Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Neuroscience

Journal Club: Neurons fire in sync, helping elucidate the biological basis of learning

Our brains change as we learn. But how exactly does a cluster of neurons change their activity or connections? It seems the phenomenon is due, at least in part, to neurons starting to fire in sync, according to a recent … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Newly discovered ion channel gene promises disease insights

The molecular identity and precise function of a commonly expressed cell-membrane chloride channel has long been a mystery. A recent study in Science uncovers the gene responsible for the channel, potentially shedding light on its role in the body. Researchers … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Brain scans and behavior suggest oxytocin can change perceptions of fairness

Some people are more generous in social situations—offering to cover the dinner bill for example. Others are more individualistic, preferring to keep resources for themselves. A recent study in Nature Neuroscience finds that perceptions of fairness vary from person-to-person based … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Low-intensity focused ultrasound shows promise as tool to probe deep brain function

To study the brain’s networks of neurons, neuroscientists typically alter the activity in one area, and observe the cascade of effects on others—something like unscrewing one bulb in a string of Christmas lights and observing as others go dim. But … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Pinpointing theory of mind deficiencies in autism

Around age four, preschoolers learn that other people have unique thoughts and feelings, an inner life. These children start to be able to predict a person’s behavior based on that understanding. They start developing theory of mind (ToM). That developmental … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Newly solved structure of a GABA receptor could offer drug design insights

Neurons message each other with the help of excitatory or inhibitory neurotransmitters. But to actually deliver those messages, the neurotransmitters must dock with protein receptors embedded in the cell membranes of adjacent neurons. Of particular interest in the human brain … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Key protein family helps govern sense of touch in both plants and animals

Compared to their knowledge of other senses, scientists know relatively little about how cells sense touch. A newly confirmed family of mechanosensors, comprising more than a dozen members and present in both plants and animals, is an important step toward … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Researchers catch the mouse brain in the act of learning something new

Neurobiologists have captured, for the first time, the moment in a mouse’s brain when it first learns something new: in this case, that a beep signals a delicious droplet of sugar water. The results, recently reported in Nature Neuroscience, support a famous … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Simple model reproduces patterns of toxic protein buildup across multiple neurodegenerative diseases

Fatal neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) begin as tiny pockets of misfolded proteins that evade the body’s normal detritus-removal systems. They spread throughout the brain and clog neural pathways. But exactly how these proteins propagate … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Tracing light’s effect on mood and learning in mice from the eye to deep within the brain

To the mammalian eye, light offers more than just sight. “Light is so important for many innate functions,” says neuroscientist Samer Hattar of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “We really don’t appreciate the importance of light in our … Continue reading

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