Yerkes researchers to present array of new data at Society for Neuroscience Meeting


Diversity of research illustrates Yerkes’ comprehensive neuroscience program and leading role in the field

ATLANTA -- Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University will present an array of new data at this year's Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, October 23 – 27, 2004. More than 15 researchers will present findings from their studies, which range from the role of behavior on brain development to the use of infrared eye-tracking technology to detect mild cognitive impairment.

"It's quite an honor for the Yerkes Research Center to be so well represented at the premier meeting of neuroscientists," said Stuart Zola, PhD, director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. "Our comprehensive program involves many of the brightest minds in the field and positions us as a leading center to address current and future health-care challenges," Zola continued.

Mike Kuhar, PhD, chief of the Division of Neuroscience at the Yerkes Research Center, adds "Yerkes-based research is critical to answering questions about how the brain functions and how it interacts with the body. With this knowledge, and continued work in the field, we are forging new frontiers in the neurosciences that will provide us a more comprehensive understanding of the brain than ever before."

Following is a day-by-day overview of some of the data Yerkes researchers are presenting. Dates and times are listed for embargo purposes. Complete abstracts are available on the Society's Web site at

October 23, 2004
Each study is embargoed until the date and time of presentation.
Education Seminar
John Redmond, PhD, research associate: the role of gender differences in memory and performance, and which regions of the brain control these differences. (4 p.m. – 5 p.m.)

Poster Presentations

  • Todd Preuss, PhD, associate research professor, and his research team: Identified human genes that are more active in triggering a variety of cellular systems that promote cell growth and survival by comparing gene activity in the brains of humans, chimpanzees and rhesus macaques. This finding may explain how evolution reinforced the protective systems human cells possess to minimize damage caused by metabolism, thereby allowing humans to live longer than nonhuman primates. (7 p.m. – 8 p.m.)

October 24, 2004
Each study is embargoed until the date and time of presentation.
Poster Presentations
Larry Young, PhD, associate research professor, and his research team:

  • compared species-related differences in distribution patterns of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and urocortin, hormones known to mediate stress and anxiety as well as learning and memory systems, in the brains of monogamous prairie and promiscuous meadow voles. (11 a.m. – 12 noon)

  • discovered CRF receptor distribution patterns in the nucleus accumbens of the monogamous species but not the promiscuous species. (12 noon – 3 pm)

    ί Together, the CRF findings potentially explain the species' opposite social behaviors and implicate CRF in causing monogamy.

  • determined changes in gene activity of monogamous female prairie voles in the nucleus accumbens (NA), the areas of the brain associated with reward and feelings of pleasure, may explain the cellular processes responsible for social bond formation. (2 pm – 3 pm)

  • observed, for the first time, vasopressin is released in the ventral palladium, a primary reward center of the brain, during mating. Other Yerkes-based studies demonstrate that this release triggers pair bond formation in monogamous species. (2 pm – 3 pm)

    Yoland Smith, PhD, associate research professor and interim director of Emory's Neuroscience Graduate Program, and his research team:

  • showed removing a group of proteins, known as Homer, increases glutamate receptor of the nerve cell surface in the subthalamic nucleus. This finding potentially explains how this area of the brain becomes overactive in Parkinson's disease. (2 pm – 3 pm)

  • observed how the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPT), a region of the brain associated with attention and awareness, interacts with other brain regions associated with neurodegenerative diseases in order to determine the role of the PPT in neurodegeneration. (3 pm – 5 pm) o determined vesicular glutamate transporters, a recently discovered group of proteins, regulate activity of the basal ganglia, a region of the brain that controls motor function. This finding sets the stage for further analysis of the role of these proteins in the development of Parkinson's disease. (5 pm – 8 pm.)

October 25, 2004
Each study is embargoed until the date and time of presentation.
Dr. Young: how development, social situations and environment can shape the brain mechanisms that regulate behavior. (11:30 a.m. – 1 pm)

Poster Presentations

  • Dr. Smith and his research team: determined how cocaine addiction regulates metabotropic glutamate receptors in the nucleus accumbens, a key structure in the brain's reward pathway that mediates cocaine addiction. The data will help researchers further understand the neurochemical changes that underlie addiction and drug abuse. (2 pm – 3 pm)

    Dr. Young and his research team:

  • examined the potential genetic mechanisms underlying individual differences in personality traits by demonstrating an association between vasopressin receptor gene structure and social behavior in prairie voles. (1 pm – 2 pm.)
  • used gene therapy and transgenic rodent models to demonstrate that activation of the vasopressin receptor in a specific area of the brain is necessary and sufficient for normal social recognition in mice. This study illustrates the importance of the gene therapy and transgenic technology as effective and innovative tools for investigating the behavioral effects of gene expression in certain areas of the brain. (1 p.m. – 2 p.m.)

    Dr. Kuhar and his research team: characterized the relationship between the hypothalamus and CART in order to better understand and ultimately control appetite and addiction. (6 p.m. – 7 p.m.)

October 26, 2004
Each study is embargoed until the date and time of presentation.
Poster Presentations

  • Dr. Kuhar and his research team: showed early life experiences play a role in immune system development by examining, for the first time, the activity of cytokine proteins in the brain that regulate the immune system. They determined, using rats reared differently, those animals that had negative early life experiences had decreased immune system function as adults. (2 pm – 3 pm)

  • Jim Herndon, PhD, research professor, Agnes Lacreuse, PhD, assistant research professor, and their research team: used noninvasive imaging technology to examine the brains of nonhuman primates to determine the role of age and gender on motor function. The team observed males' motor function is more affected by age than that of females, a finding that could lead researchers to design motor dysfunction therapies based on gender. (5 p.m. – 8 p.m.)

(Note: This abstract is featured in the Annual Meeting Press Book.)

October 27, 2004
Each study is embargoed until the date and time of presentation.
Poster Presentations

  • Dr. Preuss and Mario Caceres, PhD, post-doctoral fellow in Emory's Department of Human Genetics: compared the differing levels of gene activity in the brains of chimpanzees with brains of humans to further understand the behavioral and cognitive differences between the two species whose genetic compositions are almost 99 percent identical. (5 p.m. – 8 p.m.)

    (Note: This abstract is featured in the Annual Meeting Press Book.)

  • Dr. Preuss and his research team: studied the distribution patterns of the CART-peptide, a brain chemical associated with the effects of psychostimulant drugs and feeding behaviors, in the cortex in order to further understand the functional role of CART in the brain. (7 p.m. – 8 p.m.)

  • Dr. Zola: adapted behavioral memory tasks developed for use with nonhuman primates and combined them with noninvasive, infrared, eye-tracking technology to detect impaired memory in humans before major damage occurs in the brain. This finding could lead to the development of early intervention therapy to stop or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. (6 p.m. – 7 p.m.)

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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