"The Auditory System" Gordon Research Conference ("Auditory GRC") will convene ~125-150 scientists of diverse expertise at Bates College on July 13-18, 2014, to discuss and debate new findings in hearing research and related fields, under the theme of "Encoding hearing: From Genes to Behavior". The Auditory GRC is preceded by a smaller Gordon Research Seminar ("Auditory GRS", July 12-13) comprising talks and posters by 40-50 investigators-in-training and serving as a gateway to the GRC. Together the Auditory GRC &GRS offer a unique combination of features, including: breadth of research;cutting-edge emphasis;mingling of investigators from all ranks and diverse sub-fields and locales;and intimate size and extended discussion time, allowing for close and sustained interactions. Some of these features arise from unique qualities of the hearing research field and others from the Gordon Conferences'established nature. Since the 1930s, the GRC organization has supported meetings that are famous for their unfettered debate and discussion of emerging results. The program of the 2014 Auditory GRC emphasizes the diverse ways in which auditory and related information is encoded, broadly interpreted so as to include new results in areas from genetics to central nervous system physiology and behavior. Topics include genetic regulation of inner ear epithelia, hair bundles, and birdsong;hair cell transduction and synaptic transmission;noise trauma at cochlear and systems levels;and neural encoding of sound location, speech, and auditory scenes. We have learned from experience to spread different model systems and technologies throughout the sessions, so that each session has something for everyone - encouraging unusually high attendance throughout the meeting and cross-fertilization across disciplines. The clinical importance of auditory research will be highlighted with presentations that consider the mechanisms underlying human disorders (e.g. noise trauma and aging) and translational efforts to fix them (e.g., hair cell regeneration). For the Auditory GRS, talks are selected from registrants'submitted abstracts and anchored by a keynote address by an invited mentor-participant who is an assistant professor. Mentoring is an active component of the GRS - in addition to the keynote speaker, the GRC organizers (more senior investigators) are available for discussion, and a mentoring session featuring a representative from NIDCD and other grant agencies is planned.
The auditory nervous system performs sophisticated sound analysis, permitting the encoding of sound location and speech;loss of these and other hearing functions through aging, noise trauma, or disease has major personal and societal costs. The 2014 Auditory System Gordon Research Conference will bring together first- rate scientists at all career levels to share novel experiments directed toward understanding auditory information processing, broadly interpreted to include approaches with diverse model systems, technologies, and questions ranging from genetically-determined organization of inner ear structures to auditory scene analysis. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and others with equivalent training may also present their results to peers at a smaller gateway meeting, the Auditory System Gordon Research Seminar, which prepares trainees for the larger Conference and also has a mentorship session involving more senior investigators.