After almost a year of much deafening silence on this blog, I thought to myself, what better way of bringing sound back than channeling neuroscience 2012 on here? And hence, this piece!

This is my second year in attendance and as a “veteran” (meant to be sarcastic), looking back I thought I would write down some helpful tips on navigating the conference. In my imaginary world, I would like to think someone out there in the globe who is headed to Neuroscience for the first time, would stumble upon this on the world wide web and use it as their treasure map (let me dream!)

  1. Attend the Presidential lectures. Doesn’t matter if it’s your subject area or not, just attend these talks. It gives you a broad spectrum across the field especially if you are a newly minted freshie in the field. I made the mistake of not attending a single one last year, followed by being stupefied that there were a bunch of lectures I was ignorant about… And not to mention being bewildered as my cohort mates had conversations amongst themselves about the “facts and new questions” they learnt. I felt left out, which was my fault – improper planning on my part. Thankfully, I have this year to redeem myself!
  2. Don’t wait till the last minute to make an itinerary. Maybe you are just planning yours now, that’s okay. Don’t stand in the halls of the convention center to make one – too confusing and overwhelming. Trust me, I’ve tried it. Some very convenient links this year: Neuroscience 2012 Oasis Planner, Hubbian and of course, the-life-saving-and-can’t-do-without-uber-convenient Neuroscience 2012 app (We can now truly say there really is an app for everything with the arrival of this one :D) And of course, if you still love the feel of processed trees through your fingers, there are daily program books to be picked up everyday in the convention center… usually at the entrance.
  3. Pick a sub-theme or two of poster sessions and follow them throughout. Please, please and please, don’t attempt to follow a whole theme or even think of wandering through Hall F-J and think you can just shotgun your way to posters. You end up drained and sad and sitting on the floor staring at people with a dazed wonder in your eyes. I was that person last year 😦
  4. Pick out some networking events to attend. You may attend your institution’s or sneak into another’s and feign to be an interested graduate school applicant or even an postdoc looking for a job (not that I imposed as any of these by the way). The point is that you may or may not know anyone there, however, the key goal should be met – network, network and network. Alcohol and neuroscience have a way of making dense connectomes that span the widespread waters of the globe. With that said, put yourself out there.
  5. Enjoy the city. Grab a few new scientist friends and explore the streets you might not get to revisit. Walk the streets of New Orleans with thousands of fellow brainpower enthusiasts. Enjoy the plethora of jumbled overheard words most frequently seen and heard of in your sleep and in class and in lab (don’t deny that you’ve dreamt of your Purves and Kandel textbooks – I know you have).
  6. Above all, enjoy the science. Ask, question and be ignited. After all, the unifying theme that has brought us to New Orleans is our deep and insatiable curiosity on the marvelous workings of the beloved nervous system (and to self-promote our science too of course!)

More to follow from the desk of the budding novice neuroscientist.

Have yourself a wonderful day of synaptic potentiation!!!

I will return with summaries of events I attended, and pictures of the city of course.