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Volume 21 Issue 6, June 2018

Learning how to learn

Humans and other animals must ‘learn how to learn’, figuring out how to leverage past experiences to learn rapidly in new situations. Every instance of learning therefore reflects a previous history of related learning experiences, as playfully illustrated on the cover. In this issue, Wang and colleagues show how learning to learn may arise from an interplay between the dopaminergic system and prefrontal cortex.

See Wang et al.

Image: DeepMind. Cover Design: Erin Dewalt.

News & Views

  • In 2004, Weaver et al. published evidence in Nature Neuroscience for the lasting epigenetic impact of maternal care within the hippocampus of rat offspring. This conceptual and methodological leap contributed to the evolution of environmental and behavioral epigenetics and continues to inspire challenging questions about genes, environments, and their legacy.

    • Frances A. Champagne
    News & Views


  • Synaptic connections adapt homeostatically to changes in experience to maintain optimal circuit function. A study demonstrates that different forms of synaptic homeostasis respond to distinct aspects of circuit activity, suggesting that neurons can gauge and adapt to the both the quality and quantity of circuit activity.

    • Kimberly M. Huber
    News & Views
  • New techniques enable simultaneous optogenetic stimulation and calcium imaging from ensembles of tens of neurons in vivo. Improved opsins are localized to the cell body, minimizing spurious activation of the optically unresolvable neuropil. Two-photon light pulses are sculpted in space, time, and wavelength to efficiently target the desired cells.

    • Adam E. Cohen
    • Samouil L. Farhi
    News & Views
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  • Microglial immune checkpoint mechanisms are signaling pathways that limit immune responsiveness and promote homeostatic activities of micrroglia throughout life, but can interfere with repair mechanisms in disease.

    • Aleksandra Deczkowska
    • Ido Amit
    • Michal Schwartz
  • In this Perspective, Josh Berke discusses recent developments in the study of dopamine function. He proposes a model that explains how dopamine can serve as both a learning signal and as a critical modulator of motivated decision-making.

    • Joshua D. Berke
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Brief Communications

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Technical Reports

  • The authors present a new approach to create and edit custom spatiotemporal neural activity patterns in awake, behaving animals with extremely high spatial and temporal precision. They present novel opsins optimized for multiphoton optogenetics.

    • Alan R. Mardinly
    • Ian Antón Oldenburg
    • Hillel Adesnik
    Technical Report
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Amendments & Corrections

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Quick links