George Santos Lecture

Dr. G. Santos

April 1, 2023 – UMass Neuroscience alum and McDonald’s Genius Award Winner, George Santos will be delivering the annual Laurel and Hardy Lecture in McGuirk Stadium. The title of his talk will be “The neural basis of confabulation”. Dr. Santos is well known for his discovery of the polio vaccine, his invention of the pipette, and his sequencing of the human proteome.

His more recent work has shown how humans are susceptible to false beliefs if uttered by someone who really believes them. Santos will be giving his lecture while immersed in a tank of sharks and playing a fiddle.


New neuroscience journal club focused on movement and neurodegenerative disorders

When: Friday, March 18, 2022 (ongoing one Friday per month)
Where: Zoom
Contact: Douglas Martini (

The UMass Intercampus Movement and Neurodegenerative Disorders Interest Group is an intercampus collaboration aimed at creating a forum for research talk on movement and neurodegenerative disorders. Current attendees include folks from UMass Med, Lowell, and Amherst. We encourage participation (including presenting your work) from a wide range of disciplines, support students/trainees (presentation practice) and advance collaborations. We currently meet (Zoom) once a month on Fridays from 2-3pm. The next scheduled meeting is for March 18th. If you are interested in participating in the Interest Group or have follow-up questions, please contact Douglas Martini (


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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The NSB Program Retreat

The Neuroscience and Behavior Program had a fun and productive retreat. Students, postdocs, and faculty met at an idyllic spot in Vermont where they shared a day of discussions about student and post-doc success and how to navigate a life in science. There was a fun Minute of Science competition, where contestants gave a 60 second talk and were judged on arbitrary criteria. Faculty then headed out while students continued to commune over the next day. Here are some images from Melise Edwards.


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

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Workshop on Methods in Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology

UMass Amherst Campus Center Auditorium
1 Campus Center Way
Amherst, MA 01003

This workshop is part of the UMass Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference, which focuses on Neuroengineering this year. The main goal of this workshop is to bring together neuroscience and engineering researchers to discuss modern techniques in neurotechnology.  The intended audience is students (graduate and undergraduate), postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff who have interests in learning about or implementing new technology in their neuroscience research.  In particular, we will discuss viral vector techniques, open-source strategies in electrical and optical neural monitoring and manipulation, and design of experimental tools and techniques.  In addition to hearing about the latest work in systems neuroscience and neurotechnology, time will be provided for discussion with experts about how to incorporate these techniques into your own research, so attendees should come prepared to ask questions and participate in discussion.

Free on-site Registration.

Specific goals include Continue reading


UMass Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference Focus on Neuroengineering

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
University Campus Center Auditorium
1 Campus Way, Amherst MA 01003

This conference brings together neuroscientists and engineers to find areas of overlap for collaboration. It includes new approaches for visualizing and recording from neurons, manipulating gene expression in neurons, and understanding brain function. Speakers will also talk about interfaces between the brain and the rest of the body and the mechanical forces on neurons. The conference is preceded by a morning workshop on Methods in Systems Neuroscience and Neurotechnology.

Registration is free and open to faculty, students, and staff from UMass and other universities,. It features two keynote speakers: Andrew Barto (UMass) and Steven McCarroll (Harvard) and five local speakers. There will be an evening poster session for anyone to present their neuroscience or engineering research regardless of topic.

Download Conference Program (pdf file)
Download Poster Abstracts (pdf file)

Abstract submission is closed. There will be on-site registration.


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