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  • Epidemiological and pathological evidence points to a link between traumatic brain injury and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in later life. Smith and colleagues consider the mechanisms underlying this link, with a focus on axonal injury and amyloid-β accumulation after injury.

    • Victoria E. Johnson
    • William Stewart
    • Douglas H. Smith
  • In this Opinion article, the similarities in molecular composition, organization and function of chemosensory receptive endings and neuron–neuron synapses are considered. Based on these parallels, Shai Shaham suggests that chemosensory structures will provide useful models of the neuronal synapse.

    • Shai Shaham
  • The orbitofrontal cortex has a role in flexible behaviour. schoenbaum and colleagues discuss recent data suggesting that it signals expected outcomes and propose that this role also explains how it can mediate flexible behaviour in the face of unexpected outcomes.

    • Geoffrey Schoenbaum
    • Matthew R. Roesch
    • Yuji K. Takahashi
  • MicroRNAs have crucial regulatory roles at the post-transcriptional level and are emerging as key players in the development of the nervous system in many species. In this Opinion article, Kosik discusses how these non-coding transcripts could drive evolutionary change.

    • Kenneth S. Kosik
  • In this provocative Perspective, Jerry Siegel shows that many aspects of sleep differ greatly between species and conditions, such that a universal, vital function of sleep is unlikely. He argues that sleep benefits animals simply by increasing the efficiency of their activity.

    • Jerome M. Siegel
  • The olfactory glomeruli represent a remarkable example of nervous system organization — each glomerulus is innervated exclusively by sensory neurons expressing one of more than 1,000 olfactory receptors. Firestein and colleagues discuss recent insights into glomerular development that highlight the importance of signalling activity in this process.

    • Dong-Jing Zou
    • Alexander Chesler
    • Stuart Firestein
  • Understanding the mode of cortical cholinergic neurotransmission, which is thought to mediate attentional tasks, is key to finding effective treatments for a range of cognitive disorders. Sarter and colleagues contrast evidence for volume and phasic transmission and conclude that the latter is more significant for attentional tasks.

    • Martin Sarter
    • Vinay Parikh
    • W. Matthew Howe
  • Two neurons can be connected by multiple synaptic contacts with different likelihoods of neurotransmitter release. Branco and staras discuss the role of feedback regulation from the postsynaptic site in determining this probability at individual synapses and consider the possible functional advantages of variable neurotransmitter release.

    • Tiago Branco
    • Kevin Staras
  • Stress induces the release of many stress mediators in the brain. Joëls and Baram show that the spatial and temporal niches of action of these mediators overlap and discuss how different mediators interact to enable appropriate responses to diverse stressors.

    • Marian Joëls
    • Tallie Z. Baram
  • The effects of the glial scar on regeneration after injury have traditionally been viewed as inhibitory. Schwartz and colleagues discuss the evidence that scar tissue can have a beneficial role in the repair process and propose that the timing of scar generation and degradation is crucial in determining its effects.

    • Asya Rolls
    • Ravid Shechter
    • Michal Schwartz
  • The anterior insular cortex is activated by a wide range of conditions and behaviours that go beyond interoception. In a provocative Perspective, Bud Craig proposes that the anterior insula has a fundamental role in human awareness.

    • A. D. (Bud) Craig
  • Brain banking has supported many important advances in neuroscience research. Kretzschmar describes the advantages and opportunities offered by brain banking and provides insight into the challenges facing brain banks in the future.

    • Hans Kretzschmar
  • Many psychiatric disorders emerge in adolescence, when profound changes take place in the brain. Paus and colleagues provide an overview of the neurobiological changes that occur during adolescence and discuss their possible relationship to the emergence of psychopathology.

    • Tomáš Paus
    • Matcheri Keshavan
    • Jay N. Giedd
  • Cognitive therapy and antidepressant medication are both effective treatments for depression. Derubeis and colleagues propose common and divergent neural changes that might underlie the antidepressant effects of both types of treatment and that could explain the enduring, relapse-preventing effects of cognitive therapy. An interview with Rob DeRubeis for Neuropod is available for download.

    • Robert J. DeRubeis
    • Greg J. Siegle
    • Steven D. Hollon
  • High-content analysis (HCA), the combination of automated microscopy and automated image analysis, has the potential to be a powerful tool for neuroscience research. Mike Dragunow outlines the factors to consider when adopting HCA in an academic setting, and the benefits that researchers can expect.

    • Mike Dragunow
  • The development of real-time fMRI has enabled us to watch our own brain in action 'live'. Christopher deCharms provides an overview of current and potential applications of this technique, including its use as a brain–machine interface and in learned control over brain activation.

    • R. Christopher deCharms