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Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series (WALS) - Cerebellar synaptic signaling as a metaphor for mentorship: how silence and speech get different deeds done

May 2, 2018

3:00pm - 4:00pm

Building 10, Clinical Center, Masur Auditorium

The NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series, colloquially known as WALS, is the highest-profile lecture program at the NIH. Lectures occur on most Wednesdays from September through June from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Building 10 on the NIH Bethesda campus.

Each season includes some of the biggest names in biomedical and behavioral research. The goal of the WALS is to keep NIH researchers abreast of the latest and most important research in the United States and beyond. An added treat is the annual J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture, which features top authors and other cultural icons. All speakers are nominated by the NIH community.

The full WALS lecture season agenda is available at

Margaret Pittman Lecture


Indira M. Raman, Ph.D.
Bill and Gayle Cook Professor
Northwestern University

Lecture summary:
The cerebellum facilitates learned, coordinated movements and corrects errors. Signals to execute these functions are carried by the large neurons of the cerebellar nuclei, which form the major premotor projection from the cerebellum. How these neurons fire is determined by the interaction between their intrinsic ion channels, which favor spontaneous action potential firing; the constant barrage of synaptic inhibition they receive from dozens of convergent rapidly firing Purkinje cells; and the activity of mossy fiber inputs which excite large premotor cells directly as well as Purkinje cells indirectly. This seminar will discuss synaptic and cellular specializations in the mouse cerebellar nuclei that permit distinct modes of firing in response to different patterns of synaptic inputs as measured in vitro, as well as their relation to movements measured in awake behaving animals. The data provide evidence that not only the rate but also the temporal structure of Purkinje cell firing can influence the efficacy of synaptic excitation of large neurons, the pattern of cerebellar output, and the consequences for motor behavior.

This lecture will be followed by a reception in the NIH Library. Special thanks to the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) for its support of the weekly reception. FAES is proud to co-sponsor with the NIH in hosting the Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series.

To watch the lecture online, visit Registration is not required; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Fire regulations require that every person in Masur Auditorium must have a seat. Standing in the aisles or in the back of the auditorium is not permitted. Sign language interpreters can be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event should contact Jacqueline Roberts,, 301-594-6747, or the Federal Relay, 800-877-8339.