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Posts Tagged → Brain Observatory

The Goods From The Society For Neuroscience’s Annual Meeting

Earlier this week, I attended the 41st annual Society for Neuroscience (SfN) meeting in Washington D.C. to gather information for some future C&EN stories. I thought the American Chemical Society national meetings were enormous, but this one takes the cake.

My SfN swag, including a brain-shaped stress ball, a "Who says my neurons aren't firing" pin from Cell, a personalized DPSS pen, and a brain cap. Credit: Lauren Wolf/C&EN

At last count, the number of people attending SfN 2011 was more than 32,000—about double the number that usually go to ACS. Of course ACS meetings happen twice a year and SfN happens only once so it probably evens out, but the sheer size of the exhibit hall and some of the rooms for the oral sessions at this meeting were overwhelming.

I got tired just walking from one end of the exhibit hall to the other, but I wanted to see how SfN’s goodies and swag compared with those of a typical chemistry meeting, so I soldiered on. Vendors had the usual mix of candies, cloth bags, and pens at their booths. Pens don’t typically draw me in, but one vendor that was giving them out had the longest line in the joint.

That’s because DPSS Lasers was personalizing their pens on the spot. The firm, a laser supplier, of course, took down folks’ names and then etched them into the sides of their pens with a high-powered UV laser. One woman standing in line with me quipped that this was the longest line she’d stood in at the meeting, with the exception of the line at Starbucks. For those who’ve never been to the DC convention center, it contains only one of the infamous coffee stands, which always has a queue with at least a 20-minute wait.

Passing by animal enclosures, microscopes, and electrochemical setups for neuronal recording, I eventually reached the Elsevier booth farther down the hall. The vendors there were giving out pins and do-it-yourself brain caps. Simply pop the brain parts out of the paper sheet, cut and tape, and voila!—you’ve got a map of the parts of your brain that fits conveniently over your noggin. Just make sure you wear it with the occipital lobe in the back; it would be embarrassing otherwise.

But one of the most interesting booths I passed by was one from UC San Diego’s School of Medicine. The people manning that booth weren’t selling anything, the girl who I spoke with assured me. They were just demonstrating their new Digital Brain Library. Continue reading →