Alison Barth
(Carnegie Mellon University)

Selective synapse modulation using endogenous release of neuromodulators

Alison Barth is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, where she studies the organization and plasticity of neocortical circuits in rodents.  Her work centers on how synapses are altered by behavioral experience, where she uses neurophysiological recordings, transgenic mice, and advanced microscopy to understand brain function.  Dr. Barth is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience, the McKnight Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and has been a Sloan Foundation fellow.  She holds a patent for the fosGFP transgenic mouse, and is an inventor on multiple applications for other neuroscience-related methods and treatments.

Andrea Chiba
(University of California, San Diego)

Basal Forebrain Modulation of Adaptive Behavior

Andrea A. Chiba is a Professor in the Department of Cognitive Science and in the Program of Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego. The Chiba Laboratory is focused on gaining an understanding of the neural systems and principles underlying aspects of learning, memory, affect, and attention, with an emphasis on neural plasticity. Her laboratory team is highly interdisciplinary, using a variety of neurobiological, neurochemical, neurophysiology, computational, robotic, and behavioral techniques.  Chiba has been active in the US Brain Initiative. Her team’s work on the neural basis of prosociality and interoception was awarded an NSF BRAIN Initiative Award. She is also Co-Director and the founding Science Director of the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, an NSF Science of Learning Center.

Anita Disney
(Duke University)

Subcortical control of cortical circuits; a neurochemical state space?

Anita Disney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University. Her lab’s research is aimed at understanding the ways in which subcortical chemical neuromodulatory systems (e.g. serotonergic, cholinergic, and noradrenergic) dynamically modify cortical circuits to support cognition and behavior. In service of this goal, work in the Disney lab deploys a range of methodological approaches, and diverse model systems and species. Neuroanatomical techniques (confocal, electron and light microscopy combined with immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and/or tract tracing) are used to localize key elements of these modulatory signaling pathways (such as synthesizing enzymes and receptors). Task engagement, electrical stimulation, and in vivo pharmacology enable manipulation of the chemical signaling in cortex. Effects of those manipulations are monitored using electrophysiology, microdialysis, and electrochemistry.

Antoine Adamantidis
(University of Bern)

Activity of hypothalamic goal-directed circuit across brain states

Prof. Antoine Adamantidis is a Professor of System Neurophysiology in the Dept of Neurology at the University of Bern. He is the co-director for the Zentrum Fur Experimentale Neurologie (ZEN labs) at the Inselspital. He obtained his pre- and postdoctoral education at the Universities of Liege, Belgium, and at Stanford University School of Medicine, USA, respectively.

Prof. A. Adamantidis’s research objectives aim at investigating the wiring, firing dynamics and plasticity of the neural circuits regulating brain states in normal and pathological states using in vitro and in vivo optogenetics – a technology that he and his colleagues pioneered at Stanford University – combined to genetics and electophysiological methods. His research program has been driven by questions such as, What define a sleep/wake circuit? What is the relevance of neural discharge rate in controlling sleep-wake states and sleep function?How pathophysiological symptoms of sleep disorders (narcolepsy, insomnia, etc.) relate to sleep-wake circuits dynamics?  His laboratory identified hypothalamic circuits controlling rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep and arousal. In more recent work, his group identified septo-hippocampus circuit supporting theta rhythm generation and contextual memory consolidation during REM sleep, and the thalamic contribution to sleep-wake states.

Prof. Antoine Adamantidis has received several awards including the Pfizer Research Award, the R. Broughton Young Investigator Award (Canadian Sleep Society), a Canadian Research Chair in Neural circuits and Optogenetics, a NIH Pathway to Independence (PI) Award-K99/R00 (USA), NARSAD and Sleep Research Society Young Investigator Award (USA).

Gilad Silberberg
(Karolinska Institute)

Dopamine and Acetylcholine Balancing Act in the Striatum

Gilad Silberberg is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. Gilad joined the Karolinska Institutet in 2005, firstly as an HFSP fellow before joining the Department of Neuroscience as a PI in 2008. Gilad has a BSc. in Physics from the Hebrew University (IL) and, gained his PhD in Neurobiology from the Weizmann Institute (IL) in 2004.

Graham Knott

The structure of neuromodulatory axons

Graham Knott is head of the Bio Electron Microscopy Facility in the School of Life Sciences at the EPFL where he has studied, from a number of years, neuronal plasticity, and developed different techniques for imaging and analysing brain structures at high resolution.

Henry Markram
(EPFL Blue Brain Project)

Dr. Markram is a Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Director of the Laboratory of Neural Microcircuitry (LNMC), and the Founder and Director of the Blue Brain Project. His research is focused on synaptic plasticity and the microcircuitry of the neocortex.

After earning his PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science, with distinction, he was a Fulbright scholar at the National Institutes of Health, and a Minerva Fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for Medical Research. In 1995, he returned to the Weizmann Institute, becoming an Associate Professor in 2000. In 2002, he became a full professor at EPFL.

Markram’s research has focused on synaptic plasticity and the microcircuitry of the neocortex, in which he has discovered fundamental principles governing synaptic plasticity and the structural and functional organization of neural microcircuitry. Other key discoveries include the concept of Liquid Computing and the Intense World Theory of Autism

Huib Mansvelder
(Vrije Universiteit)

Neuromodulation of human neocortical microcircuits

Huib Mansvelder received his PhD in Neurophysiology from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 1999. In his thesis, he investigated the control of large dense-core vesicle release by voltage-gated calcium channels in neuroendocrine cells in the pituitary. During his postdoctoral research with Dan McGehee at the University of Chicago, he studied drug-induced synaptic plasticity in dopamine neurons, and found mechanisms by which nicotinic acetylcholine receptors alter glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic transmission in the VTA. During his second postdoc at Columbia University, New York with Rafael Yuste, rapid calcium dynamics in dendritic spines were studied using 2photon imaging. In the summer of 2002, Huib started his own lab at VU University in Amsterdam. He became full professor in 2008 and as headed the department of Integrative Neurophysiology since. His research focuses on how the prefrontal cortex orchestrates attention behaviour in rodents, in particular in interaction with subcortical brain areas, such as the basal forebrain. In addition, his lab investigates how neuronal microcircuits in the human neocortex are organized, both anatomically as well as functionally, and how properties of human neurons relate to human cognition.

Joshua Johansen

Coordinating form and function in the locus coeruleus noradrenaline system

Joshua P. Johansen received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1998 and then worked in the lab of Howard Fields at UCSF until 2003. He then obtained his PhD in 2007 working in the lab of Hugh Tad Blair at the University of California, Los Angeles followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Joseph LeDoux’s lab at New York University from 2007 until 2011. During this time he identified neuronal coding, circuit and plasticity mechanisms controlling how aversive experiences trigger associative emotional learning.

Since 2011 he has been a Team Leader at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute (now Center for Brain Science) in Japan. Here his lab has revealed a new organizational principle explaining how brainstem noradrenaline circuits control diverse brain functions and identified a predictive, top down feedback circuit mechanism for regulating aversive signaling during learning to control the strength of emotional memories.

Jun Igarashi

Parallelization method of cortico-thalamo-cerebellar circuits toward exascale computing

Jun Igarashi is a senior researcher of the Head Office for Information Cybersecurity at RIKEN. He leads the research team, subtheme B of Post-K Exploratory Challenging 4. He investigates oscillatory neural activities in terms of brain function and disease, and efficient methods for large-scale simulations of spiking neural networks.


Laszlo Zaborszky
(Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Rutgers)

The Basal Forebrain Cholinergic System Supports Cortical Network Operations

Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University (RU), NJ, USA. His laboratory is using a combination of anatomical tracing, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, computational analysis in rodents and human imaging to understand how the basal forebrain cholinergic system is organized to modulate specific cognitive operations. He is founding Co-Editor-in-Chief, Brain Structure and Function; foreign member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Board of Trustees Award for Research Excellence (RU, 2016) 


Lindsay Schwarz
(St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

Uncovering Heterogeneity in Brain Norepinephrine Circuits

Dr. Lindsay Schwarz is an Assistant Member at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Research in her lab is currently focused on integrating a variety of approaches, such as viral-genetic anatomical tracing, next-generation sequencing, optogenetics, and in vivo calcium imaging, to identify heterogeneity within brain neuromodulatory circuits.


Menahem Segal
(Weizmann Institute)

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, Menahem Segal earned his BA and MA from Bar-Ilan University. He received a PhD in biology from the California Institute of Technology in 1972, and then conducted postdoctoral studies for two years at the National Institute of Mental Health. In 1975, he returned to Israel and joined the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Neurobiology. He was the incumbent of the Harry and Leona Levine Professorial Chair of Neurosciences until his retirement Prof. Segal had served as Head of Department of Neurobiology (1991-1994), Head of the Benoziyo Center for Neurological Diseases (2000-2008) and Head of Weizmann’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (2008-2011). He is a member of the Academia Europea and the Dana Alliance, and an honorary member of the Israel Society for Neuroscience, where he served as the president during 2001-3.


Michael Higley
(Yale University)

Controlling GABAergic inhibition through differential modulation and plasticity of distinct inhibitory circuits

Dr. Michael Higley completed an MD/PhD at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Diego Contreras, studying the role of excitation and inhibition in shaping cellular dynamics in the somatosensory cortex.  He then completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Bernardo Sabatini at Harvard Medical School, applying 2-photon imaging and glutamate uncaging to the study of synaptic neuromodulation in the basal ganglia.  Dr. Higley started his own lab in the Department of Neuroscience at Yale University, investigating the development, organization, and function of GABAergic signaling in the neocortex.  His lab currently utilizes a variety of approaches, including 2-photon and widefield imaging both ex vivo and in awake behaving mice.  Among several current lines of research, the lab is very interested in understanding how neuromodulation of synaptic transmission drives behavioral state-dependent changes in sensory encoding and perceptual ability.


Minmin Luo 
(National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing)

Reward processing by the Dorsal Raphe

Minmin Luo is an Investigator at the National Institute of Biological Sciences (NIBS), Beijing, Co-Director and Investigator at the Chinese Institute for Brain Research, and a professor at the School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University. He majored in psychology at Peking University and received a MS degree in computer sciences and Ph.D. degree in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. After completing postdoctoral training at Duke University, he set up an independent research group and has been carrying out his researches in NIBS since 2005. His research interests mainly focus on exploring how serotonergic, dopaminergic, and cholinergic neurons and their interconnected neural circuits organize and modulate behaviors associated with reward and punishment processing, how their changes contribute to the etiology of mental disorders, and how potential targets can be intervened with small molecules to treat related diseases..

Mriganka Sur

Control of noradrenaline by locus coeruleus circuits

Dr. Sur is the Newton Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Simons Center for the Social Brain at MIT, which he founded after 15 years as head of the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. His lab studies the organization, plasticity and dynamics of the cerebral cortex of the brain using experimental and theoretical approaches.

Ofer Yizhar
(Weizmann Institute)

Neuromodulatory regulation of excitatory-inhibitory dynamics in the mouse prefrontal cortex

Dr. Ofer Yizhar was awarded a BSc in biology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2001 and completed his PhD at the Tel Aviv University in 2008. He did his postdoctoral research at Stanford University in California from 2008 to 2011, where he worked on developing novel optogenetic tools for manipulating genetically-defined neuronal populations in vivo.  In 2011, he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science. His work is focused on understanding the mechanisms through which the prefrontal cortex regulates behavior and cognition. Prefrontal cortical regions contribute to many higher brain functions, including working memory, impulsivity, social interactions and goal-directed behavior. To study these complex circuits, the Yizhar lab continues to develop and apply advanced optogenetic approaches, particularly focusing on the manipulation of long-range synaptic connections and detailed analysis of local-circuit connectivity.

Raffaella Tonini
(Italian Institute of Technology)

Compartmentalized serotonergic modulation of striatal circuits

Raffaella Tonini is Senior Scientist and Head of the Neuromodulation of Cortical and Subcortical Circuits Laboratory, Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genoa, Italy.

The overarching goal of her research activity is to identify the key molecular players in neuromodulatory pathways that influence synapse and circuits, and that link cellular signaling to behavior.

Randy Bruno
(Columbia University)

Inputs to apical dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurons in behavior

Randy Bruno is a Principal Investigator at Columbia University and the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. He earned his Ph.D. in Neurobiology with Professor Daniel J. Simons at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and performed postdoctoral research with the Nobel laureate Bert Sakmann at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany. Professor Bruno’s own laboratory investigates how the circuitry of the thalamus and cerebral cortex enables sensation, perception, and decision making. His lab discovered that the upper layers and deep layers of the cortex comprise two separate systems, which can operate independently. This work earned him the Society for Neuroscience’s 2013 Young Investigator Award. His major current efforts are to understand the computational and behavioral roles of these two halves of the cortex and the role of the secondary somatosensory thalamus in modulating cortical computation.

Robert Froemke

Oxytocin, cortical plasticity, and maternal behavior

Robert Froemke is associate professor of otolaryngology and neuroscience/physiology at NYU School of Medicine and a member of the NYU Skirball and Neuroscience Institutes. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley and did his postdoctoral research at UCSF. His lab is focused on neuromodulation, synaptic plasticity, auditory perception and social behavior in rats and mice. He has received a number of awards and honors, including Pew, McKnight, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholarships.

Srikanth Ramaswamy
(EPFL Blue Brain Project)

A data-driven in silico framework to predict cholinergic control of neocortical network states

Dr. Ramaswamy is a Senior Scientist in the Blue Brain Project at the EPFL.

Dr. Ramaswamy leads the effort in modeling synaptic transmission and neuromodulation in the Blue Brain Project’s flagship simulations of neocortical tissue, under the direction of Prof. Henry Markram, and in close collaboration with Dr. Eilif Muller, Prof. Idan Segev (Jerusalem) and Prof. Javier DeFelipe (Madrid).

Dr. Ramaswamy joined the Blue Brain Project in 2006, as one of its first scientific team members and completed his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Henry Markram in 2011. He then did a brief postdoc at the EPFL and the CHUV until his appointment as a Senior Scientist at the Blue Brain Project in 2014.

Stephanie Cragg
(University of Oxford)

Gating striatal dopamine transmission

Stephanie Cragg is Professor of Neuroscience at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, UK, and a co-founder of the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre. Her current research focuses on understanding the control of dopamine neurotransmission, in health and disease.


Wolfram Schultz
(University of Cambridge)

The dopamine reward signal

Wolfram Schultz is a graduate in medicine from the University of Heidelberg. After postdoctoral stays in Germany, USA and Sweden, and a faculty position in Switzerland, he works currently at the University of Cambridge. He combines behavioural, neurophysiological and neuroimaging techniques to investigate the neural mechanisms of rlearning, goal-directed behaviour and economic decision making. He uses behavioural concepts from animal learning theory and economic decision theories to study the neurophysiology and neuroimaging of reward and risk in individual neurons and in specific brain regions, including the dopamine system, striatum, orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala.