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Volume 23 Issue 1, January 2020

Somatostatin and affective state discrimination

Scheggia, Managò and colleagues describe a specific subpopulation of somatostatin-expressing cortical neurons that has a primary role in orchestrating the ability of mice to discriminate positive and negative affective states in their conspecifics. This finding is artistically depicted on the cover, which shows a somatostatin interneuron lighting up a stressed and a relieved mouse, but not another with neutral affect. This fundamental social cognitive ability is crucial for daily life exploration of the world and the quality of social interactions.

See Scheggia et al.

Image credit: Ella Maru Studio. Cover design: Marina Corral Spence

News & Views

  • A new study shows that the enzyme monoamine oxidase funnels a byproduct of dopamine metabolism, H2O2, directly into the mitochondrial electron transport chain, stimulating ATP production. This alternative energy pathway may protect dopaminergic neurons from the toxicity induced by dopamine metabolism while supporting phasic firing.

    • Rongmin Chen
    • Elizabeth A. Jonas
    News & Views


  • Humans and animals are drawn to others in an altered affective state, whether sad or happy. A study published in this issue of Nature Neuroscience shows that a specific population of interneurons in the brain is critical for discrimination of affective states.

    • Toni-Lee Sterley
    • Jaideep S. Bains
    News & Views
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Review Articles

  • This paper offers a primer on transcriptional enhancers in the CNS, using examples of enhancer regulation in the maturing brain and the role of non-coding variation in brain disorders to explain the concepts emerging from functional neurogenomics.

    • Alex S. Nord
    • Anne E. West
    Review Article
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Brief Communications

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  • Lau et al. find that α-synuclein strains initiate distinct diseases when injected into mice, which provides a potential molecular explanation for the clinical and pathological differences between Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders.

    • Angus Lau
    • Raphaella W. L. So
    • Joel C. Watts
  • Cummings and Clem demonstrate that cue-related activation and plasticity of prefrontal interneurons cause disinhibition of a distributed brain network that underlies fear memory.

    • Kirstie A. Cummings
    • Roger L. Clem
  • Walking requires continual integrated information about the dynamic internal and external environment. This study reveals a pathway whereby the somatosensory cortex directly influences motor behavior based on integrated spatiotemporal information.

    • Spyridon K. Karadimas
    • Kajana Satkunendrarajah
    • Michael G. Fehlings
  • Although Bayesian models provide good accounts of perceptual decisions, it is unclear how their components are represented in the brain. This paper addresses this question by showing that uncertainty decoded from visual cortex helps predict behavior.

    • Edgar Y. Walker
    • R. James Cotton
    • Andreas S. Tolias
  • Kappes et al. report a new confirmation bias mechanism. When faced with disagreement, a reduction in the neural sensitivity to the confidence of others is observed leading to a subsequent failure to use others’ confidence to alter one’s own.

    • Andreas Kappes
    • Ann H. Harvey
    • Tali Sharot
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Amendments & Corrections

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