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ECN6 Weekend Seminar: February 2012

By Annemarie Wolff

After arriving at the Hotel Arberblick, Lohberg, on the Czech-Bavarian border, the weekend seminar of the “Experimental and Clinical Neuroscience” program VI opened with fine Bavarian food, local beer, good company and, of course, serious discussions about neuroscience.

Hotel Arberblick

The seminar came at our first major cross-roads in the Masters program. Having finished the lecture segment and about to embark on three project practica, the research portion of the course was about to begin.  In preparation, we would each develop a specific research project proposal based on the research presented during the weekend lectures. The weekend seminar had been arranged as a joint venture between coordinators from the Department of Behavioural and Molecular Neurobiology (Drs. David Slattery and Erwin van den Burg) and Department of Psychiatry (Dr Katrin Döhnel).

Over the course of the first two days, four lectures were given covering a wide-range of topics.  On Friday evening, Prof. Thomas Wetter (Uni. Regensburg) discussed the role of neuroimaging in sleep and sleep disorders.  Three presentations were given the following day. The first, described the different outcomes of acute and chronic stress on physiological and immunological parameters, was presented by Dr. Stefan Reber (Uni. Regensburg). The second was given by Prof. Dr. Andreas Reif (Uni. Würzburg) on the roles that nitric oxide synthase plays in psychiatric disorders. Finally, in the area of forensic research, Dr. Hedwig Eisenbarth (Uni. Regensburg) discussed how to perform neurobiological research in criminal populations and recent findings.

weekend seminar1

It was these presentations, and two research articles provided by each speaker, that provided the basis of the students’ research proposals.  Each group of students was assigned one lecture and asked to design a research proposal that could naturally build on the information provided.

weekend seminar 2

These proposals were written Saturday evening, and what began after dinner finished- for most- in the small hours of Sunday morning.  With the groups engaged in lively discussion, under the helpful and encouraging direction of the coordinators, speakers, and a constant flow of Bavarian beer, what initially felt momentous turned into something surmountable.

weekend seminar 3

It was not, however, all work and no play.  Saturday afternoon was open for activities, and the area around Lohberg provided many options for outdoor recreation.  Students and coordinators alike split off into three groups.  One group headed to the ski hill, the second went sledging, and the final group went hiking and to an animal preserve.  From the photos, videos, stories and bruises shared that evening at dinner Saturday evening, it seemed that everyone enjoyed what the area had to offer.

Sunday morning saw many bleary-eyed students. Some were nervous as well; scared to read their proposals in the clear light of day in case what had seemed sound at 1:00 in the morning would prove illogical after a night’s sleep. However, the time to prepare was over.  After many cups of coffee and some last minute discussion, the presentations began.

All presentations were well received and after a question and answer period and general discussions lunch was served.  The instructors called a tie and the prize of wine, kindly offered as extra incentive by Prof. Reif for the best presentation, was to be shared out at the first project presentation day with additional wine provided by Drs Slattery and van den Burg.

With the last official event completed, the tired and relieved students packed themselves up and went in their separate directions. Some returned to the ski slopes, but most headed back to Regensburg for rest and to prepare for the project practicum which began the following morning.