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  • The role of astrocytic Ca2+ signalling in synaptic function remains elusive. In this Opinion article, Volterra and colleagues discuss how recent data reveal an unexpected complexity of Ca2+dynamics in astrocytes, which both challenges current thinking and suggests a new conceptual and experimental framework to address astrocyte function.

    • Andrea Volterra
    • Nicolas Liaudet
    • Iaroslav Savtchouk
  • In this Perspective, Seeburg and colleagues re-examine the role of the hippocampus in spatial learning in light of recent findings. They also suggest that the hippocampus has a role in resolving conflict or uncertainty that might also explain its role in anxiety.

    • David M. Bannerman
    • Rolf Sprengel
    • Peter H. Seeburg
  • The function of brain oscillations remains unclear, although a role in controlling the flow of signals among anatomically connected networks has been proposed. In this Opinion article, Akam and Kullmann discuss how network oscillations might convey multiplexed information that enables a flexible reconfiguration of effective connectivity among brain areas.

    • Thomas Akam
    • Dimitri M. Kullmann
  • The combined actions of immune cells, vascular cells and neurons mediate a 'neuroinflammatory' response to pathogens, trauma and degeneration in the CNS. Here, Xanthos and Sandkühler show that similar responses can be evoked by neural activity and describe the physiological and pathological roles of this 'neurogenic neuroinflammation'.

    • Dimitris N. Xanthos
    • Jürgen Sandkühler
  • Neural insults in conditions such as multiple sclerosis induce changes in the brain's extracellular matrix (ECM) that can inhibit myelin repair. In this Opinion article, Yong and colleagues examine such changes and how the ECM could be targeted to promote remyelination in disease.

    • Lorraine W. Lau
    • Rowena Cua
    • V. Wee Yong
  • The implications of compartmentalization of protein synthesis and distribution within dendrites are not well understood. In this Opinion article, Hanus and Schuman discuss how the morphological complexity of dendrites and specialist regulatory mechanisms influence protein distribution and therefore the synaptic response to activity.

    • Cyril Hanus
    • Erin M. Schuman
  • Sleep is characterized by globally synchronized neuronal activity. Vyazovskiy and Harris propose that the synchronous 'down states' of neuronal populations during sleep enable neurons to perform prophylactic maintenance in the absence of synaptic inputs and spiking activity, and hypothesize that this is a key function of sleep.

    • Vladyslav V. Vyazovskiy
    • Kenneth D. Harris
  • The neural mechanisms underlying the perception of duration have proved difficult to unravel and remain unclear. Here, Wittmann explores why this has been the case and presents recent theoretical developments and empirical findings indicating that 'climbing' neural activity has a central role in time perception.

    • Marc Wittmann
  • Homeostatic maintenance of the state of the body within an optimal range is essential for survival. Damasio and Carvalho discuss how feelings derived from body states enhance the effectiveness of the corrective response and suggest a cellular mechanism for how feelings might be generated.

    • Antonio Damasio
    • Gil B. Carvalho
  • In CNS neurons, the somatic membrane potential is subject to subthreshold analogue modulation. This analogue component increases the information content of action potentials and has important implications for information processing in neural networks.

    • Dominique Debanne
    • Andrzej Bialowas
    • Sylvain Rama
  • In this Opinion article, Masri and Sassone-Corsi discuss the complex interconnections between circadian rhythms, metabolic processes and epigenetic regulation of gene transcription. They propose that cellular metabolic state and epigenetic mechanisms might work through the circadian clock to regulate neuronal function and influence disease states.

    • Selma Masri
    • Paolo Sassone-Corsi
  • All cells are influenced by mechanical forces, but the effects of mechanical energy in the brain have received relatively little attention. William Tyler summarizes the main mechanical events that take place in neurons and their effects on neuronal function, and argues for an increased consideration of mechanobiology in neuroscience.

    • William J. Tyler
  • Adult neurogenesis is often considered an archaic trait that has undergone 'phylogenetic reduction'. Gerd Kempermann proposes that adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus is in fact a late-evolved trait that may provide the cognitive adaptability that is needed to conquer new ecological niches.

    • Gerd Kempermann
  • Improvement in the performance of a newly acquired skill with training occurs gradually over time. Here, Censor, Sagi and Cohen highlight similarities in such procedural learning between the motor and perceptual domains and suggest that a common mechanism supports this type of learning in various domains.

    • Nitzan Censor
    • Dov Sagi
    • Leonardo G. Cohen
  • It is commonly thought that fear induced by distinct stimuli is processed by a single 'fear circuit'. Gross and Canteras discuss evidence showing that separate, parallel pathways process different types of innate fear but a common mechanism underlies the encoding of learned fear for all classes of stimuli.

    • Cornelius T. Gross
    • Newton Sabino Canteras
  • Neurons in the human medial temporal lobe respond in a selective and abstract manner to particular persons or objects. Rodrigo Quian Quiroga argues that these 'concept cells' are crucial for memory functions and the transition between related concepts that leads to the flow of consciousness.

    • Rodrigo Quian Quiroga