This proposal requests partial support for the third Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on the Neurobiology of Cognition and for its associated Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) for trainees. The driving force behind the GRC is the rapid pace of convergent findings in molecular, cellular circuit and systems Neuroscience, augmented by technical developments in cell-targeting, imaging, computing and brain-machine interfaces. As a result, there are rapidly evolving descriptions of neuronal circuits and dynamics, neurophysiological processes and computational principles that underpin cognitive functions. The overarching goal of this GRC is to promote communication and collaboration across relevant levels of analysis and among empirical scientists, theoreticians and technical development specialists, emphasizing the most recent findings. The associated GRS, held just prior to the GRC, is designed to provide opportunities for doctoral and post-doctoral trainees to communicate their most recent findings and perspectives, and to prepare them for more in-depth participation in the parent GRC that immediately follows. Along with recent findings in traditional "core" areas, and a keynote on the presidential BRAIN initiative (below), formal sessions will explore several new themes, including: 1) the neuroanatomical and 2) coordination of cognitive circuits in the brain, 3) motor cognition and brain-computer interfaces, 4) music and language, and 5) learning and plasticity. The program is highly interdisciplinary, bringing together behavioral, neuroimaging and electrophysiological techniques in humans and non-human animals with computational approaches that explicate empirical findings and construct realistic models to represent the developing picture of cognitive operations and guide future experimentation. The program also underscores novel, state-of-the-art experimental and theoretical approaches that promise to define fundamental principles of cognition, and to extend these to improved treatment of brain dysfunction. The format of the meeting promotes intensive interactions among investigators and trainees from different perspectives and analytic levels, and in particular, between experimentalists and theorists.
Improvement in our understanding of the brain mechanisms of cognitive functions will improve our ability to diagnose and treat cognitive deficits in a rangeof developmental disabilities such as dyslexia, diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and psychiatric conditions. Importantly in this regard, there is a rapidly increasing specificity in understanding normal function and it is likely that this will lead to novel treatments for disorder of working memory and decision making in schizophrenia, attention abnormalities in ADHD, and impairments of social cognition in autism spectrum disorders.