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Scientific Symposia

The FENS Regional Meeting 2023 selection of symposia was made, and the meeting will include the following 26 scientific-based symposia.


1 – New vistas on stress, brain, and behaviour

Chairs: Mathias V. Schmidt, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany and Carmen Sandi, Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland.

This symposium will highlight new research avenues how stress affects brain function and behaviour through alterations of mitochondrial function, metabolic control and the neurovasculature.

2 – Using small brains to gain deep mechanistic insights into chemosensory processing and plasticity

Chair: Carlos Ribeiro, Behavior and Metabolism Laboratory, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal

We will discuss the power of small brain animals to gain deep mechanistic insights into how chemosensory information is processed in the brain and how internal states and previous experience shape brain function and behaviour.

3 – Molecular and cellular mechanisms of memory persistence

Chair: Ana M.M. Oliveira, Institute of Neurobiology, IZN Heidelberg University Heidelberg, Germany

This symposium will highlight recent, state-of-the-art findings of molecular and cellular processes that govern the persistence of memory. Particular attention will be given to the contribution of epigenetic regulation and astrocytic activity as well as neuroadaptations that support remote memory.

4 – Next-generation Molecular Tools for Dissecting Brain Circuits at Single Cell Level

Chair: Patrícia Monteiro, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

CNS function results from the integrated activity of a diversity of cell types: recent adoption of cutting-edge technologies, ranging from single cell transcriptomics to novel viral vector technology, is revolutionizing our understanding of how this diversity drives local circuit function, in both the healthy and diseased brain.

5 – Circuit dysfunction in pre-clinical models of movement disorders

Chair: Joaquim Alves da Silva, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal

This symposium focuses on breakthroughs in pre-clinical models of movement disorders that advance our understanding of circuit dysfunction in movement disorders

6 – The excitatory/inhibitory imbalance and cognitive dysfunction: a cell type-specific perspective

Chairs: Inna Gaisler-Salomon, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel and Mikhail V. Pletnikov
State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, US

A cell-type specific analysis of the contribution of impaired excitatory/inhibitory balance in the prefrontal cortex to cognitive dysfunction.

7 – Nanoscale imaging to study the aging brain

Chairs: Joana Ferreira, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Portugal and Juan A. Varela, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland, UK

Our ability to image brain cells at high spatial and temporal resolution has greatly increased with the advent of single-molecule imaging and super-resolution microscopy. This symposium will highlight recent developments to understand the physiology of the aging brain together with pathological changes that occur in neurodegeneration.

8 – Dysregulation of extracellular matrix in neurodegenerative diseases

Chair: Eva Sykova, Institute of Neuroimmunology, Slovak Academy of Sciences
Bratislava, Slovakia

Extracellular matrix (ECM) and perineuronal nets (PNN) dysregulation in neurological and psychiatric disorders contribute to synaptic pathology, functional disruption and have the vital role in controlling plasticity, axonal growth, neuroregeneration and memory storage. New methods how the ECM and PNN can be manipulated and therapeutically utilized will be presented.

9 – RNA-binding proteins and Stress granules in brain plasticity and pathology

Chair: Ioannis Sotiropoulos, Institute of Biosciences and Applications, NCSR Demokritos, Athens, Greece

In this symposium, we will present novel findings on the etiopathogenic and therapeutic importance of RNA binding proteins and RNA dyshomeostasis in the precipitation of brain pathologies aiming to highlight novel molecular identifiers and innovative therapeutic targets.

10 – Partners in crime: exploring neurobehavioural mechanisms at the intersection of stress and addiction

Chair: Marek Schwendt, Department of Psychology, University of Florida, US

This symposium will present recent advances in research on neurobehavioural determinants of vulnerability to develop stress-associated psychopathologies.

11 – From transplantation to reprogramming: avenues to brain repair

Chair: Sofia Grade, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA), Vienna, Austria

The quest for brain repair is old. However, recent breakthrough discoveries that the brain can integrate neurons in damaged neural circuits, that local glia can be converted to neurons, and the development of stem cell products for cell therapy ignited true expectations. We’ll discuss roads and roadblocks to successful repair.

12 – Developing therapeutic interventions for rare brain diseases using cutting edge technologies

Chair: Udai Pandey, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh PA, USA

Attendees will learn about different genetic tools to identify variants of unknown significance in human neurological diseases, various important considerations about picking up a model system for studying a human genetic disorder, in vitro vs in vivo models, designing a genetic or small molecule screen in vivo, such as examples of robust, screenable phenotypes, screen throughput, drug administration, drug dosing and validation of findings.

13 – Plasticity of innate behaviours

Chair: Nicolas Gutierrez-Castellanos Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal
and Susana Q. Lima, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal

Despite initial considerations, the flexible nature of innate behaviours, in a context and internal state dependent manner has recently been acknowledged. Here we will discuss how internal- state-driven changes in neural activity mediate the adaptive selection of a wide variety of innate behaviours, such as threat response, parental and sexual behaviour.

14 – Recent advancements in computational glioscience: from point models to geometrical-accurate simulations

Chair: Corrado Calì, Department of Neuroscience “Rita Levi Montalcini”, Università degli Studi di Torino, Torino, Italy Neuroscience Institute Cavalieri Ottolenghi (NICO), Orbassano (Torino), Italy

This workshop will present the state-of-the-art of the astrocyte modelling in computational neuroscience and the most recent challenges in the use of real 3D geometries to simulate and visualize astrocytic physiological processes.

15 – Astroglial networks in the basal ganglia: from the synapse to behaviour

Chair: Marta Navarrete, Instituto Cajal, CSIC, Madrid, Spain

Astrocyte effects on synaptic physiology and basal ganglia associated behaviours.

16 – Sex differences in stress responses: mechanisms of resilience and vulnerability to the development of mental disorders

Chair: Patrizia Campolongo, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

This symposium, by promoting an integrative, systems-level discussion on sex differences in stress responses, will ultimately contribute to the identification of new therapeutic targets for neuropsychiatric disorders and the development of sex-specific treatments.

17 – Advances in Polyglutamine diseases research

Chairs: Carlos A. Matos, Algarve Biomedical Center Research Institute, Faculdade de Medicina e Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade do Algarve, Faro, Portugal and David Brito, Algarve Biomedical Center Research Institute, Universidade do Algarve, Faro

Advances in Polyglutamine diseases research symposium will provide a unique and current view on the recent advances in this area, focusing on i) recent advances in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to neurodegeneration and ii) the development of disease-modifying therapies.

18 – Invasive and Noninvasive Brain Stimulation therapies in Neuropsychiatric disorders

Chair: Marcelo D. Mendonça, Champalimaud Research and Clinical Centre, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal

The breakdown of brain circuits is the cause of symptoms in neuropsychiatric conditions. Brain stimulation techniques target dysfunctional circuits and can reverse symptoms. In this session we will discuss how state-of-art tools in preclinical and clinical research contribute to the mechanistic comprehension and refinement of Brain Stimulation therapies.

19 – Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptopathy in Movement Disorders

Chair: Tiago F. Outeiro, University Medical Center Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany

Major incurable neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, are characterized by synaptic dysfunction in different neuronal populations; understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic disfunction in these diseases is essential for the development of novel therapeutic strategies and will be the subject of this symposium.

20 – New insights into the modulation of reward and aversion encoding in the brainstem

Chair: Bárbara Coimbra, Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

In this symposium, we will share novel findings challenging the involvement of brainstem regions in modulating reward and aversion signals in the healthy brain or in disorders whose reward system is altered, such as autism spectrum addiction to drugs, anxiety, or depressive disorders.

21 – Environmental impact on brain health – focus on air pollution

Chair: Katja Kanninen, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Kuopio, Finland.

In this multidisciplinary session we focus on the effects of air pollution on brain health and connection to brain disease, from the perspective of epidemiological, in vivo animal and cell culture studies.

22 – Diseases caused by autoantibodies against neuronal cell-adhesion proteins: cellular and molecular mechanisms

Chairs: Luís Ribeiro, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Portugal and Ester Coutinho Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Portugal

The autoimmune encephalitis is characterised by the presence of autoantibodies against neuronal proteins. We propose to discuss the most recent advances on the study of the pathological mechanisms triggered by autoantibodies against cell-adhesion proteins, and how they have been contributing to current understanding of the biology of these proteins.

Extended symposium 1

23 – Neural circuit mechanisms of social behaviour

Chair: Constanze Lenschow, Otto-von- Guericke University Magdeburg, Institute of Biology, Magdeburg, Germany

The symposium focuses on the neural mechanisms of various forms of social interactions. The topic will be addressed from different angles, starting with cooperation and prosocial behaviour, over molecular principles of sensory processing of social cues to inter-brain neural properties that arise from social interactions between individuals.

24 – Neuronal mechanisms of social behavior

Chair: Jan Rodriguez Parkitna, Maj Institute of Pharmacology Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow, Poland

The symposium is centred on two key aspects of social behaviours: the mechanisms underlying the ability to recognize the affective state of another individual and rewarding effects of social interaction.

Extended symposium 2

25 – Myelin regenerative approaches to prevent axonal loss

Chairs: Alerie Guzmán de la Fuente, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria y Biomédica de Alicante, Alicante, Spain and Jose A. Gomez-Sanchez, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria y Biomédica de Alicante, Alicante, Spain

Investigating the cellular (immune system), molecular (post-translational modifications) and systemic (ageing) mechanisms governing myelin repair as key pathways to preserve axonal health and prevent neurodegeneration in the central and the peripheral nervous systems.

26 – Myelin structural plasticity in neuronal circuit repair: from molecular to functional aspect

Chair: Juliana M Rosa, National Hospital of Paraplegics, Toledo, Spain

Myelin plasticity has emerged as a major modulator of the formation and function of neuronal circuits in health and disease. In this symposium we will focus on distinct aspects of myelin adaptive plasticity such as cell-type specificity, neuronal-activity dependence and oligodendrocytes heterogeneity from the molecular to functional aspects.

The FENS Regional Meeting 2023 (FRM2023) meeting includes 24 scientific-based symposia. Eight symposia will be held per day, 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, as outlined in the preliminary programme.

The symposia planed for each time slot will run in parallel, for 120 minutes in 4 rooms. Each symposia focus a scientific subject or question of broad interest for the Neuroscience community.

The programme includes:

– Regular symposia selected from an open call

Topics may include:

  • Synapse biology and signaling
  • Brain circuits
  • Neuroimaging
  • Brain metabolism
  • Glial cells and neuroinflammation
  • Chronic stress and brain modulation
  • New perspectives of psychoactive substances
  • Protein aggregation and mitochondrial deregulation
  • Movement diseases and novel therapies
  • Dementia and brain aging
  • New therapeutic approaches in neurological diseases
  • Mental health and psychiatric disorders
  • Neurodevelopment and disease
  • Visual pathways
  • Neuropsychology and behavior
  • Targeting pain

– 2 special symposia


Each symposium will include 3 invited speakers, whose selection will take into consideration gender balance, and representation of researchers at different career stages and from independent groups or countries. Each talk will last for 25 minutes, followed by 5 minutes for questions.

In addition, 2 speakers/young researchers selected from among those who submitted abstracts will present a short communication. Each short talk will last for 10 minutes and be followed by 5 minutes for questions.


More information will be available soon.

Please keep checking the FENS Regional Meeting 2023 website for updates on the programme and information on registration, abstract submission and symposia proposal applications.