- Malavika Ganesh
4 Quick Takeaways from the Indian Academy of Neurosciences Conference 2022
Malvika Iyer is a Neuroscience Researcher at BrainSightAI. The following is her experience at IAN 2022.
At BrainSightAI, we are constantly searching for the latest research and developments in neuroscience part of this effort was attending the Indian Academy of Neurosciences Conference 2022. I attended the conference and pre-conference workshop, and here are some of the things that stayed with me:
On the value-add from AI: Collins Assissi of IISER Pune, spoke about how he used PubMed, Elicit.org, and Research rabbit to assist in answering research questions in academia. These tools are valuable for finding citations, networks, and summaries for research papers. The crux of this session was using AI for research (with a focus on Chat GPT) and whether or not it can make scientists obsolete. The short answer is: No. While AI is not an expert, it can mimic scientists. Unfortunately, in doing so, it also mimics scientists' biases and therefore is, at best, an assistive tool. That is a valuable feature to help us answer questions requiring research-based and well-cited responses.
On non-coding RNAs and post-stroke functional outcomes: Suresh L. Mehta presented his work on three non-coding RNAs – miRNA, LNcRNA, and circular RNA- regulating healing and neuronal regeneration after a stroke. These molecules regulate specific proteins themselves and cannot slow or speed up the healing process after a stroke. Their findings were based on studies with mice; however, I spoke to him about our work at BrainSightAI, and he suggested we focus on clusters instead of single ncRNAs.
On genomic and epigenomic approaches towards alcohol use disorders: Subhash C. Pandey talked about genomic and epigenomic approaches toward alcohol use disorder. Their model used mice and PM human brains. They used an omics approach to discover targets in adolescent exposure to alcohol. Adolescence is the time when hormonal changes and epigenetic programming take place. According to the mice model, early exposure led to increased histone, DNA methylation, and reduced acetylation, and late exposure led to the opposite. Synaptic genes were the most affected when they focused on gene sets (BDNF and Arc). In addition, their ATAC-sequence and RNA-sequence found that axon guidance genes were affected. This could help us look at these genes in other diseases like strokes, where there is a new area of neuronal regeneration. It could also help us see expressions and if/how they vary from normal/HC rewiring.
On non-invasive brain stimulation techniques: Kaviraj Udupa talked about his work using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques like TMS and TDCS for disorders. He believes that an excitation/ inhibition ratio in the brain gets disrupted in most disorders, and if we can restore that balance non-invasively, we could help treat these disorders. He spoke about applying these methods for depression, schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations, stroke, and AD.
I also met with many interesting people working on similar research areas. For example, I met Syamanta Hazarika, from IIT Guwahati, who works with EEG and looks into improving rehab function using LORETA and is also involved in robotics and designing tools for neuro-rehab. I also met Manorama Patri, who works on brain-gut microbiota connection.
I shared my research at the poster presentation space through my poster on 'Brain tumour segmentation using multimodal neuroimaging techniques: a deep convolutional neural network approach.' While presenting my poster, many students came up to talk to me. When I told them about our work, they already had heard of us! They even asked me if we do workshops for fMRI analysis and VoxelBox. It made me happy to see our work being recognized and appreciated!
I learned a lot at IAN 2022 and look forward to incorporating these insights into our work. After attending the conference, it was an added bonus to experience the glorious Shillong sunsets!