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Must-Read Neural Circuit Papers in September 2017

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Posted by Jami L. Milton - 10.02.2017

September went by way too quickly, but at least there was plenty of great neural circuit research published in September to read. Congrats to all the authors! There are very interesting papers on social behavior and female aggression, and on dopamine neurons in disease and locomotion, plus many others!

1. Gating of social reward by oxytocin in the ventral tegmental area by Lin W. Hung, Sophie Neuner, Jai S. Polepalli, Kevin T. Beier, Matthew Wright, Jessica J. Walsh, Eastman M. Lewis, Liqun Luo, Karl Deisseroth, Gul Dolen, Robert C. Malenka. Science.

Oxytocin release in the VTA enhances the activity of a specific population of dopamine neurons that influence social interactions and is important for the reinforcing component of social interactions.

Read more here and here

2. Deconstruction of Corticospinal Circuits for Goal-Directed Motor Skills by Xuhua Wang, Yuanyuan Liu, Xinjian Li, Zicong Zhang, Hengfu Yang, Yu Zhang, Philip R. Williams, Noaf S.A. Alwahab, Kush Kapur, Bin Yu, Yiming Zhang, Mengying Chen, Haixia Ding, Charles R. Gerfen, Kuan Hong Wang, Zhigang He. Cell.

By using Inscopix nVista Ca2+ imaging, they map the corticopspinal circuits mediating forelimb movements in freely behaving mice. Their findings reveal a topographic map organized in a way that emphasizes more parallel processing than hierarchical, and provides a neuronal circuit basis for a possible map of the natural behavior.

Read more here and here

3. Laminar Organization of Encoding and Memory Reactivation in the Parietal Cortex by Aaron A. Wilber, Ivan Skelin, Wei Wu, Bruce L. McNaughton. Neuron.

“Movement trajectories are encoded and replayed in the collective activity of thousands of cells at a time in the posterior parietal cortex.”

Read more here and here

4. A Sensorimotor Circuit in Mouse Cortex for Visual Flow Predictions byMarcus Leinweber, Daniel R. Ward, Jan M. Sobczak, Alexander Attinger, Georg B. Keller. Neuron.

Top-down input to the primary visual cortex (V1) from A24b and the adjacent secondary motor cortex (M2) signals a prediction of visual flow based on motor output.

Read more here

5. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex by Helene Schmidt, Anjali Gour, Jakob Straehle, Kevin M. Boergens, Michael Brecht & Moritz Helmstaedter. Nature.

A dense connectomics study. They show a level of synaptic specialization in the cerebral cortex that is beyond average cell-to-cell connectivity. Using numerical simulations, they show that the circuit they mapped could enhance spike timing precision, and could control the propagation of synchronized activity.

Read more here and here

6. Rabies screen reveals GPe control of cocaine-triggered plasticity by Kevin T. Beier, Christina K. Kim, Paul Hoerbelt, Lin Wai Hung, Boris D. Heifets, Katherine E. DeLoach, Timothy J. Mosca, Sophie Neuner, Karl Deisseroth, Liqun Luo & Robert C. Malenka. Nature.

They demonstrated that cocaine increased globus pallidus externus (GPe) neuron activity in the ventral tegmental area, which accounted for the increase in GPe labelling seen with rabies virus monosynaptic tracing.

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7. Synapse-specific astrocyte gating of amygdala-related behavior by Mario Martin-Fernandez, Stephanie Jamison, Laurie M Robin, Zhe Zhao, Eduardo D Martin, Juan Aguilar, Michael A Benneyworth, Giovanni Marsicano & Alfonso Araque. Nature Neuroscience.

A groundbreaking paper showing that astrocyte activity in the medial subdivision of the central amygdala (CeM) determine the synaptic and behavioral outputs of amygdala circuits, indicating that animal behavior results from the coordinated activity of neurons and astrocytes.

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8. Esr1+ cells in the ventromedial hypothalamus control female aggression by Koichi Hashikawa, Yoshiko Hashikawa, Robin Tremblay, Jiaxing Zhang, James E Feng, Alexander Sabol, Walter T Piper, Hyosang Lee, Bernardo Rudy & Dayu Lin. Nature Neuroscience.

Recent studies suggested the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus was not involved in female aggression. Here, they studied the estrogen receptor-α (Esr1+) cells in the VMHvl and found an essential role in female aggression. Additionally, they discovered two subdivisions in the female VMHvl, one for aggression and one for sexual behaviors.

Read more here

9. Dopamine induces soluble α-synuclein oligomers and nigrostriatal degeneration by Danielle E Mor, Elpida Tsika, Joseph R Mazzulli, Neal S Gould, Hanna Kim, Malcolm J Daniels, Shachee Doshi, Preetika Gupta, Jennifer L Grossman, Victor X Tan, Robert G Kalb, Kim A Caldwell, Guy A Caldwell, John H Wolfe & Harry Ischiropoulos. Nature Neuroscience.

They enhanced nigrostriatal dopamine levels in the well-characterized A53T mutant human α-synuclein transgenic mice. This induced substantial nigrostriatal degeneration and a previously undescribed locomotor impairment dependent on α-synuclein. This is the first demonstration that “dopamine promotes α-synuclein oligomerization in vivo and that disrupting the ability of dopamine to stabilize/modify oligomers rescues neurons from dopamine toxicity.”

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10. Loss of Hyperdirect Pathway Cortico-Subthalamic Inputs Following Degeneration of Midbrain Dopamine Neurons by Hong-Yuan Chu, Eileen L. McIver, Ryan F. Kovaleski, Jeremy F. Atherton, Mark D. Bevan. Neuron.

Loss of dopamine triggers a shift in the balance of synaptic excitation and inhibition in the subthalamic nucleus which contributes to parkinsonian activity and motor dysfunction.

Read more here and here

11. A pathway from midcingulate cortex to posterior insula gates nociceptive hypersensitivity by Linette Liqi Tan, Patric Pelzer, Céline Heinl, Wannan Tang, Vijayan Gangadharan, Herta Flor, Rolf Sprengel, Thomas Kuner & Rohini Kuner. Nature Neuroscience.

They use optogenetics to target specific cellular populations, as well as to map and manipulate circuits with temporal precision, revealing that the MCC domain gates sensory hypersensitivity, but not acute pain or affect-related behaviors in mice.

Read more here

12. Reversing behavioural abnormalities in mice exposed to maternal inflammation by Yeong Shin Yim, Ashley Park, Janet Berrios, Mathieu Lafourcade, Leila M. Pascual, Natalie Soares, Joo Yeon Kim, Sangdoo Kim, Hyunju Kim, Ari Waisman, Dan R. Littman, Ian R. Wickersham, Mark T. Harnett, Jun R. Huh & Gloria B. Choi. Nature.

They identify a cortical region primarily, if not exclusively, centred on the dysgranular zone of the primary somatosensory cortex as the major node of a neural network that mediates behavioural abnormalities observed in offspring exposed to maternal inflammation.

Read more here and here

13. Sex- and estrus-dependent differences in rat basolateral amygdala by Shannon R. Blume, Mari Freedberg, Jaime E. Vantrease, Ronny Chan, Mallika Padival, Matthew J. Record, M. Regina DeJoseph, Janice H. Urban and J. Amiel Rosenkranz. Journal of Neuroscience.

They demonstrate sex differences in neuronal activity in the basolateral amygdala (BLA), whose activity fluctuates across the estrous cycle due to a shift in the balance of inhibition and excitation across two BLA regions, the lateral and basal nuclei.

Read more here

14. Parvalbumin-positive interneurons mediate cortical-hippocampal interactions that are necessary for memory consolidation by Frances Xia, Blake A Richards, Matthew M Tran, Sheena A Josselyn, Kaori Takehara-Nishiuchi, Paul W Frankland. eLife.

They found that contextual fear conditioning increased ripple-spindle coupling in mice. However, inhibition of PV+ cells in either CA1 of the hippocampus or medial prefrontal cortex eliminated this learning-induced increase in ripple-spindle coupling without affecting ripple or spindle incidence. “These results indicate that successful memory consolidation requires coherent hippocampal-neocortical communication mediated by PV+ cells.”

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