More than 300 researchers participated in the annual ZNZ Symposium on 14 Sept. 2017 and discussed their current research projects in 90 poster presentations. Prof. Olaf Sporns gave a brilliant overview of today’s efforts in analyzing neural network organization. The Koetser Award Lecture was given by Prof. Gabor Michael Halmagyi and Dr. Federico Brandalise won the ZNZ Best PhD Thesis Award.
Dr. Federico Brandalise received the Award for his dissertation entitled “The dendritic NMDA spike as a fundamental mechanism initiating associative plasticity in the CA3 region of the hippocampus”. The Award was handed to him by his former supervisor, Prof. Urs Gerber of the Brain Research Institute.
Frederico’s thesis characterizes an important and novel mechanism underlying synaptic plasticity in the mammalian brain. This novel mechanism involves initiation of synaptic plasticity in an individual neuron through local signal amplification even in the absence of action potential firing.
The 25th Betty and David Koetser Award went to Prof. Gabor Michael Halmagyi of the University of Sydney, who gave the Koetser Memorial Lecture entitled “Testing human vestibular function – what have we learnt in the last 100 years?”. Halmagyi is the co-developer of the “Halmagyi-Curthoys head impulse test”, which is widely used in the clinic or even at the bedside as a clinical indicator of vestibular function such as balance disorders or dizziness (vertigo).
Another highlight of the symposium was the Volker-Henn Lecture by Prof. Olaf Sporns of the Indiana University with the title “Connectomics: Structure and function of brain networks”. Prof. Sporns’s lab works on network models of neural systems, all modalities of brain connectivity, and the emerging field of connectomics, the study of the connectivity of synapses in the brain. Prof. Sporns is Scientific Co-Director of the Indiana University Network Science Institute and is the founding editor of the new academic journal Network Neuroscience, published by MIT Press.