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Towards an Understanding of Integrative Brain Function. Analysis at Multiple Levels

(1997, NS 103)
June 4-7, 1997
Nobel Forum, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Organizers: Professors Kjell Fuxe, Sten Grillner, Tomas Hökfelt, Lars Olson and Luigi F. Agnati, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.

The symposium drew about 50 participants, including 33 lecturers from the United States, Finland, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Japan. The other participants were session chairmen and medical researchers who contributed to the discussions.

The first session analyzed the network level in terms of cortical maps and microcircuits, focusing on the structural and functional organization of the cerebral cortex. Participants discussed microscopic and macroscopic interaction in the brain's information processing.

Session II focused on communication in the central nervous system. It is well known that the central nervous system is based on a large number of nerve cells organized in functional modules which control different types of functions. This session examined evidence indicating that nerve cells communicate not only via rapid synaptic transmission, which is not wired but involves diffusion and convection of transmitters, especially monoamines, neuropeptides and NO. This communication pathway has been called volume transmission and may involve both short- and long-distance diffusion and convection of transmitters in the extracellular fluid and cerebrospinal fluid. An understanding of how integration of volume transmission and synaptic transmission takes place offers new ways of controlling neuronal networks.

Sessions III and IV brought the analysis down to the molecular level, focusing on fast and slow receptors and how, at this level, miniaturization of circuits becomes possible through the integration of transmitter signals at membrane, cytoplasmic and nuclear levels. Certain key mechanisms of this integration are represented by receptor-receptor interactions and protein phorphorylation, which the sessions also examined.

Session V discussed integration of trophic and cytokine signaling and how such processes can participate in neuronal degeneration and repair mechanisms. These signals may undergo rapid changes and interact with transmitter signals, causing changes in intracellular calcium levels, for example.

The final session of the meeting was devoted to increasing our understanding of cognition, memory and consciousness, based on integrative events that take place at the network, local circuit, membrane and gene levels. The plastic changes that occur as a result of such integrative events may provide the basis for forming various types of engrams.

We believe that this review of integrative brain functions may be of importance, especially to scientists working in the field of neuroscience. It may also facilitate the development of more realistic models of the brain.

The contributions presented during the symposium have been published in Brain Research Reviews in the spring of 1998 (Elsevier).

Dr. Luigi F. Agnati
University of Modena
Dr. Carlos Ibanez
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Per Andersen
University of Oslo
Dr. Eric Kandel
Howard Hughes Medical Center, Columbia University, USA
Dr. Marie Åsberg
Karolinska Sjukhuset
Dr. Mary Kennedy
California Institute of Technology, USA
Dr. Tamas Bartfai
Stockholm University
Dr. Krister Kristensson
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Floyd E. Bloom
The Scripps Research Institute, USA
Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Duke University Medical Center, USA
Dr. Ian Campbell
The Scripps Research Institute, USA
Dr. Shigetada Nakanishi
Kyoto University, Japan
Dr. Marc Caron
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA
Dr. Lars-Göran Nilsson
Stockholm University

Dr. Jean-Pierre Changeux
Institut Pasteur, France

Dr. Sven Ove Ögren
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Moses Chao
Cornell University, Medical College, USA
Dr. Lars Olson
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Tom Curran
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, USA
Dr. David Ottoson
Lidingö, Sweden
Dr. Pietro De Camilli
Yale University Medical School, USA
Dr. Per Roland
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Antonio Damasio
University of Iowa, USA
Dr. Bert Sakmann
Max-Planck-Inst. for Medical Research, Germany
Dr. R. Dermietzel
University of Regensburg
Dr. Jean-Charles Schwartz
Centre Paul Broca de l'INSERM, France
Dr. Errol B. De Souza
Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc., USA
Dr. John Searle
University of California
Dr. Gerald M. Edelman
The Neurosciences Inst., USA
Dr. Göran Sedvall
Karolinska Sjukhuset
Dr. Curt von Euler
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Peter Seeburg
University of Heidelberg
ZMBH, Germany
Dr. Bertil Fredholm
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Solomon Snyder
Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine, USA
Dr. Kjell Fuxe
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Peter Somogyi
University of Oxford, UK
Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos
VA Medical Center, USA
Dr. Torgny Svensson
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Paul Greengard
Rockefeller University, USA
Dr. Richard Tsien
Stanford University School of Medicine, USA
Dr. Sten Grillner
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Zsuzsanna Wiesenfeld-Hallin
Huddinge Sjukhus, Sweden
Dr. Jan-Åke Gustaffson
Huddinge Hospital
Dr. Hans Wigzell
Karolinska Institutet
Dr. Tomas Hökfelt
Karolinska Institutet


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