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Deciding Mind: The Deciding Mind: Society for Neuroscience

Jul 15, 2012: 11am - 12pm
WGXC 90.7-FM: Radio for Open Ears

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Hosted by Shelly Menolascino, MD and Mitchell Belgin

Join us this Sunday morning for a new Deciding Mind show, this week focusing again on interviews obtained during the Society for Neuroscience’s Annual meeting. Our show this week focuses on leading edge research on genetics and behavior. Ever wonder why autism is more prevalent in males rather than females? In 2 generations, autism has mushroomed from 1 in 20,000 incidence to now 1 in 110. Cutting edge research in the field of autism are narrowing their focuses on genetic ( and epigenetic) aspects of what is now being termed “autism spectrum disorders”. By narrowing their focus on genetic issues, they are able to follow and now affect the expression of certain genes, paving the way for cures to be developed. Our second interview also explores the arena of genetics, discovering how stress and behaviors are handed down trans-generationally (skipping a generation between, grandparent to grandchild), a new concept in the field of genetics. These researchers were surprised by their own results, leading them to understand genetic vulnerability and expression in ways they hadn’t before appreciated.

Please join us in exploring the fascinating work being done on the frontiers of neuroscience.

Our guests include:

Dr. Susan Rivera: Director: Neurocognitive Development Lab Center for Mind and Brain University Of California, Davis Full Professor, Department of Psychology, UC Davis

Dr. Rivera conducts research on the origins and development of symbolic representation in both infants and children. She uses classic behavioral as well as neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques to investigate such things as the development of dorsal vs. ventral visual processing, object representation, numerical cognition and affective processing. As a member of the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, she also conducts research contrasting typical development with that of children with neurodevelopmental disorders including Autism and fragile X Syndrome. One of her main research goals is to build a framework for integrating the previously disparate methodological and theoretical orientations of cognitive developmental and neuroscience research. By employing a variety of converging research techniques, she strives to elucidate the complex brain-behavior relationships that underlie cognitive development.


Dr. Joseph Buxbaum

Director of The Seaver Autism Center at The Mount Sinai Hospital PROFESSOR Psychiatry PROFESSOR Genetics and Genomic Sciences PROFESSOR Neuroscience

Email: joseph.buxbaum@mssm.edu Joseph Buxbaum, PhD, Director Dr. Joseph Buxbaum is a world-renowned molecular geneticist who has been intimately affiliated with the Seaver Autism Center since joining the faculty at Mount Sinai in 1997. Dr. Buxbaum was recruited in part to establish a molecular genetics program in autism spectrum conditions within Mount Sinai. As such, he was the Director of Molecular Genetics in the Seaver Autism Center for seven years and took over Directorship of the Seaver Autism Center itself in 2008. Dr. Buxbaum has focused on understanding the molecular and genetic basis of autism spectrum conditions, which will allow for a better understanding of what causes them, leading to the development of novel therapeutics for the negative aspects of these disorders.

Additionally, Dr. Buxbaum heads the Laboratory of Molecular Neuropsychiatry, which has taken the findings of the causes of autism and translated them into animal models where therapeutic approaches can be evaluated. In this context, Dr. Buxbaum has established the Autism Model Systems Initiative, which makes use of multiple experimental systems to develop and evaluate novel therapeutics in autism spectrum conditions.

Dr. Buxbaum is a lead investigator in the Autism Genetics Consortium, the Autism Genome Project, and the Autism Case Control Cohort, and is a part of the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium. These large Consortia have the benefit of advancing the best science at the fastest pace.


Emmanuel M. DiCicco Bloom, MD

Emanuel M. DiCicco-Bloom, MD diciccem@umdnj.edu

Professor MD, Cornell University Medical College, Research Interests: Gene and growth factor regulation of neurogenesis during mammalian brain development, with a focus on models of human neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, schizophrenia and environmental teratogens. One direction of research explores the roles of extracellular growth factors, such as IGF1, bFGF and PACAP, in regulating proliferation of neural precursors in cerebral cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum, working via cell cycle machinery, especially cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors. Another area of interest examines the effects of environmental teratogens, including methylmercury and neurotherapeutic valproic acid, on neural stem cell proliferation in prenatal cortex and postnatal hippocampus, defining effects on proliferation and programmed cell death, as well as neurogenesis and behavioral consequences. Finally, we are defining the roles of the autism-associated gene, Engrailed 2, in development of cerebellum and hindbrain, as well as secondary effects on forebrain structure and functions. These studies are performed in neural stem cell cultures, and in embryonic and postnatal rodent brains, altering growth factors, genes and microRNAs by using knock out technology, gene over/under expression methods (transfection, in utero electroporation) and pharmacological approaches with subsequent analyses of mRNAs, proteins, cell and tissue morphology and animal behaviors.

National Advisory Positions: Dr. DiCicco-Bloom serves on several autism and brain disease related scientific panels including Autism Speaks, the Autism Science Foundation, the Autism Tissue Program, the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, the NIH Developmental Brain Disorders study section, the Rutgers University Brain Health Institute (Autism), and the Society for Neuroscience Government & Public Affairs committee, as well as several neuroscience journal editorial boards.

Medical Programs Child Neurology Program Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Child Health Institute of New Jersey 89 French Street, 2nd Floor New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1935 Specialty Pediatric Neurology

Hospital Affiliations Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital - New Brunswick

Academic Titles Professor of Pediatrics / Neuroscience & Cell Biology


Dr. Tracy Bale

Associate Professor of Neuroscience
Director, Neuroscience Center; Vice Chair, 
School of Veterinary Medicine,
University of Pennsylvania http://www.med.upenn.edu/ins/faculty/bale.htm

Associate Professor of Neuroscience Director, Neuroscience Center; Vice Chair, NGG School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

NA/ESA Symposium Speaker / Meet the Professor - Tracy Bale

Dr. Tracy L. Bale is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Animal Biology and holds a joint appointment in Psychiatry. She is also the Director of the Neuroscience Center in the SOVM. Dr. Bale received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1997 where she worked in neuroendocrinology on the central regulation of the oxytocin receptor. She then completed her postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA working with Dr. Wylie Vale on stress neuroendocrinology. Dr. Bale joined the Dept. of Animal Biology in 2003, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2009. Her research interests are centered on the role of stress dysregulation in disease, including the development of mouse models relevant to neuropsychiatric disease and obesity. Her lab currently focuses on the interaction of genes x environment, assessing epigenetic mechanisms in disease programming.


Genetic mouse models for behavioral analyses including stress, anxiety, depression, feeding and reward models; gene expression studies using in situ hybridization; pharmacology and protein expression using receptor autoradiography; biochemistry using Western blot; molecular biology for gene detection; epigenetic analyses; and plasma hormone detection using radioimmune assays.


We have focused on developing models of disease including affective disorders and obesity utilizing approaches that range from fetal antecedents, involved in programming of long-term disease risk, to genetic targeting of cell type specific knockouts. We have initiated multiple lines of investigation that will provide insight into the timing and sex specificity of early life events promoting disease susceptibility, the maturation of central pathways during key periods of development, and the epigenetic mechanisms involved in long-term effects following stress exposure.

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