Insider Food and Drink Tips for D.C. SfN 2017

By Amielle Moreno

If you’re one of the many hard-working young graduate students attending SfN in D.C. this year, congratulations! Luck has it, my old friend Liz is a D.C. chef and is giving you the inside scoop on some of the great food spots D.C. has to offer. And I know you’re a grad student, so we won’t strain the per-diem.

Right now, Shaw is the hottest neighborhood in D.C. for eats and night life and it’s located just north of the convention center. Get familiar with the street naming conventions – numbered streets will cross lettered streets – as you explore what the locals call “9th and 7th street.”

Smoked & Stacked’s homemade pastrami is just a couple blocks from the convention center, on 9th, and will fulfill all your sandwich dreams.

DC9 has no right to have such good food since it’s also a happening live music venue. At 9th and U street, DC9 has “banging fried chicken and solid bar food burgers named after bands,” says Liz. Local tip: check out the great roof top deck if you have good weather.

Or if drinks before, during, and after the conference is your thing, there’s a mid-west Chicago style dive bar called Ivy and Coney on 7th street with beer & shot specials, Italian beef sandwiches, and $5 hotdogs.

For the oyster and fancy cocktail lovers, check out the industrial styled Eat the Rich around five blocks from the conventions center.

As we move slightly more of a Lyft ride away from the convention center, there’s a spot that Liz called “ridiculous” at least three times. Archipelago on 11th and U street is a tiki bar that will fulfill all your dreams of crazy convention stories and giant flaming rum punches.

While a dinner at Ghibilina on 14th could run you around $30, their happy hour $8 pizzas and $6 paninis won’t bust your travel budget (but will require a ride).

For upscale post-conference drinks or dinner say hi to Liz’s new husband Jon, who is a chef at the popular happy hour spot Thally. Shameless plug? I doubt that Liz would ever recommend, let alone tolerate, a bad restaurant. But check out all the good reviews (and the roasted duck breast!) if you’re skeptical.

While some of you will be suckered into tourist attractions, like the greasy late night spot Ben’s Chilli Bowl, I hope you can check out some of the spots cultivated by my best friend just for you. If you want to taste her work, visit Chef Liz at Buffalo & Bergen for brunch and bagels inside the Union Market, two miles from the convention center.

Feel free to comment with your recommendations below! Safe travels!


Smoked & Stacked 1239 9th St NW Washington, DC 20001

Ivy and Coney 1537 7th St NW Washington, DC 20001 at N Q St

Eat the Rich1839 7th St NW Washington, DC 20001 b/t S St & T St

Archipelago 1201 U St NW Washington, DC 20009 b/t N 13th St & N 12th St

Thally 1316 9th St NW Washington, DC 20001 b/t O St & N St

Ghibellina 1610 14th St NW Washington, DC 20009 b/t N Q St & N Corcoran St

Ben’s Chili Bowl 1213 U St NW Washington, DC 20009 b/t N 13th St & N 12th St

Buffalo & Bergen 1309 5th St NEUnion Market Washington, DC 20002


2015 GDBBS Banquet Fashion Spread

By Amielle Moreno

2015 GDBBS Interior Panoramic – Version 2

On a rainy Thursday night, the brightest things in Atlanta were the women and men of Emory’s Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. I plucked the prettiest flowers from the bunch for this article to honor their stylishness.

Gina Alesi from Cancer Biology
Gina Alesi from Cancer Biology
Alicia Cutler from Biochemistry Cell and Developmental Biology (BCDB)
Alicia Cutler from Biochemistry Cell and Developmental Biology (BCDB)
Morgan Woody Winship Cancer Institute
Morgan Woody Winship Cancer Institute

The solid purple dress took center stage this year with multiple ladies donning this trending color. With many ways to wear it, this color is flattering on everyone, but who do you think wore it best?

Josh Lewis from BCDB
Josh Lewis from BCDB
Marko Bajic from Genetics and Molecular Biology
Marko Bajic from Genetics and Molecular Biology
R to L: Gary Longstreet from Program Administration, as well as Muhammad Anzar Abbas from Neuroscience and his lovely date
Gary Longstreet from Program Administration, as well as Muhammad Anzar Abbas from Neuroscience and his lovely date

In man’s fashion, the surest way to stand out in the sea of polo shirted lazy-lads, was easy: sports jacket and tie. Josh Lewis’ mix of jacket and plaid skinny tie set him apart from the crowd. Look out Chris Hardwick! Unfortunately, some people think fashion ends after your pants, such as Marko, who looked like the whole package until you notice his shoes. When asked about his ensemble he responded “#Marko #swag #swagco #yolo #yololifeforever #ijustputiton.” But Anzar Abbas gets extra flair points for his light brown tips. And yes, Gary Longstreet, people are going to think you’re a server if you dress in all black. “Black’s my favorite color,” he responded with aplomb.

Gina Lenzi  Molecular Systems and Pharmacology
Gina Lenzi Molecular Systems and Pharmacology
Madeline Price IMP Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis
Madeline Price IMP Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis

The LBD is a fashion staple but Gina’s lacy number will stand the test of time. It’s versatile with long sleeves which keep it in rotation from fall to late winter. Meanwhile, Madeline pulled this little number out of the closet after getting into shape. Can you think of anything more rewarding than slipping into that dress after months of working out? Her classic pumps make her ready for any formal event, but one might say that her accessories are lacking while Gina’s gold accessories take her ensemble over the top.Who wore black better: Gina, Madeline or Gary?

Version 3

Rachel Cliburn from Neuroscience
Rachel Cliburn from Neuroscience
Gary Longstreet from Program Adminsitration, Dr. Weinshenker and Dr. Gretchen Neigh
Gary Longstreet from Program Adminsitration, Dr. Weinshenker and Dr. Gretchen Neigh

And then there were the red mavens. Rachel  not only had hands and toes in theme with her red dress from Paris, her glass slippers “make [her] feel like she can twinkle float.” Dr. Neigh gets a chance to wear this beautiful gown for the second time. I was shocked that it was an Ann Taylor because I’ve never seen anything this bright. That dress, much like these two ladies, stand out from the crowd when everybody else is wearing tan. Thanks for the photo bomb, Gary.

Jacob Billings from Neuroscience
Jacob Billings from Neuroscience
Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience
Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience

Both of these Neuroscience gentlemen received their neuron accessories, from their significant others. Lukas’s purple tie is from Bow-Tie For a Cause with all the profits from this gift benefiting Alzheimer’s research.

Julia Omotade from BCDB
Oh MY, Omotade! Julia Omotade from BCDB wins the best dressed award!

Black and White doesn’t get any better. In my humble opinion, Julia Omotade’s cocktail dress puts all others to shame and as the best dressed at the GDBBS Banquet.

Eye catching from across the room, Pernille Buelow claims she does "this with my hair everyday at lab."
Eye catching from across the room, Pernille Buelow from Neuroscience claims she does “this with my hair everyday at lab.”
What did they just hear that could create such polar reactions?
What did they just hear that could create such polar reactions?
Dr. Weinshenker was literally the last person to receive dinner.
Dr. Weinshenker was literally the last person to receive dinner.
Because it's alien eggs, this is the vegetarian option not the vegan option.
Because it’s alien eggs, this is the vegetarian option not the vegan option.
The food was much better in years past.
The food was much better in years past.
Version 2
Constance Harrell Shreckengost from Neuroscience receives the graduate Career Award
Lauren DePoy receives the Neuroscience Scholar of the Year Award
Version 2
A bowl?! I work for 13 years and all I get is a bowl with a dent in it?!?!
Version 2
Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience receives the Graduate Program in Biology Academic and Achievement Award
Version 2
My two bundles of joy!

Did You Know? with Willa Cho!: Little-known facts about Atlanta

by Willa ChoIheartATL

Little-known facts about Atlanta!

  • Atlanta resident Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind because an ankle injury kept her from leaving the city and she was very bored.
  • Atlanta is still proud that it hosted the Olympics in 1996, for some reason.
  • In 1886 Atlanta, Dr. John S. Pemberton invented Coca-Cola to usher in a new era of obesity but passed away before his dream was realized.
  • Every year, Atlanta hosts DragonCon, a multigenre convention and parade  celebrating science fiction, fantasy, and comic books which commences nerd mating season
  • Atlanta was chosen as a hub for Delta airlines because it’s only a three hour plane ride to some place better.
  • Atlanta is believed to be named after the goddess Atalanta, who was raised by bears. The cult responsible for the naming is still active and its hooded members can often be spotted along the new beltline walking path.
  • Elle and Dakota Fanning, Jane Fonda, Holly Hunter, Ed Helms, Raven-Symoné, Chris Tucker, and Julia Roberts were all born in Atlanta and now live somewhere else.
  • Tourist attractions in downtown Atlanta includes the worlds largest aquarium and Coca-Cola’s ‘World of Propaganda.’
  • Stone Mountain, outside Atlanta, is one of the largest blocks of exposed granite racism in the world.
  • A law still stands on the books from 1927 that states that good Chinese restaurants aren’t allowed anywhere in the city except Buford Highway.PrayforATLA
  • The symbol or mascot of Atlanta is “A man from another area in the south who thinks Atlanta is great!”
  • Atlanta is an official celestial conduit to heaven, with branches of Zesto’s serving as departure terminals for all believers chubby enough to survive the trip.
  • There are over 55 streets with the name “Peachtree” in the city, all with their own rival gangs that brawl during any eclipse.
  • What we call “Atlanta” is only the surface of a much, much larger subterranean city, which comprises 91% of the mass, 87% of the energy consumption, and nearly 100% of the Tinder spam bots.

“Yes and” Brain Areas Identified

By Amielle Moreno

How do you test something as transient as “creativity” when the simple act of testing someone can lead to decreases in the very thing you seek to measure? A recent study out of the Reiss laboratory at Stanford produced a creative idea of their own to test creativity. The low pressure and innovative approach in this study attempted to solve this problem with a game and an fMRI machine.

A pack of wild dogs took over and successfully run this fMRI facility.

Large pieces of machinery such as functional Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machines, carry the hefty price tag of $316 to $600 an hour per participant. The name alone scared so many hospital patients that scientists dropped the word “nuclear.” Reimbursing participants (bribing) is often necessary to get them to willingly stick their head inside the giant magnet even when you’re trying to get them to play a game in the million dollar machine.

Recent research published in Nature attempts to understand the neural correlates recruited during Pictionary. The family friendly game that you played awkwardly with your new step-mom Susana or converted into a drinking game in college/last week was used in an fMRI machine to better understand what areas of the brain are responsible for creativity. First author Saggar made the point that creativity can be considered “a driving force behind all human progress1.”

What else but creativity is responsible for the human proclivity to identify patterns in randomness, leading ancient societies to create images and fables out of the constellations?

OK, how the hell is that a lion, ancient Greek man?

Design and Methods:

Pictionary prompts such as salute, snore and vote, were selected and graded for their difficulty by one set of participants. Then, another set of participants in an fMRI machine used a magnetic resonance-safe drawing tablet to either draw illustrations of these prompts during a 30 second time block or a random zigzag during another block.

pictionary prompts
If you ask me, it’s Grampa visiting South Carolina, the beginning of a “fail” video, CIA mind control and mailing your alimony check.

By contrasting the creative versus uncreative blocks, the researchers attempted to reveal “the neural correlates of spontaneous improvisation and creativity.” Images drawn during the creative blocks were then graded on creative content and subjective ease of guessing the prompt by two Pictionary Experts. While this might also be a major offered by Sarah Lawrence College, apparently you can obtain this position after earning a degree in Graphic Design from Stanford. Resumes were updated to include “Expert Guessers in Pictionary” post-study.

The researchers were left with mountains of data and yet again these humans sought to apply order to what might appear as randomness.



All of this leads to specific advice for the art of improvisation and Pictionary:

  1. Working Memory and Attention: Perhaps the most important thing to do in any improv scene is to listen to your partner and focus on the scene you’re building. Active listening and engagement is fueled by the attention network, including the frontal-parietal connection2. This functional connectivity can “initiate and adjust control on a trial-by trial basis.” Coherence between these two regions form “the central executive and visual sketchpad of the working memory system.”
  2. Goal Direction: Prime your cingulo-operacular connectivity to maintain stable, goal directed focus during your scenes/games. Because communication between the cingulate and the area adjacent to the insula is also associated with word-recognition, it may be particularly important during Pictionary or word associated improv games3.
  3. Shut Down Task-Control: Try to go with the flow. A fine distinction between goal directed focus, task-control involves task initiation, maintenance and adjustment4. Regions of the brain involved in task-control include the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. High BOLD signals in these brain regions are associated with less creative pictures.
  4. Creativity: To be more creative, try to activate both your bilateral cerebellum and inferior temporal gyrus. The activation of the cerebellum increased linearly with increases in creativity ratings. This study’s finding that cerebral-cerebellar interactions are active during the game Pictionary, separate from motor control and learning, indicates that this interaction is active during higher order cognitive functions which could be considered “creative.”
This is your brain on Pictionary. Modulation of fMRI activation during word-drawing condition using self-reported difficulty ratings (in red-yellow color scale) and expert creativity ratings (in blue-green color scale).


Improv greats, Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh. image from

Anyone who’s paid to think or problem solve needs moments of creativity. This study posits that it was able to isolate creative thought and found an association between cerebral-cerebellar BOLD signal and spontaneous creativity. Two neuroscience grad students who do improv, Brendan O’Flaherty and Lukas Hoffmann, might tell you that with experience it’s possible to improve your creative performance on stage. Connections between specific brain regions need to be strengthened before you can become one of the great improvisational artists, or crush Susanna and her spoiled daughter during your next family vacation.

To strengthen your connectivity, check out Village Theatre or Highwire Comedy for classes.

1 Saggar M, Quintin EM, Kienitz E, Bott NT, Sun Z, Hong WC, Liu N, Dougherty RF, Royalty A, Hawthorne G, Reiss AL. Pictionary-based fMRI paradigm to study the neural correlates of spontaneous improvisation and figural creativity. Sci. Rep. 5, 10894; doi: 10.1038/srep10894 (2015).

2 Vaden KI, Kuchinsky SE, Cute SL, Ahlstrom JB, Dubno JR, Eckert MA. The cingulo-opercular network provides word-recognition benefit. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013;33(48):18979-18986. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1417-13.2013.

3 Chawla D, Rees G, Friston KJ. The physiological basis of attentional modulation in extrastriate visual areas. Nature Neuroscience.1999; 2: 671 – 676 doi:10.1038/10230

4 Ptak R. The frontoparietal attention network of the human brain: action, saliency, and a priority map of the environment. Neuroscientist. 2011;18 (5):502-515.

Gh-gh-gh-ghost Delusion Simulated and Explored

By Amielle Moreno

In Current Biology this month, a paper titled “Neurological and Robot-Controlled Induction of an Apparition” features neuroscientists exploring a sensation that’s ubiquitous among humans in every culture; the feeling or chilling sensation that someone is behind you when no one is present. Feeling of Presence, or FoP, is a phenomena present in both healthy individuals and those with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. But like most sensory experiences, this one has its roots in neuroscience and not the occult or divine.

Blanke2014 Brain Scan Image
Overlay of FoP lesion patients and FoP experiencing healthy controls. A: Red indicates the overlap of five patients B: Compared to non-lesioned patients that experience FoP, The common area between the two groups is the frontoparietal lobe.

First author Olfe Blake and senior author Giulio Rognini, both out of Switzerland, conducted this study using mostly epileptic patients, who frequently experience this body delusion, to determine which brain location is commonly affected. They determined that the frontoparietal lobe was specifically associated with FoP. Responsible for the integration of sensory stimuli, these researchers suggest that the parietal lobe is the location responsible for that creepy feeling we all get when we turn out the lights in the basement, and then we have to walk up the stairs in the dark, and we swear there’s a monster behind us, and we run up the stairs and slam the door behind us, and we realize we’re breathing heavily and crying just a little bit, but we’re not embarrassed at all because this is totally something everybody does.

Blanke2014 Robot Video picture
Samuel “Screech” Powers pokes himself in the back with a robot.

To experimentally replicate this sensation in a healthy population, the researchers designed a robot whose movements were guided by the fingers of study participants. Blindfolded and in a room alone, the participants would control the robot, making it touch their back. One group controlled the robot in real time, the other group had robots that would mimic their movements, but with a time delay. Subjects in the time delay group reported the experience to be more like another person was in the room with them, touching their back. This method induced FoP in some participants and made a smaller subset feel so uncomfortable that they had to stop the experiment! In this way the asynchronous robot stimulation was capable of simulated FoP in healthy participants. Scientists failed to control for the possibility that actual ghosts were present in the room during the experiment.

Blanke2014 Figure3a
The feelings of “touched by other” and “FoP” were higher in the asynchronous vs. synchronous robot control.

Blanke et al. concluded that they were able to create “a conflict between proprioceptive-motor signals and tactile feedback” that is similar to the FoP experience. Shining light on the cause of this sensation, researches believe that “abnormal integration of sensorimotor signals” is responsible for ghosts, I mean, FoP. So the experience of an unknown “other” just behind you and out of sight is simply a confusion between the brain’s sensation of the “self” and the “other.”

The researchers went further, suggesting that schizophrenics have deficits in the integration of sensory inputs, and this causes these individuals to be more likely to attribute “self-generated” sounds or touch as being “other-generated.” The authors hope that this study will have applications to schizophrenic individuals who experience this specific delusion. As the phenomenology behind the feeling of presence is explained, science puts another nail in the coffin of the “supernatural.” Xgq5z5P

Share your thoughts and criticisms of this paper in the comment section below.

Blanke, O., Pozeg, P., Hara, M., Heydrich, L., Serino, A., Yamamoto, A., Rognini,G. (2014). Neurological and Robot-Controlled Induction of an Apparition. Current Biology, 24(22), 2681-2686. doi:
Grimm, David. “How Hippos Help and a News Roundup.” Review. Audio blog post. Science Magazine Podcast. AAAS, 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <;.

Second Years Celebrate Stats Course Completion

Co-written by Amielle Moreno and Eric Maltbie

Because it’s impossible to get a shot where everyone look good AND no ones biting each other.

     Neuroscience second years rejoice over the completion of the Statistics course for Biological Sciences. After the semester long experiment with early morning classes on Tuesday and Thursdays had ended, the Neuroscience students celebrated with an party to burn all remaining alpha. Preliminary data suggested that to reach 80% power, everyone should bring a plus one to the celebration and they were joined by n+1s and future Stat students. No missing data points were thrown out.

    Michael McKinnon summarized the feelings of many of the stats students with his Five Stages of Grief in Response to Missing a Statistics Quiz:

  1. Denial: It’s only 8:25, I can totally wake up, shower, get dressed, drive through traffic, park and make it to class in 15 minutes….
  2. Anger: This is just $#@^ing great! Of course, he has a $#@^ing early bird attendance quiz today. He’s never had quizzes in the first half of class before!! This is bull%*&!… f$#@^ing bull%*&!. He’s singling me out I bet, he knows I always show up late. He wants me to fail! %!@!*& $@! bald %!$*#&*!$!&*!!!!! (Editor’s note, the following strong language was removed in the best interest of Mr. McKinnon. Please contact the editor or Mr. McKinnon directly to receive the full transcript)
  3. Bargaining: I bet if I show up late he’ll give me half credit. I mean, sure I’m always late, but I show up pretty often. I’ll send him a nice email and explain that I don’t like getting up early. That makes sense, right?
  4. Depression: I’m gonna fail statistics!!!!! I suck at life!
  5. Acceptance: Oh wait, grades don’t matter anymore…
Guess who dropped by the party?

Highlights of the evening included professor impressions and the random distribution of shots, one of which was actually a shot of vinegar, to represent the chance of a false positive. That shot was unfortunately digested by an n+1.

This class was everything the upperclassmen said it would be, commented one student t. Tukey’s commented that it was difficult to take the instructor of the course, Dr. Murphy’s, commitment seriously due to his failure to post homework assignments in a timely manner. A significant amount of the group believed that the professor’s love for the game of golf was a bias to his productivity.

All in all, the students are happy to have completed this course and will be contacting the newly elected DSAC representative, Natty Chalermpalanupap, to voice their constructive feedback.

Bonferroni and have a great summer!

Congratulations To My Girl, Amielle!

ImageWhat’s up, Emory Neuroscience Graduate Program!  I’m Vin Diesel and you might have seen me starring in my award winning Fast and Furious films. I’m stoked to be introducing my girl, Amielle, as the Central Sulcus’s new Editor-in-Chief. This girl is crazy funny and I know she’ll pull down some articles for the Sulcus that the whole program will enjoy.  What I love about this girl, is how she’s always there for me when I need her. So I know you can contact her if you have any winning article ideas. I love how crazy this girl can be; she’s off the chain when she puts together a story. So you know I’ll be reading and I hope you do to. 

You can look forward to some great articles from my girl and the whole editorial team here at the Sulcus this year. Live your life one quarter mile at a time.