Friday, October 29, 2004

SFN 2004 -- A Disneyland for Neuroscientists

The Society for Neuroscience Meeting 2004 in San Diego was again a Disneyland for neuroscientists. There were well more than ten thousand participants. The convention center was full of people migrating from talk to talk, poster to poster, their identity feebly accessible through the name tag on the necklaces, except in these Poisson distribution following cases when somebody happened to be one of your acquaintances.
I awaited eagerly the talk by Wolfram Schultz. In the last few years, his works on dopamine neurons have been increasingly inspiring, in that they address the hitherto unaddressed problems of how to handle uncertainty in a robust way (sometimes branded with the new term "neuroeconomics"). I enjoyed his talk hugely, not the less so as I discovered that his idea of a typical reward for the human brain was a bottle of beer. Wolfram now resides in University of Cambridge, U.K., but is originally from Germany, a country known for the passion of good cold beers.
The Disneyland metaphor that I mentioned above is not a trivial one. Even for a prominent senior scientist like Wolfram Schultz, it is almost impossible to be known to everybody. So everyone remain largely anonymous in the mobbing crowd, with some people preoccupied with a cure for Alzheimer's disease, some with the enigma of the prefrontal function, and yet some with brain machine interface. Nobody is given an ostensibly VIP treatment, lining up at the registration desk, queuing to get a cup of Starbucks. The Disneyland metaphor is also a testimony of the status quo of neuroscience as an increasingly big and fragmented endeavor, with nobody really knowing what is going on in the whole field.



Where's your poster? The poster board number extends from A to Z, and then from AA to ZZ+something, in order to accommodate the several hundred presentations given in each session.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

what an amazing concept....i'm currently seeking the truth of 'mind' . sieving thru the debris of cartesian philosophy and neuroscience and found your explanation of qualia to be such a refreshing and stimulating approach. A Fascinating new model of thinking .thankyou.
Sean
zen_gravy@hotmail.com

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Antonio Hicks said...

I was just browsing various blogs as I was doing a search on the word poster, and I just wanted to say that I really like what you've done with your blog, even though it wasn't particularly related to what I searched for. I appreciate your postings, and your blog is a good example of how a blog should be done. I've only just recently started a Posters website - feel free to visit it when you get a chance if you wish. Much success, antonio.

Antonio Hicks said...

I was just browsing various blogs as I was doing a search on the word poster, and I just wanted to say that I really like what you've done with your blog, even though it wasn't particularly related to what I searched for. I appreciate your postings, and your blog is a good example of how a blog should be done. I've only just recently started a Posters website - feel free to visit it when you get a chance if you wish. Much success, antonio.

yacchin said...

What comes firstly to my mind after reading this blog is that The Society for Neuroscience Meeting is seemingly compared to "one human brain",and one participant seems likened to "one neuron".

A participant can never know “what is going on in the whole field”.Similarly,A neuron cannnot recognize what is going on in the whole field of the brain.It can only know about the neurons nearby.

But all the achievements of researches by more than thousand participants generate a bundle of society called “The Society for Neuroscience Meeting”.Likewise,100,000,000,000 neurons gather and there an integrated totality called “the brain” is born! I feel this fact a kind of miracle in the nature.I wonder what on earth integrates 100,000,000,000 neurons.

From this I will begin to re-study about your books on mind-brain problem,and I would like to quest for the thing which there is far away of the veil which I feel is the wonder !