastic talk on his collaborative work with Gaby Maimon and Cheng Lyu, on the directional vector computations performed in the Drosophila brain. This research led to a detailed understanding of basic mechanisms needed for goal-directed navigation and path integration. If you missed the talk, you can view it here.

Vector navigation in a fly brain
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Director’s Channel – February 2021

IONs Director, Paul Katz

Neuroscience is continuing to grow at UMass. We welcome a number of new faculty members who are starting their labs. One of them, Jennifer Rauch, will be presenting her work at a Neuroscience & Behavior Seminar on February 17th. Computational Neuroscientist, Larry Abbott from Columbia University will present a Neuroscience Distinguished Lecture on February 10th. Dr. Abbott has given some of the most eloquent explanations of computations that I have ever seen. He has the ability to take difficult subjects and convey their essence.

Over the last few months, I have been working with engineering and computer science faculty to submit an NSF graduate training grant in Biological Neurotechnology. We are building a training program that will enable our students to work in teams across disciplines and make the next advances in the neurosciences. The future of research on the brain is dependent upon technological advances in recording technology and machine learning, both of which are strengths at UMass. I am looking forward to seeing new collaborations emerge on this campus to tackle the most challenging research questions.

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UMass Neurosciences Publications – January 2021

This month’s featured researcher is Madalina Fiterau Brostean. Ina, as she is called, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Information and Computer Science. Among the projects that her lab works on is Project 4Thought, which uses deep learning algorithms to identify subjects who will get Alzheimer’s at least 2 years ahead of the standard diagnosis. She was a contributing author on a recent paper that examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the academic community.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in January. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication.

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What Is Health? Allostasis and the Evolution of Human Design

Peter Sterling gave a fascinating talk on January 28th about the implications addressed in his lastest book “What is Health? Allostasis and the Evolution of Human Design”. If you missed the talk, you can view it here. Dr. Sterling covered how the brain prepares the body for change and its implications for health and racial inequities. The talk was attended by people from around the world.

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New Neuroscience Faculty

The Neurosciences at UMass continues to expand with the addition of several new faculty members in a number of departments and colleges.

Megan Huber, Chase Cornelison, Jennifer Rauch, Douglas Martini, Siyuan Rao

In the last year, UMass hired four new Assistant Professors who all approach neuroscience from different directions.

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Director’s Channel – January 2021

IONs Director, Paul Katz

You might have noticed that I have not written a Director’s Channel since September. Part of the reason is that I found it difficult to compose an optimistic message in the face of all the awful tragedies that were piling up daily. However, the new year and recent events including the development of vaccines against COVID-19 have given me new hope for the future. I can now foresee a time when the danger of the virus will be minimal, when the nation is guided again by science, not blind allegiance to a deranged sociopath, when we can return to meeting in person rather than over Zoom.
That said, we are really fortunate to live in an age when it is possible to communicate face-to-face with people all over the world. We will be continuing with on-line seminars, at least until the end of spring semester. We have a great line up of speakers for the Neuroscience Distinguished Lecture series.
I wish you, your families, and all of the special people in your life, a happy, healthy, and productive new year.

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UMass Neuroscience Publications – December 2020

This month’s featured researcher is Daniel Vahaba. Dan is a Mellon visiting assistant professor in public discourse in biology, biochemistry and neuroscience at Smith College. He is interested in how scientists communicate information and also how birds communicate. He received his PhD from UMass in 2018 in the lab of Luke Remage-Healey. They recently had a paper appear in the Nature Scientific Reports, “Neuroestrogen synthesis modifies neural representations of learned song without altering vocal imitation in developing songbirds“. This paper shows that hormones have many different effects on the neural circuits involved in learning bird song.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in December. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication.

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UMass Neuroscience Publications – November 2020

Hava Siegelmann

This month’s featured researcher is Hava Siegelmann, who is a Professor in the College of Information and Computer Science. Hava runs the Biologically Inspired Neural & Dynamical Systems (BINDS) Laboratory. She recently returned to UMass after leading an artificial intelligence initiative for the Department of Defense. This month an article that she co-authored, entitled, “A modeling framework for adaptive lifelong learning with transfer and savings through gating in the prefrontal cortex“, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which neural network modeling was used to create a process that might mimic how the prefrontal cortex uses and expands its own memory. Hava herself was recently featured in a UMass article, A Campus Visionary.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in November. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication.

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UMass Neuroscience Publications – October 2020

This month’s Featured Researcher is Agnès Lacreuse. Dr. Lacreuse is a Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. Her lab studies age-related cognitive decline in a nonhuman primate with a short lifespan, the common marmoset. This month in collaboration with researchers at the University of Massachusetts Worcester and Worcester PolyTech, they published a paper in Science Reports that found sex differences in brain connectivity as marmosets age.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in October. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication.

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