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Current Opinion in Neurobiology

Kelsey A Herrmann, Heather T Broihier
Although retrograde neurotrophin signaling has provided an immensely influential paradigm for understanding growth factor signaling in the nervous system, recent studies indicate that growth factors also signal via cell-autonomous, or autocrine, mechanisms. Autocrine signals have been discovered in many neuronal contexts, providing insights into their regulation and function. The growing realization of the importance of cell-autonomous signaling stems from advances in both conditional genetic approaches and in sophisticated analyses of growth factor dynamics, which combine to enable rigorous in vivo dissection of signaling pathways...
March 13, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Oriane Blanquie, Frank Bradke
Recent years have seen cytoskeleton dynamics emerging as a key player in axon regeneration. The cytoskeleton, in particular microtubules and actin, ensures the growth of neuronal processes and maintains the singular, highly polarized shape of neurons. Following injury, adult central axons are tipped by a dystrophic structure, the retraction bulb, which prevents their regeneration. Abnormal cytoskeleton dynamics are responsible for the formation of this growth-incompetent structure but pharmacologically modulating cytoskeleton dynamics of injured axons can transform this structure into a growth-competent growth cone...
March 12, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Maarten Hp Kole, Romain Brette
The axon initial segment (AIS) is a unique domain of the proximal axon serving critical electrical and structural roles including the initiation of action potentials and maintenance of cellular polarity. Recent experimental and theoretical advances demonstrate that the anatomical site for initiation is remarkably diverse. The AIS location varies not only axially, along the axon, but axons also emerge variably from either the soma or proximal dendrites. Here, we review the evidence that the diversity of AIS and axon location has a substantial impact on the electrical properties and speculate that the anatomical heterogeneity of axon locations expands synaptic integration within cell types and improves information processing in neural circuits...
March 10, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Ryan J Post, Melissa R Warden
Major depressive disorder can manifest as different combinations of symptoms, ranging from a profound and incapacitating sadness, to a loss of interest in daily life, to an inability to engage in effortful, goal-directed behavior. Recent research has focused on defining the neural circuits that mediate separable features of depression in patients and preclinical animal models, and connections between frontal cortex and brainstem neuromodulators have emerged as candidate targets. The development of methods permitting recording and manipulation of neural circuits defined by connectivity has enabled the investigation of prefrontal-neuromodulatory circuit dynamics in animal models of depression with exquisite precision, a systems-level approach that has brought new insights by integrating these fields of depression research...
March 9, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Shawn M Ferguson
Lysosomes perform degradative functions that are important for all cells. However, neurons are particularly dependent on optimal lysosome function due to their extremes of longevity, size and polarity. Axons in particular exemplify the major spatial challenges faced by neurons in the maintenance of lysosome biogenesis and function. What impact does this have on the regulation and functions of lysosomes in axons? This review focuses on the mechanisms whereby axonal lysosome biogenesis, transport and function are adapted to meet neuronal demand...
March 9, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Aditi Kulkarni, Jessica Chen, Sandra Maday
Neurons are particularly dependent on robust quality control pathways to maintain cellular homeostasis and functionality throughout their extended lifetime. Failure to regulate protein and organelle integrity is linked to devastating neurodegenerative diseases. Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway that maintains homeostasis by recycling damaged or aged cellular components. Autophagy has important functions in development of the nervous system, as well as in neuronal function and survival. In fact, defects in autophagy underlie neurodegeneration in mice and humans...
March 9, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Kay M Tye, Naoshige Uchida
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
March 8, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Sylvain Rama, Mickaël Zbili, Dominique Debanne
Axons link distant brain regions and are usually considered as simple transmission cables in which reliable propagation occurs once an action potential has been generated. Safe propagation of action potentials relies on specific ion channel expression at strategic points of the axon such as nodes of Ranvier or axonal branch points. However, while action potentials are generally considered as the quantum of neuronal information, their signaling is not entirely digital. In fact, both their shape and their conduction speed have been shown to be modulated by activity, leading to regulations of synaptic latency and synaptic strength...
March 8, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Pia-Kelsey O'Neill, Felicity Gore, C Daniel Salzman
All organisms must solve the same fundamental problem: they must acquire rewards and avoid danger in order to survive. A key challenge for the nervous system is therefore to connect motivationally salient sensory stimuli to neural circuits that engage appropriate valence-specific behavioral responses. Anatomical, behavioral, and electrophysiological data have long suggested that the amygdala plays a central role in this process. Here we review experimental efforts leveraging recent technological advances to provide previously unattainable insights into the functional, anatomical, and genetic identity of neural populations within the amygdala that connect sensory stimuli to valence-specific behavioral responses...
March 8, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Hossein Aleyasin, Meghan E Flanigan, Scott J Russo
Aggression is an innate behavior that helps individuals succeed in environments with limited resources. Over the past few decades, neurobiologists have identified neural circuits that promote and modulate aggression; however, far less is known regarding the motivational processes that drive aggression. Recent research suggests that aggression can activate reward centers in the brain to promote positive valence. Here, we review major recent findings regarding neural circuits that regulate aggression, with an emphasis on those regions involved in the rewarding or reinforcing properties of aggressive behavior...
March 7, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Meaghan Creed
Neuromodulation therapies such as deep brain stimulation or transcranial magnetic stimulation have shown promise in reducing symptoms of addiction when applied to the prefontal cortex, nucleus accumbens or subthalamic nucleus. Pre-clinical investigations implicate modulation of the cortico-basal ganglia network in these therapeutic effects, and this mechanistic understanding is necessary to optimize stimulation paradigms. Recently, the principle that neuromodulation can reverse drug-evoked synaptic plasticity and reduce behavioral symptoms of addiction has inspired novel stimulation paradigms that have long-term effects in animal models...
March 7, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Caitlin S Mallory, Lisa M Giocomo
The discovery of place cells provided fundamental insight into the neural basis by which the hippocampus encodes spatial memories and supports navigation and prompted the development of computational models to explain the emergence of their spatial selectively. Many such works posit that input from entorhinal grid cells is critical to the formation of place fields, a prediction that has received mixed experimental support. Potentially reconciling seemingly conflicting findings is recent work indicating that subpopulations of pyramidal neurons are functionally distinct and may be driven to varying degrees by different inputs...
March 6, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jonathan P Fadok, Milica Markovic, Philip Tovote, Andreas Lüthi
The central nucleus of the amygdala (CEA) is a striatum-like structure orchestrating a diverse set of adaptive behaviors, including defensive and appetitive responses [1-3]. Studies using anatomical, electrophysiological, imaging and optogenetic approaches revealed that the CEA network consists of recurrent inhibitory circuits comprised of precisely connected functionally and genetically defined cell types that can select and control specific behavioral outputs [3,4,5• ,6• ,7-9,11,12]. While bivalent functionality of the CEA in adaptive behavior has been clearly demonstrated, we are just beginning to understand to which degree individual CEA circuit elements are functionally segregated or overlapping...
March 6, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Takaaki Ozawa, Joshua P Johansen
For survival, organisms need the ability to flexibly modify their behavior. To achieve this, the brain is equipped with instructive brain circuits which trigger changes in neural connectivity and adaptive changes in behavior in response to environmental/internal challenges. Recent studies using a form of aversive associative learning termed fear conditioning have shed light on the neural mechanisms of instructive signaling. These studies demonstrate that fear learning is engaged through multiple, parallel aversive signaling pathways to the amygdala...
March 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Remco Bredewold, Alexa H Veenema
To understand how the brain regulates behavior, many variables must be taken into account, with sex as a prominent variable. In this review, we will discuss recent human and rodent studies showing the sex-specific involvement of the neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin in social and anxiety-related behaviors. We discuss that sex differences can be evident at pre-pubertal ages as seen in the sex-specific regulation of social recognition, social play, and anxiety by the vasopressin system in juvenile rats. We further discuss that the oxytocin system in humans and rodents alters brain activation, anxiety, and sociosexual motivation in sex-specific ways...
March 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Laura F Gumy, Casper C Hoogenraad
The polarized long-distance transport of neuronal cargoes depends on the presence of functional and structural axonal subcompartments. Given the heterogeneity of neuronal cargoes, selective sorting and entry occurs in the proximal axon where multiple subcellular specializations such as the axon initial segment, the pre-axonal exclusion zone, the MAP2 pre-axonal filtering zone and the Tau diffusion barrier provide different levels of regulation. Cargoes allowed to pass through the proximal axon spread into the more distal parts...
March 3, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
W R Stauffer
Phasic dopamine responses demonstrate remarkable simplicity; they code for the differences between received and predicted reward values. Yet this simplicity belies the subtle complexity of the psychological, computational, and contextual factors that influence this signal. Advances in behavioral paradigms and models, in monkeys and rodents, have demonstrated that phasic dopamine responses reflect numerous behavioral computations and factors including choice, subjective value, confidence, and context. The application of optogenetics has provided evidence that dopamine reward prediction error responses cause value learning...
March 2, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jelena Platisa, Vincent A Pieribone
In order to understand how brain activity produces adaptive behavior we need large-scale, high-resolution recordings of neuronal activity. Fluorescent genetically encoded voltage indicators (GEVIs) offer the potential for these recordings to be performed chronically from targeted cells in a minimally invasive manner. As the number of GEVIs successfully tested for in vivo use grows, so has the number of open questions regarding the improvements that would facilitate broad adoption of this technology that surpasses mere 'proof of principle' studies...
March 1, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Gilles C Vanwalleghem, Misha B Ahrens, Ethan K Scott
Due to their small size and transparency, zebrafish larvae are amenable to a range of fluorescence microscopy techniques. With the development of sensitive genetically encoded calcium indicators, this has extended to the whole-brain imaging of neural activity with cellular resolution. This technique has been used to study brain-wide population dynamics accompanying sensory processing and sensorimotor transformations, and has spurred the development of innovative closed-loop behavioral paradigms in which stimulus-response relationships can be studied...
February 24, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Johannes Kohl, Catherine Dulac
Parenting is a multicomponent social behavior that is essential for the survival of offspring in many species. Despite extensive characterization of individual brain areas involved in parental care, we do not fully understand how discrete aspects of this behavior are orchestrated at the neural circuit level. Recent progress in identifying genetically specified neuronal populations critical for parenting, and the use of genetic and viral tools for circuit-cracking now allow us to deconstruct the underlying circuitry and, thus, to elucidate how different aspects of parental care are controlled...
February 23, 2018: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
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