sabato 15 febbraio 2014

La Neurobioetica al 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting di Chicago

di Alberto Carrara, LC

Dal 13 al 17 febbraio 2014 a Chicago (USA) si sta svolgendo The 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting, l’annuale incontro promosso dall’American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) con sede a Washington. Oltre 150 sessioni dedicate ai recenti sviluppi scientifici e tecnologici.

Il programma dell’incontro si può consultare qui.

Giovedì 13 febbraio, Phillip A. Sharp, AAAS President, professore ordinario presso il Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research del MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) ha aperto i lavori con una conferenza magistrale che si può riascoltare qui.

La domanda sorge spontanea: per noi appassionati del “neuro”, cosa c’è da segnalare?



Tra le Plenary lectures, le nostre lectio magistralis, mi preme segnalare quella della professoressa Susan Lindquist, biologa del MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) intitolata: From Yeast Cells to Patient Neurons: A Powerful Discovery Platform for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Diseases che si svolgerà il 16 febbraio (domani).

Tra i simposi sulla tematica relativa alla Biologia e le Neuroscienze (Biology and Neuroscience) segnalo le seguenti tematiche di interesse neurobioetico:

·     NEURO-DIPENDENZE. Addiction: Our Compulsions and Brain Reward Systems
Friday, 14 February 2014: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Regency C (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to attribute our compulsion for addictive damaging activities, such as overeating, taking illicit drugs, or smoking, wholly to our genetic makeup? Then we could blame our parents for everything! We know it is bad for us, but we still do it. Why? This session explores the latest scientific evidence behind compulsive behavior. Personalized medicine provides plenty of research linking genetics and disease, but establishing a relationship between genetic variation and behavior is trickier. How does over-consumption of high-fat food trigger addiction-like neuro adaptive responses in our brain-reward circuitry? Why are less than 25 percent of heroin users proven to be dependent, while other addictive substances need only one try for a permanent susceptibility to addiction to occur? How does nicotine work as the principal reinforcing component in tobacco smoke responsible for addiction? This symposium highlights new research showing that genetics plays but one part, demonstrating that compulsive behavior usually comes about after extended access. As biologically deterministic as that may sound, we all have our aptitudes, traits, and susceptibilities—and free will can prevail. The speakers contend that the same is true with addiction. This session sheds new light on how the three strands of biological, psychological, and social elements work together and emphasizes the importance of continued global research into many unknown underlying mechanisms.
Le tre relazioni riguardano:


·     NEURO-EPIGENETICA. Epigenetic Control of Brain and Behavior
Friday, 14 February 2014: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Columbus EF (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Epigenetics is an environmentally-induced persistent alteration in gene expression that has only recently been shown to play a powerful role in brain function. Epigenetic alterations of DNA may be pharmacologically modifiable and also offer novel interventions for brain disorders. This session will provide an overview of epigenetic processes and how they can be monitored in the brain. The role of epigenetic alterations in gene expression and the phenotypic manifestations of autism, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and Huntington’s disease will be reviewed, as well as the implications for novel pharmacologic treatments.
         Le tre relazioni riguardano:

·     New Insights into Animal Behavior: The Role of the Microbiome
Saturday, 15 February 2014: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Crystal Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
How and why animals behave the way they do has fascinated humans for centuries. Many insights into the causes and consequences of animal behavior have been gleaned by considering how an animal’s genotype and physical or social (e.g., competitors, mates, predators) environment influence behavior. Now, new studies are revealing that the trillions of microbes in and on most animals’ bodies also play a fundamental role in determining behavior. Microbes in the gut can influence levels of anxiety and depression in mice; blood-feeding mosquitoes select victims based on the microbial composition of human skin; and even the mating preferences of fruit flies are strongly shaped by microbes. Studies spanning laboratory animal models and natural field systems are essential for uncovering the nature and implications of these host-microbe interactions. This session explores how research across a diversity of settings is elucidating the mechanisms by which microbes alter behavior and vice versa, and the broader consequences of these effects. The session also highlights how understanding connections between microbes and animal behavior may translate into novel approaches for treating behavioral disorders in humans.
In questa sessione mi preme sottolineare l’interessante contributo: Gut-Brain-Immune Connections in Autism and Schizophrenia
Saturday, 15 February 2014
Crystal Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Elaine Y. Hsiao , California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
There is striking immune dysregulation in the brains of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia subjects. Large subsets of these patients also display gastrointestinal (GI) tract symptoms, and the composition of intestinal bacteria in ASD children is altered compared to controls. I will discuss connections between GI symptoms, intestinal bacteria, immune dysregulation and abnormal behavior, including findings that probiotic therapy corrects both GI defects and ASD-like behaviors.

·     Di particolare attualità e interesse: Video Games, Brains, and Society
Saturday, 15 February 2014: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Crystal Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Computer and video games have emerged as one of the most powerful media of the 21st century, generating billions of hours of highly engaging entertainment. A growing body of research is also highlighting the enormous potential of games and game-infused experiences to help address some of the most pressing social, cultural, scientific, and economic challenges of the 21st century. To take advantage of this power to captivate, we need to create therapeutic and educational video games that are as much fun and as appealing as the most popular commercial games. As President Obama told a college audience, “I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up.” Unfortunately, a significant gap remains between the growing body of research highlighting the potential for game-based learning and the transformation of these findings into scalable products and services. This symposium discusses how to understand and bridge this gap.
Le tre conferenze sono:

·  MIND-MACHINE INTERFACE. Intelligent Autonomous Robots: Biologically Inspired Engineering
Sunday, 16 February 2014: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Columbus KL (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Through hundreds of millions of years of evolution by natural selection, animals have become equipped with diverse, powerful, and adaptive means of locomotion and corresponding control systems. Much of the success of these creatures depends on their ability to navigate autonomously, flexibly, and accurately in water, on land, or in the air. Today evolution by engineering is complementing and even extending what nature has accomplished, through the production of biologically inspired, autonomous robots. These devices enable testing what is understood about biomechanics and sensorimotor control systems and promise to serve mankind in previously unimagined ways. This symposium brings together leaders in the field of bio-robotics to present examples of progress in development and testing of robots based on knowledge about the sensorimotor systems of insects, the remarkable ability of weakly electric fish to navigate in murky water, and the amazingly rapid and elegant gait of a running cheetah.
Le tre relazioni sono:

·    Tra le sessioni più avvincenti: Inventing New Ways To Understand the Human Brain
Sunday, 16 February 2014: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Crystal Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Understanding the human brain is one of the greatest challenges facing 21st century science. If we can rise to the challenge, we can gain profound insights into what makes us human, develop new treatments for brain diseases, and build revolutionary new computing technologies that will have far reaching effects, not only in neuroscience. Scientists at the European Human Brain Project, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and the U.S. BRAIN initiative, are developing new paradigms for understanding how the human brain works in health and disease. This symposium highlights pioneering researchers working to uncover the circuitry of human cognition, identify the genetic roots of disease, unlock the power of Big Data for diagnosis, build a new generation of computing hardware inspired by the brain, and perform revolutionary experiments on a realistic model of the brain that could never be done in animals or humans. It is also the opportunity to discover global initiatives towards understanding the brain.
Le relazioni di questa sessione sono:

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