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Volume 19 Issue 9, September 2016

This focus on the neuroscience toolbox provides a select overview of modern techniques neuroscientists use to interrogate the brain at microscopic and macroscopic scales. The cover is an anachronistic depiction of Galileo, both a scientist and an engineer, and the close relationship between tools and discovery. Artwork by Lewis Long. (pp 1117–1187)

Editorial

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Q&A

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Perspective

  • Given recent advances in genome engineering technology like CRISPR and the difficulty of modeling human diseases in rodents, transgenic nonhuman primates may be used to develop etiologically relevant models of disease. This perspective by Guoping Feng et al. highlights the technological advances, potential challenges and opportunities these models present to furthering our understanding of disease.

    • Charles G Jennings
    • Rogier Landman
    • Guoping Feng
    Perspective
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Review Article

  • Although single-cell gene expression profiling has been possible for the past two decades, a number of recent technological advances in microfluidic and sequencing technology have recently made the procedure much easier and less expensive. Awatramani and colleagues discuss the use of single-cell gene expression profiling for classifying neuronal cell types.

    • Jean-Francois Poulin
    • Bosiljka Tasic
    • Rajeshwar Awatramani
    Review Article
  • Genetically encoded indicators of neuronal activity have diversified and improved in performance in recent years, becoming essential tools for neuroscientists. Lin and Schnitzer review indicators for pH, neurotransmitter, voltage and calcium, with an emphasis on quantifying key indicator attributes and relating them to their applications in neuroscience.

    • Michael Z Lin
    • Mark J Schnitzer
    Review Article
  • Ji et al. review emerging microscopy technologies that enable large-volume imaging of neural circuits. Focusing on two-photon fluorescence microscopy, they explored critical factors that limit imaging speed and restrict image volume, and also discuss three-dimensional imaging methods and their applications in rapid volume imaging of neural activity.

    • Na Ji
    • Jeremy Freeman
    • Spencer L Smith
    Review Article
  • Extracellular electrophysiology and calcium imaging are powerful methods for recording neuronal populations. Yet both methods are subject to confounds that, if not accounted for, could lead to erroneous scientific conclusions. The authors discuss these confounds, strategies for identifying and ameliorating them, and potential research that could accurately calibrate population recording.

    • Kenneth D Harris
    • Rodrigo Quian Quiroga
    • Spencer L Smith
    Review Article
  • This paper describes an integrated approach for neuroimaging data acquisition, analysis and sharing. Building on methodological advances from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and elsewhere, the HCP-style paradigm applies to new and existing data sets that meet core requirements and may accelerate progress in understanding the brain in health and disease.

    • Matthew F Glasser
    • Stephen M Smith
    • David C Van Essen
    Review Article
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News & Views

  • In vivo imaging of the spinal cord provides insights into the coding of skin temperature. Intriguingly, while heat-responsive dorsal horn neurons encode absolute temperatures, cold-responsive neurons report relative drops.

    • Ine Vandewauw
    • Thomas Voets
    News & Views
  • The inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories of infancy is referred to as infantile amnesia. A study now provides one of the first explanations of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.

    • Andrii Rudenko
    • Li-Huei Tsai
    News & Views
  • Even before a child learns to read, the future location of his or her letter-processing area can be predicted from its connections to the rest of the brain. Reading acquisition thus piggybacks on a pre-existing brain circuit.

    • Stanislas Dehaene
    • Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz
    News & Views
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Brief Communication

  • In this study, the authors show that LTP lacks synapse specificity in hippocampi of aged (21–28 months) mice, possibly resulting from diminished levels of the K+/Cl cotransporter KCC2 and depolarizing GABAA receptors. The KCC2 enhancer CLP257 restored synapse specificity of LTP, providing a possible new target for repairing memory loss in senescence.

    • Isabella Ferando
    • Guido C Faas
    • Istvan Mody
    Brief Communication
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Article

  • Using in vivo spinal cord two-photon calcium imaging, the authors provide the first comprehensive characterization of the representations of temperature in the spinal cord and reveal that spinal neurons encode temperature change for cold and absolute temperature for heat.

    • Chen Ran
    • Mark A Hoon
    • Xiaoke Chen
    Article
  • The acquisition of a new skill or motor program is thought to be mediated by changes in neuronal plasticity at early stages of learning, which is later stabilized by new myelin generated by oligodendrocytes. In this study, the authors show that oligodendrocyte precursors exist in a ‘primed’ state, which allows them to contribute to early stages of motor learning.

    • Lin Xiao
    • David Ohayon
    • William D Richardson
    Article
  • Infantile amnesia is the forgetting of memories in young children. In this paper, the authors show that in rats early life memories are not lost but rather stored in a latent form that can be retrieved later during adult life following exposure to appropriate reminders. The formation of these early memories requires the hippocampus and is subject to a developmental critical period that depends on mechanisms similar to those underlying critical periods in sensory systems.

    • Alessio Travaglia
    • Reto Bisaz
    • Cristina M Alberini
    Article
  • Control of action selection in the brain must be stable yet flexible. Using two-photon calcium imaging, the authors find distinct population activity states in secondary motor cortex for different stimulus–response contingencies and show that transitions between these states occurred earlier when mice were required to abort a repetitive action and use a conditional rule.

    • Michael J Siniscalchi
    • Victoria Phoumthipphavong
    • Alex C Kwan
    Article
  • Feedforward and feedback synaptic pathways shape how neural activity evolves across cortical areas, but they are difficult to monitor using traditional methods during behavior. The authors use pathway-specific and cellular-resolution in vivo imaging to quantify sensory and decision-related neural activity both within and propagating between two cortical areas critical for touch perception.

    • Sung Eun Kwon
    • Hongdian Yang
    • Daniel H O'Connor
    Article
  • Before children can read, their brains have yet to develop selective responses to words. This study demonstrates that a child's connectivity pattern at age 5 can predict where their own word-selective cortex will later develop. This suggests that connectivity lays the groundwork for later functional development of cortex.

    • Zeynep M Saygin
    • David E Osher
    • Nancy Kanwisher
    Article
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Resource

  • ALS patient iPSC-derived motor neurons aim to model disease phenotypes. The authors demonstrate that these cells transcriptomically resemble fetal rather than adult spinal motor neurons, and familial and sporadic forms of ALS disrupt gene networks and pathways associated with neuronal maturation and aging. These data provide a resource for further understanding how molecular changes in motor neurons lead to disease.

    • Ritchie Ho
    • Samuel Sances
    • Clive N Svendsen
    Resource
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