Welcome to the Department of Neuroscience

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. It is an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics, medicine and allied disciplines, philosophy, physics, and psychology.  The Department of Neuroscience is committed to providing excellence in research, education, and public service.

The Department of Neuroscience is part of the University of Minnesota's Medical School. The Medical School and related healthcare professional schools are grouped under the Academic Health Center.

Department of Neuroscience News

Neuroscience Graduate Student Receives F31 from NIMH

Nathalia Torres, graduate student in Neuroscience, was awarded an NRSA/F31 from NIHM last fall (2014) under the title "Perg of Schizophrenia."  Kudos to Nathalia!

Georgopoulos and Carpenter publication in Current Opinion in Neurobiology

An article entitled "Coding of movements in the motor cortex"by Brain Sciences Center members Adam Carpenter andApostolos Georgopoulos will be appearing in the August 2015 Current Opinion in Neurobiology.  The issue of coding of movement in the motor cortex has recently acquired special significance due to its fundamental importance in neuroprosthetic applications. The challenge of controlling a prosthetic arm by processed motor cortical activity has opened a new era of research in applied medicine but has also provided an ‘acid test’ for hypotheses regarding coding of movement in the motor cortex. The successful decoding of movement information from the activity of motor cortical cells using their directional tuning and population coding has propelled successful neuroprosthetic applications and, at the same time, asserted the utility of those early discoveries, dating back to the early 1980s.


State Legislature May Fund Alzheimer's Studies

Dr. Sylvain Lesne, Assistant Professor and researcher at the N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care, is studying molecules believed to contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease, a growing problem with the aging population over 65 in the U.S., projected to double between 2010 and 2030.  

The Minnesota Senate is considering a bill that would allocate $5 million in both 2016 and 2017 for dementia research.  An additional $750,000 would be added in grant funding to help connect caregivers and patients with appropriate resources.  The N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research was started in 2005. See http://www.memory.umn.edu for details.   The Senate's bill is being authored by Senator Carla Nelson, R-Rochester. 

"If we don't do anything with the aging population...we might arrive at a situation where we might bankrupt our health care system." 
Dr. Sylvain Lesne, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and researcher in the N. BUd Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care at the University of Minnesota.

Source:  Minnesota Daily, 2/3/2015


Drs. Andrew Wikenheiser and David Redish have a paper in press in Nature Neuroscience titled, "Hippocampal theta sequences reflect current goals."  Congratulations to Andrew and David!

Neuroscientist takes the path less charted

In the world of brain research, it's been all about neurons--those electrically excitable cells that process information--for the past 100 years. But a few lone wolves are more intrigued by the brain's "glial cells," so named for the 19th century belief that these non-neuron brain cells were simply the "glue" that held everything else together.

Alfonson Araque, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neuroscience and holder of the Robert and Elaine Larson Neuroscience Research Chair, is one of those investigators taking the path less charted; one who believes that solutions for brain diseases could lie in the shadowy world of the glia.

"We do know that glial cells are more important than once thought," says Araque, who came to the University last fall from Madrid's prestigious Cajal Institute.  He has already shown that astrocytes, a type of glial cell, regulate how neurons communicate with one another.  Now he's working on defining the properties of that communication.

"When something goes wrong, is it becasue the glial cells are not functioning properly?  Once we fully understand the role of those cells, it may bring us new understanding of how brain diseases develop," he says, "and how to treat them."

"I'm very optimistic about the future," says Dr. Araque.  "I believe we've opened a door that will lead us to new understanding of how the brain functions and, ultimately, to treat or even cure serious brain diseases."

(Taken from Neurosciences News, Fall 2014, p. 4, published by the UM Foundation)