Volume 9 Issue 8, August 2006
News & Views
Neurons that know when to quit
With sufficient training, monkeys as well as people can be taught to ignore visually salient stimuli. Now Ipata and colleagues report that activity in monkey lateral intraparietal cortex (LIP) correlates with this ability to ignore salient stimuli, suggesting that activity in this area represents top-down modulation that adjusts visual salience.
BK channels and circadian output
The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) controls circadian behavior, and neurons in the SCN are intrinsic oscillators. Meredith et al. now identify the BK potassium channel as a key modulator of spontaneous firing of the SCN.
Dopaminergic neurons are thought to inform decisions by reporting errors in reward prediction. A new study reports dopaminergic responses as monkeys make choices, supporting one computational theory of appetitive learning.
Seeking a function for spontaneous neurotransmission
A recent study proposes that the random and spontaneous, NMDA receptor–dependent miniature postsynaptic currents at hippocampal synapses serve to regulate local postsynaptic protein synthesis, thereby stabilizing synaptic function.
What's in control of language?
Language functions are thought to be controlled largely by cortical areas. A study now finds that the subcortical caudate nucleus is sensitive to language change in bilingual speakers, suggesting a role for this area in control processes.