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Diary from FENS 2014 - Day Two

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Sunday. Second day of the FENS. When the poster session started. It will gather almost 4,000 posters until the end of the congress. And here is my personal top three of this day.

3 – Alessandro Usiello, University of Naples, Italy

Alessandro Usiello’s lab performed extensive studies on the role of D-aspartate in hippocampus, showing how this amino acid can increase NMDAR activity. Increasing D-aspartate levels also allowed reverting the effects of the psychoactive drugs PCP (Angel Dust), which usually reduces NMDAR activity. Moreover, D-aspartate administrations in schizophrenic patients allowed improving the symptoms of the disease. These results gave an important new path in the treatment of schizophrenic disease and shed new light in the general knowledge on D-aspartate functions.

2 – Anna Nobre, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Anna Nobre gave an exhaustive lesson on the principles and the history of attention studies, an aspect of behavior that is key to any task we commonly perform. Her experiments required the collaboration of volunteers that had to perform specific tasks while being recorded through an external electrode, in order to see their brain activity in different regions. Nobre’s contribution to understanding this mechanisms focused mainly on decoding the biology and physiology of temporal expectation, demonstrating many of the mechanisms we are all able to use in order to improve our responses performances to many tasks.

1 – Alexander Bonnin, University of Southern California, USA

Alexander Bonnin is investigating the role of fetal programming and development diseases. His lab developed a system that can culture developing mouse embryos maintained inside the placenta: this system also allows controlling the molecules that are being injected in the placenta and reach the embryo. Using this set up, Bonnin’s team studied the integration of Citaloran, a common anti-depressive drug used for pregnancy depression. Such a model is used to study in more detail the pharmacodynamics between placenta and embryonic tissues, in order to improve pharmacology with new molecules designed so that they do not pass the placenta and therefore do not affect the development of the embryo.

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