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Conte Center for Basic Neuroscience Research

This 5-year project is an unprecedented collaborative effort by brain researchers, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, and computational neuroscientists from some of the top Universities and Medical Centers across the United States. The goal of the project is to better understand how certain structures, circuits, and pathways in the brain (even down at the cellular level) affect cognitive abilities that are critical to mental health. Using the Conte Center at Columbia University Medical Center as a base for administration, design, and data processing, scientists at each Center are collecting electrical activity data as it is processed in the brain in response to live audio and visual stimuli. The results of this research will reach experts and the general public through journal publications, an online website and database, and many outreach efforts. These outreach projects include monthly Columbia Conte Seminars, a yearly Women-in-Science Symposia, a weekly Web Journal Club, a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), a diversity/Under-Represented Minority (URM) fellowship program, and a Frontiers for Young Minds Journal. Regular evaluation of the project will occur during annual Conte Center Retreats with advisory board members.

The research of the Conte Center is divided into Working Groups that focus on different processes carried out by the brain that directly affect mental health. These include:

1. Visual cognition
2. Auditory cognition
3. Brain networks
4. Cell circuits


Charles Schroeder, PhD

Center Administrator:

Zobeida E. Altagracia

Participating Institutions

Researchers at three universities, one psychiatric research institute, two university medical centers, and six epilepsy centers across the United States lead individual projects that are then linked for further evaluation and exploration.

Universities, Institutes and Medical Centers:

  1. Boston University
  2. Columbia University Medical Center
  3. The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research
  4. Princeton University
  5. University of California, Berkeley
  6. Washington University

Epilepsy Centers:

  1. Albany University Medical Center in Albany NY
  2. Columbia University Medical Center in NYC
  3. Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, MD
  4. North Shore Hospital in Great Neck NY
  5. Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, CA
  6. Washington University Medical Center in St Louis, MO

All of the projects, which will be spread out across the country, are designed and carried out using a unified set of aims and research methods established by the Conte Center. Expertise will be shared between centers, and data will be processed and shared with the research community through a centralized system.

Conte Center Aims

AIM 1: Record and analyze brain activity. Use electrical brain activity collected from multiple centers to map out neural networks and pathways (down to the cellular level) during activation of visual and auditory processes.

AIM 2: Integrate and compare data. Integrate multiple types of recordings including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electrocorticography (ECoG) and cellular neurophysiology.

AIM 3: Develop computational models and to represent and analyze data. Produce and implement sophisticated data processing instruments using computational modeling to statistically analyze the data collected and predict future outcomes.

Educational and Community Outreach

Lectures Series. The Columbia Conte Center is sponsoring a lecture series to highlight distinguished research contributions in Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience. Speakers in the lecture series will be scheduled on a monthly basis beginning in the spring of 2018. These will be open to the NYC area academic community as well as the public.

Women in Science Symposia. Once each year, the Center will sponsor a 1/2 day symposium featuring contributions of outstanding women neuroscientists. These also will be open to the NYC area academic community as well as the public.

Under-represented minority trainee program. The Center will provide support to enable under-represented minority students from NYC area graduate programs to participate in cognitive neuroscience research supported by the Center funding.

patient journey

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