Park City Winter Conference

2021 Conference Program

Session 1 – Dave Olton Data Blitz
Thursday 7 Jan 2021 9:00am-10:45am MST
Session Chair: Arnold Bakker

Nick UprightIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiPathway-specific chemogenetic neuromodulation enhances working memory in rhesus monkeys
Matthias StanglUniversity of California – LABoundary-anchored neural mechanisms of location-encoding for self and others
John StoutUniversity of DelawareRole of the ventral midline thalamus on vicarious trial-and-error events
Tatiana VienaFlorida International UniversityParaventricular nucleus of the thalamus contains dual projecting prefrontal-hippocampal cells
Kevan KidderUniversity of WashingtonA selective role for the mPFC during choice and deliberation but not spatial memory retention over short delays
Asaf GilboaRotman Research Institute at BaycrestScene construction and the hippocampus in post-traumatic stress disorder
Diego Gonzalez MaganaCalifornia State University SacramentoPost-acquisition lesions of the perirhinal cortex abolished the fear memory dependent upon stimulus continuity
Derek HuffmanColby CollegeLiving off the grid: non-Euclidian spatial representations of hometown cities
Erik WingRotman Research Institute at BaycrestEpisodic memory is shaped by the structure and specificity of prior knowledge
Taylor WiseBrown UniversityDoes the dPPC affect spatial behavior in a complex object task
Jesse MilesUniversity of WashingtonClassifying vicarious trial and error with trajectories or HPC oscillations
Matthew SodomaUniversity of IowaHippocampal acidity and volume across longitudinal axis are differentially associated with spatial navigation in older adults
Liz ChrastilUniversity of California – IrvineAge-related changes in navigation are evident by midlife and differ by sex
Arnold BakkerJohns Hopkins U.Activation associated with encoding and retrieval in entorhinal cortex revealed by laminar fMRI at 7T

Session 2 – Novel Strategies for Advancing Active Avoidance Research
Thursday 7 Jan 2021 11:00am-12:45pm MST
Session Chair: Christopher Cain
Speakers: Maria Diehl, Mario Penzo, Robert Sears, Justin Moscarello

  • A sense of agency or control during threatening situations is a hallmark of resilience and is notably impaired in fear and anxiety disorders. Resilient individuals use proactive coping strategies such as active avoidance responses (ARs) to minimize threat exposure, while non-resilient individuals tend to react passively (i.e. they ‘freeze’). Inflexible ARs may also contribute to disorders of control like OCD and addiction. In the lab, ARs are studied with active avoidance paradigms, where subjects learn to emit new instrumental actions that escape conditioned threats and prevent pain. Despite its recognition as a fundamental form of learning with clinical significance, progress in understanding the psychological and neural mechanisms of avoidance has been slow. There has been a resurgence in avoidance research aided in part by the advent of new molecular tools that allow for more precise interrogation of neural circuits. In this session we will highlight recent advances in the field and new methodological strategies that are rapidly refining our understanding of avoidance learning and behavior. Topics will include: 1) competition between Pavlovian and instrumental responses, 2) the role of safety signals in goal-directed vs. habitual avoidance, 3) more naturalistic paradigms where avoidance comes with a cost, and 4) how factors like threat imminence and uncertainty affect avoidance. We will also present data converging on an avoidance brain circuit that includes amygdala, prefrontal cortex, striatum, thalamus and BNST. Discussion may consider the relationship between avoidance circuits and those mediating anxiety, fear and appetitively-motivated instrumental behavior, neurobiological factors influencing adaptive vs. maladaptive avoidance or how recent work is helping to resolve historical controversies that have slowed progress in the field.

Session 3 – ARChitecture of memory and its dysfunction in aging
Thursday 7 Jan 2021 1:00pm-2:45pm MST
Session Chairs: Peter Rapp, Craig Myrum, and Perla Moreno-Castilla
Speakers: Clive R Bramham, Sara Burke, Craig Myrum, and Perla Moreno-Castilla

  • Since its discovery 25 years ago, the immediate-early gene Arc has repeatedly surprised us with a number of intriguing properties, including the transport of its mRNA to recently-activated synapses, its capacity to both strengthen and weaken synapses, its evolutionary retroviral origins, and its ability to mediate intercellular transfer of its own mRNA between neurons via extracellular vesicles (EV). Arc is also notable in that, compared to other immediate early genes, its expression is particularly tightly coupled to activity that induces memory-related plasticity, rather than overall neuronal activity. As such, Arc has been extensively used to map the neuronal ensembles that represent memory traces, and further, its transcription kinetics allow for the comparison of ensemble activation across two episodes of behavior. Using Arc as a tool in this way has also identified disrupted neuronal networks, for example in the aged brain, that may underlie spatial memory decline. Related findings indicate that Arc epigenetic regulation, transcription, and degradation are dysregulated in the aged brain, specifically in aged animals with spatial memory impairment. Despite this intensive research focus on Arc, several key aspects of its function and dysfunction remain elusive. For example, how does Arc bidirectionally regulate synaptic strength? What are the underlying drivers of Arc dysfunction in aging? To what degree is Arc a contributor to cognitive outcomes in aging? These questions will be central to the proposed discussion. The session will also highlight emerging data regarding Arc function in cognitive aging, including Arc-EV as a possible peripheral biomarker of memory dysfunction in aging and the fidelity of Arc oligomerization in the aged brain.

Session 4 – How perceptual processing of environmental cues contributes to hippocampal memory across species
Friday 8 Jan 2021 9:00am-10:45am MST
Session Chair: Inah Lee
Speakers: Inah Lee, Sylvia Wirth, Russell Epstein, Sang Ah Lee

  • Models of hippocampal memory systems often carve the perceptual world into “spatial” and “non-spatial” domains. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that such a categorization fails to account realistic settings in which the distinction between spatial and non-spatial domains is often unclear. For instance, the contents of a visual scene can be processed spatially or non spatially depending on an animal’s goals or task demands. Even within the domain of space, there may be multiple levels of representation, some more structured, fine-grained, and Euclidean than others. In this session, each speaker will present recent findings shedding light on perceptual inputs to the hippocampus via brain regions upstream from the hippocampus and how that information is organized and utilized for navigation and memory. By bringing together research across various species – including rodents, primates and humans – we aim to spark a lively discussion around the theme of cross-species similarities and differences both in the perceptual processing of environmental cues and in the resultant hippocampal memory representations.

Session 5 – Midline Thalamus and Memory
Friday 8 Jan 2021 11:00am-12:45pm MST
Session Chair: Stephen Maren
Speakers: Stephen Maren, Gisella Vetere, and Bianca Silva

Session 6 – Spatial context signals in neocortex
Friday 8 Jan 2021 1:00pm-2:45pm MST
Session Chair: Zaneta Navratilova
Speakers: Zaneta Navratilova, Aman Saleem, Shin Kira, and Ingrid Esteves

  • Neocortex has historically been subdivided into discrete regions based on anatomical boundaries that were thought to process distinct and separate sensory, motor or multimodal information. Neural activity was usually studied in one distinct region at a time, and using stimuli that were predicted to best represent the information processing in that region. Recent advances in large-scale imaging and recording technologies are causing us to re-examine those assumptions, by allowing study of large numbers of neurons, sometimes from multiple cortical regions at once, and with more complex stimuli and behavioral paradigms. Several large-scale imaging and recording studies have found that in virtual navigation tasks, single neurons in many regions of neocortex contain position-correlated signals, despite many of these regions lacking direct connectivity to place cell-containing brain areas. These position-related signals are nonetheless likely (indirectly) inherited from the hippocampus. In this symposium, we will discuss the origin and meaning of these position related signals, and how their study will contribute to the understanding of task-related information processing in the brain.

Business Meeting
Friday 8 Jan 2021 2:45pm-3:00pm MST
Session Chair: Brock Kirwan