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Neural Development, Learning, and Memory Topic of MBL Friday Evening Lecture

2006 Series to Celebrate MBL’s Long History of Women in Science

WOODS HOLE, MA—Dr. Sarah W. Bottjer, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California and a director of the MBL's (Marine Biological Laboratory’s) Neural Systems and Behavior course, will present the first Friday Evening Lecture of the 2006 season on June 23 at 8:00 PM in the MBL's Lillie Auditorium, located on MBL Street in Woods Hole. All ten lectures in the 2006 series will be delivered by women and will honor MBL's long history of women in science.

Dr. Bottjer’s talk is titled Neural Strategies for Learning During Sensitive Periods of Development. "Sensitive periods" of development are those in which brain and behavior are most susceptible to modification by experiential factors. Certain types of learning occur only during these periods. In humans, for example, children are much more adept at learning languages than are adults, and the time at which the capacity for language acquisition decreases seems to correlate with the end of the period of maturation of the cerebral hemispheres.

Dr. Bottjer studies neural development in songbirds as a way to better understand the basic mechanisms of neural development, learning, and memory. Songbirds are one of the few groups of organisms, other than humans, that learn vocal sounds used for communication during a sensitive period of development. This brain-behavior system provides an ideal model in which to address basic questions pertaining to relationships between mechanisms of neural development and complex processes of learning and behavior.

Dr. Bottjer received her B.A. in psychology from the State University of New York in 1975 and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Indiana University in 1979. She completed her postdoctoral training in neuroscience at the Brain Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she subsequently joined the faculty as an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Bottjer has received numerous honors and awards, including the Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neurobiology, Trends in Neuroscience, and Developmental Brain Research.

The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer. The remaining lectures in the series are below:

June 30: Lang Lecture - Cori I. Bargmann, The Rockefeller University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute - "Genes, Behavior, and the Sense of Smell"

July 7: Porter Lecture - Susan Wente, Vanderbilt University Medical Center - "The Dynamics of Nucleocytoplasmic Transport and Nuclear Pore Complexes"

July 14: Distinguished Alumni Lecture - Clare M. Waterman-Storer, The Scripps Research Institute - "Microscopes and Motility: Systems Integration in Directed Cell Migration"

July 20-21: Forbes Lectures - Huda Y. Zoghbi, Baylor College of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute - 7/20: "Genetic and Biochemical Approaches to Polyglutamine Neurodegenerative Disorders"; 7/21: "Rett Syndrome and Related Disorders: Where Genetics Meets Epigenetics"

July 28: Glassman Lecture - Marlene Belfort, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health - "Gene, Interrupted: Introns and Inteins in Evolution, Biotechnology, and Medicine"

August 4: Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University - "From Transplantation to Translation: Stem Cells in History"

August 11: Linda A. Deegan, MBL - "Disappearing Streams: The Hidden Casualty of Deforestation in the Amazon"

August 18: Helen M. Blau, Stanford University School of Medicine - "Regulation of Stem Cell Fate and Nuclear Reprogramming"

All lectures are free and open to the public. For more information and for full lecture descriptions, visit www.mbl.edu/fel

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The MBL is an international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu.