A look back on The Brain, beyond neurons Seminar

Organizers : María Cecilia Angulo, Etienne Audinat, Serge Charpak (INSERM U1128)

Sponsors : ENP, ARSEP, de l'Université Paris Descartes et FRN 3636

The central nervous system contains not only neurons, but also several types of non-neuronal cells such as glial cells, glial progenitors and cells of the vascular system. The study of non-neuronal cells has dramatically increased in Neuroscience in the last twenty years after surprising discoveries revealing that these cells detect, and in some cases modulate neuronal activity. Several studies have shown that non-neuronal cells are actively involved in various mental processes such as memory formation. They are also altered in many disorders such as multiple sclerosis or schizophrenia. Today we know that interactions between neurons and non-neuronal cells ensure the proper function of the brain.

The conference "The Brain, beyond neurons", held on 11th and 12th May 2015 in Paris, has enabled many French and foreign scientists to find a common space to promote exchanges between experts in this emerging field of Neuroscience. This scientific meeting brought together 130 participants from different regions in France, but also from the United States of America, Italy, England, Germany and Netherlands. Twelve foreign speakers and eight French speakers, experts in their fields, were invited using the financial support of the "Ecole des Neurosciences de Paris" (ENP), the "Fondation pour la recherche contre la sclérose en plaques" (ARSEP), the University Paris Descartes and the "Fédération des Neurosciences 3636" (FRN3636). The speakers discussed their recent findings, published or unpublished, on the role of microglia in the regulation of synaptic transmission, on the communication between neurons and glial progenitors in controlling (re)myelination, on the role of pericytes in the control of the microvasculature and on new roles of astrocytes in the brain. This diversity of topics was addressed using an array of advanced techniques such as optogenetics, two-photon microscopy and new molecular approaches. In addition, four young scientists present their original work on these areas. The discussion was lively and enriching. The exchange and sharing was complemented by thirty five posters presented by students, postdocs and researchers.