The annual symposium of the Bertarelli program in translation neuroscience and neuroengineering will take place this year at the Campus Biotech on April 7, 2017.
The Biaggi de Blasys Award for the best thesis in neuroscience in 2016 went to two LNDS alumni:
Dr. Sebastiano BARISELLI for his thesis “SHANK3 CONTROLS MATURATION OF SOCIAL REWARD CIRCUITS IN THE VTA” defended at the University of Geneva on May 25, 2016.
Dr. Shanaz DIESSLER for her thesis “TOWARDS AN UNDERSTANDING OF SLEEP REGULATION: TWO GENETIC APPROACHES IN THE MOUSE” defended at the University of Lausanne on July 15, 2016.
The human brain has the ability to recognize and process a very wide range of sensory stimuli, from which it builds a mental representation. But do these representations change over time? Can we learn to classify and interpret stimuli more effectively?
Neuroscientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have been trying to answer these questions by studying the olfactory system of mammals. They have succeeded in identifying the complementary role played by two distinct kinds of neurons in processing olfactory information and the different brain re-organization that occurs depending on the context.
After having previously demonstrated the possibility to boost the capacity to distinguish similar smells by regulating the inhibition of certain neural networks, the scientists now explain why the brain has to make use of different sorts of cells to form, maintain and reshape the representations of odors. In fact, it is their very combination that enables us to recognize and distinguish similar smells. Find out more about the research outcomes in the journal Neuron.
Every year 15 million preterm infants are born, and most spend their first weeks in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Although essential for the support and survival of these infants, the sensory environment of a NICU is dramatically different from the environment in which term-born infants mature, and thus impacts the development of functional brain organization. Amplifying the importance of this fact, early sensory development is the critical scaffold upon which healthy perceptual, behavioral and cognitive development depends.
In neonates, touch is a building block for interpersonal interactions and sensory-cognitive development. Many NICU treatments used to improve neuro-developmental outcomes rely heavily on touch. Yet, we understand little of how the brains of babies born prematurely and the quality of their early-life tactile experiences (e.g., supportive touch vs. painful tactile events) interact to shape ongoing brain development.
The development of cerebral cortex plays a major role in the evolution of species and in particular for mankind. This is why scientists are studying the emergence of its cellular microstructure with high resolution methods. Neuroscientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have analysed the diversity of cortical neurons – more precisely inhibitory interneurons – during the developmental period surrounding birth. They have discovered the emergence of three main sub-groups of interneurons by decoding the expression of cell-type specific genes as well as their exact, and often unexpected, location in the cortex.
These results, which can be read in Nature Communications, will open the door to a more accurate understanding of the complex cell-type specific mechanisms underlying neuro-developmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. This should help researchers in discovering how psychiatric-related genetic disturbances impact the emergence of neuronal sub-types and how to design novel cell-type specific interventions. […] Full article ►
Pfizer Award 2017 – 25 young Swiss researchers were awarded for their outstanding scientific work, including three teams from the HUG and UNIGE. These are two joint HUG/UNIGE teams in clinical research and a UNIGE core research team.
The Pfizer Prize for Research, one of the most prestigious prizes in medicine in Switzerland, has been awarded annually since 1992 by the Pfizer Research Foundation, on the basis of independent scientific commissions.
The Theodore Ott Award 2017 will be granted to two researchers for their remarkable works in neurosciences : Prof. Christian Lüscher from the Geneva university and Prof. Andrea Volterra from the Lausanne university
Christian Lüscher studies the alterations of the cerebral circuits caused by drugs and develops different approaches to normalize them.
Andrea Volterra Explores the central role, long ignored, of astrocytes on synaptic transmission.
Both scientists are recognized internationally for the importance of their work.
The Prize, usually awarded every five years by the ASSM, goes back to doctor Theodore Ott (1909 – 1991), Professor of Neurology, Lausanne. In accordance with the wishes of the donor, the Award is given to established researchers who have accomplished outstanding work in basic neuroscience research.
The Prize is awarded CHF 50’000.- for a single prize winner or twice 30’000.- if two prize winners are awarded at the same time.
what the studies on social orientation and on joint attention may bring to the issue.
The diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is based on behavioral observations. It is hard to make such a diagnosis for sure before the age of 3.
However, the first years of life are a period marked by a great cerebral plasticity, during which therapeutic interventions are likely to yield major positive changes. The lack of social orientation (for example a reduction of interest towards eye movements) can be observed quite early in the development of infants with ASD.
Several studies have shown a link between a lack in social orientation and the development of joint attention (i.e. the common interest of several people for the same object). Moreover, deficits in social orientation and in joint attention have consequences on the social and cognitive development of infants and toddlers.
These results are discussed in a neurocognitive perspective, with implications for early diagnosis and early therapeutic interventions adapted to young children with ASD.
By Martina Franchini, Edouard Gentaz and Marie Schaer.