This is the introduction to the portrait of two brilliant scientists, printed in Science Times today.
May-Britt and Edvard Moser share their personal as well as their scientific history in the article where they are described like this:
“The Mosers remain something of an anomaly. Not only are they off the beaten academic track, but they are a married couple who work together on the same scientific problems at the same institution at the highest levels of science, a true rarity.”
Picture: President of Society for Neuroscience Larry Swanson, together with Edvard Moser, have just read today's paper.
The Fridtjof Nansen Award of Excellence is awarded to Norwegian researchers, or researchers resident in Norway, who have shown scientific contributions of international significance on a very high level. Prize winners receive a medal, a diploma and 150 000 Norwegian kroner.
The awards are presented by the chairman of The Nansen Foundation and Affiliated Funds, Professor Gunnar Nicolaysen, on the Annual meeting of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on Friday 3 May 2013.
A group of Kavli researchers, led by Sheng-Jia Zhang and Jing Ye, have used a combined optogenetic-electrophysiological strategy to determine the functional identity of entorhinal cells with output to the place-cell population in the hippocampus.
A large number of responsive cells were grid cells, but short-latency firing was also induced in border cells and head-direction cells, as well as cells with irregular or nonspatial firing correlates, which suggests that place fields may be generated by convergence of signals from a broad spectrum of entorhinal functional cell types.
The results of their efforts are presented in an article in the 5 April issue of Science magazine.
A popularized version of the article is available here
The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters has named NTNU’s Yasser Roudi as the 2013 recipient of the Society’s scientific award for young researchers (IK Lykke Fund). The announcement was made Friday, 8 March. Yasser Roudi, a group leader and scientist at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, is just 31 years old but has contributed significantly to the development of a new discipline – theoretical neuroscience. His work in this new field has been internationally recognized.
The Norwegian Research Council supports three ERCs Advanced Grants applications. Professor Menno Witter at the Faculty of Medicine, NTNU is behind one of the applications:” The Entorhinal Connectome: A Way to Read the Cortex”. His project will receive 13,7 millon NOK over a four-year period.
The central hypothesis of the funded project is that variations in the architecture of the cortex, particularly in i) intrinsic wiring and ii) input connectivity, result in striking differences in function.
Two new papers, published back to back by Nature Neuroscience on January 20, suggest that the entorhinal grid map may emerge from an inhibitory network in layer II of medial entorhinal cortex. The first paper shows that grid cells are connected exclusively by way of inhibitory interneurons. The second paper shows that in order to produce grid patterns, this network requires excitatory drive from the hippocampus.
The papers are a collaborative effort of several research groups at the Kavli Institute. Experimental data, obtained by Jay Couey in the Witter group and Tora Bonnevie and colleagues in the Moser group, formed the basis for a computational model of how the brain generates grid cells. The modeling was performed by Aree Wittoelar and Benjamin Dunn in the Roudi group.
The Perl prize carries a $10,000 award and is given to recognize a seminal achievement in neuroscience. Past recipients have included four subsequent winners of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.
This year’s Perl Prize is being awarded to the Mosers for, “the discovery of key principles governing the internal representation of space and episodic memory,” according to Dr. William Snider, director of the UNC Neuroscience Center and chair of the selection committee.
The findings, published in the 6 December 2012 issue of Nature, show that rather than just a single sense of location, the brain has a number of “modules” dedicated to self-location. Each module contains its own internal GPS-like mapping system that keeps track of movement, and has other characteristics that also distinguishes one from another.
“We have at least four senses of location,” says Edvard Moser, director of the Kavli Institute. “Each has its own scale for representing the external environment, ranging from very fine to very coarse. The different modules react differently to changes in the environment. Some may scale the brain's inner map to the surroundings, others do not. And they operate independently of each other in several ways.”
This is also the first time that researchers have been able to show that a part of the brain that does not directly respond to sensory input, called the association cortex, is organized into modules. The research was conducted using rats.
The Research Council of Norway has decided to fund ten new national research schools. Together they will receive a funding of 218 MNOK. One of these research schools, The Norwegian Research School of Neuroscience, will be coordinated from The Norwegian Brain Center/Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at NTNU, by professor Menno Witter.
- The Norwegian Research School of Neuroscience will provide an important training opportunity for the next generation of Norwegian-trained neuroscientist by combining the specific expertise of the participating institutions, he says. - I expect that it will also pave the way for more extensive collaborative neuroscience in Norway.
The main objective of the research school is to coordinate and complement existing educational activities with the partner and affiliated institutes, thereby providing additional training to PhD students covering genetic, molecular, and cellular neuroscience, systems neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology, neurophilosophy, developmental neuroscience, computational neuroscience, and neuroinformatics.
NRSN will facilitate the implementation of new courses in neuroscience, turning locally present expertise into nationwide training opportunities. The aim of NRSN is to organize and secure a broad, diverse, and nationally coordinated neuroscience training program for PhD students in Norway.
The research school will be based on existing PhD programs at the partners. It will also exploit the recently established national infrastructure NORBRAIN. All courses will be available to all PhD students in neuroscience in Norway.
Partners in the NRSN are: The Norwegian Brain Center/Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at NTNU, University of Oslo,University of Bergen and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences Ås. The NRSN also has an extensive international network.
It was timely to raise the glasses today, as the Norwegian Research Council granted 13 research groups status as Norwegian Centres of Excellence.
Headed by May-Britt Moser, the Centre for Neural Computation will pioneer the extraction of computational algorithms from the mammalian cortex.
May-Britt Moser is overjoyed and grateful for all the support the centre and its' research has received from NTNU, the Norwegian Research Council, colleagues and collaborating labs.
NTNU was awarded four centres of Excellence. Full NTNU press release