Dopamine-producing neurons in the human brain

Neurosciences Institute hosts international panel

By Christi Fish
Public Affairs Specialist

(April 21, 2009)--The UTSA Neurosciences Institute will host a panel discussion with leading international dopamine physiologists presenting new research with moderated discussion from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering Building (BSE) Room 2.102 on the UTSA Main Campus. The subject of the full-day scientific symposium is "Ion Channels and Firing Patterns of Dopamine Neurons." The event is open to the Texas research community and media representatives.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has a significant impact on behavior, cognition, motor activity and the association of sensory cues with expected rewards. Altered dopamine transmission in the brain has been connected to a broad range of pathophysiologies, including addiction, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and Parkinson's Disease.

The intermittent release of dopamine is a critical information-processing signal in the brain that underlies an array of motivated behaviors. The panel members will discuss how this patterned activity is generated at the cellular level.

Panel members and topics are:

Bruce Bean, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School (Boston)
"Ionic Currents Controlling Pacemaking of Dopaminergic Neurons in the Substantia Nigra and VTA"

Carlos Paladini, Ph.D., UTSA (San Antonio)
"How NMDA Currents Induce Bursting in Dopaminergic Neurons"

Jochen Roeper, M.D., Ph.D., Goethe University (Frankfurt, Germany)
"ATP-Sensitive Potassium Channels in the Control of Burst Firing in Dopamine Neurons"

James Surmier, Ph.D., Northwestern University (Chicago)
"Pacemaking Without L-Type Calcium Channels in Dopaminergic Neurons"

John Williams, Ph.D., Oregon Health and Science University (Portland)
"The Kinetics of Dopamine Transmission in the VTA"


About the UTSA Neurosciences Institute

A multidisciplinary research organization for integrated brain studies, the mission of the UTSA Neurosciences Institute is to foster a collaborative community of scientists committed to studying the biological basis of human experience and behavior, and the origin and treatment of nervous system diseases.

Areas of focus include nervous system development; neuronal and network computation; sensory, motor and cognitive function; learning and memory, and the disease processes that impact them; implementing mathematical and computational tools in experimental neurobiology; and mathematical theory of neurons and nervous systems.

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