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Unlocking the black box: shedding light on brain circuitry

16 May Doors 7PM. Event 7:30-9:30PM
L'Amère à Boire 2049 Rue St Denis,
Montreal H2X 3K8
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The brain is often referred to as a 'black box', the inner workings of which remain largely unknown. Come and hear about cutting edge neuroscience being done to understand how the molecules and circuits that make up the brain contribute to human experience and behaviour!

Are we sure we are not dreaming right now?

Professor Adrien Peyrache (Assistant Professor - Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital / McGill University)
In the lab, we study the brain’s GPS that enables animals to navigate in their environment. The building blocks of all our thoughts and behavior are the neurons, that emit brief electrical messages to convey information to other brain regions. In freely moving animals, we “listen” to neurons that form the compass and the map of the navigation system – the most essential tools you need to know where you are! We record during wakefulness, as the system integrates sensory inputs to orient itself and guide behavior. During sleep, these neurons are active as the animals were awake.

Basics of Opto/chemo-genetics: a chocolaty tale to differentiating pain and itch!

Behrang Sharif (PhD Candidate - Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital / McGill University)
“Pain” and “itch” are both unpleasant sensations, but the former results in withdrawal while the latter induces scratching (a removal behavior). How do animals differentiate such closely related sensations to trigger different behaviors? Behrang will introduce genetic-engineering and cutting-edge molecular tools to address how scientists investigate modality differentiation of senses originating from the same area of skin. He will use tasty examples to show how optogenetics provides non-invasive controllability of specific cells, while chemo genetics makes a more natural control possible.

Using eyes to peer into neural circuits

Professor Arjun Krishnaswamy (Assistant Professor - Department of Physiology & Cells, Information, and Systems group / McGill University)
Our mental abilities depend critically on specific connectivity patterns among neurons, called neural circuits. How such circuits arise and how their wiring patterns give neurons their functional abilities is not clear. We study these issues in the retina, where ~30 kinds of circuit analyze the visual scene, each detecting a particular feature such as motion, color, or patterns. I will tell you how we peer into the eye's circuits and how their wiring and function is important for seeing.

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