What are the Key Questions the Kavli Neuroscience Prize Winners Would Now Like to Address?

See full interviews with Cornelia Bargmann, Winfried Denk, and Ann Graybiel in Nature Reviews Neuroscience (October 2012). 

Cornelia Bargmann (Rockefeller University)

We’re asking whether there might be a logic underlying the incredible diversity of animal behaviours, perhaps at the level of genes and circuits. For example, are there conserved biological systems that organize higher-order behaviours, by analogy to the biological conservation that applies to molecular and cellular processes? Do internal states or emotions like hunger, fear or arousal have a straightforward biological basis in neuroanatomy and neurochemistry, or are they the result of ad hoc assemblies of multiple components? How do new behaviours evolve? Are there certain genes and mechanisms that are predisposed to generate new behavioural variations and, if so, how do they work?

Winfried Denk (Max Planck Institute for Medical Research)

Again, my interest lies in the development of tools that I perceive as being useful for a whole range of questions in neurobiology. Knowing the wiring diagram is ultimately necessary, although not necessarily sufficient, for all of systems (circuit?) neuroscience. More specifically, there are things to finish in the retina, and my laboratory is currently working to finish an inner-plexiform connectome. Then it’s on towards developing a whole-mouse-brain microtome.

Ann Graybiel (MIT)

Thanks to the ingenuity of people inventing new methods for working on the brain, we are in the midst of a revolution in which we have the chance to discover functional circuits in the brain and how they relate to behaviour, and to examine the dynamics of neural signalling at different time scales and in different frequency domains. In the field of basal ganglia research, we are just at the beginning of this adventure; for us, understanding the interactions of these deep-forebrain systems with the neocortex and with other functional systems is a primary goal. There are also many questions about the relationship between neural signalling and behaviour, not the least being the state changes that somehow occur between our doing things with conscious intent and doing things nearly automatically. Of course, in our specific workspace, we would like to understand the compartmental architecture of the striatum in functional terms. We have been guessing for a long time!


Culture, Mind, and Brain: Emerging Concepts, Methods, Applications

Just received an alert for the online publication of the following paper in Ann Rev Psych, which is co-authored by three of our conference presenters:

A Cultural Neuroscience Approach to the Biosocial Nature of the Human Brain by Shihui Han, Georg Northoff, Kai Vogeley, Bruce Wexler, Shinobu Kitayama, and Michael Varnum

Cultural neuroscience (CN) is an interdisciplinary field that investigates the relationship between culture (e.g., value and belief systems and practices shared by groups) and human brain functions. In this review we describe the origin, aims, and methods of CN as well as its conceptual framework and major findings. We also clarify several misunderstandings of CN research. Finally, we discuss the implications of CN findings for understanding human brain function in sociocultural contexts and novel questions that future CN research should address. By doing so, we hope to provide a clear picture of the CN approach to the human brain and culture and to elucidate the intrinsically…

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New Journal (“Culture and Brain”) Edited by Shihui Han Is Open for Business!

I just received the following email from cultural neuroscientist Shihui Han of Peking University. (Dr. Han is a speaker at our 19–20 October 2012 Culture, Mind, and Brain conference at UCLA).

Dear colleagues:

It’s a great pleasure to announce that the new journal “Culture and Brain” published by Springer is now ready to receive submissions.
I’m sending this message so that you may send your papers to this journal for publication in the future.
You may go the journal’s website:
or directly go the submission system:
to submit your papers.

best regards

Shihui Han Ph. D. Prof.
Culture and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab
Department of Psychology
Peking University
5 Yiheyuan Road
Beijing 100871
People’s Republic of China

Phone: (86)10-6275-9138
Fax: (86)10-6276-1081
Email: shan@pku.edu.cn