Monday, November 15, 2010

Society for the Neurobiology of Language (yes, SNL)

The new Society for the Neurobiology of Language has been officially formed and voted into existence by the attendees of the Neurobiology of Language Conference, or shall we now call it the SNL meeting. We had over 400 registrants for the 2nd annual meeting which was a huge success. I overheard more than one person say that this is now THE conference in the field. I would agree.

There was lots of interesting stuff presented and some informative discussions. A few topics that stuck out for me were...

Keynote lecture on optogenetics -- insanely cool method, albeit a poorly targeted lecture. Nonetheless I think it was a worthwhile lecture.

Aphasic mice? Yes, it would seem so. Erich Jarvis presented some really interesting work on the ultrasonic "song" of mice. This is a potentially important model for language.

Keynote lecture on birdsong -- Dan Margoliash presented a somewhat controversial lecture on birdsong as a model of aspects of language. No one argued its relevance for vocal learning, but a few feathers were ruffled, including those of one D. Poeppel, when it was suggested that it may be a model of hierarchical processing.

Debates -- the debates were again a big hit. First bout: Patterson vs. Martin. Second bout: Dehaene vs. Price. Both were fun and highly informative. Arch rivals Stan and Cathy surprisingly had a handshake that led to hug on stage. Thankfully it didn't go any further than that.

Tons of great posters. New work on intelligibility from the Scott lab; a new auditory feedback study by Guenther lab; McGurk effects under STS TMS by Beauchamp lab and lots more.

I'll try to fill in some bits and pieces on some of these presentations as time allows.

In the meantime, if you have any comments or suggestions for the next meeting, please let me know.

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