Neurocon 23, is an event of immense significance for aspiring students and professionals, in the field of Neuroscience, Neuropsychology, and Neurobiology.
Neurocon 23 serves as a beacon for students eager to delve into the intricate world of brain sciences. This conference, curated by the Mindlifeline NGO, is designed to be a transformative experience for young minds.
Why is it important for students like yourselves to attend this conference???
Well, consider this: Neurocon 23 brings together some of the most accomplished minds in these fields. These speakers are pioneers, experts who have dedicated their lives to unraveling the mysteries of the brain. Their insights are invaluable, offering you a unique opportunity to learn from the very best.
Imagine being able to hear directly from these luminaries, gaining insights that textbooks can't offer. You'll be exposed to the latest findings, emerging trends, and groundbreaking research that will shape the future of neuroscience.
You'll have the chance to interact with both speakers and fellow students who share your passion. This could lead to collaborations, mentorships, and opportunities that might shape the trajectory of your academic and professional journey.
So, if you're a student eager to immerse yourself in the world of Neuroscience, Neuropsychology, and Neurobiology, Neurocon 23 is an event you can't afford to miss.
It's not just a conference; it's a bridge to a world of knowledge, mentorship, and future collaborations.
10 am - 6 pm
Hot Topics in Neuroscience, Free energy principle with Prof. Karl Friston
Prof. Fabrizio Doricchi
Prof. Ilana Gozes
Prof. Gesa Hartwigsen
Prof. Karl Friston
M.D. Angenor Limon
Neuroscience Panel: Dr. Christoph Metzner, Prof. Thomas Nowotny, Dr. Shabnam Kadir, hosted by Cristiana Dimulescu Ph.D. candidate TU Berlin.
Future Neurobiological and Neuropsychological assessment and interventions on Alzheimer's disease
Julia Belger, Ph. D. Candidate
Prof. Andrea Fuso
Prof. Claudio Babiloni
Justine Moonen, Ph.D.
Emma Acerbo, Ph.D.
Alzheimer's Vaccine Panel: Gary Waanders Ph.D. MBA, Prof. Maria Teresa Fiorenza, hostel by Lea Chibany Ph.D. Candidate Universite Bordeaux.
Prof. Karl Friston presentation
Introducing Neurocon 23's distinguished speaker, Prof. Karl Friston from University College of London, a luminary in neuroscience research. Join us for an enlightening discussion led by Cristiana Dimulescu, a Ph.D. Candidate at TU Berlin, and Steven Gouveia, Ph.D., an accomplished scholar in (Neuro)Philosophy of Mind from the University of Minho. With a rich research background at esteemed institutions, this dynamic host duo guarantees an engaging session at the forefront of neuroscientific exploration. You are invited to engage in the conversation and ask questions after his talk.
Prof. Karl Friston
Steven Gouveia, Ph. D.
Host, Ph. D. Candidate
Day One - Hot Topics in Neuroscience
The overarching goal of neuroscience is to decode the complexities of the brain and enhance our understanding of cognition, behaviour, as well as neurobiological and neuropsychiatric disorders. In an era where the field is experiencing exponential growth, this panel discussion, hosted by Cristiana Dimulescu, Ph.D. Candidate at TU Berlin, featuring Prof. Thomas Nowotny, Dr. Shabnam Kadir, and Dr. Christoph Metzner delves into the most promising approaches likely to catalyse breakthroughs, as well as into the conceptual and methodological limitations that need to be overcome to that end.
Host, Ph.D. Candidate TU Berlin
Dr. Christoph Metzner
Technische Universität Berlin
Prof. Thomas Nowotny
University of Sussex
Dr. Shabnam Kadir
University of Hertfordshire
Day Two - Alzheimer's disease vaccines
On the second day Panel of Discussion, we have the privilege of delving into a topic of great significance - vaccines and their potential impact on Alzheimer's disease.
This discussion panel aims to unravel the promises and possibilities that lie within this critical intersection of medical research. With recent advancements, there's growing hope for breakthroughs in Alzheimer's prevention and treatment.
Let's explore the latest findings and engage in a constructive dialogue on the potential path forward. The panel is hosted by Léa Chibany, Ph.D. Candidate, featuring Prof. Maria Teresa Fiorenza, from Universita Sapienza di Roma, and Gary Waanders, Ph.D. MBA , form AC Immune.
Prof. Maria Teresa Fiorenza
Sapienza Universita di Roma
Gary Waanders, Ph.D. MBA
Host Ph.D. Candidate Université Bordeaux
Prof. Fabrizio Doricchi
Left and right temporal-parietal junctions (TPJs) as “match/mismatch” hedonic machines: A unifying account of TPJ function
Experimental and theoretical studies have tried to gain insights into the involvement of the Temporal Parietal Junction (TPJ) in a broad range of cognitive functions like memory, attention, language, self-agency and theory of mind. Recent investigations have demonstrated the partition of the TPJ in discrete subsectors. Nonetheless, whether these subsectors play different roles or implement an overarching function remains debated. Here, based on a review of available evidence, we propose that the left TPJ codes both matches and mismatches between expected and actual sensory, motor, or cognitive events while the right TPJ codes mismatches.
These operations help keeping track of statistical contingencies in personal, environmental, and conceptual space. We show that this hypothesis can account for the participation of the TPJ in disparate cognitive functions, including “humour”, and explain: a) the higher incidence of spatial neglect in right brain damage; b) the different emotional reactions that follow left and right brain damage; c) the hemispheric lateralisation of optimistic bias mechanisms; d) the lateralisation of mechanisms that regulate routine and novelty behaviours.
We propose that match and mismatch operations are aimed at approximating “free energy”, in terms of the free energy principle of decision-making. By approximating “free energy”, the match/mismatch TPJ system supports both information seeking to update one’s own beliefs and the pleasure of being right in one’s own’ current choices. This renewed view of the TPJ has relevant clinical implications because the malfunctioning of TPJ-related “match” and “mismatch” circuits in unilateral brain damage can produce low-dimensional deficits of active-inference and predictive coding that can be associated with different neuropsychological disorders.
Prof. Ilana Gozes
NAP Drug candidate and neuroprotection
NAP (davunetide, AL-108, CP201), a drug candidate derived from activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) provides neuroprotection through microtubule fortification. ADNP knockout is lethal and ADNP haploinsufficiency coupled with heterozygous toxic gain of function truncation mutation leads to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) -like tauopathy, accentuated in male mice and corrected by NAP. In humans, de novo, or somatic mutations in ADNP lead to the neurodevelopmental ADNP syndrome, exhibiting early onset tauopathy, or correlating with AD tauopathy, toward NAP future development.
Prof. Gesa Hartwigsen
The Plastic Language Network
The human brain is flexible. Efficient cognition requires flexible interactions between distributed neural networks in the human brain. These networks adapt to challenges by flexibly recruiting different regions and connections. In this talk, I will discuss how we study functional network plasticity and reorganization in the language network with neurostimulation and neuroimaging. I will argue that short-term plasticity enables flexible adaptation to challenging conditions, via functional reorganization.
The key hypothesis of Prof. Hartwigsen is that disruption of higher-level cognitive functions such as language can be compensated for by the recruitment of domain-general networks in our brain. The talk will cover examples from healthy young, aging, and lesioned brains. Collectively, these results challenge the view of a modular organization of the human brain and argue for a flexible redistribution of function via systems plasticity.
Prof. Karl Friston
Active inference and the brain
How can we understand ourselves as sentient creatures? And what are the principles that underwrite sentient behaviour? This presentation uses the free energy principle to furnish an account in terms of active inference.
First, we will try to understand sentience from the point of view of physics; in particular, the properties that self-organising systems—that distinguish themselves from their lived world—must possess. We then rehearse the same story from the point of view of a neurobiologist, trying to understand functional brain architectures.
The narrative starts with a heuristic proof (and simulations of a primordial soup) suggesting that life—or biological self-organization—is an inevitable and emergent property of any dynamical system that possesses a Markov blanket.
This conclusion is based on the following arguments: if a system can be differentiated from its external milieu, then its internal and external states must be conditionally independent. These independencies induce a Markov blanket that separates internal and external states. Crucially, this equips internal states with an information geometry, pertaining to probabilistic beliefs about something; namely external states. This free energy is the same quantity that is optimized in Bayesian inference and machine learning (where it is known as an evidence lower bound). In short, internal states will appear to infer—and act on—their world to preserve their integrity. This leads to a Bayesian mechanics, which can be neatly summarised as self-evidencing.
In the second half of the talk, we will unpack these ideas using simulations of Bayesian belief updating in functional brain architectures – and relate them to predictive processing and how we respond to affordances in our world.
Prof. MD. Agenor Limon
Reactivating postmortem human receptors to study synaptic dysfunction in Schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease
The multidisciplinary approaches that are currently being used in my lab to gain access to functional and electrophysiological information of human synapses in Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Because synapses are major targets of pathological events characterizing these disorders, accessing this information, and integrating it in the context of molecular and biochemical changes, helps in understanding the association between synaptic alterations and the presentation of behavioral symptoms. We will also discuss how these synaptic alterations participate in the excitation to inhibition balance that has been proposed to be affected in these disorders opening the possibility to the development of new therapeutic strategies.
Hot Topics in Neuroscience
The overarching goal of neuroscience is to decode the complexities of the brain and enhance our understanding of cognition, behaviour, as well as neurobiological and neuropsychiatric disorders. In an era where the field is experiencing exponential growth, this panel discussion featuring Prof. Thomas Nowotny, Dr. Shabnam Kadir and Dr. Christoph Metzner delves into the most promising approaches likely to catalyse breakthroughs, as well as into the conceptual and methodological limitations that need to be overcome to that end.
Dr. Emma Acerbo
Non-invasive temporal interference electrical stimulation of the human hippocampus
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) via implanted electrodes is used worldwide to treat patients with severe neurological and psychiatric disorders. However, its invasiveness precludes widespread clinical use and deployment in research. Temporal interference (TI) is a strategy for non-invasive steerable DBS using multiple kHz-range electric fields with a difference frequency within the range of neural activity. Here we report the validation of the non-invasive DBS concept in humans. We used electric field modeling and measurements in a human cadaver to verify that the locus of the transcranial TI stimulation can be steerably focused in the hippocampus with minimal exposure to the overlying cortex. We then used functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral experiments to show that TI stimulation can focally modulate hippocampal activity and enhance the accuracy of episodic memories in healthy humans. Our results demonstrate targeted, non-invasive electrical stimulation of deep structures in the human brain.
Unlocking Hope: The Neurobiology of Alzheimer's and the Vaccine Breakthrough
A Two-Hour In-Depth Exploration of the Potential of Vaccination in Alzheimer's Prevention.
Join us for an enlightening two-hour discussion panel featuring esteemed neurobiology specialists as they delve into the groundbreaking potential of a vaccine in the battle against Alzheimer's. Gain unparalleled insights into the latest research, mechanisms, and future prospects in this critical area of neurobiology. Don't miss this opportunity to be at the forefront of cutting-edge discoveries and discussions that could change the course of Alzheimer's research forever.
Julia Belger, Ph.D. Candidate
Immersive Virtual Reality in Neuropsychology
The application of immersive Virtual Reality (VR) has a strong potential for neuropsychological rehabilitation. The presentation will explore various clinical VR tasks, focusing on their iterative development and implementation in the assessment and treatment of cognitive function, especially spatial memory, in various neurological disorders. Particular emphasis will be placed on the application of immersive VR to detect and treat subtle neglect symptoms in chronic post-stroke patients using state-of-the-art methods.
Justine Moonen Ph.D.
Biomarkers for vascular and Alzheimer’s Disease dementia
Mixed dementia is the most common type of dementia with co-occurring amyloid-beta (a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease) and small vessel disease (SVD) pathologies. This presentation will detail the contribution of both pathologies in clinical decline.
Prof. Claudio Babiloni
The dark side of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders: Abnormal resting-state EEG rhythms as a pathophysiological disease biomarker
In his study Prof. Babiloni investigated investigated differences in cortical neural synchronisation in patients with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease (ADMCI) and other disorders compared to cognitively normal elderly subjects. Him and his team analysed clinical and resting-state eyes-closed electroencephalographic (rsEEG) data from different groups to explore various frequency bands. Their findings suggest distinctive patterns of cortical neural synchronisation at delta and alpha frequencies, shedding light on brain arousal and vigilance during quiet wakefulness.
Prof. Andrea Fuso
Epigenetics and Alzheimer’s Disease: focus on DNA methylation
Multifactorial neurodegenerative, aging-related diseases show strong association with epigenetic changes of environmental origin. Late Onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) is one of the most relevant neurodegenerative disorders, due to its huge socio-economic impact. Methylation metabolism and DNA methylation are modulated in LOAD subjects compared to healthy individuals and specific loci show differential methylation in patients and experimental AD models.
DNA methylation, consisting in the presence of a methyl group (-CH3) in cytosine moieties, is one of the main and most studied epigenetic modification. Methyl groups are transferred to DNA from S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) in the transmethylation reaction. SAM is part of the “one-carbon” metabolism, modulated by the nutritional availability of methyl groups and enzymatic cofactors (B vitamins).
In transgenic AD mice, we demonstrated that B-vitamin deficiency alters one-carbon metabolism inducing DNA demethylation, both at CpG and “non-CpG” (CpA, CpT, CpC) sites, and mRNA overexpression of genes related to amyloidogenesis and neuroinflammation, with consequent exacerbation of the AD-like phenotype. Data in healthy and LOAD patients confirm the role of DNA methylation in modulating the expression of relevant genes in humans.
Studying DNA methylation in LOAD subjects has the potential to reveal molecular mechanisms underlying the pathology as well as suggesting potential biomarkers and interventional strategies.
Florin S. Piscociu M.Sc. Sapienza University, Cristiana Dimulescu Ph.D Candidate TU Berlin, Léa Chibany Ph.D. Candidate Université de Bordeaux, Nafise Shabani M.Sc. Sapienza University, Luana Aldea M.Sc. Sapienza University, Hebatalla Kamaluddin Nurdin Universitatea București, Victoria Nanau M.Sc. University College of London, Virginia Spagnuolo M.Sc. Sapienza University, Bianca Wiersema M.Sc. Leiden University, Elinor Pelleg M.Sc. Tilburg University, Fatemeh Nassabeh M.Sc. Sapienza University, Ghazal Afsary M.Sc. Sapienza University.
Our gratitude goes to
The "godfather" of the project, Prof. Matteo Candidi, from Sapienza University, for his unique way of encouraging and helping us! Your unwavering support and invaluable assistance to our organizing team have been instrumental in making our event a success.
To Prof. Maria Theresa Fiorenza, for all the unconditional help, for her generosity and dedication.
To all our guest speakers, and contributors.
To our residents and volunteers, to all our silent supporters.
Sometimes words cannot express the gratitude!
This is one of those times!