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Current Opinion in Neurobiology

Iñigo Arandia-Romero, Ramon Nogueira, Gabriela Mochol, Rubén Moreno-Bote
Nowadays, it is possible to record the activity of hundreds of cells at the same time in behaving animals. However, these data are often treated and analyzed as if they consisted of many independently recorded neurons. How can neuronal populations be uniquely used to learn about cognition? We describe recent work that shows that populations of simultaneously recorded neurons are fundamental to understand the basis of decision-making, including processes such as ongoing deliberations and decision confidence, which generally fall outside the reach of single-cell analysis...
August 11, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Leonidas Ma Richter, Julijana Gjorgjieva
How are neural circuits organized and tuned to achieve stable function and produce robust behavior? The organization process begins early in development and involves a diversity of mechanisms unique to this period. We summarize recent progress in theoretical neuroscience that has substantially contributed to our understanding of development at the single neuron, synaptic and network level. We go beyond classical models of topographic map formation, and focus on the generation of complex spatiotemporal activity patterns, their role in refinements of particular circuit features, and the emergence of functional computations...
August 1, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Chengcheng Huang, Brent Doiron
The brain must both react quickly to new inputs as well as store a memory of past activity. This requires biology that operates over a vast range of time scales. Fast time scales are determined by the kinetics of synaptic conductances and ionic channels; however, the mechanics of slow time scales are more complicated. In this opinion article we review two distinct network-based mechanisms that impart slow time scales in recurrently coupled neuronal networks. The first is in strongly coupled networks where the time scale of the internally generated fluctuations diverges at the transition between stable and chaotic firing rate activity...
July 27, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Luis Zurkirchen, Lukas Sommer
The neural crest is a transient structure in vertebrate embryos that produces migratory cells with an astonishing developmental potential. While neural crest fate maps have originally been established through interspecies transplantation assays, dye labeling, and retroviral infection, more recent methods rely on approaches involving transgenesis and genome editing. These technologies allowed the identification of minor neural crest-derived cell populations in tissues of non-neural crest origin. Furthermore, in vivo multipotency at the single cell level and stage-dependent fate acquisitions were demonstrated using genetic technologies...
July 25, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Mark S Goldman, Michale S Fee
Neuroscience research has become increasingly reliant upon quantitative and computational data analysis and modeling techniques. However, the vast majority of neuroscientists are still trained within the traditional biology curriculum, in which computational and quantitative approaches beyond elementary statistics may be given little emphasis. Here we provide the results of an informal poll of computational and other neuroscientists that sought to identify critical needs, areas for improvement, and educational resources for computational neuroscience training...
July 22, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Lucy J Brooks, Simona Parrinello
Glioblastoma (GBM) are aggressive and therapy-resistant brain tumours driven by glioma stem-like cells (GSCs). GSC behaviour is controlled by the microenvironment, or niche, in which the cells reside. It is well-established that the vasculature is a key component of the GSC niche, which drives maintenance in the tumour bulk and invasion at the margin. Emerging evidence now indicates that the specific properties of the vasculature within these two regions impose different functional states on resident GSCs, generating distinct subpopulations...
July 18, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Scott W Linderman, Samuel J Gershman
Computational neuroscience is, to first order, dominated by two approaches: the 'bottom-up' approach, which searches for statistical patterns in large-scale neural recordings, and the 'top-down' approach, which begins with a theory of computation and considers plausible neural implementations. While this division is not clear-cut, we argue that these approaches should be much more intimately linked. From a Bayesian perspective, computational theories provide constrained prior distributions on neural data-albeit highly sophisticated ones...
July 18, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Gianluigi Mongillo, Simon Rumpel, Yonatan Loewenstein
According to the synaptic trace theory of memory, activity-induced changes in the pattern of synaptic connections underlie the storage of information for long periods. In this framework, the stability of memory critically depends on the stability of the underlying synaptic connections. Surprisingly however, synaptic connections in the living brain are highly volatile, which poses a fundamental challenge to the synaptic trace theory. Here we review recent experimental evidence that link the initial formation of a memory with changes in the pattern of connectivity, but also evidence that synaptic connections are considerably volatile even in the absence of learning...
July 12, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Lindsay A Osso, Jonah R Chan
Myelin increases the speed and efficiency of action potential propagation. Yet, not all axons are myelinated and some axons are discontinuously myelinated, prompting the question of how myelinating glia select axons for myelination. Whereas myelination by Schwann cells depends on axonal induction, oligodendrocytes can form myelin membrane in the absence of axons. However, oligodendrocytes alone cannot architect the complex myelination patterns of the central nervous system and recent advances have implicated axonal signaling in this process...
July 11, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Omri Barak
Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are a class of computational models that are often used as a tool to explain neurobiological phenomena, considering anatomical, electrophysiological and computational constraints. RNNs can either be designed to implement a certain dynamical principle, or they can be trained by input-output examples. Recently, there has been large progress in utilizing trained RNNs both for computational tasks, and as explanations of neural phenomena. I will review how combining trained RNNs with reverse engineering can provide an alternative framework for modeling in neuroscience, potentially serving as a powerful hypothesis generation tool...
June 29, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Jeffrey M Donlea, Md Noor Alam, Ronald Szymusiak
Sleep homeostasis is a fundamental property of vigilance state regulation that is highly conserved across species. Neuronal systems and circuits that underlie sleep homeostasis are not well understood. In Drosophila, a neuronal circuit involving neurons in the ellipsoid body and in the dorsal Fan-shaped body is a candidate for both tracing sleep need during waking and translating it to increased sleep drive and expression. Sleep homeostasis in rats and mice involves multiple neuromodulators acting on multiple wake- and sleep-promoting neuronal systems...
June 16, 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Chun Yang, Stephen Thankachan, Robert W McCarley, Ritchie E Brown
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Susumu Tomita, Brenda L Bloodgood
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Nathan G Hedrick, Ryohei Yasuda
While it is generally appreciated that learning involves the structural rearrangement of neuronal circuits, the underlying orchestration of molecular events that drives these changes is not as well understood. Recent studies on the spatiotemporal organization of synaptic signaling events have provided new insights into the biochemical underpinnings of various expressions of structural neuronal plasticity, as well as the functional consequences that emerge because of the particular behavior of the molecules involved...
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Michael A Kienzler, Ehud Y Isacoff
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Niels Andersen, Nathalie Krauth, Sadegh Nabavi
Hebbian plasticity, as represented by long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) of synapses, has been the most influential hypothesis to account for encoding of memories. The evidence for the physiological relevance of LTP is indisputable. However, until recently the ways by which LTP physiologically is induced in its natural environment, the brain, was less clear. Nonetheless, current evidence points to neuromodulators as an indispensable element. The case for LTD in vivo is less certain...
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Caspar Glock, Maximilian Heumüller, Erin M Schuman
Neurons are amongst the most structurally complex cells and exhibit a high degree of spatial compartmentalization. Also, neurons exhibit rapid and dynamic signaling by processing information in a precise and, sometimes, spatially-restricted manner. The signaling that occurs in axons and dendrites necessitates the maintenance and modification of their local proteomes. Local translation of mRNAs into protein is one solution that neurons use to meet synaptic demand and activity. Here we review some of the key findings and recent discoveries that have shaped our understanding of local translation in neuronal function and highlight important new techniques that might pave the way for new insights...
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Fiona Hollis, Alexandros K Kanellopoulos, Claudia Bagni
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a prototypic pervasive developmental disorder characterized by social interaction, and communication deficits, repetitive, stereotypic patterns of behavior, and impairments in language and development. Clinical studies have identified mitochondrial disturbances at the levels of DNA, activity, complexes, oxidative stress, and metabolites in blood and urine of ASD patients. However, these observations from postmortem brains or peripheral tissues do not provide a direct link between autism and mitochondria...
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Oriane Mauger, Peter Scheiffele
Brain development and function are governed by tightly controlled gene expression programs. Transcriptional repertoires in neurons are highly specific to developmental stage, neuronal cell type and can undergo rapid changes upon neuronal stimulation. Dedicated molecular mechanisms are required to achieve such fine-tuned regulation. In addition to transcriptional programs, post-transcriptional processes and notably alternative splicing substantially contribute to the elaboration of neuronal gene expression. While alternative splicing has been viewed primarily as a means for expanding proteome diversity, it emerges to also be a major regulator of transcript levels and dynamics...
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
Ghazaleh Ashrafi, Timothy A Ryan
Nerve terminals in the brain carry out the primary form of intercellular communication between neurons. Neurotransmission, however, requires adequate supply of ATP to support energetically demanding steps, including the maintenance of ionic gradients, reversing changes in intracellular Ca(2+) that arise from opening voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels, as well recycling synaptic vesicles. The energy demands of the brain are primarily met by glucose which is oxidized through glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation to produce ATP...
August 2017: Current Opinion in Neurobiology
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