Volume 22 - Issue 8

September 2018

Davide Amato, Editor-in-Chief

Thomas Endres, Guest Editor

In This Issue...

  1. Training African Giant Pouched Rats to Save Lives by Operant Conditioning
  2. 2nd CEPPI Workshop in Magdeburg, Germany
  3. Trending Science
  4. 28th IBNS Conference and Upcoming Deadlines
  5. IBNS at SfN 2018

 

Training African Giant Pouched Rats to Save Lives by Operant Conditioning
Miriam Schneider, PhD, APOPO

Sokoine University of Agriculture 
Morogoro, Tanzania

APOPO is a global non-profit organization that researches, develops, and implements scent-detection technology to combat global humanitarian issues, in partnership with the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro, which is the largest university for agriculture in Tanzania. APOPO’s detection rats - African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) - currently detect landmines or tuberculosis in 5 affected countries around the world. The rats are trained by operant conditioning procedures where a clicker sound is paired with palatable food reinforcement.

APOPO’s landmine detection rats are too light to detonate the landmines and very quick at finding African Giant Poached Ratsthese, making them a perfect tool for speeding up detection and clearance, in particular when integrated into conventional mine-clearance methods. The rats therefore help to return safe land to vulnerable communities as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Moreover, APOPO also researches detection rats as a diagnostic tool for tuberculosis (TB). Results show that the rats can check 100 sputum samples from presumptive TB patients in 20 minutes, which could take a lab technician up to four days. Any rat-suspect samples are then re-checked at APOPO’s laboratory using WHO endorsed confirmation tests. Confirmed results are sent back to clinics, who oversee patient counselling and treatment. The research indicates that APOPO is improving clinic detection rates by up to 40%.

Apart from this operational use, APOPO conducts basic research using the methods of analytical chemistry, learning theory, and ethology to clarify the variables that influence rats' scent detection and to develop and extend humanitarian applications at our training center in Morogoro, Tanzania. Research projects involve inter alia the influence of odor concentrations on scent detection performance and alternative training methods such as conditioning in an operant chamber or procedures for re-training on novel target scents.

Overall, the work of APOPO nicely demonstrates the importance of behavioral research and how its direct application improves human welfare. If you are interested in supporting the important work of APOPO in different developing countries, you can support APOPO by adopting a rat at www.apopo.org.

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2nd CEPPI Workshop in Magdeburg, Germany

"Avoiding danger and searching for safety: From predator-prey interactions in the field to anxiety disorders in humans"
Thomas Endres, PhD, Guest Editor
Otto-von-Guericke University
Magdeburg, Germany

This workshop took place in the last week of August 2018 at the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany, and was mainly organized by Markus Fendt and Anke Frank (Zool. Research Museum Alexander König, Bonn, Germany). It was the 2nd workshop of a CEPPI (chemical ecology and predator-prey interaction) workshop series initiated by Anke Frank several years before, in Tasmania, with the goal to discuss current perspectives on the CEPPI field. This time, the research interests of the 14 participants ranged from behavioral ecology in the field, via behavioral neuroscience in the laboratory to clinical neuroscience in humans.

As indicated by the title, fear and safety were the two overarching topics of the workshop. Fear is an evolutionary well-conserved adaptive response to threatening stimuli that facilitates the survival probability in dangerous situations. The opposing state to fear is the feeling of safety. Anxiety disorders are mainly based on a pathologically altered processing of fear and safety related stimuli. Therefore, the understanding of the mechanisms controlling fear and safety states in an individual is an important key to identify future treatment strategies for anxiety disorders.

As indicated by the title, fear and safety were the two overarching topics of the workshop. Fear is an evolutionary well-conserved adaptive response to threatening stimuli that facilitates the survival probability in dangerous situations. The opposing state to fear is the feeling of safety. Anxiety disorders are mainly based on a pathologically altered processing of fear and safety related stimuli. Therefore, the understanding of the mechanisms controlling fear and safety states in an individual is an important key to identify future treatment strategies for anxiety disorders. To understand these complex states, they need to be investigated from different angels, in order to cover all aspects of them. The fostering of combining different angels of research and bridging the gaps between field and laboratory behavioral research was one of the main aims of the workshop. There were lots of fruitful discussion on these issues and everybody agreed that a better exchange between different lines of research is really needed to better combine the gain in knowledge and to overcome the immutable limitations of the different approaches. The key points of these discussions are currently transformed into a review article by the participants. In addition, potential future collaboration possibilities between field and lab research were discussed. Overall, it was a great and very fruitful workshop. 

 Workshop participants from left to right: Christopher Dickman (University of Sydney, Australia), Yasushi Kiyokawa (University of Tokyo, Japan), Thomas Endres and Judith Kreutzmann (University of Magdeburg, Germany), Alexandra Carthey (Macquarie University, Australia), Daniel Blumstein (University of California, Los Angeles, USA), Menna Jones (University of Tasmania, Australia), Markus Fendt (University of Magdeburg, Germany), Anke Frank (Zool. Research Museum Alexander König, Bonn, Germany), Carsten Wotjak (Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Munich, Germany), Miriam Schneider (APOPO, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania), Julia Sulger and Daniel Heinz (Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Munich, Germany), Raimund Apfelbach (University of Tübingen, Germany), Michael Parsons (Fordham University, New Yourk, USA). Not on the picture: Karin Roelofs (Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands).

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Looking for a New Employment Opportunity or Struggling to Find the Right Candidate? Meet the IBNS Career Center!

One of the biggest challenges for any international scientific society is to provide quality and informative support to its members, whether it's for a new employment opportunity or finding the right candidate for a newly opened position. The IBNS online Career Center portal (http://jobs.ibnsconnect.org) provides the right tools for both job seekers and employers.



The IBNS Career Center portal offers all the standard operational features; such as a thorough search engine by keyword and location, as well as a free review of your resume for feedback, and a job-posting service for employers. However, what makes the IBNS Career Center stand out in terms of support is two additional quality features: resources for job seekers & access to a resume bank for employers.

In the Resources section, you have access to a number of articles with valuable tips in building a resume, job seeking, and communication. These tips come from experienced scientists in the field -- not only for searching or applying for a position, but also for the interview process. Interested in 'building your brand’ or strengthening your social media presence? You will find plenty of advice and tips to do so, which will help strengthen your image and move your career to the direction you want!

In the Resume Bank, potential employers have free access to a large bank of resumes and profiles. You can customize the filters that apply to your search and create lists of candidates that fulfill your own criteria.

 

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 Trending Science

In this column, we share the latest research, interesting scientific articles and news.

Memories for Time and Space Rely on Different Subnetworks in Hippocampal CA1 and CA3 Regions
Thomas Endres, PhD, Guest Editor
Otto-von-Guericke University
Magdeburg, Germany

Thomas EndresUnderstanding the mechanisms how memories are processed and stored in our brain is one of the most inspiring questions in neuroscience. One important form of memory is the episodic memory that integrates experiences with spatial and temporal information. For example, “what have I seen, when and where?”. Even though this form of memory is very important in our daily life, the underlying mechanisms are relatively unknown.

For many years, it was widely accepted that spatial and non-spatial information are encoded by distinct neuronal pathways that are integrated to episodes on the level of the hippocampus (“two-streams-hypothesis”). More recent work indicated the existence of hippocampal subnetworks that process either spatial or non-spatial information. These subnetworks are segregated along the proximodistal axis of the hippocampus. However, this concept of separated networks would be different to that of the two-streams-hypothesis. In their actual study, the team of Magdalena M. Sauvage at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg was interested whether these two concepts are reconcilable. To answer this question, they used a behavioral task to test for episodic memory in mice and analyzed how the proximal and distal parts of the hippocampal CA1 and CA3 regions are involved in the processing of spatial and/or temporal information.

They could identify segregated networks along the proximodistal axis of CA1 and CA3 region, which preferentially process either spatial or non-spatial information. Furthermore, their data suggest an important role of the distal CA1 region in the processing of temporal information. Interestingly, when the animals had to retrieve both dimensions of the memory, all areas were recruited, suggesting that both models of segregated or integrative information processing are largely reconcilable with each other.

This study is published in the August issue of PLOSBiology:
Beer Z, Vavra P, Atucha E, Rentzing K, Heinze HJ, Sauvage MM; The memory for time and space differentially engages the proximal and distal parts of the hippocampal subfields CA1 and CA3. PLoS Biol. 2018 Aug 28;16(8):e2006100. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2006100

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28th Annual IBNS Conference and Upcoming Deadlines

Save the date for this must-attend event! June 23 - 27, 2018, the 28th Annual IBNS Meeting is in Cairns, Australia

Upcoming deadlines:

December 16, 2018: Travel Award Applications Due
February 1, 2019: Abstract Submissions Due (Oral/Poster)
June 23-27, 2019: Conference Dates

 

Download and share these cool flyers with your colleagues and friends!

Be sure to keep checking the IBNS 2019 meeting page for frequent updates.

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IBNS at SfN 2018

IBNS will be at the 2018 Society for Neuroscience Meeting in San Diego, California from November 3 through November 7. 

Are you attending? Please come visit us at booth #4133! We can catch up on what's new and answer any questions you may have about the upcoming annual meeting.

Also during SfN, the IBNS reception will be held on November 4, from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at the Grand Hyatt, Harbor A. Please join us, bring some friends, enjoy light food, drinks, and catch up with your IBNS family!

 

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