JNeurosci: Highlights from the April 26 issue

April 26, 2017

Check out this newsworthy study from the April 26, 2017, issue of JNeurosci. Media interested in obtaining the full text of the study should contact media@sfn.org.

A New Way to Identify the 'Stars' of the Brain

Astrocytes are star-like cells found in the brain and spinal cord that support neurons by serving multiple functions, such as clearing waste from the brain. Dysfunction of astrocytes is thought to contribute to some neurological diseases. Scientists currently look for the expression of a few different proteins to identify astrocytes in the central nervous system, but the expression of these proteins is not consistent. In this study of mouse and human brain tissue, researchers found that a protein created by the gene SOX9 -- which is important for skeletal development and sex determination, and was first identified as the cause of a severe dwarfism syndrome -- is almost exclusively expressed by astrocytes in the cells' nuclei. The ability to identify these cells based on SOX9 expression was validated in mouse models of aging, stroke, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The researchers also found that astrocytes are less prevalent in the adult mouse brain than previously thought, making up 10 percent to 20 percent of cells in most regions of the central nervous system.

Corresponding authors: Wei Sun, wei.sun4@nih.gov, Maiken Nedergaard, nedergaard@urmc.rochester.edu

How Monkeys Keep a Beat

Musicians use a metronome to set the pace of a piece of music. Without the metronome, the musician must rely on an internal beat-keeping mechanism to play music in time. Brain imaging studies have shown that the medial premotor cortex (MPC) is more strongly activated when an external timing cue (like a metronome) is no longer available, suggesting that this region is important for representing the amount of time between beats. Researchers recorded the activity of single neurons in this region in two macaques as they tapped a button seven times at various instructed beats, the first four times with a visual or auditory cue and the next three times without a cue. The researchers found that MPC cells accurately represented the time between taps and the monkeys' tapping behavior was consistent with a computational model of rhythmic timing that suggests information accumulates to a certain point and then triggers an action -- in this case, a tap. Each tap then resets the internal timing mechanism.

Corresponding author: Hugo Merchant, hugomerchant@unam.mx

The Journal of Neuroscience is published by the Society for Neuroscience, an organization of nearly 37,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system

Society for Neuroscience

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.