Public Release: 

Neuroscience 2012 press program features latest brain science news

Artist Chuck Close to deliver special lecture about the intersection of art and the brain

Society for Neuroscience

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- New research about the brain and related disorders will be unveiled at Neuroscience 2012 in New Orleans, Oct. 13-17. Findings will include how the brain weighs complex decisions; progress being made in treating Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury; and novel understanding of how life experiences, diet, and sleep influence brain health and wellness.

Neuroscience 2012 is the annual meeting of the SfN and -- with more than 31,000 attendees -- the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

"The research presented at Neuroscience 2012 is part of the latest progress in understanding how the brain and nervous system develops and works -- and how it breaks down," said SfN President Moses Chao. "Each year, the meeting showcases new tools and valuable information about the brain -- from understanding learning and behavior to how the brain adapts or is ravaged by disease and disorders," Chao said.

Renowned artist Chuck Close, noted for his highly inventive techniques used to paint the human face, speaks about his "life as a rolling neurological clinic" and his artwork during the "Dialogues between Neuroscience and Society" lecture. A National Medal of Arts awardee, Close produced his iconic portraits while coping with serious impairments of his body and brain.

Credentialed media receive complimentary registration, access to a working press room, meals, and live streaming of press conferences held Sunday, Oct. 14, through Tuesday, Oct. 16. Press conference topics include:

The Social Brain
People make thousands of decisions each day, from simple choices, to social judgments about ethics and morality. Explore new research being released that bridges the gap between social psychology and neuroscience to better decipher how the brain weighs complex social decisions and environments.

Early Interventions for Alzheimer's Disease
Diagnosing Alzheimer's disease currently relies on logging mental decline over time, potentially long after the disease has wreaked havoc on the brain. What if we could detect Alzheimer's disease before symptoms start? Learn more about emerging research that is helping spot initial changes in the diseased brain. What critical clues could help diagnose, delay, or prevent disease onset and suggest new avenues to treat the disease?

Teenagers experience many emotional, social, and behavioral changes that can feed into great personal growth as well as increased risk for depression, drug experimentation, and impulsivity. Could these attributes be hardwired in the brain? New research investigates how the adolescent brain functions, and how critical development periods can alter brain health and wellness.

"Invisible" Wounds: From Soldiers to Citizens
New research addresses the "invisible" wounds of war, such as traumatic brain injury and suicidal depression. What do these findings tell us about the immediate and long-term impact of brain injury? What are the implications for injuries among athletes and the general public?

The Power of Facial Communication
What makes a face such a powerful mode of communication? With small changes in expression, it can comfort, question, threaten, or spark deep emotion. How do we learn as babies to mimic others, and as adults, to evaluate faces at a glance? New brain research explores the complex circuitry involved in processing and interpreting facial expressions.

Early Life Experiences
Our "formative years" are indeed building blocks for life. Recent findings show that early life trauma, such as poverty or physical abuse, can have a dramatic effect on the brain into adulthood. What does new research tell us that might help guide interventions?

Additional press conference topics are:

  • Are You What You Eat?
  • Stress and PTSD
  • Stem Cells: What Do We Know Now?
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Why Sleep Matters

Presidential Special Lectures feature:

  • James Rothman, PhD, Yale University School of Medicine, will discuss efforts to understand the brain's machinery for cell communication.
  • Carla Shatz, PhD, Stanford University, will present on her work exploring critical developmental periods, and how manipulating them has relevance not only for understanding brain wiring and developmental disorders, but also for enhancing recovery from injury.
  • Janet F. Werker, PhD, The University of British Columbia, will address how exposure to language in the womb and early infancy affects the brain and subsequent language development.
  • Simon E. Fisher, DPhil, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, will discuss our "gift of gab," and research uncovering critical genes involved in speech and language.

Other meeting events highlight the interplay between brain research and global culture, politics, and society:

  • Special Presentation, "The Changing Global Neuroscience Ecosystem: Why it Matters to Our Future," by Steven E. Hyman, MD.
  • The Societal Impact and Biology of the Overt and Hidden Dysfunctions Resulting from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)" public symposium.
  • "The Developing Brain: How Research and Advocacy is Shaping Public Policy" forum.
  • "Communicating Research to Patients -- A Moral Imperative for Neuroscientists?" roundtable.

Register and find more information about the meeting at

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of more than 42,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system. More information about the brain can be found at, a public information initiative of The Kavli Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and SfN.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.