Recommended sessions at the FENS 2020 Virtual Forum

Recommended sessions at the FENS 2020 Virtual Forum

With the FENS 2020 Virtual Forum fast approaching, here are some sessions that we think will be particularly interesting and useful. With the programme being viewable three months after the forum, clashing sessions are no longer a problem, helping you to get the most out of your attendance. 

We have included mini-conferences, technical workshops, parallel symposium, special interest events and networking events. The full programme is available on the FENS website

If you want to attend the conference but are unable to due to financial reasons, take a look at our competition to win a free registration.


All mini-conferences require pre-registration here and take place on Saturday 11th July, 08:00 – 11:30.

MC03 - Multiscale, multimethod human brain imaging. Organised by the Human Brain Mapping

Hall C

This mini conference will explore multiple levels of structural and functional organization, across multi-scale networks in human, monkey and rodent brains. Speakers will range in expertise from neuronal and subneuronal microcircuitry, up to macroscale regional organization relevant for system-level approaches to understanding brain processes.  

MC07 - A celebration of women in developmental neuroscience organised by Cajal Club

Hall F

Three themes are covered in this mini conference. Firstly, Cajal Club-sponsored meetings at other venues traditionally focus on the cerebral cortex. Advances in the several other model systems Cajal studied will be discussed, with a focus on development. Second, the work of women scientists, especially in Europe, who work on these systems will be showcased. Third, we will have the opportunity to hear about the women neuroscientists in the Cajal school through a talk by Fernando de Castro, who has recently authored an article on this theme.

Technical workshops

W01 - Optogenetics: from new tools to applications

Saturday 11th July, 9:00 – 11:30

This workshop will provide insight Insight into new optogenetic tools, structured illumination by spatial light modulators and implantable micro-LED arrays, as well as how optogenetic manipulation can be used to understand neural circuitry. 

W03 - Glial interfaces: technology & methods to uncover the 4D glial role in brain function & dysfunction

Saturday 11th July, 9:00 – 11:30

This workshop aims to present the most promising advances in unconventional tools & methods, that enabled unprecedented insights into the 4 dimensional nature of spatio-temporal neuron-glial interactions, in the healthy and pathological brain. 

Parallel symposia

S02 - From brain connectome to molecular synaptome: diversity of synapse formation and maintenance

Saturday 11th July, 13:00 – 14:30

The notion of the synaptome has recently emerged as the diverse ensemble of synapses established within a circuit of interest. Yet our current knowledge of the molecular synapse diversity within neuronal networks is very poor. Here, the latest findings will be presented and perspectives in the definition of more precise synaptomes will be discussed. 

S04 - Modulating and visualizing memory engrams in the rodent and human brain 

Saturday 11th July, 13:00 – 14:30

In this symposium, leading early career memory researchers will share their continuously developing insights on how engram cells contribute to information encoding and storage, across diverse brain regions, species, and behavioral modalities. Emphasis will be given to engram accessibility across development, during sleep deprivation, and following stress. 

S14 - Mitochondria as sensors and regulators of astroglial and neuronal functions 

Saturday 11th July, 13:00 – 14:30

Recent advances have revealed that not only neurons, but also astrocytes, require a network of functional mitochondria in order to produce energy, regulate intracellular homeostasis (including calcium levels), and respond to stress. However, very little is known about how they behave in neurons or astrocytes under particular physiological and pathological conditions, or what influences them biochemically and physically. The aim of this Symposium is to bring together researchers who will highlight recent advances in the functional significance of mitochondria functions in astrocytes and neurons and will stimulate the scientific community to discuss the role of Mt in brain physiology and pathology. 

S16 - 50 years of barrel cortex: linking structure and function

Sunday 12th July, 13:00 – 14:30

The barrel cortex has emerged as a key model system in neuroscience for studying cortical structure and function. The barrel cortex was discovered in 1970 in a seminal paper by Woolsey and Van der Loos. 2020 marks the 50-year anniversary of this discovery. The anatomical organisation of barrel cortex allows neuroscientists to investigate the structure, function and plasticity of neuronal circuits in the context of a well-defined sensory map. This unique feature of the barrel cortex has allowed spectacular progress to be made over the last decades in the quantitative understanding of the structure and function of cortical circuits, and this will be the subject of this symposium.

S22 - Sleep, stress and obesity: untangling the link

Sunday 12th July, 13:00 – 14:30

Here, the neurobiological links between poor sleep, high stress, the gut, appetite and weight gain will be examined. 

S18 - Metabolic and epigenetic rewiring of neuroimmune interactions 

Monday 13th July, 13:00 – 14:30

The goal of this symposium is to engage the audience in a lively discussion about recently published and unpublished findings related to metabolic and epigenetic reprogramming of microglia.

S30 - The flexible use of multisensory information for behavior: models, neurons and neuroimaging 

Monday 13th July, 13:00 – 14:30

Combining information across our senses is key to form a coherent perception of our environment. This interdisciplinary symposium will provide an overview of the rapidly emerging field of multisensory integration by making translational connections between animal studies and functional imaging studies in humans. We will bring together experts who use a diverse set of techniques, ranging from single-unit and neural population recordings in animals to fMRI, MEG/EEG, psychophysics and computational modeling. 

S41 - Small, yet important: how hippocampal CA2 shapes our memory

Tuesday 14th July, 13:00 – 14:30

Several recent discoveries about hippocampal CA2 challenge the classical perception of hippocampal memory processing. CA2 has been shown to be crucial for social memory, the regulation of hippocampal oscillations and likely also for sequence memory. Place cells in CA2 remap upon passage of time, contextual changes and are partly activated during immobility. Plasticity is under strict control and can be modulated by various neuromodulatory substances. 

S42 - Astroglial networks in regulating sensory function and plasticity 

Tuesday 14th July, 13:00 – 14:30

Here a multidisciplinary range of important and timely findings that address the apparent stalemate in our attempts to understand causal interactions between astroglial and neural networks will be presented. 

S49 - Insights into brain architecture and behaviour from complete connectomes 

Wednesday 15th July, 13:00 – 14:30

There is growing appreciation that synaptic resolution connectomics can make significant contributions to neuroscience, but this is not yet universally accepted. One reason is that comprehensive, dense connectomics revealing all of the connections within a brain are the most informative for neural circuits; but to date there are only two whole brain connectomes, C. elegans (302 neurons) and the Ciona tadpole (177 neurons). By early 2020, international collaborative efforts will complete the connectome of the Drosophila larval brain (2500 neurons) and large scale circuit reconstruction from adult fly (~25000 neurons in a brain hemisphere). This symposium will be the first to present, side by side, insights from these complete larval and adult connectomes. 

S53 – Understanding memory networks: unravelling hippocampal-cortico-thalamic interactions 

Wednesday 15th July, 13:00 – 14:30

Our ability to form and retrieve memories is dependent upon a large network of brain regions, both within and beyond the hippocampus. Unravelling the complex network interactions is crucial for understanding memory function. The combination of cutting-edge research from multiple species (rodent, non-human primate and human) and multiple levels of analysis (mapping neuronal activation, optogenetics, in-vivo electrophysiological recordings and MRI) will provide novel insights into the functioning of brain-wide memory networks. 

Special interest events

SiE01- The Brain Debate

Saturday 11th July, 14:30 – 16:00

This Brain Debate aims at illustrating why different scientists study different systems and what can be achieved with different approaches. Animal preparations are frequently presented as ‘model organisms’. Does this suggest that the ultimate goal of animal work should be to understand and treat the human brain? Translating animal brain research to clinical implications is certainly a key goal of a large part of the research carried out. 

SiE03 – The credibility of neuroscience

Sunday 12th July, 9:30 – 10:30

The preference for dramatic, novel and positive findings over incremental, reproduced or negative findings within a ‘publish or perish’ culture is jeopardising the reproducibility, replicability, and reliability of neuroscience research. While this issue has been recognised for some time, and is currently being addressed by many research councils, institutes and journals who are adopting credible initiatives, there is still a perceived - or in many cases actual - pressure on neuroscientists to publish ‘high-impact’ articles (and in high numbers). In this special event, we will hear about credibility initiatives that have the potential to increase the reproducibility, replicability, and reliability neuroscience research, which will not only benefit scientific progress in the long-run, but also address a major cause for the poor mental health of research scientists. 

SiE13 - Animal experimentation and the search for alternatives – current developments and future perspectives

Sunday 12th July, 9:30 – 10:30

The principles of replacement, refinement and reduction - the “Three Rs” put forward by the European Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes - continue to shape scientific research across the EU and beyond. In this context, the search for alternatives to animal models increasingly influences the development of research projects. At the same time, the importance of employing the correct model - be that animal or otherwise - remains key to the reliability, and indeed utility, of any results. The discussion will cover situations involving a shift from high to low complexity models, from animal models to experiments in humans, and animal to in vitro models. Speakers who have made such changes will discuss their reasons for doing so, the challenges encountered and the impact on their working methods.

SiE07 - Neuroscience career paths

Monday 13th July, 9:30 – 10:30

Scientifica’s Dr. Dan Metcalf will be sharing his experiences and advice about neuroscience careers during this interactive event. Participants will be able to virtually meet with representatives from business, industry and public sectors, who will share how their neuroscience background contributed to their career-paths.

SiE08: SciComm SOS: public engagement and communication workshops

Tuesday 14th July, 9:30 – 10:30

Improve your public presentation skills, create a story around your research or learn how to best answer journalists questions in this series of three workshops delivered by science communication specialist, Malcolm Love. 

SiE05 – Towards an environmentally friendly model for life sciences

Tuesday 14th July, 9:30 – 10:30

The earth’s climate is undoubtedly changing. Although scientists are receptive of this fact and aware of the causes and consequences of the current environmental crisis, identifying what we can do as a community, at the level of laboratories, research institutions and individually as scientists remains elusive. This special interest event offers a forum to discuss what we can do to adopt a more sustainable model for life-sciences. The organizers will present the results of a small survey performed among neuroscientists and their research institutes to trigger the discussion on the environmental footprint of our community and to start identifying solutions. 

SiE17 - 21st century global neuroscience collaboration - sculpting a FAIR and open landscape

Wednesday 15th July, 9:30 – 10:30

The emergence of a number of international collaboratives generating vast amounts of brain big data have generated a demand for data sharing that will require an unprecedented level of cooperation to openly share not only our data, but also our tools for making data FAIR, and analyzable. This event is designed to inform the community of the brain data-driven efforts in the international arena, and open the discussion as to how we can combine our resources to achieve greater international cooperation in openly sharing data, AI and best practices - to enable us all to move forward synergistically

SiE14 - Starting and mid-career PI hurdles (I)

Wednesday 15th July, 9:30 – 10:30

Organised by the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence (FKNE) under the umbrella of the FENS Committee for Higher Education and Training (CHET), the event will focus on topics relevant for senior postdocs, newly appointed and mid-carrier PIs. The approached themes include: how to get the first PI position, selection of team members, application and management of funds, the mid-carrier gap, early and mid-career mobility, and coping with stress while balancing life with career. 

Networking events

NE04 - International Brain Initiative: Facilitating Global Neuroscience Engagement

Sunday 12th July, 18:45 – 20:45

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