Somatosensation: From Detection to Perception (J8) joint with the meeting on Pain: Aligning the Target (J7) - Keystone, USA

External Event - 2nd to 5th Feb 2020


This conference focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying our senses of touch, body position or proprioception, temperature, itch, and pain (collectively called somatosensation). Somatosensation plays a major role in our daily experiences. It enables us to feel comfort from the gentlest of a caress, enjoy the coolness of a drink of water on a hot day and coordinate movements such as walking, jumping and eating. It alerts us to potential dangers in the environment allowing us to avoid harm. Somatosensory input evokes intense sensations that produce our strongest emotions (love and pain) and these help bind experiences to our memory. Dysfunction in somatosensation results in a range of clinical conditions from chronic itch and pain that cause suffering, attentional impairment, sleep disruption, despair and inability to have normal social interactions. The neural circuits and computations that convert somatosensory input into perception are almost completely unknown. However, recent advances in molecular genetics, single-cell sequencing, viral tracing, neuroimaging, high-density extracellular recording, and mouse behavioral paradigms are giving rise to breakthroughs in our understanding of the neural basis of somatosensation. The proposed Keystone conference will begin to bridge this gap by bringing together the efforts of molecular-geneticists, physiologists, behaviorists, and computational scientists using a variety of approaches including in vivo recordings, population imaging, real-time manipulation of neurons in awake behaving animals, advanced microscopic approaches to understand connectivity, and computational approaches to model somatosensation. The conference will thus bring together researchers studying aspects of somatosensation who do not normally have the opportunity to interact. By bringing these researchers together, it enables new collaborations and ideas which will provide the blueprints to understanding specific modalities (touch, temperature, itch, and pain) from the molecular detectors in the skin, to the neurons that transmit that information, to the experience and emotions these sensations evoke. We anticipate this meeting will be a landmark event where the newest and most novel concepts in somatosensory research will be discussed.

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