Have you ever read a paper in Nature Neuroscience and wished that there was an easy way to talk back to the editors or authors? Every month, we try to bring our subscribers the very best research in neuroscience, along with interesting viewpoints and controversies in the field. However (and this may surprise you), although our authors and referees are not at all shy about expressing their opinions, we get relatively little feedback from the people we are most interested in pleasing—our readers. We publish occasional letters to the editor in our Correspondence section, but, given the limited space available, this is a low-volume and high-threshold feedback mechanism. We solicit feedback at every laboratory we visit and at every conference we attend, but that is also a haphazard strategy that cannot generate a comprehensive picture of our performance as seen by the community we aim to serve. Many scientists have suggested that we should offer some simple way for the community to 'talk' to the editors and to one another. For this purpose, we have launched our new blog, which we call Action Potential (http://blogs.nature.com/nn/actionpotential), so that neuroscientists can express their opinions directly to the journal, rather than only complaining to their labmates or collaborators.

The internet is shaking up all corners of the publishing world. With the advent of personal webpages, anyone can be a small publisher. E-mail lists and Usenet discussion groups allow discussions to range far beyond a local group, in almost real time. World-wide journal clubs are now possible without large technical resources. Informal knowledge and insights in the neurosciences need not be limited any more to the 'in group' that attends all relevant meetings. This information instead could be made available online for the benefit of those who work in labs and places with smaller travel budgets—if there were a good online home for this kind of material.

Weblogs (abbreviated as blogs) are an online publishing form that has become enormously popular among political enthusiasts and the computer technology crowd, but, as discussed in a recent Nature news feature (438, 548–549, 2005), has not yet taken off among scientists. Blogs combine the features of a web page and a discussion list. Traditional discussion groups tend to suffer from two problems: low visibility, resulting in low participation, and/or hostile takeover by spammers. A blog allows a more attractive user interface and makes it easier for us to monitor contributions. We have therefore chosen the blog format for our newest attempt at enhancing the dialogue between Nature Neuroscience and its readers and authors.

We launched Action Potential in early November with little fanfare. Its minor teething problems now overcome, we invite our readership to take a look, and to actively participate. We will be posting links to new Nature Neuroscience papers regularly as they go online, so that our readers have a chance to comment on them easily. We will also offer links to material published elsewhere that we find interesting. We will attempt to stir up discussion about our editorials. We plan to blog about exciting findings in neuroscience, about science politics, and about developments in science publishing. Anything related to neuroscience may show up on the blog, and we will always invite your comments.

Commenting is easy and does not require registration. We would, however, encourage you to comment using your real name; this is simply a prerequisite for any serious discussion. We would also appreciate it if you entered your valid e-mail address, in case we need to reach you privately for any reason. E-mail addresses will remain confidential; they will definitely not appear on the blog. Critical and laudatory comments are equally welcome, and we will not shy away from robust discussion of our own journal, or the publishing industry, although we will not be able to comment on the details of the review process for particular papers, of course, in order to maintain the confidentiality that we promise our authors and referees. We ask that all comments be courteous and on-topic. Comments are moderated to prevent spamming or abuse, so there will typically be a lag of a few hours to a day before a comment will appear on the blog.

Regular blog authors are the members of the Nature Neuroscience editorial team. In the near future we also plan to invite external 'guest bloggers' to contribute to Action Potential. Guest bloggers could be the authors of recent papers that we want to discuss in detail, or someone who wants to discuss a controversial hypothesis. We could also imagine guest blogging on topics of general interest to the science community, such as the postdoc situation, the stem cell controversy, matters of tenure, immigration, funding policies and the like. One limitation of the blog format, as compared to a discussion group, is that only blog authors can start a new discussion thread. (Anyone can comment on existing threads.) If you want to propose a topic for discussion on Action Potential, please send us an e-mail to actionpotential(at)natureny.com. There's a good chance that we'll take up your suggestion (crediting you, of course). We might even invite you on board as a guest blogger.

As neuroscience expands, and its projects grow bigger and more expensive, efficient communication among its practitioners—including scientists, students, funding agencies and journals—becomes ever more important. More and more, neuroscientists will also have to include in their ongoing discussion the tax-paying public that underwrites much of their work. We launched our blog as a new journal feedback mechanism, but also to help foster the essential communication among neuroscientists and the wider public. Though we are aware that many blogs could be classified as time wasters, we will work hard to make Action Potential a valuable resource for the neuroscience community. There are several very good science blogs out there, but none dedicated to the neurosciences. With your help and participation, we hope to fill that niche.