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Current Opinion in Neurobiology

Ilona C Grunwald Kadow
Behaviors are often categorized into innate or learned. Innate behaviors are thought to be genetically encoded and hardwired into the brain, while learned behavior is a product of the interaction between experience and the plasticity of synapses and neurons. Recent work in different models show that innate behavior, too, is plastic and depends on the current behavioral context and the internal state of an animal. Furthermore, these studies suggest that the neural circuits underpinning innate and learned behavior interact and even overlap...
September 13, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Reed L Ressler, Stephen Maren
Over the years Pavlovian fear conditioning has proved to be a powerful model to investigate the neural underpinnings of aversive associative memory formation. Although it is well appreciated that plasticity occurring at excitatory synapses within the basolateral complex of the amygdala (BLA) plays a critical role in associative memory formation, recent evidence suggests that plasticity within the amygdala is more distributed than previously appreciated. In particular, studies demonstrate that plasticity in the central nucleus (CeA) is critical for the acquisition of conditioned fear...
September 11, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jie Li, Esther Park, Lei R Zhong, Lu Chen
The molecular mechanisms underlying various types of synaptic plasticity are historically regarded as separate processes involved in independent cellular events. However, recent progress in our molecular understanding of Hebbian and homeostatic synaptic plasticity supports the observation that these two types of plasticity share common cellular events, and are often altered together in neurological diseases. Here, we discuss the emerging concept of homeostatic synaptic plasticity as a metaplasticity mechanism with a focus on cellular signaling processes that enable a direct interaction between Hebbian and homeostatic plasticity...
September 10, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jon Palacios-Filardo, Jack R Mellor
Multiple neuromodulators including acetylcholine, noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin are released in response to uncertainty to focus attention on events where the predicted outcome does not match observed reality. In these situations, internal representations need to be updated, a process that requires long-term synaptic plasticity. Through a variety of common and divergent mechanisms, it is recently shown that all these neuromodulators facilitate the induction and/or expression of long-term synaptic plasticity within the hippocampus...
September 10, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Giles W Plant, Jarret Ap Weinrich, Julia A Kaltschmidt
Proprioceptive sensory input and descending supraspinal projections are two major inputs that feed into and influence spinal circuitry and locomotor behaviors. Here we review their influence on each other during development and after spinal cord injury. We highlight developmental mechanisms of circuit formation as they relate to the sensory-motor circuit and its reciprocal interactions with local spinal interneurons, as well as competitive interactions between proprioceptive and descending supraspinal inputs in the setting of spinal cord injury...
September 8, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Blake A Richards, Timothy P Lillicrap
Guaranteeing that synaptic plasticity leads to effective learning requires a means for assigning credit to each neuron for its contribution to behavior. The 'credit assignment problem' refers to the fact that credit assignment is non-trivial in hierarchical networks with multiple stages of processing. One difficulty is that if credit signals are integrated with other inputs, then it is hard for synaptic plasticity rules to distinguish credit-related activity from non-credit-related activity. A potential solution is to use the spatial layout and non-linear properties of dendrites to distinguish credit signals from other inputs...
September 8, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Sabrina Sun, David V Schaffer
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Karri Lamsa, Petrina Lau
Formation of a cell assembly, a group of cortical neurons that function co-operatively to sustain an active memory trace, arises from changes in the connections between neurons. Establishment of memory traces is thought to rely on long-term plasticity in excitatory glutamatergic synapses interconnecting principal cells. In addition, recent studies in the hippocampus in vivo indicate that reconfiguration of GABAergic inhibitory interneuron activity also occurs during long-term memory encoding. Recent experiments in anesthetized, as well as in freely moving animals, demonstrate that learning-related hippocampal activities are associated with persistent changes in GABAergic interneuron firing rates and alterations in protein expression levels regulating GABA release...
September 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Sara Mancinelli, Simona Lodato
The neocortex is by far one of the most complex regions of the mammalian brain, characterized by an extraordinary diversity of neuronal and non-neuronal cell types, whose coordinated development and function guarantee the execution of high-order cognitive, sensory, and motor behaviours. Decoding its heterogeneity and understanding the molecular strategies upon which the cerebral cortex is built during development have been at the core of neuroscientists' work for decades. Here, we will focus on the current classification of neuronal types (both excitatory and inhibitory) of the neocortex in light of the insights provided by recent single-cell omic technologies, which have offered - with unprecedented resolution - an extended framework to interpret cortical diversity and its developmental origin...
August 27, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Kelly E Carstens, Serena M Dudek
Synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus is thought to play a vital role in both the refinement of neuronal circuits during development and in learning in the mature brain. Synapses in hippocampal area CA1 are known for a robust capacity for long-term potentiation (LTP), whereas synapses in the stratum radiatum of hippocampal area CA2 are particularly resistant to such changes. Although we have yet to fully understand the mechanisms behind this resistance to plasticity, a number of genes and extracellular matrix components highly expressed in CA2 appear to function as molecular brakes on plasticity and develop postnatally in the rodent brain...
August 14, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Cameron L Prigge, Jeremy N Kay
Dendrites are the conduits for receiving (and in some cases transmitting) neural signals; their ability to do these jobs is a direct result of their morphology. Developmental patterning mechanisms are critical to ensuring concordance between dendritic form and function. This article reviews recent studies in vertebrate retina and brain that elucidate key strategies for dendrite functional maturation. Specific cellular and molecular signals control the initiation and elaboration of dendritic arbors, and facilitate integration of young neurons into particular circuits...
August 6, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Lida Katsimpardi, Pierre-Marie Lledo
Neural stem cells (NSCs) represent a remarkable developmental unit, necessary for the proper functioning of neurogenesis, by retaining their plasticity to self-renew and give rise to progeny throughout life in specific regions of the adult brain. Although NSCs were thought to merely represent a stem cell type in the brain, recent advances have demonstrated the incredible complexity of NSC identity and functions. Ranging between quiescence, activation and intermediary subtypes, NSCs choose their fate through their developmental inheritance, regional positioning within the niche, as well as dynamic transcriptional and metabolic states...
August 2, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Renata Batista-Brito, Edward Zagha, Jacob M Ratliff, Martin Vinck
In this review, we explore how contextual modulations of sensory processing are implemented within the local cortical circuit. We focus on contextual influences of global arousal state (e.g. how alert am I?), sensory predictions (e.g. which stimuli do I expect?), and top-down attention (what is relevant to me?). We review recent literature suggesting that these operations are implemented throughout sensory cortices, and are mediated by excitatory and inhibitory local circuits. By focusing on the circuit mechanisms of contextual modulation operations, we may begin to understand how mutations in GABAergic interneurons and alterations in neuromodulatory signaling lead to specific deficits of information processing in neuropsychiatric disease...
July 28, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Ying Li, Catherine Dulac
Animals respond to sensory cues emitted by their conspecifics by initiating a repertoire of sex-specific social behaviors, such as mating, fighting, and parental care. These behavioral responses are thought to be largely driven by genetically pre-programmed circuits. However, they can also vary significantly according to the animal's previous social experience and physiological state, suggesting that the underlying circuits are shaped by adaptive modulatory changes. Modern tools of neuroscience have enabled the direct interrogation of circuits driving sex-specific behaviors and helped unravel key neural mechanisms underlying their function and modulation...
July 27, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Aparna Suvrathan
Synaptic plasticity, induced by the close temporal association of two neural signals, supports associative forms of learning. However, the millisecond timescales for association often do not match the much longer delays for behaviorally relevant signals that supervise learning. In particular, information about the behavioral outcome of neural activity can be delayed, leading to a problem of temporal credit assignment. Recent studies suggest that synaptic plasticity can have temporal rules that not only accommodate the delays relevant to the circuit, but also be precisely tuned to the behavior the circuit supports...
July 27, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Elham Asghari Adib, Laura J Smithson, Catherine A Collins
Signaling through the dual leucine zipper-bearing kinase (DLK) is required for injured neurons to initiate new axonal growth; however, activation of this kinase also leads to neuronal degeneration and death in multiple models of injury and neurodegenerative diseases. This has spurred current consideration of DLK as a candidate therapeutic target, and raises a vital question: in what context is DLK a friend or foe to neurons? Here, we review our current understanding of DLK's function and mechanisms in regulating both regenerative and degenerative responses to axonal damage and stress in the nervous system...
July 24, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Maxime Chevée, Solange P Brown
Precise synaptic connections among neurons in the neocortex generate the circuits that underlie a broad repertoire of cortical functions including perception, learning and memory, and complex problem solving. The specific patterns and properties of these synaptic connections are fundamental to the computations cortical neurons perform. How such specificity arises in cortical circuits has remained elusive. Here, we first consider the cell-type, subcellular and synaptic specificity required for generating mature patterns of cortical connectivity and responses...
July 24, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Mark Ej Sheffield, Daniel A Dombeck
Place cells in the hippocampus are thought to form a cognitive map of space and a memory of places. How this map forms when animals are exposed to novel environments has been the subject of a great deal of research. Numerous technical advances over the past decade greatly increased our understanding of the precise mechanisms underlying place field formation. In particular, it is now possible to connect cellular and circuit mechanisms of integration, firing, and plasticity discovered in brain slices, to processes taking place in vivo as animals learn and encode novel environments...
July 20, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Françoise Muscatelli, Sébastien Gc Bouret
From birth, mammals have to find food and maximize caloric intake to ensure growth and survival. Suckling must be initiated quickly after birth and then maintained and controlled until weaning. It is a complex process involving interactions between sensory and motor neuronal pathways. Meanwhile, the control of food intake and energy homeostasis is progressively established via the development of hypothalamic circuits. The development of these circuits is influenced by hormonal and nutritional signals and can be disturbed in a variety of developmental disorders leading to long-term metabolic, behavioral and cognitive dysfunctions...
July 19, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jonathan Green, Gaby Maimon
A network of a few hundred neurons in the Drosophila central complex carries an estimate of the fly's heading in the world, akin to the mammalian head-direction system. Here we describe how anatomically defined neuronal classes in this network are poised to implement specific sub-processes for building and updating this population-level heading signal. The computations we describe in the fly central complex strongly resemble those posited to exist in the mammalian brain, in computational models for building head-direction signals...
July 17, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
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