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Silliman Lecture to Feature Neurobiologist Cori Bargmann on April 8

March 28, 2024

This year’s Mrs. Hepsa Ely Silliman Memorial Lectureship will feature Cori Bargmann, PhD, of The Rockefeller University, speaking on “One Brain, Many Behaviors: The Fascinating World of Internal States.”

The lecture will take place on Monday, April 8, from 4 to 5 p.m., at the Anlyan Center (300 Cedar St., TAC N107 Auditorium.) The event will also be live streamed in Marsh Auditorium, Yale Science Building (260 Whitney Ave.). The program is hosted by the Department of Neuroscience.

The Silliman Lectureship was established in 1901. In its long history, it has brought many distinguished scientists to speak at Yale, a number of whom have gone on to win Nobel Prizes. (See the list of Silliman lecturers going back to 1902-03.)

Cori Bargmann is the Torsten N. Wiesel Professor and head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at The Rockefeller University. In her research, she studies the relationships among genes, experience, and behavior in the nematode C. elegans.

Following is the abstract for Bargmann’s talk:

“How do genes and the environment interact to generate a variety of behaviors? How are behavioral decisions modified by context and experience? Neuroscience has reached a stage where these questions can be asked with great precision, and, in some cases, answered. The Bargmann lab has studied these questions in the nematode C. elegans, whose simple nervous system consists of only 302 neurons – yet the animal can move around, explore the environment, evaluate its social context, and learn from experience. Animal and human behavior is not fixed, but is reversibly modified by internal motivational and emotional states. At the heart of these internal states are chemical neuromodulators such as serotonin, dopamine, and neuropeptides. Neuromodulators are highly conserved in evolution, with recognizable similar functions in different animals. By studying molecules like serotonin and neuropeptides in C. elegans, we have determined how they transiently "rewire" the nervous system, allowing internal states to alter the way that information is processed. I will describe examples from social behaviors and sickness behaviors.”

Submitted by Barbara Steinberger on March 28, 2024