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Trends in Neurosciences

Arun Asok, Félix Leroy, Joseph B Rayman, Eric R Kandel
Over the past half-century, we have gained significant insights into the molecular biology of long-term memory storage at the level of the synapse. In recent years, our understanding of the cellular architecture supporting long-term memory traces has also substantially improved. However, the molecular biology of consolidation at the level of neuronal systems has been relatively neglected. In this opinion article, we first examine our current understanding of the cellular mechanisms of synaptic consolidation...
October 31, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
David M MacLean, Ryan J Durham, Vasanthi Jayaraman
The ionotropic glutamate receptors mediate excitatory neurotransmission in the mammalian central nervous system. These receptors provide a range of temporally diverse signals which stem from subunit composition and also from the inherent ability of each member to occupy multiple functional states, the distribution of which can be altered by small molecule modulators and binding partners. Hence it becomes essential to characterize the conformational landscape of the receptors under this variety of different conditions...
October 29, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Mark E Walton, Sebastien Bouret
The trade-off between reward and effort is at the heart of most behavioral theories, from ecology to economics. Compared to reward, however, effort remains poorly understood, both at the behavioral and neurophysiological levels. This is important because unwillingness to overcome effort to gain reward is a common feature of many neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. A recent surge in interest in the neurobiological basis of effort has led to seemingly conflicting results regarding the role of dopamine...
October 24, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Anna-Katharine Brem, Stefano L Sensi
Aging-related cognitive decline represents a critical risk factor for the development of dementia and is associated with global neurophysiological changes. It is imperative to act early, while the neural reserve is still sufficient, to prevent or postpone cognitive decline. Given that no significant modifying pharmacological intervention is available, a focus on pharmacological agents alone seems insufficient. We argue that combinations of different approaches are most effective in stimulating long-lasting molecular changes that restore, promote, and preserve cognition through the modulation of cognitively relevant neurotransmitter systems that ultimately converge in driving neurotrophic signaling...
October 18, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Michaela E Johnson, Benjamin Stecher, Viviane Labrie, Lena Brundin, Patrik Brundin
We hypothesize that Parkinson's disease (PD) pathogenesis can be divided into three temporal phases. During the first phase, 'triggers', such as viral infections or environmental toxins, spark the disease process in the brain and/or peripheral tissues. Triggers alone, however, may be insufficient, requiring 'facilitators' like peripheral inflammation for PD pathology to develop. Once the disease manifests, 'aggravators' spur further neurodegeneration and exacerbate symptoms. Aggravators are proposed to include impaired autophagy and cell-to-cell propagation of α-synuclein pathology...
October 17, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
James W Antony, Monika Schönauer, Bernhard P Staresina, Scott A Cairney
We propose a framework for the memory function of spindle oscillations during sleep. In this framework, memories are reinstated by spindle events and further reprocessed during subsequent spindle refractory periods. We posit that spindle refractoriness is crucial for protecting memory reprocessing from interference. We further argue that temporally-coordinated spindle refractory periods across local networks facilitate the consolidation of rich, multimodal representations, and that localized spindle refractoriness optimizes oscillatory interactions that support systems consolidation in the sleeping brain...
October 16, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Colin H Stanton, Avram J Holmes, Steve W C Chang, Jutta Joormann
Converging evidence across species highlights the contribution of environmental stress to anhedonia (loss of pleasure and/or motivation). However, despite a clear link between stress and the emergence of anhedonic-like behavior in both human and animal models, the underlying biological pathways remain elusive. Here, we synthesize recent findings across multiple levels, from molecular signaling pathways through whole-brain networks, to discuss mechanisms through which stress may influence anhedonia. Recent work suggests the involvement of diverse systems that converge on the mesolimbic reward pathway, including medial-prefrontal cortical circuitry, neuroendocrine stress responses, homeostatic energy regulation systems, and inflammation...
October 13, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Ruslan Rust, Lisa Grönnert, Martin E Schwab
After injury, activation and recruitment of inflammatory and immune cells has been thought to occur throughout the whole body. A recent study shows that after brain injury in mice, immune cells are primarily recruited from nearby skull bone marrow and invade the brain through microscopic vascular channels. Manipulation of this process may provide new therapeutic options.
October 13, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Judit Gervain, Maria N Geffen
Speech has long been recognized as 'special'. Here, we suggest that one of the reasons for speech being special is that our auditory system has evolved to encode it in an efficient, optimal way. The theory of efficient neural coding argues that our perceptual systems have evolved to encode environmental stimuli in the most efficient way. Mathematically, this can be achieved if the optimally efficient codes match the statistics of the signals they represent. Experimental evidence suggests that the auditory code is optimal in this mathematical sense: statistical properties of speech closely match response properties of the cochlea, the auditory nerve, and the auditory cortex...
October 5, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Paul Forsythe
A major aspect of the regulatory function of mast cells appears to be their role as intermediaries between the nervous and immune systems. Mast cells are activated by neurotransmitters allowing neural control of innate and adaptive immunity. Conversely, mast cells secrete mediators including neurotransmitters and neurotrophic factors that directly influence nerves, causing acute activation and/or long-lasting changes in excitability and phenotype. While some basic mechanisms underlying mast cell-nerve communication are well-established, the full extent to which this relationship influences health and disease is unclear...
October 4, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Shane M McMahon, Meyer B Jackson
Recent advances in Ca2+ imaging have given neuroscientists a tool to follow the activity of large numbers of individual neurons simultaneously in vivo in the brains of animals as they are presented with sensory stimulation, respond to environmental challenges, and engage in behaviors. The Ca2+ sensors used to transduce changes in cellular Ca2+ into changes in fluorescence must bind Ca2+ to produce a signal. By binding Ca2+ , these sensors can act as buffers, often reducing the magnitude of a Ca2+ change severalfold, and producing a proportional slowing of the rates of change...
October 1, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Sylvain Crochet, Seung-Hee Lee, Carl C H Petersen
Precisely wired neuronal circuits process sensory information in a learning- and context-dependent manner in order to govern behavior. Simple sensory decision-making tasks in rodents are now beginning to reveal the contributions of distinct cell types and brain regions participating in the conversion of sensory information into learned goal-directed motor output. Task learning is accompanied by target-specific routing of sensory information to specific downstream cortical regions, with higher-order cortical regions such as the posterior parietal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus appearing to play important roles in learning- and context-dependent processing of sensory input...
September 7, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Alexey Ostroumov, John A Dani
Behavioral adaptations occur through remodeling of brain circuits, as arising, for instance, from experience-dependent synaptic plasticity. Drugs of abuse and aversive stimuli, such as stress, act on the mesocorticolimbic system, dysregulating adaptive mechanisms and leading to a variety of aberrant behaviors associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. Until recently, research in the field has commonly focused on experience-dependent synaptic plasticity at excitatory synapses. However, there is growing evidence that synaptic plasticity within inhibitory circuits is an important contributor to maladaptive behaviors...
August 24, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Benjamin D Umans, Stephen D Liberles
Many internal organs change volume periodically. For example, the stomach accommodates ingested food and drink, the bladder stores urine, the heart fills with blood, and the lungs expand with every breath. Specialized peripheral sensory neurons function as mechanoreceptors that detect tissue stretch to infer changes in organ volume and then relay this information to the brain. Central neural circuits process this information and evoke perceptions (satiety, nausea), control physiology (breathing, heart rate), and impact behavior (feeding, micturition)...
August 21, 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Jonathan R Brennan
In a 2016 paper, Huth and colleagues probed, in a general way, how word meanings map onto cortical locations. By comparing the fit between alternative maps, this methodology offered a means to evaluate what sorts of meaning representations the brain handles under ecologically realistic conditions.
November 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Rodrigo Echeveste, Máté Lengyel
In 2006, Ma et al. (Nat. Neurosci. 1006;9:1432-1438) presented an elegant theory for how populations of neurons might represent uncertainty to perform Bayesian inference. Critically, according to this theory, neural variability is no longer a nuisance, but rather a vital part of how the brain encodes probability distributions and performs computations with them.
November 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
William R Schafer
Large-scale efforts are underway to map the neuronal connectomes of various animal species. In 1986 White et al. reported the first complete reconstruction of the nervous system connectome of an animal. Largely through manual reconstruction of serial electron micrographs, the authors characterized the morphology of each of the 302 neurons of the adult nematode C. elegans, and mapped the chemical and electrical synapses that connect them. This wiring diagram has profoundly influenced behavioral neurobiology and network science, and it continues to offer a guide for the impact of connectomics on neurobiology...
November 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Francis S Lee, Barbara L Hempstead
In 1996, Hyejin Kang and Erin Schuman, in search of new functions for the secreted growth factor brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), identified the protein synthesis requirement of BDNF in regulating synaptic plasticity. This landmark paper identified one of the first tractable pathways in the quest to dissect the complex process of synaptic remodeling and revealed the critical role for this neurotrophin in regulating long-term memory.
November 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Elizabeth V Goldfarb, Rajita Sinha
The biological stress response of the body forms one of the foundations of adaptive behavior, including promoting (and impairing) different forms of memory. This response transcends stressful experiences and underlies reactions to challenges and even reinforcers such as addictive substances. Nevertheless, drug-induced stress responses are rarely incorporated into models of addiction. We propose here that drug-induced stress responses (particularly glucocorticoids) play a crucial role in addictive behavior by modulating the formation of memories for substance-use experiences...
November 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
Yaoda Xu
Although the primate posterior parietal cortex (PPC) has been largely associated with space, attention, and action-related processing, a growing number of studies have reported the direct representation of a diverse array of action-independent nonspatial visual information in the PPC during both perception and visual working memory. By describing the distinctions and the close interactions of visual representation with space, attention, and action-related processing in the PPC, here I propose that we may understand these diverse PPC functions together through the unique contribution of the PPC to adaptive visual processing and form a more integrated and structured view of the role of the PPC in vision, cognition, and action...
November 2018: Trends in Neurosciences
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