Discovering Cellular Circuitry

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One focus of this conference was discussing the latest findings in cellular circuitry.
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Conference attendee and Graduate Student Alexandre Guet-McCreight (pictured) works in the laboratory of Dr. Frances Skinner, Krembil Research Institute, part of University Health Network.

Conference: Society for Neuroscience, November 11th-15th, Washington DC, USA.

Conference Highlight: With more than 30,300 attendees, Neuroscience 2017 offered an expansive variety of new developments in neuroscience. One focus of interest was cellular circuitry.

Conference Summary: When attending Neuroscience 2017, one has more theme options to choose from than there is time available. A prominent theme that one could follow was advances in knowledge of cellular circuitries, including new insights about the variety of cell types in cortical and subcortical brain structures and their contributions to network function. Notably, research from the Allen Brain Institute (Seattle, USA) and others presented new findings on network connectivity and co-activity in the cortex between different cell types.

Continuing with this theme, there were also several poster presentations about cortical cell recordings from tissue collected from human epileptic patients. They showed that cellular morphology and electrophysiology diversity of the human brain is similar to that of rodents. They also showed that there are differences in the ion channel properties of humans and rodents, depending on the severity of cell loss in the epileptic tissue.

As part of the Human Brain Project, researchers developed the most realistic cellular network model of hippocampus to date. Notably, this model could spontaneously exhibit intrinsically generated theta rhythms, a feature that is observed in isolated hippocampal preparations. In addition, new insights into hippocampal function were presented in a mini-symposium titled: “BEYOND PLACE CELLS: RECENT SURPRISES FROM HIPPOCAMPAL NEUROPHYSIOLOGY”. Although there were many insights into how hippocampal cells process spatial information, one question stood out: “Are CA1 pyramidal cells not fundamentally spatial?”. To answer, it was shown that place cells could also process acoustic information if the behavioral task was dependent on acoustic learning and not spatial learning. This suggests that hippocampal cells are in fact multi-purpose and the type of information being processed is context-dependent.

Overall, findings from Neuroscience 2017 have highlighted recent advances in our knowledge of cell type diversity and their contributions to information processing and network activity.