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Volume 19 Issue 5, May 2016

Animals engage in risky behaviors depending on potential gains and losses relative to current needs. For example, during starvation, they are more likely to forage for food where predators are prevalent and conspecifics can compete. Padilla et al. report a neural mechanism regulating these behaviors and describe a hypothalamic AgRP circuit controlling fear and aggression during nutritional deprivation.643734

News & Views

  • Connectivity patterns of neocortex exhibit several odd properties: for example, most neighboring excitatory neurons do not connect, which seems curiously wasteful. Brunel's elegant theoretical treatment reveals how optimal information storage can naturally impose these peculiar properties.

    • Beatriz E P Mizusaki
    • Armen Stepanyants
    • P Jesper Sjöström
    News & Views


  • Hypothalamic Agouti-related peptide (AgRP)-expressing neurons promote feeding via inhibitory mechanisms. A downstream target in the medial amygdala both mediates feeding and modulates risk-taking and defensive behaviors in the face of starvation.

    • Chia Li
    • Michael J Krashes
    News & Views
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Review Article

  • The neurobiology of social behavior is highly complex and defects are present in several mental illnesses. Here Barak and Feng discuss neurobiological aspects of two neuropsychiatric disorders presenting opposite social behavior abnormalities, autism spectrum disorder and Williams syndrome.

    • Boaz Barak
    • Guoping Feng
    Review Article
  • The prefrontal cortex supports the expression and inhibition of fear- and reward-related behaviors. These dualities are attributable to discrete functional domains making up this brain region, which allow it to stimulate or inhibit behavior depending on an organism's experiences. The authors review evidence that supports, or refutes, this “go/stop” function.

    • Shannon L Gourley
    • Jane R Taylor
    Review Article
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Brief Communication

  • Expectations about what will appear next guide perception. Using high-resolution fMRI and multivariate pattern analysis, the authors find that such predictive coding in early visual cortex could arise from pattern completion in hippocampal subfields. They show that these two processes are related and explore their behavioral significance and relative timing.

    • Nicholas C Hindy
    • Felicia Y Ng
    • Nicholas B Turk-Browne
    Brief Communication
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  • Zhang et al. show that the poly(GA) proteins produced in patients with C9ORF72 repeat expansions cause neurodegeneration and behavioral abnormalities when expressed in mice. The emergence of these phenotypes requires poly(GA) aggregation, and poly(GA) inclusions sequester HR23 proteins involved in proteasomal degradation, as well as proteins involved in nucleocytoplasmic transport.

    • Yong-Jie Zhang
    • Tania F Gendron
    • Leonard Petrucelli
  • In this study, He et al. find that the CHARGE syndrome–related chromatin remodeler Chd7 regulates the initiation of myelination and remyelination in the CNS. Chd7 interacts with Sox10 to orchestrate the transcriptional state of myelinogenic genes and serves as a molecular nexus of the regulatory networks that contribute to white matter pathogenesis in CHARGE syndrome.

    • Danyang He
    • Corentine Marie
    • Q Richard Lu
  • This study identifies SFPQ (splicing factor, poly-glutamine rich) as an RNA binding protein that binds and coassembles multiple mRNAs in axonal transport granules, and thereby promotes neurotrophin-dependent axon survival. These data demonstrate that SFPQ orchestrates spatial gene expression of a newly identified RNA regulon essential for axonal viability.

    • Katharina E Cosker
    • Sara J Fenstermacher
    • Rosalind A Segal
  • Mechanisms underlying partial functional recovery after spinal cord injury are unclear. Conditionally knocking out the reinduced repulsive axon guidance receptor Ryk led to increased corticospinal axon plasticity and functional recovery. Motor cortex reorganized such that the hindlimb cortex controls the forelimb with continued forelimb reaching task training. A greater cortical area was recruited to control the forelimb in Ryk cKO.

    • Edmund R Hollis II
    • Nao Ishiko
    • Yimin Zou
  • Using a combination of behavioral and physiological approaches, the authors show that ON and OFF motion detection pathways in Drosophila exhibit distinct temporal tuning properties. Computational modeling suggests that these asymmetric tuning properties improve the fly's ability to reliably estimate velocity in natural environments.

    • Aljoscha Leonhardt
    • Georg Ammer
    • Alexander Borst
  • Peixoto et al. show that Shank3B−/− mice exhibit premature development and subsequent arrest of striatal afferent connectivity. This phenotype is a result of cortical hyperactivity during a period that is marked by robust synaptogenesis and enhanced excitability of spiny projection neurons, and indicates that early imbalances in cortical activity disrupt normal corticostriatal maturation.

    • Rui T Peixoto
    • Wengang Wang
    • Bernardo L Sabatini
  • The authors show that glutamatergic neurons, which are intermixed with dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area, establish multiple excitatory synapses on parvalbumin GABAergic interneurons in the nucleus accumbens. Activation of this glutamatergic mesoaccumbens pathway induces the release of GABA onto medium spiny neurons and drives aversion.

    • Jia Qi
    • Shiliang Zhang
    • Marisela Morales
  • Starving animals are less likely to defend their home territory and more likely to engage in risky foraging behaviors. This work describes a circuit involving hypothalamic AgRP neurons projecting to neurons in the medial nucleus of the amygdala and their projections to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, which, when activated, mimics these behaviors in mice that are well fed.

    • Stephanie L Padilla
    • Jian Qiu
    • Richard D Palmiter
  • Basal ganglia outputs to the superior colliculus are often associated with eye movements. Using in vivo recording and optogenetic stimulation, the authors demonstrate that a specific GABAergic pathway from the lateral substantia nigra pars reticulata to the lateral superior colliculus is critical for self-initiated drinking behavior, but not for whisking or blinking.

    • Mark A Rossi
    • Haofang E Li
    • Henry H Yin
  • Maximizing information storage in recurrent networks leads to connectivity matrices whose statistics reproduce experimentally observed features of the connectivity between pyramidal cells in cortex. These include a large fraction of potential synapses and an over-representation of bidirectionally connected pairs of neurons, as compared to random networks.

    • Nicolas Brunel
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Technical Report

  • Elucidation of structure–function relationships in the nervous system necessitates biological circuit control with genetic and temporal precision. Here the authors engineer a genetically encoded magnetically sensitive actuator, “Magneto,” and remotely manipulate behavior in live zebrafish and mice. The magnetogenetic control over neural activity promises greater access to previously intractable tissues.

    • Michael A Wheeler
    • Cody J Smith
    • Ali D Güler
    Technical Report
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