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MAR 11, 2020 10:30 AM PDT

PANEL: The Berghia Brain Project: A Team Approach to Understanding Whole-Brain Control of State-Dependent, Motivated Behaviors

Presented at: Neuroscience 2020
C.E. Credits: P.A.C.E. CE Florida CE
Speakers
  • Professor and Director of Neurosciences, Neuroscience & Behavior Graduate Program, Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    Biography
      Paul Katz is a Professor in the Biology Department and the Director of the Initiative on Neurosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has been investigating neural circuits underlying rhythmic motor behaviors in invertebrates for over 35 years. He has served as the President of the International Society of Neuroethology and as Co-Director of the Neural Systems & Behavior course at the Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole. His work on central pattern generators underlying swimming behaviors in nudibranchs showed that serotonin can act as an intrinsic neuromodulator, altering synapses within a circuit. His lab also demonstrated that individual homologous neurons can differ in their functions across species. He is currently the lead investigator on an NIH BRAIN award involving five universities that is using connectomics, transcriptomics, genomics, and optical recording techniques to study the neural basis of behavior in the nudibranch, Berghia stephanieae, which is more amenable to laboratory study than most other species.
    • Jeremy R. Knowles Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard
      Biography
        Jeff Lichtman is Jeremy R. Knowles Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard. He received an AB from Bowdoin (1973), and an M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University (1980) where he worked for 30 years before moving to Cambridge in 2004. He is a member of the Center for Brain Science. Lichtman's research interest revolves around the question of how mammalian brain circuits are physically altered by experiences, especially in early life. He has focused on the dramatic re-wiring of neural connections that takes place in early postnatal development when animals are doing most of their learning. This work has required the development of techniques such as "Brainbow" transgenic mice to visualize neural connections and monitor how they are altered over time. Recently his efforts have focused on developing new electron microscopy methods to map the entire wiring diagram of the developing and adult brain. This "connectomics" approach has as one of its aims uncovering the ways information is stored in neural networks.
      • Director of the Center for Brain Function and Repair and Professor and Chair of Cell Biology and Anatomy at The Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University
        Biography
          William Frost is the Director of the Center for Brain Function and Repair and Professor and Chair of Cell Biology and Anatomy at The Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University. Dr. Frost received his BA in biology from Reed College in 1978, and his PhD in physiology from Columbia University in 1987. His postdoctoral research was at the University of Iowa. He was an assistant professor and then associate professor from 1989 to 1998 at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. His research interests are focused on identifying general principles of neural network function underlying behavior and learning in simple model systems such as gastropod mollusks. Research tools include the use of voltage sensitive dyes to record action potentials in large numbers of neurons during motor programs, paired with analytic methods such as ensemble analysis and dimensionality reduction to understand network function.
        • Assistant Professor at the University of California San Diego at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
          Biography
            Deirdre Lyons serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of California San Diego at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Dr. Lyons received her B.A. in Biology from Mount Holyoke College and her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Lyons's research focuses on cell fate specification and morphogenesis in marine invertebrates including echinoderms and molluscs. As part of the Berghia BRAIN project the Lyons Lab is developing Berghia nudibranchs as a new experimental system for post-embryonic development in molluscs and for studying the embryonic origins of the brain.
          • Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland in the Department of Mathematics
            Biography
              Vincent Lyzinski received the B.Sc. degree in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in 2006, the M.Sc. degree in mathematics from John Hopkins University (JHU) in 2007, the M.Sc.E. degree in applied mathematics and statistics from JHU in 2010, and the Ph.D. degree in applied mathematics and statistics from JHU in 2013. From 2013-2014 he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Applied Mathematics and Statistics (AMS) Department at JHU. During 2014-2017, he was a Senior Research Scientist at the JHU HLTCOE and an Assistant Research Professor in the AMS Department at JHU. From 2017-2019 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics. From 2019-present he is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland in the Department of Mathematics. His research interests include graph matching, statistical inference on random graphs, pattern recognition, dimensionality reduction, stochastic processes, and high-dimensional data analysis

            Abstract

            The neural basis of simple rhythmic and reflexive behaviors such as swimming and gill withdrawal have been successfully studied in nudibranchs and other gastropod molluscs because the brains of these animals contain large, individually identifiable neurons. However, it is a painstakingly slow process to identify neurons and determine their functions one neuron at a time, making it impossible to scale up to the whole brain. Furthermore, although nudibranchs are advantageous for electrophysiology, they are generally difficult to obtain because they need to be caught from the ocean. Unlike other nudibranchs, Berghia stephanieae, which was largely unstudied, can be bred in the lab, making it available in large numbers and amenable to developmental studies. In September 2018, we initiated our collaboration to use large scale transcriptomic, connectomic, and live imaging techniques to obtain a whole-brain view of the generation of complex, motivated behaviors. In a short time, our team has delineated behavioral actions in Berghia that are motivated by feeding or reproductive state, and by the presence of food or shelter. A cellular-level atlas of the brain is being constructed that represents the locations and phenotypic properties of all the neurons in the brain. This atlas will be aligned with a synaptic connectivity diagram obtained from reconstructed serial electron micrographic images. Finally, the locations of neuronal activity recorded with voltage-sensitive dyes will be aligned to the brain atlas to test models of how behavioral responses are produced. New mathematical models are being devised to help understand the complexities of such network activity. Plans are underway to use gene-editing technology to express genetically-encoded sensors and actuators in neurons to more precisely observe and control the activity of particular neuron types. The ultimate goal is to move from a small circuit approach to a whole-brain view of the neural control of behavior.

            Learning Objectives:

            1. Introduce the audience to identified neurons and molluscan neuroscience

            2. Explain the approach to introducing a new species for laboratory research

            3. Present results from team approach to studying the neural basis of behavior.


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