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Showing: 1–25 of 50

  1. Toward standard practices for sharing computer code and programs in neuroscience

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    Computational techniques are central in many areas of neuroscience and are relatively easy to share. This paper describes why computer programs underlying scientific publications should be shared and lists simple steps for sharing. Together with ongoing efforts in data sharing, this should aid reproducibility of research.
  2. A fluoro-Nissl dye identifies pericytes as distinct vascular mural cells during in vivo brain imaging

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    No techniques exist for the precise identification of vascular pericytes. Here the authors identify and characterize a fluorescent dye that exclusively labels pericytes. Using this tool for intravital imaging of the mouse brain, the authors provide conclusive evidence that these cells are molecularly and functionally distinct from all other brain and vascular cells.

  3. Amygdala inputs to prefrontal cortex guide behavior amid conflicting cues of reward and punishment

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    Little is known about the mechanisms underlying the orchestration of competing motivational drives. During the simultaneous presentation of cues associated with shock or sucrose, when rats may engage in fear- or reward-related behaviors, amygdala neurons projecting to prefrontal cortex more accurately predict behavioral output and bias animals toward fear-related behavior.

  4. The neural correlates of dreaming

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    The authors show that during sleep, dreaming and specific perceptual dream contents can be localized to a posterior hot zone of the brain. By monitoring activity in this zone, they were able to predict dreaming in real time with high accuracy.

  5. Delay activity of specific prefrontal interneuron subtypes modulates memory-guided behavior

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    Using calcium imaging and optogenetic manipulation in mice performing a working memory task, the authors show that delay activity in prefrontal cortex pyramidal neurons is crucial for task performance. Optogenetic activation of VIP interneurons enhances the neuronal representation of task-relevant information and improves the animal's memory retention.

  6. A new fate mapping system reveals context-dependent random or clonal expansion of microglia

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    Microglia can expand and divide quickly in the context of CNS pathology, but little is known about the kinetics and clonality of microgliosis. Prinz and colleagues develop a new fate mapping system to monitor microglial dynamics. Microglial self-renewal is found to be a stochastic process under steady state conditions, whereas clonal expansion is observed during disease.

  7. PD-L1 inhibits acute and chronic pain by suppressing nociceptive neuron activity via PD-1

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    The authors identify programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1), an immunity suppressor produced by cancer cells, as a new pain inhibitor and a neuromodulator. They report that PD-L1 is produced by melanoma and normal neural tissues and that it inhibits acute and chronic pain. Via activation of PD-1, its receptor, PD-L1 decreases the excitability of nociceptive neurons in mouse and human dorsal root ganglia.

  8. Thalamic projections sustain prefrontal activity during working memory maintenance

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    Using pathway-specific optogenetic inhibition, the authors demonstrate that projections from the mediodorsal thalamus to prefrontal cortex support the maintenance of working memory, while prefrontal–thalamic projections support subsequent choice selection. Thalamo–prefrontal projections have a circuit-specific role in sustaining prefrontal delay-period activity, a neuronal signature required for successful task performance.

  9. Cell-specific pallidal intervention induces long-lasting motor recovery in dopamine-depleted mice

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    The external globus pallidus (GPe) is a key contributor to motor suppressing pathways in the basal ganglia. The authors show that optogenetic interventions targeted to specific neuronal subpopulations in the GPe can disrupt pathological activity in the basal ganglia and restore movement for hours beyond stimulation.

  10. Identification of a motor-to-auditory pathway important for vocal learning

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    Although vocal learning is widely speculated to depend on motor to auditory (i.e., forward) pathways, the neurons that convey forward signals important to vocal learning remain unknown. Here the authors identify neurons that transmit signals from songbird motor to auditory regions and demonstrate their role in vocal learning.

  11. Flexible information routing by transient synchrony

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    Brain function relies on flexible communication between cortical regions. It has been proposed that changing patterns of oscillatory coherence underlie information routing. However, oscillations in vivo are very irregular. This study shows that short-lived and stochastic oscillatory bursts coordinate across areas to selectively modulate interareal communication.

  12. Manipulating fear associations via optogenetic modulation of amygdala inputs to prefrontal cortex

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    Fear-related disorders are thought to reflect strong and persistent fear associations. The authors show that optogenetic high-frequency stimulation of direct amygdala inputs to the prefrontal cortex can destabilize fear memories and facilitate the extinction of previously acquired fear associations.

  13. Dynamic hidden states underlying working-memory-guided behavior

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    Wolff and colleagues show that ‘activity-silent’ brain states are important to working memory. Using a perturbation method to ‘ping’ the brain, they uncover hidden neural states that reflect temporary information held in mind and predict memory performance. They argue that dynamic hidden states could underpin working memory.

  14. Comprehensive transcriptome analysis of neocortical layers in humans, chimpanzees and macaques

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    By sectioning and sequencing the prefrontal cortex of humans, chimpanzees and macaques, He et al. compiled comprehensive transcriptome atlases of cortical layers. The study provides scores of previously uncharacterized layer-marker genes and more than a hundred human-specific genes, implying that the human neocortex has evolved more than was previously appreciated.

  15. Extending transparency to code

    Reproducibility initiatives seek to promote greater transparency and sharing of scientific reagents, procedures and data. Less recognized is the need to share data analysis routines. Nature Neuroscience is launching a pilot project to evaluate the efficacy of sharing code.
  16. Cortical gamma band synchronization through somatostatin interneurons

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    The authors establish a critical role for somatostatin interneurons in visually induced gamma oscillations in the primary visual cortex of mice. Optogenetic manipulations in awake animals, combined with an innovative computational model with multiple interneuron subtypes, provide a mechanism for the synchronization of neural firing across the retinotopic map.

  17. Microglial confetti party

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    Microglia are highly heterogeneous and plastic. However, the dynamics of their turnover have been difficult to visualize. A new multicolor reporter system reveals a plastic but stable network of microglia during health and disease.
  18. Identification of spinal circuits involved in touch-evoked dynamic mechanical pain

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    Touch-evoked dynamic mechanical pain is one of most bothersome and prevalent symptoms in chronic pain patients. Here the authors have genetically identified a population of spinal excitatory neurons that contribute to this form of pain. These cells process information from low-threshold Aβ mechanoreceptors and are part of a morphine-resistant pathway.

  19. Causal evidence for retina-dependent and -independent visual motion computations in mouse cortex

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    The authors monitored neuronal activity in mouse visual cortex during visual-motion stimulation and perturbed retinal direction selectivity. After perturbation, the proportion of posterior-motion-preferring cortical cells decreased, and their response at higher stimulus speeds was reduced. Thus, functionally distinct, retina-dependent and retina-independent computations of visual motion exist in mouse cortex.

  20. A cerebellum-like circuit in the auditory system cancels responses to self-generated sounds

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    The authors provide evidence that a cerebellum-like structure at the initial stage of mammalian auditory processing (the dorsal cochlear nucleus) functions to cancel out self-generated sounds. A similar function has been established for cerebellum-like structures in electroreceptive fish, suggesting a conserved function for these structures across vertebrates.

  21. Reduced sensory synaptic excitation impairs motor neuron function via Kv2.1 in spinal muscular atrophy

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    The authors show that in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), there is a reduction in sensory synaptic drive that leads to motor neuron dysfunction and motor behavior impairments. SMA motor neurons showed a lower surface expression of Kv2.1 potassium channels and reduced spiking ability. Increasing neuronal activity pharmacologically led to the normalization of Kv2.1 surface expression and an improvement in motor function.

  22. Sharp wave ripples during learning stabilize the hippocampal spatial map

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    The authors optogenetically suppressed CA1 pyramidal neurons during awake sharp-wave ripples (SPW-R) as mice were learning reward locations in a multiwell maze. Comparison of place cells’ activities before and after SPW-R manipulation suggests that interference with SPW-R-associated activity during learning prevents stabilization and refinement of the hippocampal map.

  23. From eye movements to actions: how batsmen hit the ball

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    In cricket, a batsman watches a fast bowler's ball come toward him at a high and unpredictable speed, bouncing off ground of uncertain hardness. Although he views the trajectory for little more than half a second, he can accurately judge where and when the ball will reach him. Batsmen's eye movements monitor the moment when the ball is released, make a predictive saccade to the place where they expect it to hit the ground, wait for it to bounce, and follow its trajectory for 100–200 ms after the bounce. We show how information provided by these fixations may allow precise prediction of the ball's timing and placement. Comparing players with different skill levels, we found that a short latency for the first saccade distinguished good from poor batsmen, and that a cricket player's eye movement strategy contributes to his skill in the game.

  24. Fear from the bottom up

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    Two groups demonstrate the importance of inputs from the amygdala to the medial prefrontal cortex for signaling aversion across a range of behaviors and motivational drives.
  25. Dopamine transients are sufficient and necessary for acquisition of model-based associations

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    Learning to predict reward is thought to be driven by dopaminergic prediction errors, which reflect discrepancies between actual and expected value. Here the authors show that learning to predict neutral events is also driven by prediction errors and that such value-neutral associative learning is also likely mediated by dopaminergic error signals.