UMass Neurosciences Publications – October 2022

Dr. Rebecca Spencer

This month’s featured researcher is Dr. Rebecca Spencer. Bekki is a Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, where she runs the Somneurolab, dedicated to studying the neuroscience of sleep. She recently authored a publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled, “Contributions of memory and brain development to the bioregulation of naps and nap transitions in early childhood” in which she and her co-author, Tracy Riggins propose that nap transitions are more related to hippocampal development than age specifically. The story has received a lot of attention in the press, including the Boston Globe. You can read about it from the College of Natural Sciences.

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

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UMass SfN 2022 Presentations

UMass neuroscientists are presenting their research at the Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego. Here is a list of titles and authors for those presentations. Click on the number to read the abstract.

028.15. Synaptic protein levels and physiological activity in primary cortical neurons are influenced by time of day.
J. WANG, B. L. ROBERTS, I. N. KARATSOREOS;

031.02. Neuronal cell type mapping in the ring and rhinophore ganglia of a gastropod mollusc using single cell transcriptomics
M. D. RAMIREZ, T. N. BUI, P. S. KATZ

094.07. LC-NE regulation of goal directed behaviours
E. M. Vazey
Mini symposium talk

185.15. Quantitative assessments of neurodevelopmental disorders using deep learning and systems neuroscience techniques
K. DOCTOR, D. WU, A. PHADIS, J. NURNBERGER, Jr, M. PLAWECKI, J. V. JOSE

209.01. Structure and organization of the olfactory system in the mollusc Berghia stephanieae
C. C. TAIT, M. D. RAMIREZ, P. S. KATZ

209.02. A connectomics approach to an enigmatic ganglion in a gastropod mollusc
H. H. SANT, B. D. DRESCHER, Y. MEIROVITCH, R. SCHALEK, Y. WU, J. LICHTMAN, P. S. KATZ

224.02. Sex differences in adrenergic α1 regulation of reinforcement behavior
E. M. RODBERG, S. Y. YU, E. M. VAZEY

291.10. Sensory Neuron Dysfunction in Orthotopic Mouse Models of Colon Cancer
C. GAFFNEY, M. BALOGH, J. ZHANG, N. KALAKUNTLA, N. T. NGUYEN, R. T. TRINH, C. AGUILAR, H. V. PHAM, B. MILUTINOVIC, J. M. NICHOLS, R. MAHALINGAM, A. J. SHEPHERD; MD Anderson

309.11. Circadian desynchronization-induced metabolic disorder is ameliorated by endocannabinoid receptor knockout, without change in feeding or activity
B. FALCY, G. L. PEARSON, T. L. LEISE, I. N. KARATSOREOS

386.06. The Chilean brush tailed mouse (Octodon degus): a diurnal precocial rodent as a new model to study visual receptive field properties of superior colliculus neurons.
N. I. MÁRQUEZ, P. FERNÁNDEZ‐ABURTO, A. R. DEICHLER, I. PERALES, J.-C. LETELIER, G. J. MARÍN, J. MPODOZIS, S. L. PALLAS

445.08. Accelerated aging process with neurodegeneration in the cerebral cortex of cognitively impaired aged marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)
C. FREIRE-COBO, E. ROTHWELL, M. VARGHESE, W. G. M. JANSSEN, A. LACREUSE, P. R. HOF

468.17. The Contribution of 5-HT1A/2AReceptors and GABAergic Neurons of the Pedunculopontine Tegmental Area to Sensorimotor Gating
E. CORRELL, G. CASTELLANO, K. FENELON

468.18. Spatiotemporal identification of amygdala neurons active during sensorimotor gating
W. HUANG, K. FÉNELON

478.02. Selective recruitment of offspring-responsive medial preoptic area networks modulates caregiving behavior attuned to the needs of offspring
K. COPELAS, N. CELESTIN, M. PEREIRA

478.05. Chemogenetic activation of the medial preoptic area ameliorates deficits in maternal motivation in the wistar-kyoto rat model of depression
A. A. ANDERSON, M. P. HESTER, M. PEREIRA

478.11. Neuroestrogen regulation of inhibitory synaptic transmission in genetically-identified auditory neurons
H. KANG, Y. YAZAKI-SUGIYAMA, Y. MOROHASHI, L. REMAGE-HEALEY

487.08. EEG bifurcation dynamics in the absence of report in a visual masking paradigm
C. DEMBSKI, K. ORTEGO, C. STEINHILBER, M. COHEN, M. PITTS

543.09. Characterizing a Circuit Linking Auditory Pallium and the Social Behavior Network
J. A. SPOOL, A. LALLY, P. CHEN, L. REMAGE-HEALEY

645.16. Topographic, network-level organization of response profiles in the songbird auditory forebrain.
F. A. CINI, L. REMAGE-HEALEY

647.07. Neuroimmune activation of the olfactory bulb is regulated by time of day
G. PEARSON, B. FALCY, J. WANG, S. AKLI, I. KARATSOREOS

657.01. Where do I remember this? Recognition memory for low-level visual stimuli.
N. DE LA ROSA-RIVERA, D. E. HUBER, R. A. COWELL

662.14. Explicit exploration during virtual throwing and skill transfer to a real-world task in healthy children and young adults
M. CHENG, M. E. HUBER, M. SADEGHI, L. CHUKOSKIE, D. STERNAD, D. LEVAC

752.07. Material Engineering Toolset for Neurological Interfaces
S. RAO

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Sharon Owino joins NSB

Dr. Sharon Owino

Dr. Sharon Owino is the newest faculty member in the UMass Neuroscience & Behavior Graduate Program. Dr. Owino is an Assistant Professor at Smith College and is how the fourth NSB faculty member from the Five College Community. Her lab researches the role of G protein-coupled receptor signaling in the regenerative capacity of the brain following stroke. She majored in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and received her PhD at Morehouse School of Medicine. She then did postdoctoral research at Emory University before starting her lab at Smith. Dr. Owino recently presented her work at a Weds NSB Colloquium titled, “Targeting G protein-coupled receptors to modulate central nervous system repair following injury.”

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Greg Pearson wins two awards to attend Society for Neuroscience conference

The NSB program is happy to announce that Greg Pearson (3rd year PhD student in the Karatsoreos Lab) has won a Trainee Professional Development Award (TDPA) to attend the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) conference in San Diego. The competitive TPDA recognizes undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who demonstrate scientific merit and excellence in research. 

We are also excited that Greg’s SfN abstract, exploring how the circadian clock alters the impact of viral inflammatory stimuli that access the brain via the intranasal route, was chosen for a NanoString Technologies Travel Grant. Congratulations Greg!

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2022 Neuroscience and Behavior graduate student awards

Award winners, Madison Riffe, Joe Dwyer, and Wayne Barnaby

Distinguished Student AwardWayne Barnaby

Meg Sratton, Wayne Barnaby, Heather Richardson

For over 25 years, this distinguished award has paid tribute to a more advanced doctoral student in the NSB PhD program, honoring academic performance, research performance, and contributions that enhance the quality of the NSB program.
Wayne continually sets a new bar for quality and rigor for his science. Wayne’s latest publication in Genetics titled “The GABAA α subunit control of hyperactive behavior in developing zebrafish.” This paper describes a set of eloquent studies that used a multiplex CRISPR-Cas9 somatic mutation approach to screen for hyperactivity phenotypes linked to GABAergic alpha subunit mutations. Wayne discovered that a3 and a5 subunits regulate distinct aspects of zebrafish swimming behavior, which are important steps to identify circuit mechanisms of how GABA controls locomotion.

Genetics issue with Wayne’s work on the cover.

The value of this work and Wayne’s keen talent in putting together beautiful scientific illustrations was recognized when it was chosen for the cover of an issue of Genetics as well!

During his years as NSB president, Wayne made focusing on awareness and education of diversity and inclusion within NSB and the other Interdepartmental Graduate Programs one of his top priorities. Notably, his leadership and impact go well beyond NSB, as was evident with his role in spearheading and promoting the widely endorsed petition to our Chancellor to address inequality and racism in our university and community. As one of his nominators said so perfectly about Wayne, “he models for all of us a patient yet persistent approach that brings people into this awareness, into conversations, and into actions.” Finally, on top of all these achievements, Wayne was also praised for his stellar teaching skills in the classroom and mentoring of undergraduate students in the Downes lab.


Early Career AwardMadison Riffe

Madison Riffe (center)

This award is designated for a 1st or 2nd year student in the NSB PhD program showing excellence in academics, research, and/or outreach.
Madison’s service to the University has been invaluable, through her roles on various high-level committees at the College and Departmental level, as well as in the NSB program. According to one nominator, “Madison simply does it all, and she does it well!”. She got As in all of her classes in her 1st two years, she was nominated for a distinguished teaching award for her work as a TA, and has mentored or is actively mentoring 5 undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students in the Downes lab. Her research productivity is excellent, and she has a coauthored paper in press with another on the way out the door.


Golden Neuron AwardJoe Dwyer

Joe Dwyer (center)

The Golden Neuron Award celebrates an exciting new finding from any PhD or MA student in the NSB program. The finding must have been published or presented at a conference within the last year.
Joe used viral circuit mapping and whole brain imaging and found over 50 brain regions that synapse onto aromatase neurons in the medial amygdala. The breadth of these connections is exciting and suggests these pathways are tying social behavior states like mating to states relating to stress, parenting, social recognition, and aggression. The paper associated with these findings was published in eNeuro in 2022, titled “Brain-Wide Synaptic Inputs to Aromatase-Expressing Neurons in the Medial Amygdala Suggest Complex Circuitry for Modulating Social Behavior.”

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UMass Neurosciences Publications – September 2022

Sara Holec, PhD

This month’s featured researcher is Sara A.M. Holec. Dr. Holec is a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Amanda Woerman’s lab in the Department of Biology and Institute of Applied Life Sciences. Sara earned her PhD in 2019 at Creighton University and joined Dr. Woerman’s lab in 2020. She is interested in studying α-synuclein prion strains and understanding how these differences contribute to human disease. Dr. Holec is the first author on a paper that appeared in Acta Neuropathologica this month that was a collaboration with Nobel Laureate Stanley Prusiner, titled “Multiple system atrophy prions transmit neurological disease to mice expressing wild-type human α-synuclein.” They show that six different MSA patient samples transmit neurological disease and induce α-synuclein prion formation in mice expressing wild-type human α-synuclein. This paper helps validate the use of mice for the study of human prion diseases.

1: Holec SAM, Lee J, Oehler A, Ooi FK, Mordes DA, Olson SH, Prusiner SB, Woerman AL. Multiple system atrophy prions transmit neurological disease to mice expressing wild-type human α-synuclein. Acta Neuropathol. 2022 Oct;144(4):677-690. doi: 10.1007/s00401-022-02476-7. Epub 2022 Aug 26. PMID: 36018376.

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

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Director’s Channel – Sept 2022

Paul Katz
IONs Director, Paul Katz

The semester is now in full swim and we have exciting plans for the coming academic year. Based on a series of faculty forums held last year, we identified neuroscience and women’s health and well-being as a major strength at UMass. We will use this theme as the focus of the Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference to be held in the spring of 2023.

This summer, I attended my first off campus in-person conference since the start of the pandemic. It was so much more rewarding to be in an audience of real people instead of staring at a screen. I got to meet people and make new contacts. One of those contacts, will be our next IONs Distinguished Lecture, Dr. Venessa Ruta from the Rockefeller University. She examines the neural basis of complex behaviors of the fruit fly. On November 9th, we will hold a Neuroscience poster preview session in conjunction with her talk. This will be your opportunity to practice presenting your poster for the Society for Neuroscience Conference or to see the amazing work that will presented at this conference without having to travel to San Diego.

This semester there is a great lineup of talks in the Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate program seminar series including NSB student talks. So, get out and go see a research talk in person.

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UMass Neurosciences Publications – Summer 2022

Katherine Dixon-Gordon

This month’s featured researcher is Katherine Dixon-Gordon. Dr. Dixon-Gordon is an associate professor in the Clincal Program in the Department Psychological & Brain Sciences. She directs the Clinical Affective Science lab, whose mission is to harness innovative research methods to advance our understanding of emotional suffering and intentional self-injury and improve evidence-based, compassionate, and accessible treatments. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Simon Fraser University and she completed her residency and did clinical work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Dixon-Gordon is a board certified Dielectic Behavioral Therapy Trainer at Behavioral Tech LLC. She directs the DBT Program in the Psychological Services Center at UMass. She co-authored a paper in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, titled, “The Effectiveness of 6 versus 12 Months of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: A Noninferiority Randomized Clinical Trial“, which recently appeared in PubMed.

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

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New Neuroscience Faculty Members

The Neuroscience Community at UMass is expanding with the addition of two new faculty members.

Sally Kim, is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Amherst College who joined the UMass Neuroscience and Behavior program as graduate faculty this summer. Dr. Kim completed her PhD. at University of Texas, Houston followed by work as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the California Institute of Technology and Research Scientist at Stanford University.

Her research interests are fueled by a passion for understanding the molecular basis of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders after working with children in a psychiatric hospital post undergraduate studies. Her lab is studying the role of zinc as a dynamic regulator for synaptic signaling and function using an interdisciplinary approach of molecular, cellular, biochemical, and optical methods. Their research seeks to understand the basic mechanisms of zinc signaling in neurons and bridge this understanding for potential translational applications for autism and neurodegeneration. To tackle these questions, they develop novel tools to gain access to the necessary molecular, spatial and temporal domains to dissect these pathways.

Joyita Dutta is a new Associate Professor in the department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering at UMass. Professor Dutta completed her PhD. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 2011. Following the completion of her PhD., Dr. Dutta began work as a Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School and Mass General Hospital where she later began teaching. She began her career in the University of Massachusetts system at Lowell in 2015.

Her expertise is in biomedical image reconstruction and analysis and her research interests include signal processing and machine learning techniques for imaging (e.g. PET, MRI), graph (e.g. brain network), and time-series (e.g., accelerometry, ECG) datasets; multimodality information integration for image reconstruction, processing, and analysis, along with applications to neurology: Tau and amyloid imaging and graph-based brain network analysis for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Director’s Channel – June 2022

Paul Katz
IONs Director, Paul Katz

The Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference that we held in person last week was a great success. We had over 100 people register. The talks and posters generated a lot of discussion. This week we are continuing the theme of Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence with two hands-on workshops to learn how to use MATLAB to apply Machine Learning techniques to neuroscience data. We are also pleased to announce the recipients of the Inspiration Awards. These graduate students and postdocs truly are inspirations in how they are working across neuroscience, engineering, and computer science in innovative and creative ways. Please take a moment to look at the projects that they proposed. My hope is that these trainees will help lead UMass to the next level of neuroscience research that is truly interdisciplinary.

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