Neuroscience Meets Valparaíso

Through a series of symposia, the Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencia de Valparaíso is making an effort to reveal some of the secrets of this extremely complex but fascinating network of cells, the nervous system. The first symposium aims to provide an informative and up to date account of the techniques and concepts used in understanding ion channels, those molecular machines that act as gated pathways for the movement of ion across cell membranes. In the nervous system, ion channels can be consider as the “doors of perception” since they are the first to react when the organism is confronted with external stimuli. Cell-to-cell conversations are mediated by gap junctions and the second symposium is dedicated to these channels that allow the electrical and metabolic communication between cells. Gap junction channels are formed by two hemichannels, but lately, it has became increasingly clear that hemichannels can be functionally expressed in the plasma membrane of glial cells and that their opening may lead to neuronal death. The importance of hemichannels in neurodegeneration will be discussed in detail in this symposium. Synapsis and neurotransmission is the subject of the third symposium and here a special emphasis is given to the mechanism of neurotransmission mediated by exocytosis. Here we will discuss the mechanisms that control different aspects of the synaptic transmission including the neurotransmitter release, synaptic vesicle turnover, and the role of neuromodulators such as endocannabinoids. The role of specialized synapses required for the process visual information in the retina, and the neuronal plasticity in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, the Chilean rodent Octodon degus will be also discussed. The fourth symposium will consider how the nervous system develops and produces behavior. We will discuss how specific genes control development and behavior in vertebrate and invertebrate model systems and how gene function can be modified epigenetically. Finally, we will discuss the deep molecular, physiological, and functional similarities that exist between the invertebrate and vertebrate brain.












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