Neuroscience in Crete

June 30, 2012

After giving a talk at the Areadne Neural Coding meeting in Santorini, Greece, I travelled to Crete to do a few days of exploring. While waiting for the ferry to Crete, I happened upon fellow Areadne attendee, Yiota Poirazi, who invited me to come have dinner with her at her favorite restaurant and also to come and give a talk at the FORTH Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. I agreed to both, of course. The dinner was the best I had in Greece, and I really enjoyed the chance to visit her institute. Many FORTH scientists attended, as well as some scientists and students from the Neuroscience Program at the nearby University of Crete.
One of the most interesting topics that was raised both during my talk and also in later conversations with Yiota (see picture, below) was the degree to which different neural areas show persistent activity. Yiota’s research includes studying mechanisms that enable the brain to make associations between sensory stimuli and aversive outcomes (such as pain or nausea). Those systems integrate information over much longer timescales than the decision-making community is used to thinking about: after all, nausea follows food exposure by up to a few hours and the memory persists sometimes for an organism’s entire life. In any event, I am now headed back to Cold Spring Harbor, armed with a few new ideas for analyses inspired by the conversations in Greece.

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