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Volume 19 Issue 2, February 2016

Mammalian cortex contains intermingled cells of various types. Tasic and colleagues classified cells based on their single cell transcriptomic signatures and revealed 49 cell types. The cover depicts each cell type labeled with a different color intermingled in the background and organized according to their relatedness into a hierarchical tree.179335

News & Views

  • Analysis of human hippocampus identifies two modules of coexpressed genes that are conserved throughout the human cortex and in mouse hippocampi. These modules are enriched for genetic variants associated with both cognitive phenotypes and neuropsychiatric disorders.

    • Donna M Werling
    • Stephan J Sanders
    News & Views


  • A previously unknown mechanism contributes to dysfunction of the neurogenic niche during CNS autoimmunity. Natural killer cells are retained specifically in the subventricular zone in chronic disease, killing stem cells and promoting pathology.

    • Sachin P Gadani
    • Jonathan Kipnis
    News & Views
  • Connections between a specific thalamic structure and the neocortex convey mismatches between internal perceptions and external events. These findings help to define the circuits controlling contextual modulation of visual-motor processing.

    • Nao Ishiko
    • Andrew D Huberman
    News & Views
  • The most complete single-neuron transcriptome database of the mouse visual cortex was performed using a large collection of reporter mouse lines. Results highlight the unmatched neuronal diversity of the cerebral cortex.

    • Hsu-Hsin Chen
    • Paola Arlotta
    News & Views
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  • The role of transient elevations of the intracellular concentration of calcium in astrocytes is controversial. Some neuroscientists believe that, by triggering the release of 'gliotransmitters', astrocyte calcium transients regulate synaptic strength and neuronal excitability, while others deny that gliotransmission exists. Bazargani and Attwell assess the status of this rapidly evolving field.

    • Narges Bazargani
    • David Attwell
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Review Article

  • Dynamic membrane transformations are not exclusively controlled by cytoskeletal rearrangement, but also by biophysical constraints, adhesive forces, membrane curvature and compaction. Recent technological advances have helped clarify longstanding controversies concerning myelination, from target selection to axon wrapping and membrane compaction. Chang et al. review these findings and discuss how understanding these processes provides insight into myelination-centered mechanisms of neural plasticity.

    • Kae-Jiun Chang
    • Stephanie A Redmond
    • Jonah R Chan
    Review Article
  • Stuber and Wise review the role of the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) in generating motivated behaviors related to feeding and reward processing. Classic experiments demonstrate that the LHA is critical for reward processing, and more contemporary approaches are beginning to elucidate the cells types and circuits required for these behaviors.

    • Garret D Stuber
    • Roy A Wise
    Review Article
  • Central melanocortinergic signaling via the melanocortin-4 receptor is both a culprit in and a target for obesity. The authors review our understanding of this evolutionarily conserved system in the regulation of mammalian energy homeostasis.

    • Michael J Krashes
    • Bradford B Lowell
    • Alastair S Garfield
    Review Article
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Brief Communication

  • Neuropathic pain poses a major healthcare burden. The authors show that a specific set of neurons in the nucleus accumbens, a region long associated with affect, were changed in a mouse model of neuropathic pain. A pharmacotherapy that is well tolerated in man reversed these adaptations and alleviated pain.

    • Wenjie Ren
    • Maria Virginia Centeno
    • D James Surmeier
    Brief Communication
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  • Impairment of cognitive function is a common feature of many neurodevelopmental disorders. Systems genetics analysis in the brain uncovered a convergent gene network for both cognition and neurodevelopmental disorders. As the network does not recapitulate known pathways, this finding represents a new basis for understanding factors influencing normal and disordered cognition.

    • Michael R Johnson
    • Kirill Shkura
    • Enrico Petretto
  • GABAB receptors are the most abundant inhibitory G protein–coupled receptors in the mammalian brain. Using high-resolution proteomics, the authors show that native GABAB receptors are macromolecular complexes with previously unknown complexity in subunit composition. This molecular diversity in structure and assembly encodes the diversity of GABAB physiology in the CNS.

    • Jochen Schwenk
    • Enrique Pérez-Garci
    • Bernd Fakler
  • Natural killer (NK) cells are retained and reside in the vicinity of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the brain subventricular zone during the chronic phase of multiple sclerosis in humans and its animal model in mice. In this study, the authors show that these NK cells limit NSCs' reparative capacity following brain inflammation, while NSCs promote NK survival via an interleukin-15-dependent mechanism.

    • Qiang Liu
    • Nader Sanai
    • Fu-Dong Shi
  • The authors find that Kif1a has sequential roles during cortical development. Kif1a inhibition blocks basal nuclear migration in radial glial progenitor cells, resulting in a persistent proliferative state. Kif1a inhibition subsequently disrupts neuronal migration at the multipolar-to-bipolar transition, with a massive non-cell-autonomous arrest of surrounding neurons. These effects are phenocopied by Dcx RNAi and rescued by BDNF, a Kif1a cargo protein.

    • Aurelie Carabalona
    • Daniel Jun-Kit Hu
    • Richard B Vallee
  • Adult-born neurons are already contributing to learning and memory at immature developmental stages. Heigele et al. show that during the first 3 weeks after mitosis, the young cells fire action potentials generated by excitatory GABAergic synapses. Strong GABAergic synaptic activity, however, inhibits spiking, thereby generating a well-defined GABAergic excitation window.

    • Stefanie Heigele
    • Sébastien Sultan
    • Josef Bischofberger
  • The serotonergic raphe nuclei modulate neuronal function typically over minutes or hours. The authors report that raphe nuclei affect odor responses in output neurons of the olfactory bulb at sub-second time scales. These effects are mediated through multiple neurotransmitters and are distinct depending on the type of output neuron.

    • Vikrant Kapoor
    • Allison C Provost
    • Venkatesh N Murthy
  • The authors identify a new arousal circuit in the mammalian brain. They provide correlative and optogenetic evidence indicating that a subset of hypothalamic cells drive awakening from non-rapid eye movement (slow-wave) sleep and emergence from anesthesia by exerting a strong inhibitory tone onto reticular thalamic neurons.

    • Carolina Gutierrez Herrera
    • Marta Carus Cadavieco
    • Antoine Adamantidis
  • Current models of active vision emphasize the role of intracortical feedback projections. The authors report that thalamocortical projections, in particular from the higher order lateral posterior nucleus, provide an alternative pathway by which contextual sensory and motor information, as well as putative visuomotor error signals, are conveyed to primary visual cortex.

    • Morgane M Roth
    • Johannes C Dahmen
    • Sonja B Hofer
  • Several prominent theories propose that, in situations affording more than one possible action, the brain prepares, in parallel, multiple competing movements before selecting one. The authors provide evidence for this idea, showing that individuals simultaneously specify distinct feedback gains, a critical component of control, for competing target options.

    • Jason P Gallivan
    • Lindsey Logan
    • J Randall Flanagan
  • The authors propose that deciding where to look and reach depends on how neurons in the posterior parietal cortex communicate with each other. They find that ‘dual-coherent’ neurons, which tend to fire spikes timed to neural activity within and across the banks of the intraparietal sulcus, predict look-reach choices before neurons without this property.

    • Yan T Wong
    • Margaret M Fabiszak
    • Bijan Pesaran
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  • Mammalian cortex comprises a variety of cells, but the extent of this cellular diversity is unknown. The authors defined cell types in the primary visual cortex of adult mice using single-cell transcriptomics. This revealed 49 cell types, including 23 GABAergic, 19 glutamatergic and 7 non-neuronal types.

    • Bosiljka Tasic
    • Vilas Menon
    • Hongkui Zeng
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