JNeurosci: Highlights From the September 21 Issue
Check out these newsworthy studies from the September 21, 2016, issue of JNeurosci. Media interested in obtaining the full text of the studies should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both drugs of abuse and naturally rewarding behaviors like sex act on the brain’s reward pathways. Exposure to natural rewards can alter how the brain responds to drugs. After a period of abstinence, sexually experienced male rats are more likely to seek out amphetamine, for example. In a new study, researchers pinpoint the changes to neural circuitry that mediate this increased vulnerability for drug use after sexual abstinence.
Corresponding author: Lique Coolen, email@example.com
The repercussions of traumatic brain injury (TBI) often linger long after the initial trauma, leading to neurological problems like epilepsy and early-onset dementia. In a new study in mice, researchers find TBI causes a long-lasting inflammatory response in the brain, which parallels degeneration of neurons over a period of years. Limiting the amount of blood-borne immune cells reaching the brain rescues the neurodegeneration and improves recovery of motor functions.
Corresponding author: Ali Erturk, Ali.Ertuerk@med.uni-muenchen.de
Stress is a major trigger for relapse in recovered nicotine users. Recent evidence links signaling at specific opioid receptors to relapse of drug-seeking, but exactly how this opioid system contributes to nicotine relapse is unclear. In a new study in mice, researchers find stress alters kappa opioid receptor signaling in the amygdala — an area of the brain involved in emotion and learning — resulting in a preference for nicotine.
Corresponding author: Michael Bruchas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Serotonin is a crucial neurotransmitter in the brain, and dysfunction of serotonin-producing neurons has been linked to psychiatric disorders such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But uncovering the neurotransmitter’s exact role in behavior remains a challenge because current techniques fail to halt serotonin production in the adult brain without affecting other systems. In a new study, researchers develop a technique to specifically block serotonin production in the brains of adult mice and find serotonin-deficient mice are hyperactive and have disrupted circadian rhythms.
Corresponding author: Evan Deneris, email@example.com
It’s easier to comprehend what someone is saying when you can see their face, especially if you’re conversing in a noisy environment. In a new study using electroencephalography (EEG), researchers shed light on the neural mechanisms behind this phenomenon, finding that the brain integrates auditory and visual information over time to enhance speech comprehension.
Corresponding author: Michael Crosse, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sensory experience early in life guides development of the brain’s sensory processing areas. In rodents, this sensory experience involves tactile interactions with mom and siblings as well as sensory feedback from spontaneous movements. In a new study, researchers find both spontaneous whisker twitches and passive touch by littermates drives activity in an area of the mouse brain that processes whisker sensations. The results highlight the importance of the early-life environment in shaping the developing brain.
Corresponding author: Rustem Khazipov, email@example.com
The Journal of Neuroscience is published by the Society for Neuroscience, an organization of nearly 38,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.