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Center for Integrative and Cognitive neuroscience hosts workshop

by Oct. 19, 2018, 8:43 AM

Researchers from across North America and Europe gathered at the Scarritt-Bennett Center Oct. 12-15 to answer this basic question: What is the prefrontal cortex? The prefrontal cortex is responsible for judgment, decision-making and self-control. Understanding how it functions is necessary to diagnose and treat disorders as diverse as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and criminal psychopathy.

The Center for Integrative & Cognitive Neuroscience hosted the 6th Workshop on Computational Properties of Prefrontal Cortex.

Speakers presented cutting-edge new findings about the connectivity, circuitry and neural processing of prefrontal cortex areas in humans, macaque monkeys, rats and mice. Major differences between primate and rodent brains were highlighted. Most neuroscience research is conducted with mice, but findings from this research may not apply to humans because mouse and human brains have different structures and functions. Other speakers used the structural and functional information to guide the formulation of models of memory, problem solving and intelligent planning and control of actions. With the advent of novel sophisticated neurotechnology and computational tools, these models provide deep insights into how brain matter in the prefrontal cortex shapes decisions on how to act in a complex world.

Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers presented posters and learned new methods and experimental approaches to discover prefrontal cortex brain circuits during a how-to workshop.

The international meeting was organized by Thilo Womelsdorf, associate professor of psychology, and Jeffrey Schall, E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Neuroscience.

Attending the meeting were neuroscientists from Boston University, Brown University, Columbia University, Indiana University, The Johns Hopkins University, the National Institute of Mental Health, New York University, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, Wake Forest University and Yale University.

International participants traveled from the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden), Queen’s University (Canada), Radboud University (Nijmegan, Netherlands), Sorbonne Université (Paris), University of Barcelona (Spain), University of Ghent (Belgium), University of Helsinki (Finland), University of Oxford (England), University of Toronto (Canada) and DeepMind (England).

The executive committee of the Computational Properties of Prefrontal Cortex Workshop includes Daniel Durstewitz (Heidelberg-Mannheim, Germany), Bruno Averbeck (Bethesda, Maryland), Clay Holroyd (Victoria, Canada), Emmanuel Procyk (Lyon, France), David Euston (Eugene, Oregon), Jeremy Seamans (Vancouver, Canada) and Mark Laubach (Washington, DC).

Further information on prefrontal cortex neuroscience research can be found online via http://cicn.vanderbilt.edu and http://cppc.psy.vanderbilt.edu.

Submitted by Thilo Womelsdorf and Jeffrey Schall.

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