Having a rich negative emotion vocabulary is assumed to help cope with adversity. Here, the authors show that emotion vocabularies simply mirror life experiences, with richer negative emotion vocabularies reflecting lower mental health, and richer positive emotion vocabularies reflecting higher mental health.
From Brain to Behaviour
Brittany Cardwell: human behaviour.
Fiona Carr: neurological disease.
Sachin Ranade: systems and computational neuroscience.
Christian Schnell: neurophysiology and neurotechnologies.
Welcome to the Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights webpage, 'From Brain to Behaviour'. Each month our editors select a small number of Articles recently published in Nature Communications that they believe are particularly interesting or important.
The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting neuroscience research published at Nature Communications.
Make sure to check the Editors' Highlights page each month for new featured articles.
Associations between aversive learning processes and transdiagnostic psychiatric symptoms in a general population sample
Many psychiatric symptoms are linked to perceptions of danger, particularly when it is uncertain. Here, the authors show that a range of psychiatric symptoms are associated with the way people learn from safe and dangerous outcomes in the context of uncertainty.
The current Syrian conflict is considered a major humanitarian crisis. Here, the authors show a decline in population well-being with the onset of the conflict, and show how this decline compares to other populations experiencing wars, civil unrest or natural disasters.
Forcing people to choose quickly often changes pro-social behavior, but it is unclear why. Here, the authors show that under time pressure, people engage in incomplete information searches biased by concern (or lack thereof) for others, explaining effects often attributed to automatic processing.
People regularly punish norm violations using gossip and direct confrontation. Here, the authors show that the use of gossip versus direct confrontation is context sensitive, with confrontation used more when punishers have more to gain, and gossip used more when the costs of retaliation loom large.
The human brain can simulate other people’s mental processes with Self-specific and Other-specific neural circuits, but it is not known how these circuits emerge. Here, the authors show that these circuits adapt to social experience, to determine whether a computation is attributed to Self or Other.
Local participatory experiences can influence broader democratic attitudes and participation. Here, in two field experiments in US and China, the authors find that participatory work meetings led workers to be less authoritarian and more critical about societal authority and justice, and more willing to participate in political and social decision-making.
Although the feeling of being stressed is ubiquitous and clinically significant, the underlying neural mechanisms are unclear. Using a novel predictive modeling approach, the authors show that functional hippocampal networks specifically and consistently predict the feeling of stress.
Humans explore the world by optimistically directing choices to less familiar options and by choosing more randomly when options are uncertain. Here, the authors show that these two exploration strategies rely on distinct uncertainty estimates represented in different parts of the prefrontal cortex.
People often prioritize their own interests, but also like to see themselves as moral. Here the authors show how distortions in memory might resolve this tension by demonstrating that people tend to remember being more generous in the past than they actually were.
Pre-symptomatic Caspase-1 inhibitor delays cognitive decline in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease and aging
Previous work showed that the caspase 1 inhibitor VX-765 rescued cognitive deficits in the J20 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, and this may occur via reduced inflammation. Here the authors show that administration of the drug prior to onset of cognitive deficits and pathology in mice delays the onset of deficits.
A single-cell atlas of the human substantia nigra reveals cell-specific pathways associated with neurological disorders
The substantia nigra is important in neurological disease, particularly movement disorders. Here the authors provide a single cell transcriptomic atlas for the human substantia nigra.
Astrocyte activation may contribute to neurodegenerative disease. Here the authors show that the combined knockout of three factors known to promote astrogliosis, IL-1α, TNFα and C1qa, leads to improved survival in the SOD1G93A mouse model of ALS.
The vCA1-BA projection is enriched in shock responsive neurons, which are necessary for fear memory encoding and become correlated with a network of neurons during retrieval. Here the authors show that the magnitude of vCA1 correlated activity is proportional to memory strength and requires the shock response during encoding.
Synucleinopathy alters nanoscale organization and diffusion in the brain extracellular space through hyaluronan remodeling
The nanoscale organisation of the brain extracellular space can be studied in vivo. Here, the authors investigate how it changes in response to α-synuclein pathology, and identify interactions between microglia and the extracellular matrix.
Prolonged tau clearance and stress vulnerability rescue by pharmacological activation of autophagy in tauopathy neurons
Disruption of autophagy function in cellular and animal models of tauopathy increases tau aggregation. Here, the authors describe a small-molecule screen to identify compounds that promote autophagy clearance of tau and rescue disease-relevant phenotypes in tauopathy patient-derived neurons.
The consequences of postnatal Zika infection are not fully understood. Here, the authors show that postnatal Zika infection in infant rhesus macaques alters neurodevelopment resulting in social, cognitive and motor impairments, as well as structural and functional changes in the brain.
Interneuron hypomyelination is associated with cognitive inflexibility in a rat model of schizophrenia
Dysfunction of GABAergic neurons in the prefrontal cortex has been reported in schizophrenia. Here, the authors use the apomorphine-susceptible rat, which displays some schizophrenia-like behaviors, and show that interneurons in the medial prefrontal cortex are hypomyelinated, which may contribute to this behavioral phenotype.
Natural killer cells modulate motor neuron-immune cell cross talk in models of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Neuroimmune interactions are important in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here the authors characterize the role of NK cells in mouse models of ALS, and in patient tissue.
It is not fully understood why some patients respond or do not respond to antidepressant treatment. Here the authors show that in the blood of individuals with depression, GPR56 expression increases in responders to antidepressant treatment, but not in non-responders.
Mice are able to discriminate colors, at least in the upper visual field. Here, the authors provide a comprehensive characterization of retinal circuits underlying this behavior.
Processing of coherent motion has been extensively studied in the primate visual system, but has not been well characterized in mice. Here, the authors use widefield calcium imaging to reveal that coherent motion responses are organized anisotropically both across and within visual areas in mice.
In value-based decision-making, single prefrontal neurons represent multiple variables at different times in the decision process. Here, the authors show these representations to be separable and stable at the population level, allowing read out of specific variables at behaviorally relevant times.
The VIP-VPAC2 neuropeptidergic axis is a cellular pacemaking hub of the suprachiasmatic nucleus circadian circuit
Circadian activity modulation in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a network-level emergent property that requires neuropeptide VIP signaling, yet the precise cellular mechanisms are unknown. Patton et al. show that cells expressing VIP or its receptor VPAC2 together determine these emergent properties of the SCN.
Extensive research in primates shows that attention to space improves behavioural performance as well as neural responses to stimuli in that location. Here, the authors establish a visual spatial attention task in mice and report on attentional modulation of behaviour, as well as neural correlates from subthreshold responses in single cells to spikes and LFP at network level.
Neural activity space or manifold that represents object information changes across the layers of a deep neural network. Here the authors present a theoretical account of the relationship between the geometry of the manifolds and the classification capacity of the neural networks.
How the brain represents 3D space is poorly understood but important for understanding spatial cognition. Here the authors record place cells in rats climbing through a 3D environment and report that they represent this space with 3D fields that are elongated along the axes of the environment and encode the vertical dimension less accurately.
Natural images are reliably represented by sparse and variable populations of neurons in visual cortex
Natural scenes sparsely activate V1 neurons. Here, the authors show that a small number of active cells reliably represent visual contents of a natural image across trials regardless of response variability, due to the diverse and partially overlapping representations of individual cells.
The prefrontal attention spotlight dynamically explores space at 7–12 Hz, enhancing sensory encoding and behavior, in the absence of eye movements. This alpha-clocked sampling of space is under top-down control and implements an alternation in exploration and exploitation of the visual environment.
The neural circuits through which the substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) exerts its role in epilepsy control are not known. Here the authors reveal that a long-range SNr-parafascicular nucleus disinhibitory circuit participates in regulating seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy and inhibition of this circuit can alleviate severity of epileptic seizures.
Suprachiasmatic VIP neurons are required for normal circadian rhythmicity and comprised of molecularly distinct subpopulations
Cell groups in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic clock contribute to the genesis of circadian rhythms. The authors identified two populations of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-expressing neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus which regulate locomotor circadian rhythm in mice.
Acute stroke causes complex, pathological, and systemic responses which remain challenging to treat. Here, the authors show that substituting the blood of stroke model mice with whole-blood from naive healthy donor mice reduces infarct volume and improves neurological deficits.
Psychomotor stimulants increase dopamine levels in the striatum and promote locomotion but their effects on striatal pathways in vivo remain unclear. The authors show that cocaine increases the activity of direct and indirect pathway striatal neurons of awake mice via the orbitofrontal cortex.
The inferior temporal cortex is a potential cortical precursor of orthographic processing in untrained monkeys
The neuronal mechanisms underlying recognition of written letters remain unknown. Here, the authors show that populations of neurons in the ventral visual pathway of macaque monkeys encode orthographic stimuli, indicating that this pathway might be a precursor of orthographic processing abilities.
Astrocytes respond to neurotransmitters with calcium transients stimulating the release of gliotransmitters that regulate synaptic and neuronal functions. Here, the authors show that cortical astrocytes also respond to sensory inputs and regulate sensory-evoked neuronal network activity.
Antenatal glucocorticoid therapy is indicated for mothers at risk of preterm delivery. Here, the authors show that the circadian phase of antenatal glucocorticoid treatment affects the risk of behavioral disorders later in life in mice and in a retrospective observational study in human infants.
Astrocytic Ca2+ signaling is reduced during sleep and is involved in the regulation of slow wave sleep
Despite evidence that astrocytes mediate sleep-dependent function, the involved signaling mechanisms are unknown. The authors show that astrocytic Ca2+ signalling exhibits distinct features across the sleep-wake cycle and ablation of this Ca2+ signalling pathway impairs slow wave sleep.
Non-human primates are useful models for understanding the human brain but application of optogenetics to non-human primates is challenging. The authors used optogenetic intracortical microstimulation in the primary motor cortex of macaques to elicit distinct forelimb movements and muscle activity.
Kinship behavior in rodents has been documented in the laboratory setting but the neural mechanisms that mediate kinship behavior are not known. Here, the authors show that the lateral septum has a key role in organizing mammalian kinship behavior.
In addition to promoting overconsumption, palatable diets dampen daily intake patterns, which further augments metabolic dysfunction. Here, the authors find that in mice, circadian clocks in dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area drive hedonic appetite rhythms.