Somatosensory system

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The responses of striatal GABAergic interneurons to thalamic inputs are not well characterised. Here, the authors demonstrate that complex intrastriatal circuitry is responsible for thalamic-evoked monosynaptic and disynaptic excitation in NPY-NGF interneurons but a disynaptic inhibition in the NPY-PLTS.

    • Maxime Assous
    • , Jaime Kaminer
    •  & James M. Tepper
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Barrel cortex contains a functional map of whiskers but how neuronal activity maps multi-whisker inputs has not been studied. Here the authors show that while uncorrelated multi-whisker stimuli activate barrel neurons, correlated multi-whisker inputs activate neurons in a ring at the barrel-septa boundary

    • Luc Estebanez
    • , Julien Bertherat
    •  & Jean- François Léger
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Spontaneous movements are important for mammalian development but how network activity underlies the generation of these actions remains unclear. Here the authors show that both spontaneous twitches and complex movements enable correlated activity in motor and sensory networks of the rat spinal cord in vivo, and that sensory feedback is instrumental in this synchronization.

    • Ana R. Inácio
    • , Azat Nasretdinov
    •  & Roustem Khazipov
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How different sensory modalities interact to control feeding is poorly understood. Here, authors show that in Drosophila, activation of labellar mechanosensory neurons causes inhibition of sweet-sensing gustatory receptor neurons, as a result, Drosophilaprefer soft food at the expense of sweetness.

    • Yong Taek Jeong
    • , Soo Min Oh
    •  & Seok Jun Moon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sensory cortices receive input from cortical cells and the thalamus, yet it is unknown how these inputs interact to generate synchronous activity. Here authors show that unlike cortical inputs, thalamic inputs are asynchronous, suggesting that cortical synchronization is due to intracortical coupling.

    • Katayun Cohen-Kashi Malina
    • , Boaz Mohar
    •  & Ilan Lampl
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Perceiving the size of objects is subjective. Here the authors show that these subjective differences in size perception can be explained by the individual variance in spatial tuning of neuronal populations in the primary visual cortex.

    • Christina Moutsiana
    • , Benjamin de Haas
    •  & D. Samuel Schwarzkopf
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Functional imaging in awake head-fixed mice is a widely used technique to study neural responses. Here the authors report on an open source, fully automated unsupervised system for training mice to self initiate head fixation to enable stable mesoscopic functional imaging of cortical functional connectivity.

    • Timothy H. Murphy
    • , Jamie D. Boyd
    •  & Jeff M. LeDue
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The human brain integrates inputs across multiple sensory streams into a unified percept. Here Parise and Ernst present a model that assesses the correlation, lag and synchrony of multisensory stimuli, and predicts psychophysical performance on multisensory temporal and spatial tasks.

    • Cesare V. Parise
    •  & Marc O. Ernst
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Long-term use of opioids can lead to a paradoxical increase in pain sensitivity. Here, Hayashi et al. link activation of potassium channels on microglia with morphine-induced hyperalgesia and anti-nociceptive tolerance in mice.

    • Yoshinori Hayashi
    • , Saori Morinaga
    •  & Hiroshi Nakanishi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Epileptic brains display inhibitory restraint as manifested by the spread of synchronized activities being delayed in timing. Here, Elliot Smith and colleagues show fast-moving traveling wave that originates from the edge of ictal wavefront with subsequent depolarization and multiunit firing in the seizing brain regions in epileptic patients.

    • Elliot H. Smith
    • , Jyun-you Liou
    •  & Catherine A. Schevon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anterior insula (AI) and medial anterior cingulate cortex (mACC) are activated by self and vicarious pain, disgust and fairness, yet the overlap of these representations are not known. Here the authors provide evidence for shared neural codes in the left AI and mACC and distinct codes in the right AI.

    • Corrado Corradi-Dell’Acqua
    • , Anita Tusche
    •  & Tania Singer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The temperature-sensitive TRPM8 channel is essential for cold sensing and has been linked to pathological cold hypersensitivity. Here, the authors find TRPM8 insertion in the cell membrane is mediated by VAMP7 following atypical LAMP1-containing vesicle transport, and that loss of VAMP7 leads to reduced cold avoidance in vivo.

    • Debapriya Ghosh
    • , Silvia Pinto
    •  & Thomas Voets
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A mutation in the sodium channel Nav1.9 has been identified in a family and shown to associate with cold-aggravated pain. Here, the authors characterize the electrophysiological consequences of this mutation and propose a mechanism for the pain that the individuals experience.

    • Enrico Leipold
    • , Andrea Hanson-Kahn
    •  & Ingo Kurth
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Hallucinations can occur in both healthy individuals and patients with psychiatric disorders. Garrison et al. here report that specific brain morphology differences in the paracingulate sulcus (PCS) can determine the occurrence of hallucinations in schizophrenia, irrespective of sensory modality.

    • Jane R. Garrison
    • , Charles Fernyhough
    •  & Jon S. Simons
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The venom of the Chinese red-headed centipede causes excruciating pain. Here, Yanget al. identify a novel toxin protein from the centipede venom and find that it can activate the nociceptive TRPV1 ion channel by binding to the channel’s outer pore to potentiate the heat activation machinery.

    • Shilong Yang
    • , Fan Yang
    •  & Ren Lai
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Learning to reinforce rewarding decisions and avoiding repeated mistakes is critical, yet the neural systems mediating feedback processing in value-guided choices remain elusive. Here the authors uncover the spatiotemporal dynamics of two separate but interacting value systems during learning.

    • Elsa Fouragnan
    • , Chris Retzler
    •  & Marios G. Philiastides
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Defense against environmental threats is essential for survival, yet the neural circuits mediating innate defensive behaviours are not completely understood. Here the authors demonstrate that descending projections from the auditory cortex to the midbrain mediate innate, sound-evoked flight behaviour.

    • Xiaorui R. Xiong
    • , Feixue Liang
    •  & Li I. Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Benzodiazepines (BDZs) target GABAA receptors to alleviate pain but these also cause side effects. Here the authors use mice in which only one GABAA receptor is BDZ-sensitive at a time to identify α2GABAAas the receptor that provides maximal analgesic activity but minimal side-effects in response to BDZs.

    • William T. Ralvenius
    • , Dietmar Benke
    •  & Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The activity of sensory neurons can be correlated with perceptual decisions and this effect may provide insights into how sensory information is processed during perceptual tasks. Here the authors develop a network model of sensory and decision-making areas and propose that the dynamics across the network hierarchy explains the choice probabilities.

    • Klaus Wimmer
    • , Albert Compte
    •  & Jaime de la Rocha
  • Article
    | Open Access

    TRPs are calcium-permeable channels involved in the sensing of damaging stimuli but the relationship between calcium influx and pain behaviour has been elusive. Here the authors find that the TRP channel OSM-9 functions as an ion channel in vivo in C. elegans, and establish residues that are critical for worm pain-like behaviour.

    • Amanda S. Lindy
    • , Puja K. Parekh
    •  & Wolfgang B. Liedtke
  • Article |

    C-fibre polymodal nociceptors in primates have been classified into two groups based on their sensitivity to mechanical stimuli. Here, Wooten et al.describe how the differences in the response speed of the receptors to stimuli suggest that these should be considered as three separate groups.

    • Matthew Wooten
    • , Hao-Jui Weng
    •  & Matthias Ringkamp
  • Article |

    The reorganization of the mammalian somatosensory cortex is a common consequence of sensory deafferentation. Here, Kambi et al.show that reorganization of the cuneate nucleus in the brainstem is essential for the large-scale reorganization of the somatosensory cortex following sensory deafferentation in monkeys.

    • Niranjan Kambi
    • , Priyabrata Halder
    •  & Neeraj Jain
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The stomatin domain protein STOML3 is required for the sensation of touch. Here, Poole et al.show that STOML3 enhances the activity of mechanosensitive Piezo1 and Piezo2 ion channels by reducing their activation thresholds, and that it achieves this through its stomatin domain.

    • Kate Poole
    • , Regina Herget
    •  & Gary R. Lewin
  • Article |

    Opioid analgesic drugs act at opioid receptors to exert analgesic effects, but they also exert adverse side effects. In this study, the authors show that the TREK-1 potassium channel is responsible for mediating the analgesic effects of morphine but not the adverse side effects.

    • Maïly Devilliers
    • , Jérôme Busserolles
    •  & Alain Eschalier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    TRPA1 ion channels act as thermosensors across different species; however, studies on their role in noxious cold sensation have provided conflicting results in mammals. Chen et al. show that these discrepancies arise because cold activates rat and mouse TRPA1 but not human or rhesus monkey TRPA1.

    • Jun Chen
    • , Dawon Kang
    •  & Donghee Kim
  • Article |

    The gene Pirtencodes a transmembrane domain protein that is expressed in sensory neurons. Tang and colleagues use calcium imaging and electrophysiology to show that Pirt positively regulates the transient receptor potential channel TRPM8, and that deletion of this protein results in impaired cold sensitivity.

    • Zongxiang Tang
    • , Andrew Kim
    •  & Xinzhong Dong
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The saccus vasculosus is a circumventricular organ of the hypothalamus of many jawed fish whose function has remained a mystery for more than 300 years. Here the authors provide evidence that the saccus vasculosus functions as a sensor of seasonal changes in day length.

    • Yusuke Nakane
    • , Keisuke Ikegami
    •  & Takashi Yoshimura
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Human primary sensory cortices are traditionally regarded as being able to process only one sensory modality. Liang and colleagues use brain imaging to show that, as well as being processed in typically corresponding cortical areas, different sensory modalities are also processed in atypical cortical areas.

    • M. Liang
    • , A. Mouraux
    •  & G.D. Iannetti
  • Article |

    Electrophysiological studies in some fish species suggest that proprioception is needed for fin movement. Here the authors test mechanosensory abilities of afferent nerves in pectoral fin rays, and find that the activity of fin ray nerve fibres reflects the amplitude and velocity of fin ray bending.

    • Richard Williams IV
    • , Nicole Neubarth
    •  & Melina E. Hale
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mechanical allodynia describes the process whereby innocuous stimuli is perceived as being noxious and is a common symptom of neuropathic pain. Using mice deficient in the cAMP sensor Epac1, the authors in this study find that Epac1 regulates mechanical allodynia by sensitizing the mechanotransducer Piezo2.

    • N Eijkelkamp
    • , J.E. Linley
    •  & J.N. Wood
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Reorganization of the sensorimotor cortex due to loss of sensory input is implicated in phantom pain. Makin and colleagues use functional MRI to show that phantom pain experience is instead associated with maintained local functional and structural cortical representations but disrupted inter-regional connectivity.

    • Tamar R. Makin
    • , Jan Scholz
    •  & Heidi Johansen-Berg
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Neural plasticity can be mediated by cognitive processes or sensory inputs to the brain. Cardin et al.use fMRI to study individuals who vary in hearing and sign language abilities, and find that sensory and cognitive experiences cause plasticity in anatomically and functionally distinguishable cortical areas.

    • Velia Cardin
    • , Eleni Orfanidou
    •  & Bencie Woll
  • Article |

    Primary sensory areas of newborn mammals typically display input-dependent plasticity. Thomson and colleagues use a sensory prosthetic device in rats to show that adult rats can discriminate different infrared light signals, when the signals are routed to somatosensory cortex by electrical microstimulation.

    • Eric E. Thomson
    • , Rafael Carra
    •  & Miguel A.L. Nicolelis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In animals, cryptochrome proteins are thought to be the detectors of the Earth's magnetic field, but humans have not been shown to posess mangetosensing capabilities. Foleyet al. demonstrate that the human cryptochrome protein, CRY2, when expressed in Drosophila melanogastercan mediate magnetoreception in a light-dependent manner.

    • Lauren E. Foley
    • , Robert J. Gegear
    •  & Steven M. Reppert