Theresa Harrison

BRI member leads study identifying brain cells that help people learn by watching others

Dr. Itzhak Fried, professor of neurosurgery and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, is senior author of a study that has pinpointed the individual neurons in the brain that support observational learning. 

This form of learning, from infancy onward, helps us predict outcomes and make decisions in the future. "Observational learning is the cornerstone of our ability to change behavior," Dr. Fried said, "[because] it's human nature to want to learn from other people's mistakes rather than commit your own."

The study, co-authored with researchers at CalTech, was published in the September 6th edition of Nature Communications, and could provide scientists with deeper insights into the way the brain malfunctions in conditions such as learning disorders.

Full details here.



June Image of the Month

Image of the Month

Cortical thickness residuals color-coded by magnitude, from a model of the influence of obstructive sleep apnea by sex on cortical atrophy in the brain. “Hot” regions in orange-yellow indicate higher residuals and poorer model fit, and darker, orange-red regions indicate better model fit. 


Image by Paul Macey, Ph.D.




In the News Image

The BRI Knaub Fellowship in Multiple Sclerosis Research 

The Knaub Unitrust, established by Richard and Suzanne Knaub, has donated a sizable gift to the BRI in support of Multiple Sclerosis research at UCLA. 

This gift will be used to endow an annual program to name and support Postdoctoral or Predoctoral Fellows pursuing relevant projects, and who exemplify trainee excellence, innovation, and a multidisciplinary approach to MS research. 

"We want to express our sincere gratitude to the Knaub family for this generous gift which will enable young researchers to contribute to translational research related to understanding and treating MS," said BRI Director Christopher Evans.

The inaugural recipients of the first Knaub Fellowships will be announced in January, 2017.



The Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program


Graduate Program

Undergraduate Program

Upcoming Events

November 29th, 1:00pm
Ackerman Grand Union Ballroom

The Annual Neuroscience Poster Day features over 150 posters highlighting research by UCLA neuroscience graduate students and numerous commercial exhibits, and is capped by a Distinguished Lecture (below). Since its inception, the Poster Day has provided an important opportunity for UCLA neuroscientists — especially graduate students and postdoctoral fellows — to learn what is going on in the community. 

November 29th, 4:00pm 
Ackerman Grand Union Ballroom

Lecturer: Yuh-Nung Jan, Ph.D.
Professor of Physiology, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
UC San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Title: "Dendrite Morphogenesis: Form, Function, Regeneration and Relevance to Neurological Disorders"

Abstract: Dendrite arborization patterns are critical parameters of neural circuits. Dr. Jan has established the dendritic arborization (da) neurons, a group of sensory neurons in the Drosophila peripheral nervous system (PNS), as a model system to understand how neurons acquire their neuronal-type-specific dendritic morphology and how dendritic morphology contributes to the function of those neurons. Most of da neurons are involved in mechano-sensation, the least well understood sensory modality. Drosophila has emerged as an excellent system for studying mechano-sensation. He will describe recent progress in uncovering molecular mechanisms underlying dendrite morphogenesis and mechano-sensation.

These da neurons also turn out to be well suited for studying the mechanisms underlying degeneration/regeneration of axon and/or dendrite. Dr. Jan will discuss recent progress in identifying novel regulators of axon/dendrite regeneration.

The human homologues of several Drosophila genes Dr. Jan has found to be important for dendrite morphogenesis (e.g. DYRK1a and TAOK2) have been implicated in autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome. Thus, these studies of dendrite morphogenesis may provide insights to certain neurological disorders.

Lecture hosted by:  Shuwa Xu, Ph.D.






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