Society for Neuroscience Redux

Thirty thousand plus neuroscientists will be leaving Washington today to head home. My sense is that it was an extraordinarily successful meeting in that there was a lot of serious new science to report.

The photo was taken just outside the DC convention center yesterday as neuroscientists headed towards China Town and its many restaurants. For those readers who enjoy my various complaints about Blackboard, you’ll note its corporate headquarters (brown building to the left).

Today back at Krasnow we have an advisory board meeting that will take up the morning. The Board is a terrific group of distinguished individuals who have given enormously to the Institute over the years, both materially and in terms of collective wisdom.

For that we are very grateful. Over the next year, the Board will be entering a new phase, which I’ll put out as a teaser. I hope to write more about that soon.

In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a very busy remainder of the week, and a Thanksgiving holiday that’s not too far off.

Neurolaw #SFN11

Yesterday’s big show was the Neuroscience and the Law symposium. Here is a good summary. Most interesting work was Abigail Baird’s–she’s at Vassar College: teenagers apparently get themselves in trouble by too much engagement of their prefrontal cortex rather than trusting their gut (amygdala and insula). That’s completely counter-intuitive to me because I have always viewed the prefrontal cortex as pretty much the last part of the brain to “get wired up” during human development. Her thesis: too much analytic/executive engagement of prefrontal cortex leads to potentially flawed logical decisions (perhaps especially when we haven’t had a lot of experiences) and too much sensitivity to peer pressure.

A tree is like a neuron–especially after the leaves come down…

The wind is really blowing hard today and the leaves are flying off the limbs. Looking out my office window I already see lots of bare limbs, which day by day, take on the look and feel of apical pyramidal cell dendrites–this is appropriate for SFN11 week here in DC.

I feel bad for the 40,000 neuroscientists who are streaming in to DC as I write these words, only to find that Metro is on a weekend schedule because of Veterans Day (20 minutes between trains). Hope they all brought coats. It’s cold.

Some suggestions for our students, for whom this may well be their first meeting:

Concentrate on the poster sessions and focus with laser attention on the subset in your own area of work. This task alone, will, if done properly, take up the bulk of your working time at the meeting.

Tag along with your mentor, as much as she or he, will allow and observe how networking happens. If you’re lucky, you may end up being introduced to your next boss!

When socializing, especially early in the evening, don’t party too hearty. You don’t want to wake up to your picture on Facebook. And you don’t want to fall into your soup.