Learning the Smell of Fear
Read the full article Learning the Smell of Fear at NeuroscienceNews.com.
Babies can learn what to fear in the first days of life just by smelling the odor of their distressed mothers, new research suggests. And not just “natural” fears: If a mother experienced something before pregnancy that made her fear something specific, her baby will quickly learn to fear it too — through the odor she gives off when she feels fear.
The research is in PNAS. (full access paywall)
Research: “Intergenerational transmission of emotional trauma through amygdala-dependent mother-to-infant transfer of specific fear” by Jacek Debiec and Regina Marie Sullivan in PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1316740111
Image: Even when just the odor of the frightened mother was piped in to a chamber where baby rats were exposed to peppermint smell, the babies developed a fear of the same smell, and their blood cortisol levels rose when they smelled it. Credit University of Michigan.

Learning the Smell of Fear

Read the full article Learning the Smell of Fear at NeuroscienceNews.com.

Babies can learn what to fear in the first days of life just by smelling the odor of their distressed mothers, new research suggests. And not just “natural” fears: If a mother experienced something before pregnancy that made her fear something specific, her baby will quickly learn to fear it too — through the odor she gives off when she feels fear.

The research is in PNAS. (full access paywall)

Research: “Intergenerational transmission of emotional trauma through amygdala-dependent mother-to-infant transfer of specific fear” by Jacek Debiec and Regina Marie Sullivan in PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1316740111

Image: Even when just the odor of the frightened mother was piped in to a chamber where baby rats were exposed to peppermint smell, the babies developed a fear of the same smell, and their blood cortisol levels rose when they smelled it. Credit University of Michigan.

Memory Relies on Astrocytes, the Brain’s Lesser Known Cells
Read the full article Memory Relies on Astrocytes, the Brain’s Lesser Known Cells at NeuroscienceNews.com.
In a study published July 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Salk researchers report a new, unexpected strategy to turn down gamma oscillations, by disabling not neurons but astrocytes—cells types traditionally thought to provide more of a support role in the brain. In the process, the team showed that astrocytes, and the gamma oscillations they help shape, are critical for some forms of memory.
The research is in PNAS. (full access paywall)
Research: “Astrocytes contribute to gamma oscillations and recognition memory” by Hosuk Sean Lee, Andrea Ghetti, António Pinto-Duarte, Xin Wang, Gustavo Dziewczapolski, Francesco Galimi, Salvador Huitron-Resendiz, Juan C. Piña-Crespo, Amanda J. Roberts, Inder M. Verma, Terrence J. Sejnowski, and Stephen F. Heinemann in PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1410893111
Image: The results were surprising, in part because astrocytes operate on a seconds- or longer timescale whereas neurons signal far faster, on the millisecond scale. Because of that slower speed, no one suspected astrocytes were involved in the high-speed brain activity needed to make quick decisions. Credit Salk Institute.

Memory Relies on Astrocytes, the Brain’s Lesser Known Cells

Read the full article Memory Relies on Astrocytes, the Brain’s Lesser Known Cells at NeuroscienceNews.com.

In a study published July 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Salk researchers report a new, unexpected strategy to turn down gamma oscillations, by disabling not neurons but astrocytes—cells types traditionally thought to provide more of a support role in the brain. In the process, the team showed that astrocytes, and the gamma oscillations they help shape, are critical for some forms of memory.

The research is in PNAS. (full access paywall)

Research: “Astrocytes contribute to gamma oscillations and recognition memory” by Hosuk Sean Lee, Andrea Ghetti, António Pinto-Duarte, Xin Wang, Gustavo Dziewczapolski, Francesco Galimi, Salvador Huitron-Resendiz, Juan C. Piña-Crespo, Amanda J. Roberts, Inder M. Verma, Terrence J. Sejnowski, and Stephen F. Heinemann in PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1410893111

Image: The results were surprising, in part because astrocytes operate on a seconds- or longer timescale whereas neurons signal far faster, on the millisecond scale. Because of that slower speed, no one suspected astrocytes were involved in the high-speed brain activity needed to make quick decisions. Credit Salk Institute.

New Protein Structure Could Help Treat Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases
Read the full article New Protein Structure Could Help Treat Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases at NeuroscienceNews.com.
University of Washington bioengineers have a designed a peptide structure that can stop the harmful changes of the body’s normal proteins into a state that’s linked to widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The synthetic molecule blocks these proteins as they shift from their normal state into an abnormally folded form by targeting a toxic intermediate phase.
The research is in eLife. (full open access)
Research: “Designed α-sheet peptides inhibit amyloid formation by targeting toxic oligomers” by Gene Hopping, Jackson Kellock, Ravi Pratap Barnwal, Peter Law, James Bryers, Gabriele Varani, Byron Caughey, Valerie Daggett in eLife. doi:10.7554/eLife.01681 (http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01681)
Image: In this diagram, a normal protein begins to convert into a toxic, intermediate state (above center). The UW’s compound can bind with the toxic species and neutralize it (below center), preventing amyloid fibrils from forming. Credit University of Washington.

New Protein Structure Could Help Treat Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases

Read the full article New Protein Structure Could Help Treat Alzheimer’s and Related Diseases at NeuroscienceNews.com.

University of Washington bioengineers have a designed a peptide structure that can stop the harmful changes of the body’s normal proteins into a state that’s linked to widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The synthetic molecule blocks these proteins as they shift from their normal state into an abnormally folded form by targeting a toxic intermediate phase.

The research is in eLife. (full open access)

Research: “Designed α-sheet peptides inhibit amyloid formation by targeting toxic oligomers” by Gene Hopping, Jackson Kellock, Ravi Pratap Barnwal, Peter Law, James Bryers, Gabriele Varani, Byron Caughey, Valerie Daggett in eLife. doi:10.7554/eLife.01681 (http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01681)

Image: In this diagram, a normal protein begins to convert into a toxic, intermediate state (above center). The UW’s compound can bind with the toxic species and neutralize it (below center), preventing amyloid fibrils from forming. Credit University of Washington.

Study Suggests Disruptive Effects of Anesthesia on Brain Cell Connections Are Temporary

Read the full article Study Suggests Disruptive Effects of Anesthesia on Brain Cell Connections Are Temporary at NeuroscienceNews.com.

A study of juvenile rat brain cells suggests that the effects of a commonly used anesthetic drug on the connections between brain cells are temporary.

The research is in PLOS ONE. (full open access)

Research: “Isoflurane Reversibly Destabilizes Hippocampal Dendritic Spines by an Actin-Dependent Mechanism” by Jimcy Platholi, Karl F. Herold, Hugh C. Hemmings, and Shelley Halpain in PLOS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102978 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102978)

Image: Hippocampal cells with neuron in green showing hundreds of the small protrusions known as dendritic spines. The dendrites of other dendrites are labeled in blue, and adjacent glial cells are shown in red. Credit Barbara Calabrese.

Hippocampal neuron in culture. Dendrites are green, dendritic spines red, and DNA in cell’s nucleus is blue. Credit Shelley Halpain.

Hippocampal neuron from rodent brain with dendrites shown in blue. The hundreds of tiny magenta, green and white dots are the dendritic spines of excitatory synapses. Credit Barbara Calabrese.

Scientists Find Six New Genetic Risk Factors for Parkinson’s
Read the full article Scientists Find Six New Genetic Risk Factors for Parkinson’s at NeuroscienceNews.com.
Using data from over 18,000 patients, scientists have identified more than two dozen genetic risk factors involved in Parkinson’s disease, including six that had not been previously reported. The study, published in Nature Genetics, was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by scientists working in NIH laboratories.
The research is in Nature Genetics. (full access paywall)
Research: “Large-scale meta-analysis of genome-wide association data identifies six new risk loci for Parkinson’s disease” by Mike A Nalls, Nathan Pankratz, Christina M Lill, Chuong B Do, Dena G Hernandez, Mohamad Saad, Anita L DeStefano, Eleanna Kara, Jose Bras, Manu Sharma, Claudia Schulte, Margaux F Keller, Sampath Arepalli, Christopher Letson, Connor Edsall, Hreinn Stefansson, Xinmin Liu, Hannah Pliner, Joseph H Lee, Rong Cheng, International Parkinson’s Disease Genomics Consortium (IPDGC), Parkinson’s Study Group (PSG) Parkinson’s Research: The Organized GENetics Initiative (PROGENI), 23andMe, GenePD, NeuroGenetics Research Consortium (NGRC), Hussman Institute of Human Genomics (HIHG), The Ashkenazi Jewish Dataset Investigator, Cohorts for Health and Aging Research in Genetic Epidemiology (CHARGE), North American Brain Expression Consortium (NABEC), United Kingdom Brain Expression Consortium (UKBEC), Greek Parkinson’s Disease Consortium, Alzheimer Genetic Analysis Group, M Arfan Ikram, John P A Ioannidis, Georgios M Hadjigeorgiou, Joshua C Bis, Maria Martinez, Joel S Perlmutter, Alison Goate, Karen Marder, Brian Fiske, Margaret Sutherland, Georgia Xiromerisiou, Richard H Myers, Lorraine N Clark, Kari Stefansson, John A Hardy, Peter Heutink, Honglei Chen, Nicholas W Wood, Henry Houlden, Haydeh Payami, Alexis Brice, William K Scott, Thomas Gasser, Lars Bertram, Nicholas Eriksson, Tatiana Foroud and Andrew B Singleton in Nature Genetics. Published online July 27 2014 doi:10.1038/ng.3043
Image: Scientists used gene chips to help discover new genes that may be involved with Parkinson’s disease. Credit National Human Genome Research Institute.

Scientists Find Six New Genetic Risk Factors for Parkinson’s

Read the full article Scientists Find Six New Genetic Risk Factors for Parkinson’s at NeuroscienceNews.com.

Using data from over 18,000 patients, scientists have identified more than two dozen genetic risk factors involved in Parkinson’s disease, including six that had not been previously reported. The study, published in Nature Genetics, was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by scientists working in NIH laboratories.

The research is in Nature Genetics. (full access paywall)

Research: “Large-scale meta-analysis of genome-wide association data identifies six new risk loci for Parkinson’s disease” by Mike A Nalls, Nathan Pankratz, Christina M Lill, Chuong B Do, Dena G Hernandez, Mohamad Saad, Anita L DeStefano, Eleanna Kara, Jose Bras, Manu Sharma, Claudia Schulte, Margaux F Keller, Sampath Arepalli, Christopher Letson, Connor Edsall, Hreinn Stefansson, Xinmin Liu, Hannah Pliner, Joseph H Lee, Rong Cheng, International Parkinson’s Disease Genomics Consortium (IPDGC), Parkinson’s Study Group (PSG) Parkinson’s Research: The Organized GENetics Initiative (PROGENI), 23andMe, GenePD, NeuroGenetics Research Consortium (NGRC), Hussman Institute of Human Genomics (HIHG), The Ashkenazi Jewish Dataset Investigator, Cohorts for Health and Aging Research in Genetic Epidemiology (CHARGE), North American Brain Expression Consortium (NABEC), United Kingdom Brain Expression Consortium (UKBEC), Greek Parkinson’s Disease Consortium, Alzheimer Genetic Analysis Group, M Arfan Ikram, John P A Ioannidis, Georgios M Hadjigeorgiou, Joshua C Bis, Maria Martinez, Joel S Perlmutter, Alison Goate, Karen Marder, Brian Fiske, Margaret Sutherland, Georgia Xiromerisiou, Richard H Myers, Lorraine N Clark, Kari Stefansson, John A Hardy, Peter Heutink, Honglei Chen, Nicholas W Wood, Henry Houlden, Haydeh Payami, Alexis Brice, William K Scott, Thomas Gasser, Lars Bertram, Nicholas Eriksson, Tatiana Foroud and Andrew B Singleton in Nature Genetics. Published online July 27 2014 doi:10.1038/ng.3043

Image: Scientists used gene chips to help discover new genes that may be involved with Parkinson’s disease. Credit National Human Genome Research Institute.

New Tools Help Neuroscientists Analyze Big DataRead the full article New Tools Help Neuroscientists Analyze Big Dataat NeuroscienceNews.com.
In an age of “big data,” a single computer cannot always find the solution a user wants. Computational tasks must instead be distributed across a cluster of computers that analyze a massive data set together. It’s how Facebook and Google mine your web history to present you with targeted ads, and how Amazon and Netflix recommend your next favorite book or movie. But big data is about more than just marketing.The research is in Nature Methods. (full access paywall)Research: “Light-sheet functional imaging in fictively behaving zebrafish” by Nikita Vladimirov, Yu Mu, Takashi Kawashima, Davis V Bennett, Chao-Tsung Yang, Loren L Looger, Philipp J Keller, Jeremy Freeman and Misha B Ahrens in Nature Methods. doi:10.1038/nmeth.3040“Mapping brain activity at scale with cluster computing” by Jeremy Freeman, Nikita Vladimirov, Takashi Kawashima, Yu Mu, Nicholas J Sofroniew, Davis V Bennett, Joshua Rosen, Chao-Tsung Yang, Loren L Looger and Misha B Ahrens in Nature Methods. doi:10.1038/nmeth.3041Image: Techniques known as dimensionality reduction can help find patterns in the recorded activity of thousands of neurons. Rather than look at all responses at once, these methods find a smaller set of dimensions — in this case three — that capture as much structure in the data as possible. Each trace in these graphics represents the activity of the whole brain during a single presentation of a moving stimulus, and different versions of the analysis capture structure related either to the passage of time (left) or the direction of the motion (right). The raw data is the same in both cases, but the analyses finds different patterns. Credit Jeremy Freeman, Nikita Vladimirov, Takashi Kawashima, Yu Mu, Nicholas Sofroniew, Davis Bennett, Joshua Rosen, Chao-Tsung Yang, Loren Looger, Philipp Keller, Misha Ahrens.

New Tools Help Neuroscientists Analyze Big Data

Read the full article New Tools Help Neuroscientists Analyze Big Dataat NeuroscienceNews.com.


In an age of “big data,” a single computer cannot always find the solution a user wants. Computational tasks must instead be distributed across a cluster of computers that analyze a massive data set together. It’s how Facebook and Google mine your web history to present you with targeted ads, and how Amazon and Netflix recommend your next favorite book or movie. But big data is about more than just marketing.

The research is in Nature Methods. (full access paywall)

Research: “Light-sheet functional imaging in fictively behaving zebrafish” by Nikita Vladimirov, Yu Mu, Takashi Kawashima, Davis V Bennett, Chao-Tsung Yang, Loren L Looger, Philipp J Keller, Jeremy Freeman and Misha B Ahrens in Nature Methods. doi:10.1038/nmeth.3040

“Mapping brain activity at scale with cluster computing” by Jeremy Freeman, Nikita Vladimirov, Takashi Kawashima, Yu Mu, Nicholas J Sofroniew, Davis V Bennett, Joshua Rosen, Chao-Tsung Yang, Loren L Looger and Misha B Ahrens in Nature Methods. doi:10.1038/nmeth.3041

Image: Techniques known as dimensionality reduction can help find patterns in the recorded activity of thousands of neurons. Rather than look at all responses at once, these methods find a smaller set of dimensions — in this case three — that capture as much structure in the data as possible. Each trace in these graphics represents the activity of the whole brain during a single presentation of a moving stimulus, and different versions of the analysis capture structure related either to the passage of time (left) or the direction of the motion (right). The raw data is the same in both cases, but the analyses finds different patterns. Credit Jeremy Freeman, Nikita Vladimirov, Takashi Kawashima, Yu Mu, Nicholas Sofroniew, Davis Bennett, Joshua Rosen, Chao-Tsung Yang, Loren Looger, Philipp Keller, Misha Ahrens.

Neuroscience Event: The 28th Annual Symposium of The Protein SocietyDetail available here http://goo.gl/m5Xlfl.The 28th Annual Symposium of The Protein Society will be a nexus for scientists from all disciplines, and at all stages of career development, who share a common research interest in protein structure, function, dynamics, design and their implications with regard to human health. The Symposium is designed to facilitate the dissemination of protein-related knowledge outside the silos of discipline and sector, and features an outstanding line up of renowned speakers.Event Detail: The symposium will be hosted at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego. The event runs between July 27 - 30 2014.

Neuroscience Event: The 28th Annual Symposium of The Protein Society

Detail available here http://goo.gl/m5Xlfl.

The 28th Annual Symposium of The Protein Society will be a nexus for scientists from all disciplines, and at all stages of career development, who share a common research interest in protein structure, function, dynamics, design and their implications with regard to human health. The Symposium is designed to facilitate the dissemination of protein-related knowledge outside the silos of discipline and sector, and features an outstanding line up of renowned speakers.

Event Detail: The symposium will be hosted at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego. The event runs between July 27 - 30 2014.

Anti-Inflammatory Drug Can Prevent Neuron Loss in Parkinson’s Model
Read the full article Anti-Inflammatory Drug Can Prevent Neuron Loss in Parkinson’s Model at NeuroscienceNews.com.
An experimental anti-inflammatory drug can protect vulnerable neurons and reduce motor deficits in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have shown.
The research is in Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. (full access paywall)
Research: “Peripheral Administration of the Selective Inhibitor of Soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) XPro1595 Attenuates Nigral Cell Loss and Glial Activation in 6-OHDA Hemiparkinsonian Rats” by Christopher J. Barnum, Xi Chen, Jaegwon Chung, Jianjun Chang, Martha Williams, Nelly Grigoryan, Raymond J. Tesi, and Malú G. Tansey in Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. doi:10.3233/JPD-140410
Image: An anti-inflammatory drug that interferes with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) may be able to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, results from an animal model of Parkinson’s suggest. Credit Emory.

Anti-Inflammatory Drug Can Prevent Neuron Loss in Parkinson’s Model

Read the full article Anti-Inflammatory Drug Can Prevent Neuron Loss in Parkinson’s Model at NeuroscienceNews.com.

An experimental anti-inflammatory drug can protect vulnerable neurons and reduce motor deficits in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have shown.

The research is in Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. (full access paywall)

Research: “Peripheral Administration of the Selective Inhibitor of Soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) XPro1595 Attenuates Nigral Cell Loss and Glial Activation in 6-OHDA Hemiparkinsonian Rats” by Christopher J. Barnum, Xi Chen, Jaegwon Chung, Jianjun Chang, Martha Williams, Nelly Grigoryan, Raymond J. Tesi, and Malú G. Tansey in Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. doi:10.3233/JPD-140410

Image: An anti-inflammatory drug that interferes with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) may be able to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, results from an animal model of Parkinson’s suggest. Credit Emory.

Faster Fish Thanks to nMLF Neurons
Read the full article Faster Fish Thanks to nMLF Neurons at NeuroscienceNews.com.
As we walk along a street, we can stroll at a leisurely pace, walk quickly, or run. The various leg movements needed to do this are controlled by special neuron bundles in the spinal cord. It is not quite clear how these central pattern generators know how quickly the legs are to be moved. An international team working with scientists from Harvard University and the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried has now discovered individual neurons in the brain of zebrafish larvae that control the animals’ swimming speed. Human movements are also controlled by central pattern generators. The results represent an important step in gaining a better understanding of how rhythmic movements are modulated.
The research is in Neuron. (full access paywall)
Research: “Neural control and modulation of swimming speed in the larval zebrafish” by Kristen E. Severi, Ruben Portugues, João C. Marques, Donald M. O’Malley, Michael B. Orger, and Florian Engert in Neuron. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2014.06.032
Image: Looking into the brain of a zebrafish larva. The neurons in the retina (green) send their signals from the eyes (yellow) to the brain. The cells linking the brain and spinal cord appear in red. Credit MPI of Neurobiology / Portugues.

Faster Fish Thanks to nMLF Neurons

Read the full article Faster Fish Thanks to nMLF Neurons at NeuroscienceNews.com.

As we walk along a street, we can stroll at a leisurely pace, walk quickly, or run. The various leg movements needed to do this are controlled by special neuron bundles in the spinal cord. It is not quite clear how these central pattern generators know how quickly the legs are to be moved. An international team working with scientists from Harvard University and the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried has now discovered individual neurons in the brain of zebrafish larvae that control the animals’ swimming speed. Human movements are also controlled by central pattern generators. The results represent an important step in gaining a better understanding of how rhythmic movements are modulated.

The research is in Neuron. (full access paywall)

Research: “Neural control and modulation of swimming speed in the larval zebrafish” by Kristen E. Severi, Ruben Portugues, João C. Marques, Donald M. O’Malley, Michael B. Orger, and Florian Engert in Neuron. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2014.06.032

Image: Looking into the brain of a zebrafish larva. The neurons in the retina (green) send their signals from the eyes (yellow) to the brain. The cells linking the brain and spinal cord appear in red. Credit MPI of Neurobiology / Portugues.

Brain’s Dynamic Duel Underlies Win-Win Choices
Read the full article Brain’s Dynamic Duel Underlies Win-Win Choices at NeuroscienceNews.com.
People choosing between two or more equally positive outcomes experience paradoxical feelings of pleasure and anxiety, feelings associated with activity in different regions of the brain, according to research led by Amitai Shenhav, an associate research scholar at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University.
The research is in PNAS. (full access paywall)
Research: “Neural correlates of dueling affective reactions to win–win choices” by Amitai Shenhav and Randy L. Buckner in PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1405725111
Image: Positive and anxious feelings about making choices were associated with activity in different regions of the brain. Positive feelings correlated with activity in the lower parts of the striatum and the prefrontal cortex (green), while anxious feelings were correlated with the upper parts of these brain regions (red). Credit PNAS.

Brain’s Dynamic Duel Underlies Win-Win Choices

Read the full article Brain’s Dynamic Duel Underlies Win-Win Choices at NeuroscienceNews.com.

People choosing between two or more equally positive outcomes experience paradoxical feelings of pleasure and anxiety, feelings associated with activity in different regions of the brain, according to research led by Amitai Shenhav, an associate research scholar at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University.

The research is in PNAS. (full access paywall)

Research: “Neural correlates of dueling affective reactions to win–win choices” by Amitai Shenhav and Randy L. Buckner in PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1405725111

Image: Positive and anxious feelings about making choices were associated with activity in different regions of the brain. Positive feelings correlated with activity in the lower parts of the striatum and the prefrontal cortex (green), while anxious feelings were correlated with the upper parts of these brain regions (red). Credit PNAS.