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Neuroscience 2023 - Series of Sessions part 4

Julia Araujo

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Julia Araujo

As the fourth post about Neuroscience 2023’s presentations, I opted for another of my favourite sessions. The topic, specifically, was really motivational for my own studies, even though they are not related to it. In my mind, that’s because learning is one of the best things someone can decide to do, no matter what context you’re at right now.

At this occasion, more awards were delivered by Dr. Steward - SfN’s president - and Dr. Patricia Gruber in the context of recognising the achievements and the positive impacts some researchers have been able to deliver to the community throughout the years. Surely filled with dedication to their trainees, institutions, work and beyond, those awarded have been congratulated with the prizes. 

As Dr. Hreha - executive director of The Gruber Foundation - pointed out, the foundation’s award “Recognizes achievements and discoveries that product fundamental shifts in human knowledge and culture”. As for the next year's nominations “…the breadth of the field and the diversity…” is encouraged to remain as a remark for those pointing out possible recipients for the following awards. 

In the context of recalling and remarking all the importance of Peter and Patricia Gruber’s work, alongside SfN’s multiple support for either the foundation and the awards, additional information can be found upon watching the session - just as it’s available at the Neuroscience’s 2023 platform - and by visiting the foundation’s website.

Moving for Dr. Akil’s lecture, an introduction - that emerged from her appreciation on having received one of the awards - contextualised a great passion (and motivation) for studying the genetics of emotions. As well, from models of rodents and flies to the highlight of basic and translational studies on the complementation of everything underling “The Emotional Brain”, it was clear - in my view - how grateful Dr. Akil must have been upon receiving the award.

After that, the complexity embraced by both the research and the researcher - as I may state - merged the presentation into a context of Affective Neuroscience. Including the challenges of analysing emotion, came the shaping of all functions that, after all, had their analysis based on (perhaps) clearer stimuli and measurement. Perception, motivation…they are all behind the most and lesser understood pathways and synapses. 

Although, it’s our common background of experiences - considering those as the source of emotions - that motivated the “unpacking” of all the questions building up to the understanding of that same Emotional Brain. The dimensions - including so many factors - had to be synthesised as much as possible by the end.

By the end of many analysis and years of dedication, a combination of genetic sequencing and gene expression profiling and behaviour was just the beginning. Cell types, environmental aspects, experience considerations and many more converging methods all summed up to a permutation and, therefore, to those multiple divergent mice at the end of each hypothesis thought and tested towards the expectations of obtaining further informations.

It was indeed learned that "genotypes encode temperament and shape lifelong emotional behaviour". Also, that "individual genes can play strong organisational roles in shaping affective states" from development through adulthood. Including a "neural circuit associated with emotional liability", part of networks that "encode initial experiences and shape future emotional reactivity”. As proves of many successful works - challenges faced over decades from a incredibly talented team - the mice certainly just sample further researches on the way to answering all the questions remaining - including those to appear in the course and the possibilities to act and make the difference with the information already available.

Once more, if you want to watch it at Neuroscience 2023, you can look for the title "LEC09Peter and Patricia Gruber Lecture: The Emotional Brain: Embracing the Complexity — Huda Akil” among more incredible available virtual components in the Livestream section.

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