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Current Opinion in Neurobiology

Ilsong Choi, Jae-Yun Lee, Seung-Hee Lee
Sensory perception in the real world requires proper integration of different modality inputs. Process of multisensory integration is not uniform. It varies from individual to individual and changes at different behavioral states of the animal. What factors affect multisensory integration? How does the mammalian brain reconstruct a multisensory world at different states? Here, we summarize recent findings on bottom-up and top-down factors that can modulate sensory processing and multisensory integration. We discuss cortical circuits that are responsible for modulation of multisensory processing based on recent rodent studies...
May 17, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Amy M LeMessurier, Daniel E Feldman
That experience shapes sensory tuning in primary sensory cortex is well understood. But effective neural population codes depend on more than just sensory tuning. Recent population imaging and recording studies have characterized population codes in sensory cortex, and tracked how they change with sensory manipulations and training on perceptual learning tasks. These studies confirm sensory tuning changes, but also reveal other features of plasticity, including sensory gain modulation, restructuring of firing correlations, and differential routing of information to output pathways...
May 15, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jörgen Kornfeld, Winfried Denk
Recent advances in the effectiveness of the automatic extraction of neural circuits from volume electron microscopy data have made us more optimistic that the goal of reconstructing the nervous system of an entire adult mammal (or bird) brain can be achieved in the next decade. The progress on the data analysis side-based mostly on variants of convolutional neural networks-has been particularly impressive, but improvements in the quality and spatial extent of published VEM datasets are substantial. Methodologically, the combination of hot-knife sample partitioning and ion milling stands out as a conceptual advance while the multi-beam scanning electron microscope promises to remove the data-acquisition bottleneck...
May 11, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Polina Anikeeva, Liqun Luo
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
May 10, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jonathan R Polimeni, Lawrence L Wald
Technological advances in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) have provided substantial gains in the sensitivity and specificity of functional neuroimaging. Mounting evidence demonstrates that the hemodynamic changes utilized in functional MRI can be far more spatially and thus neuronally specific than previously believed. This has motivated a push toward novel, high-resolution MR imaging strategies that can match this biological resolution limit while recording from the entire human brain. Although sensitivity increases are a necessary component, new MR encoding technologies are required to convert improved sensitivity into higher resolution...
May 10, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Craig Blackstone
Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are neurologic disorders characterized by prominent lower-extremity spasticity, resulting from a length-dependent axonopathy of corticospinal upper motor neurons. They are among the most genetically-diverse neurologic disorders, with >80 distinct genetic loci and over 60 identified genes. Studies investigating the molecular pathogenesis underlying HSPs have emphasized the importance of converging cellular pathogenic themes in the most common forms of HSP, providing compelling targets for therapy...
May 10, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Tara E Tracy, Li Gan
The accumulation of pathological tau in the brain is associated with neuronal deterioration and cognitive impairments in tauopathies including Alzheimer's disease. Tau, while primarily localized in the axons of healthy neurons, accumulates in the soma and dendrites of neurons under pathogenic conditions. Tau is found in both presynaptic and postsynaptic compartments of neurons in Alzheimer's disease. New research supports that soluble forms of tau trigger pathophysiology in the brain by altering properties of synaptic and neuronal function at the early stages of disease progression, before neurons die...
May 9, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Patricia Gaspar, Nicolas Renier
In the rodent somatosensory system, the disproportionally large whisker representation and their specialization into barrel-shaped units in the different sensory relays has offered experimentalists with an ideal tool to identify mechanisms involved in brain map formation. These combine three intertwined constraints: Firstly, fasciculation of the incoming axons; secondly, early neural activity; finally, molecular patterning. Sophisticated genetic manipulations in mice have now allowed dissecting these mechanisms with greater accuracy...
May 9, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Frédéric Causeret, Eva Coppola, Alessandra Pierani
The mature cerebral cortex only contains a fraction of the cells that are generated during embryonic development. Indeed some neuronal populations are produced in excess and later subjected to partial elimination whereas others are almost completely removed during the first two postnatal weeks in mice. Although the identity of cells that disappear, the time course and mechanisms of their death are becoming reasonably well established, the meaning of producing supernumerary cells still remains elusive. In this review, we focus on recent data that shed a new light on the mechanisms involved in adjusting cell numbers and discuss the significance of refinement versus complete elimination of cell populations in the developing cortex...
May 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jenq-Wei Yang, Werner Kilb, Sergei Kirischuk, Petr Unichenko, Maik C Stüttgen, Heiko J Luhmann
This review provides an overview on the development of the rodent whisker-to-barrel cortex system from late embryonic stage to the end of the first postnatal month. During this period the system shows a remarkable transition from a mostly genetic-molecular driven generation of crude connectivity, providing the template for activity-dependent structural and functional maturation and plasticity, to the manifestation of a complex behavioral repertoire including social interactions. Spontaneous and sensory-evoked activity is present in neonatal barrel cortex and control the generation of the cortical architecture...
May 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Bosiljka Tasic
Biology has been facing a daunting problem since the cell was understood to be the building block of metazoans: how do we study multicellular systems, when a universal approach to characterize their building blocks and classify them does not exist? Metazoan diversity has not helped: there are many model and non-model organisms, developmental and adult stages, healthy and diseased states. Here, I review the application of single cell transcriptomics to cell classification in neuroscience and its corollaries: the differentially expressed genes discovered in this process are a treasure trove for understanding cell type function and enabling specific access to those types...
May 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Phillip Bokiniec, Niccolò Zampieri, Gary R Lewin, James Fa Poulet
Thermal information about skin surface temperature is a key sense for the perception of object identity and valence. The identification of ion channels involved in the transduction of thermal changes has provided a genetic access point to the thermal system. However, from sensory specific 'labeled-lines' to multimodal interactive pathways, the functional organization and identity of the neural circuits mediating innocuous thermal perception have been debated for over 100 years. Here we highlight points in the system that require further attention and review recent advances using in vivo electrophysiology, cellular resolution calcium imaging, optogenetics and thermal perceptual tasks in behaving mice that have begun to uncover the anatomical principles and neural processing mechanisms underlying innocuous thermal perception...
May 4, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Tobias Rose, Tobias Bonhoeffer
Experience-dependent plasticity in the visual system is traditionally thought to be exclusively cortical whereas the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) is classically considered to just be a 'relay' of visual information between the retina and the cortex. However, a number of recent experiments call into question the simplistic view of visual cortex being the only site of plasticity. Thalamic neurons, at least in mouse dLGN, combine inputs from ganglion cells located in both eyes and recent evidence suggests that the feature selectivity of dLGN neurons is subject to experience-dependent plasticity...
May 3, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Henrik Boije, Klas Kullander
The spinal circuitry governing the undulatory movements of swimming vertebrates consist of excitatory and commissural inhibitory interneurons and motor neurons. This locomotor network generates the rhythmic output, coordinate left/right alternation, and permit communication across segments. Through evolution, more complex movement patterns have emerged, made possible by sub-specialization of neural populations within the spinal cord. Walking tetrapods use a similar basic circuitry, but have added layers of complexity for the coordination of intralimbic flexor and extensor muscles as well as interlimbic coordination between the body halves and fore/hindlimbs...
May 3, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Manuel Valero, Liset Menendez de la Prida
Understanding how the brain represents events is a fundamental question in neuroscience. The entorhinal-hippocampal system is central to such representations, which are severely compromised in some neurological diseases. In spite of much progress, a comprehensive, integrated view of spatial, temporal and other aspects of episodic representation remains elusive. Here, we review recent data on the role of cell-type specific entorhinal inputs which excite deep and superficial CA1 pyramidal cells by direct and indirect pathways...
May 2, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Janelle Mp Pakan, Valerio Francioni, Nathalie L Rochefort
Nonsensory variables strongly influence neuronal activity in the adult mouse primary visual cortex. Neuronal responses to visual stimuli are modulated by behavioural state, such as arousal and motor activity, and are shaped by experience. This dynamic process leads to neural representations in the visual cortex that reflect stimulus familiarity, expectations of reward and object location, and mismatch between self-motion and visual-flow. The recent development of genetic tools and recording techniques in awake behaving mice has enabled the investigation of the circuit mechanisms underlying state-dependent and experience-dependent neuronal representations in primary visual cortex...
May 1, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Mor Ben-Tov, Ohad Ben-Shahar, Ronen Segev
The archerfish is a predator with highly unusual visually guided behavior. It is most famous for its ability to hunt by shooting water jets at static or dynamic insect prey, up to two meters above the water's surface. In the lab, the archerfish can learn to distinguish and shoot at artificial targets presented on a computer screen, thus enabling well-controlled experiments. In recent years, these capacities have turned the archerfish into a model animal for studying a variety of visual functions, from visual saliency and visual search, through fast visually guided prediction, and all the way to higher level visual processing such as face recognition...
May 1, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Matthew T Colonnese, Marnie A Phillips
Thalamocortical activity patterns, both spontaneous and evoked, undergo a dramatic shift in preparation for the onset of rich sensory experience (e.g. birth in humans; eye-opening in rodents). This change is the result of a switch from thalamocortical circuits tuned for transmission of spontaneous bursting in sense organs, to circuits capable of high resolution, active sensory processing. Early 'pre-sensory' tuning uses amplification generated by corticothalamic excitatory feedback and early-born subplate neurons to ensure transmission of bursts, at the expense of stimulus discrimination...
April 28, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Kishore Kuchibhotla, Brice Bathellier
Converging evidence now supports the idea that auditory cortex is an important step for the emergence of auditory percepts. Recent studies have extended the list of complex, nonlinear sound features coded by cortical neurons. Moreover, we are beginning to uncover general properties of cortical representations, such as invariance and discreteness, which reflect the structure of auditory perception. Complexity, however, emerges not only through nonlinear shaping of auditory information into perceptual bricks...
April 27, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Robert R Rozeske, Cyril Herry
The behavioral repertoire of an organism can be highly diverse, spanning from social to defensive. How an animal efficiently switches between distinct behaviors is a fundamental question whose inquiry will provide insights into the mechanisms that are necessary for an organism's survival. Previous work aimed at identifying the neural systems responsible for defensive behaviors, such as freezing, has demonstrated critical interactions between the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. Indeed, this foundational research has provided an indispensable anatomical framework that investigators are now using to understand the physiological mechanisms of defined neural circuits within the prefrontal cortex that code for the rapid and flexible expression of defensive behaviors...
April 26, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
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