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The Symposia, 1933 — 2003

1975:   The Synapse, Vol. XL

Organizer: J.D. Watson

Table of Contents

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The way we perceive bits of information, often to memorize and later to think with, has long proved a major challenge to the scientific mind. In attacking this problem we assume that no paradox exists in using our brains to tell us what they are and how they function. Instead we largely worry whether we have yet evolved into a life-form intelligent enough to probe the myriad levels of complexity that underly even the simplest forms of rational behavior.

The fundamental units we must study are the nerve cells and the synapses that link them together. In doing so, we must understand how electrical impulses are transmitted along neurons as well as work on the factors that determine how, when and where the synaptic interconnections are made. By now many of the questions surrounding the nerve impulse itself have been resolved. But the question of what synapses are and how they are made remains a mystery which currently is intriguing to an increasingly large number of the world's better scientists.

The time thus seemed right to choose the synapse as the focus for our 40th Symposium. Helping to arrange the program were Drs. Seymour Benzer, Eric Kandel, Stephen Kuffler, John Nicholls, David Potter and Gunther Stent. Their combined list of suggested speakers revealed such a great diversity of interests and emphasis that decisions regarding the final program at times seemed somewhat capricious. The end result, however, was a most exciting meeting attended by over two hundred and forty people. Most pleasantly,

many of our guests commented that it was the best gathering of neurobiologists that has occurred in their memories.

Vital to this success were the well-coordinated efforts of Helen Parker and her staff, who handled all the organizational aspects. Equally impressive, they inspired our cook to produce meals unlike any seen in the recent history of our Symposia.

Support for this meeting, in particular in the form of travel funds for our speakers from abroad, came from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Energy and Research Development Administration. Their continued support for so many years is most greatly appreciated.

This resulting Symposium volume was edited with dispatch by Ms. Nancy Ford, ably assisted by Ms. Annette Zaninovic and Mr. Stephen Jarowski. To persuade some sixty speakers to produce readable manuscripts within a finite time is never a simple task, and we are most fortunate in possessing an editorial staff that compares well with those of the most skilled commercial publishers.

Jan A. Witkowski

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