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Fermilab Lecture Series presents:
How the Brain Controls our Choices, and What Can Go Wrong
Friday, January 14, 2011 @ 8 p.m.
Tickets - $7

At every moment in our life, we are faced with choices about what we should do. Sit on the couch or go rake leaves in the yard. Walk into the candy store or continue on down the street to meet a friend. How the brain controls what actions we choose is beginning to be understood, particularly within the context of neurological diseases. The lecture will give an overview of our current understanding of how we choose to act, highlighting the role of a small group of neurons that release a chemical called dopamine. The lecture will also cover our current understanding of how the loss of these neurons results in Parkinsonís disease and newly emerging strategies for slowing or stopping the decline of these neurons with aging.

Dr. James Surmeier is the Nathan Smith Davis Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and Director of the Morris K. Udall Parkinsonís Disease Research Center of Excellence at Northwestern University. Dr. Surmeier received his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Washington in 1983. He trained with leaders in the field of neurophysiology, including Dr. Arnold Towe, Dr. William Willis and Dr. Stephen Kitai. In 1998, he moved to the Department of Physiology at Northwestern University and assumed his current position in 2001. Dr. Surmeierís research program focuses on the mechanisms underlying neural activity in the basal ganglia and how it changes in disease states, like Parkinsonís disease. He has pioneered the application of modern patch clamp, single cell gene profiling and optical approaches to understanding basal ganglia physiology, authoring over 125 peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Science, Nature, Neuron, Nature Neuroscience and the Journal of Neuroscience. He has served in several advisory capacities to the National Institutes of Health, including chairing study sections for NINDS and acting as a Councilor for NIAAA. He also serves on the scientific advisory boards of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, the Hartman Foundation, and the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinsonís Disease Foundation. He also serves on a number of editorial boards, including those of Neuron and Current Opinion in Neurobiology. He has received many scientific awards including the NARSAD Established Investigator award, the Riker Award and the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award.

For more information about Dr. Surmeier and his research, please refer to this link.


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