Economic choice behavior entails the computation and comparison of subjective values. A central contribution of neuroeconomics has been to show that subjective values are represented explicitly at the neuronal level. With this result at hand, the field has increasingly focused on the difficult question of where in the brain and how exactly subjective values are compared to make a decision. Here, Padoa-Schioppa and Conen review a broad range of experimental and…

The dogma that self-renewal is a defining characteristic of stem cells, which stemmed from studies of the hematopoietic hierarchy and quickly spread by analogy to all tissues, has been shattered by scientists pointing a microscope at the hematopoietic system itself. A microglial cell is clearly fully differentiated, and yet it self-renews.     Read more…

Masopust began thinking about the cleanliness problem in our labs more than a decade ago. He was struck by how much the immune make-up of lab mice differs from that of humans. At the time, many researchers blamed the differences on genetics, but Masopust suspected that lab mice are different in part because of where they live. “Is this a mouse issue,” he wondered, “or is this really just a lab-mouse…

Chronic pain lasting longer than three months is a common problem that affects about 1 in 5 people at some point in their lives. The lack of effective treatments has led to widespread use of a group of drugs called opioids – the best-known example is morphine. Unfortunately, long-term use of opioids can cause many undesirable effects, including drug dependency. A better understanding of how the brain’s natural painkilling system works…

When we learn a new skill or task, our movements are reinforced and shaped. Learning occurs because the neural activity patterns in the movement control–related brain regions that are rewarded are repeated. But how does this reinforcement work? Athalye et al. developed a closed-loop self-stimulation paradigm in which a target motor cortical activity pattern resulted in the optogenetic stimulation of dopaminergic neurons. With training, mice learned to reenter specific neuronal activity…

In this seminal study Mukherjee and colleagues introduces the concept of a neural transcriptional code. “Our results describe the existence of robust transcriptional signatures uniquely representing distinct experiences, enabling near-perfect decoding of recent experiences. Furthermore, experiences with shared attributes display commonalities in their transcriptional signatures, exemplified in the representation of valence, habituation and reinforcement., which represents the encoding of experiences in the mouse brain”. Read more…

In the article ” Viewpoints: how the hippocampus contributes to memory, navigation and cognition”, John Lisman, György Buzsáki, Howard Eichenbaum, Lynn Nadel, Charan Rangananth & A David Redish discuss the state of the art and the open questions regarding the role of the hippocampus in cognitive processes (Lisman et al., Nature Neuroscience 20: 1434-1447). Read more…

In November 2017 Nature Neuroscience dedicated a special focus issue to the theme of the neural basis of spatial cognition, featuring reviews and opinions from several eminent scientists, including recent Nobel prize winners Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser. Read more…

Friday 24 November 2017, Odeion Neuroseminar: Gaia Novarino from IST Austria, in her, presented evidence for a role of amino acid transport at the blood-brain barrier in the development of ASD and associated motor deficits and microcephaly, in both humans and mice. Read more…