Gordon Research Conferences
Conference Details

Neural Circuits & Plasticity
Gordon Research Conference

Conference Information



Initial Year





Meeting Cycle

24 Months

Conference Description

The last decades in Neuroscience have seen major progress in the cellular and molecular understanding of the nervous system and major advances in our understanding of the molecular and genetic determination of building neuronal pathways. We are achieving a mechanistic understanding of synaptic transmission and its plasticity, and molecular genetic techniques have provided a powerful paradigm in species such as C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish and mice, to genetically engineer animals with predictable changes in their behavior, after altering sometimes a single base pair in their genomes. At the same time, looking ahead, we strongly feel that these mostly reductionistic approaches are still culprits of treating the nervous system as a "black box" that generates behavior. The essential workings of neural circuits are ignored. The jump "from molecules to behavior" often ignores the intermediate steps, which not only are necessary to understand in this long series of causal links, but, moreover, could conceivably be the key level where the function of the nervous system is actually organized.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that Neuroscience historically has focused on understanding the nervous system using the individual neuron as its focus of analysis, by using techniques that characterize the response of one neuron at a time. At the same time, most nervous systems are composed of enormous numbers of neurons and connections. In spite of more than a hundred years of Neuroanatomy, these gigantic connectivity matrixes are still largely unexplored, and the general rules by which these complex circuits operate are practically unknown. This set of questions, which one could call "the circuit problem", is a major challenge in modern Neuroscience. Moreover, it is even possible that, in analogy to the Crick-Watson model of DNA, or the Hodgkin and Huxley model of the action potential, there could be a relatively simple solution to a large variety of computational problems that the Nervous System solves. The circuit problem could have a simple answer.

This conference is focused on the function of neural circuits, defined as the mechanisms by which assemblies of neurons generate perception, neural states and behavior. Sessions focus on multidisciplinary analysis to different neural circuits, including retina, olfactory system, hippocampus, striatum and neocortex, and covering species ranging from c. elegans to humans. The common thread is the study of the computational strategies use by these different circuits. The strength of the conference lies in its comparative aspect, since it is likely that evolution has conserved similar strategies for processing information and generating mental states and behavior. Modern Neuroscience encompasses research in tremendous breadth of scales, from the function of channels, to psychophysical or ethological analysis of behavior. While there are conferences that cover each of these levels, this GRC spans many levels and systems, focusing on the analysis of circuits.

What is a GRC? Gordon Research Conferences (GRC) are 5-day meetings that bring scientists together from around the world to present and discuss unpublished research with other leaders in their field.

Meeting History

YearMeeting NameDatesConference SiteChair(s)
2009 Neural Circuits & Plasticity Jun 7-12 Salve Regina University Takao K. Hensch
2007 Neural Circuits & Plasticity Jul 1-6 Salve Regina University Rafael Yuste
2005 Neural Circuits & Plasticity Jun 26 - Jul 1 Salve Regina University Gina G. Turrigiano
2003 Neural Plasticity Jun 22-27 Salve Regina University Tobias Bonhoeffer
2001 Neural Plasticity Jul 15-20 Salve Regina University Erin M. Schuman
1999 Neural Plasticity Jul 18-23 Salve Regina University Larry Katz
1997 Neural Plasticity Jul 13-18 New England College Susan J. Hockfield
1995 Neural Plasticity Jul 16-21 Brewster Academy Rod Murphey
1993 Neural Plasticity Jul 18-23 Brewster Academy Mary B. Kennedy
1991 Neural Plasticity Jul 8-12 Brewster Academy Richard E. Zigmond
1989 Neural Plasticity Jul 17-21 Brewster Academy Carla J. Shatz
1987 Neural Plasticity Jul 20-24 Brewster Academy David L. Wilson
1985 Neural Plasticity, Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Jul 22-26 Brewster Academy Adrian J. Dunn
1983 Neural Plasticity, Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Jul 18-22 Brewster Academy Bruce McEwen
1981 Neural Plasticity, Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Jul 20-24 Brewster Academy Steven Arch
1979 Macromolecules and Behavior Jul 16-20 Brewster Academy Edward Bennet
1977 Macromolecules and Behavior Aug 8-12 Brewster Academy Victor E. Shashoua
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