Social Neuroscience Advances
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Watch This Beautiful 10-Minute Film on the Current State of Neuroscience

Watch This Beautiful 10-Minute Film on the Current State of Neuroscience | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
The brain is one of the most-studied - and most complex - things on the planet, so it can be hard to keep up with what the current state of neuroscience

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Researchers pinpoint where the brain unites our eyes’ double vision

Researchers pinpoint where the brain unites our eyes’ double vision | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Using prisms and an advanced brain scanner, researchers have found the point in the human brain at which the vision of two eyes becomes one image.


If you have two working eyes, you are live streaming two images of the world into your brain. Your brain combines the two to produce a view of the world that appears as though you had a single eye — like the Cyclops from Greek mythology. And that's a good thing, as the combination of the two images makes for a much more useful impression of the world. With one eye shut, catching a ball or parking a car become far more difficult.


"If you're reaching out with your hand, you want to aim not at where things appear to be, but where they are," says Bas Rokers, psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Two eyes are giving you two images that don't by themselves tell you where things are relative to your hand. It's the integrated information that tells you where things are."


Using prisms and an advanced brain scanner, Rokers and collaborators at Utrecht University in the Netherlands have found the point in the human brain — very early in image processing in the visual cortex — in which the transformation to a cyclopean view of the world takes place.


Their work, published recently in the journal Current Biology, may aid in the treatment of vision problems like amblyopia, or lazy eye.



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Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech

Sorting Out Emotions | Caltech | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Building on previous studies targeting the amygdala, a team of researchers has found that some brain cells recognize emotions based on the viewer's preconceptions rather than the true emotion being expressed.

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Sharrock's curator insight, March 1, 2015 4:49 PM

"These are very exciting findings suggesting that the amygdala doesn't just respond to what we see out there in the world, but rather to what we imagine or believe about the world," says Ralph Adolphs, the Bren Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Caltech and coauthor of a paper that discusses the team's study.  "It's particularly interesting because the amygdala has been linked to so many psychiatric diseases, ranging from anxiety to depression to autism.  All of those diseases are about experiences happening in the minds of the patients, rather than objective facts about the world that everyone shares."


Sandeep Gautam's curator insight, March 2, 2015 12:49 AM

emotions are the products of our mind, as much as they are of objective reality out there!

Miklos Szilagyi's curator insight, March 4, 2015 3:29 AM

Another, deeper roots to our biases... on the brain-cell level... well, that might be a challenge...

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Researchers discover a gene for human brain size - only found in humans

Researchers discover a gene for human brain size - only found in humans | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

About 99 percent of human genes are shared with chimpanzees. Only the small remainder sets us apart. However, we have one important difference: The brain of humans is three times as big as the chimpanzee brain. During evolution our genome must have changed in order to trigger such brain growth. Wieland Huttner, Director and Research Group Leader a the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), and his team identified for the first time a gene that is only present in humans and contributes to the reproduction of basal brain stem cells, triggering a folding of the neocortex. The researchers isolated different subpopulations of human brain stem cells and precisely identified, which genes are active in which cell type. In doing so, they noticed the gene ARHGAP11B: it is only found in humans and in our closest relatives, the Neanderthals and Denisova-Humans, but not in chimpanzees. This gene manages to trigger brain stem cells to form a bigger pool of stem cells. In that way, during brain development more neurons can arise and the cerebrum can expand. The cerebrum is responsible for cognitive functions like speaking and thinking.


Wieland Huttner’s researchers developed a method that isolates and identifies special subpopulations of brain stem cells from the developing human cerebrum. No one has managed to do this so far. The scientists first isolated different stem and progenitor cell types from fetal mice and human cerebrum tissue. In contrast to the big and folded human brain, the brain of mice is small and smooth. After the isolation, the researchers compared the genes that are active in the various cell types and were able to identify 56 genes that are only present in humans and which play a role in brain development. “We noticed that the gene ARHGAP11B is especially active in basal brain stem cells. These cells are really important for the expansion of the neocortex during evolution,” says Marta Florio, PhD student in Wieland Huttner’s lab, who carried out the main part of the study.


The human-specific gene also works in mice: In the further course of the study, the researchers focused on the function of this special gene. The researchers suspected that if it was responsible for a bigger pool of brain stem cells in humans and thereby for an expanded cerebrum, then this human-specific gene should trigger a similar development in the smaller brain of a mouse. They introduced the gene into mice embryos and indeed: Under the influence of the human-specific gene, the mice produced significantly more brain stem cells and in half of all cases even a folding of the neocortex, which is typical for human brains. All these results suggest that the gene ARHGAP11B plays a key role in the evolutionary expansion of the human neocortex.


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High-fidelity optical reporting of neuronal electrical activity with an ultrafast fluorescent voltage sensor

High-fidelity optical reporting of neuronal electrical activity with an ultrafast fluorescent voltage sensor | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

In this technical report, St-Pierre and colleagues introduce a new genetically encoded voltage sensor called Accelerated Sensor of Action Potentials 1 (ASAP1), which consists of a circularly permuted GFP inserted in the extracellular voltage-sensing domain of a phosphatase. ASAP1 surpasses existing sensors in reliably detecting single action potentials and tracking subthreshold potentials and high-frequency spike trains. (...) -  by St-Pierre F. et al., Nature Neuroscience 17, 884–889 (2014)


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"Mind in Life" with Evan Thompson - Brainscience Podcast


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David McGavock's curator insight, June 27, 2014 10:27 AM

Evan Thompson also authored, "The embodied Mind" in 1991. 

 

"Embodied Cognition is a movement within cognitive science that argues that the mind is inseparable from the fact that the brain is embedded in a physical body. This means that everything that the brain does, from the simplest perception to complex decision-making, relies on the interaction of the body with its environment.  Evan Thompson's book, Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind, is an in-depth look at what he calls the "enactive" approach to embodied cognition. The enactive approach was pioneered by Thompson's mentor Francisco Varela, and it emphasizes the importance of the body's active engagement with its environment."


The ideas discussed in this interview have implications to the process of learning in that it lends support to learning that is active - involves the body. Also discussed is the field or practice or neuro-phenomenology. While not without controversy, this approach brings into account people's subjective experience in neuroscientific research.

 

"Neuro-phenomenology refers to an approach to neuroscience that incorporates information about experience. In particular, it seeks to train experimental subjects to describe their experience using terms from phenomenology, so that it will be possible to compare results between subjects." - Campbell

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Brain-mapping projects to join forces

Brain-mapping projects to join forces | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

US and European research programmes will begin coordinating research.

 

It seems a natural pairing, almost like the hemispheres of a human brain: two controversial and ambitious projects that seek to decipher the body's control center are poised to join forces.

The European Union’s €1-billion (US$1.3-billion) Human Brain Project (HBP) and the United States’ $1-billion Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative will launch a collaboration later this year, according to government officials involved in both projects.(...) - by Sara Reardon, Nature, 18 March 2014


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Opening paths to novel analgesics: the role of potassium channels in chronic pain

Opening paths to novel analgesics: the role of potassium channels in chronic pain | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Highlights- Potassium (K+) channels are crucial determinants of neuronal excitability.- Nerve injury or inflammation alters K+ channel activity in neurons of the pain pathway.- These changes can render neurons hyperexcitable and cause chronic pain.- Therapies targeting K+ channels may provide improved pain relief in these states. (...) - By Tsantoulas C & McMahon SB, Trends in Neurosciences, Volume 37, Issue 3, March 2014, Pages 146–158


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Julien Hering, PhD's curator insight, May 27, 2014 11:01 AM

The exceptional abundance and breadth of function encountered in K+ channels has complicated efforts to untangle explicit roles in pain syndromes. Owing to advances in molecular, biochemical, electrophysiological, and genetic methods, however, we can now appreciate the involvement of specific subunits in maladaptive pain signaling after injury or inflammation. Nevertheless, there are many potential avenues of K+ involvement that have hardly been explored. It seems likely that unknown mutations in K+channel genes might contribute to inherited pain syndromes. There are many ‘silent’ K+ channel subunits for which we have little idea of whether and how they might affect pain processing. Auxiliary subunits can provide alternative substrates for pharmacological modulation; however, our understanding of these interactions in the PNS is also limited. In many chronic pain models an extensive dysregulation of several K+channels is seen, and it is unknown whether a common epigenetic control exists.

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Inhibitory Plasticity Dictates the Sign of Plasticity at Excitatory Synapses

The broad connectivity of inhibitory interneurons and the capacity of inhibitory synapses to be plastic make them ideal regulators of the level of excitability of many neurons simultaneously. Whether inhibitory synaptic plasticity may also contribute to the selective regulation of single neurons and local microcircuits activity has not been investigated. Here we demonstrate that in rat primary visual cortex inhibitory synaptic plasticity is connection specific and depends on the activation of postsynaptic GABAB–Gi/o protein signaling. Through the activation of this intracellular signaling pathway, inhibitory plasticity can alter the state of a single postsynaptic neuron and directly affect the induction of plasticity at its glutamatergic inputs. This interaction is modulated by sensory experience. Our data demonstrate that in recurrent circuits, excitatory and inhibitory forms of synaptic plasticity are not integrated as independent events, but interact to cooperatively drive the activity-dependent rewiring of local microcircuits. (...) - by Wang L and Maffei A, The Journal of Neuroscience, 22 January 2014, 34(4): 1083-1093


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The Neuroscience Of Effective Leadership

The Neuroscience Of Effective Leadership | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it


What do you get when you cross your grandmother’s advice with the latest research in neuroscience? According to Eric J. McNulty, this unlikely intersection holds the key to being a good leader. As the director of research at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, McNulty is often asked to recommend the latest and greatest reads on leadership. What he’s discovered is that books on brain science serve up sage insights more often than the traditional title penned from the corner office. He’s also observed that scientific research on the brain reveals what his grandma knew all along........


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A golden approach to ion channel inhibition

A golden approach to ion channel inhibition | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Drugs are often used in combination and, for pharmacologists, the manner of their interactions can cast light on drug mechanisms and biological processes. Here we provide simplified descriptions of commonly used analytical methods for analysing drug combinations and describe a new and practical experimental solution to address the mechanistic question: Do two channel-blocking drugs bind at the same site? We define two simple mathematical models that describe the effects of two channel blockers acting simultaneously at either the same (Syntopic Model) or different (Allotopic Model) binding sites within a channel pore. We find that the optimum concentrations of two drugs for distinguishing between the two models are related to the mathematical Golden Ratio. - by Jarvis GE & Thompson AJTrends in Pharmacological SciencesVolume 34, Issue 9, 481-488, 23 August 2013


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The Real Neuroscience of Creativity

The Real Neuroscience of Creativity | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
'The latest findings from the real neuroscience of creativity suggest that the right brain/left brain distinction is not the right one when it comes to understanding how creativity is implemented in the brain.

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Gary Faust's curator insight, August 30, 2013 8:53 PM

In experience creativity seems to be volitional not physiological, now there is some science to counteract this socially accepted point of view. 

Regis Elo's comment, September 18, 2013 7:01 PM
Sorry again for the delay.thankx for your comments. I add that it seems coherent to agree with both of you Kathy and Louise , inclueing the possibility to care about the individual self-consciousness and empathy as a specific human condition to be eternally unsatisfied WITHOUT SPIRITUALITY?....IT'S BEYOND! i guess
Saberes Sin Fronteras OVS's comment, September 19, 2013 1:18 PM
Thanks for the comments.
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Scientists Say They Can Predict Buzz Based on Brain Activity

Scientists Say They Can Predict Buzz Based on Brain Activity | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
Every marketer knows that it's all about the buzz - that special something that makes people want to talk about it, share it and sing songs

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malek's curator insight, July 6, 2013 8:35 AM

Going back to the Cook Book Theory: if we all have the key, there's no more  competitive advantage

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What happens in your brain when you make a memory?

What happens in your brain when you make a memory? | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it
You might imagine memory is a Santa’s sack of life events and the first half of jokes. You would be wrong. Neuroscientist Dean Burnett explains all in our new series, Use your head

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Almudena's curator insight, October 25, 2016 8:10 AM
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The mechanisms and functions of spontaneous neurotransmitter release

The mechanisms and functions of spontaneous neurotransmitter release | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Fast synaptic communication in the brain requires synchronous vesicle fusion that is evoked by action potential-induced Ca2+ influx. However, synaptic terminals also release neurotransmitters by spontaneous vesicle fusion, which is independent of presynaptic action potentials. A functional role for spontaneous neurotransmitter release events in the regulation of synaptic plasticity and homeostasis, as well as the regulation of certain behaviours, has been reported. In addition, there is evidence that the presynaptic mechanisms underlying spontaneous release of neurotransmitters and their postsynaptic targets are segregated from those of evoked neurotransmission. These findings challenge current assumptions about neuronal signalling and neurotransmission, as they indicate that spontaneous neurotransmission has an autonomous role in interneuronal communication that is distinct from that of evoked release.(...) -  by Ege T. Kavalali,, Nature Reviews Neuroscience,  16, 5–16 (2015)


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Breaking Research: Separable short- and long-term memories can form after a momentous occasion

Breaking Research: Separable short- and long-term memories can form after a momentous occasion | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Imagine that you are a starving fruit fly, desperately searching for food in a new area. Suddenly, you encounter a mysterious new odor and discover a nearby source of life-sustaining food. After a single experience such as this, flies can instantly form an association between that new odor and food, and will follow the odor if it encounters it again (Figure 1-1). Yamagata et al. took advantage of this instinctual behavior to study how the fly brain stores a long-term memory after one event.

They trained groups of flies to associate a particular odor (A) with a sugar reward by presenting them with both stimuli at the same time. They confirmed that the flies formed a memory by giving them a choice between odor A and a different odor (B), and found that flies preferably flocked to an area scented with odor A.

They also identified a large group of dopamine neurons (known as PAM neurons) that were activated by the sugar reward. If the researchers activated the PAM neurons instead of providing sugar when the flies encountered odor A, the flies still associated that odor with a reward (Figure 1-2).

Now the question: how does PAM neuron activity paired with an odor form a long-term memory?  The researchers found that the PAM neurons could actually be grouped into two types. When they activated one type, which they dubbed stm-PAM, the flies only formed a short-term memory. The researchers tested their memory immediately after training and found most of the flies hanging around odor A. But 24 hours later, the memory was gone.

Surprisingly, when the researchers activated the other type of PAM neurons during training (called ltm-PAM), the flies only formed a long-term memory! The flies weren’t particularly interested in odor A immediately after training, but 24 hours later the flies flocked toward it. This incredible result showed that long-term memory doesn’t necessarily require a short-term counterpart. So, instead of the reward pathway forming a short-term memory that later transforms into a long-term memory, this sugar reward formed two complementary memories.


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The Neuroscience Of Being A Good Leader

The Neuroscience Of Being A Good Leader | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Find out why it's important for leaders to understand how people feel about the freedom they have and their relationships at work.


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Charlotte Hitchcock's curator insight, January 24, 2015 4:11 AM

Excellent article. More managers need to be aware of the negative impact of "micromanaging "  on their teams

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GABA actions and ionic plasticity in epilepsy

GABA actions and ionic plasticity in epilepsy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

[Review] Highlights:- Ionic plasticity of GABA signaling relies on short-term and long term changes in EGABA-  Cl− transport and carboanhydrases play a key role in ionic plasticity and epilepsy.

- GABAergic transmission has both seizure-suppressing and seizure-promoting effects.

- TrkB and calpain act on GABA signaling to coordinate the process of epileptogenesis.

- GABA signaling has context-specific and age-specific effects in health and disease.

- by Kaila Kai et al., Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Volume 26, June 2014, Pages 34–41


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Biomarkers could predict Alzheimer's before it starts

Biomarkers could predict Alzheimer's before it starts | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Study identifies potential blood test for cognitive decline.

A simple blood test has the potential to predict whether a healthy person will develop symptoms of dementia within two or three years. If larger studies uphold the results, the test could fill a major gap in strategies to combat brain degeneration, which is thought to show symptoms only at a stage when it too late to treat effectively. (...) - by Alison Abbott, Nature, 09 March 2014


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Single-cell axotomy of cultured hippocampal neurons integrated in neuronal circuits

Single-cell axotomy of cultured hippocampal neurons integrated in neuronal circuits | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

An understanding of the molecular mechanisms of axon regeneration after injury is key for the development of potential therapies. Single-cell axotomy of dissociated neurons enables the study of the intrinsic regenerative capacities of injured axons. This protocol describes how to perform single-cell axotomy on dissociated hippocampal neurons containing synapses. Furthermore, to axotomize hippocampal neurons integrated in neuronal circuits, we describe how to set up coculture with a few fluorescently labeled neurons. This approach allows axotomy of single cells in a complex neuronal network and the observation of morphological and molecular changes during axon regeneration. Thus, single-cell axotomy of mature neurons is a valuable tool for gaining insights into cell intrinsic axon regeneration and the plasticity of neuronal polarity of mature neurons. Dissociation of the hippocampus and plating of hippocampal neurons takes ∼2 h. Neurons are then left to grow for 2 weeks, during which time they integrate into neuronal circuits. Subsequent axotomy takes 10 min per neuron and further imaging takes 10 min per neuron. - by Gomis-Rüth S et al., Nature Protocols  9, 1028–1037 (2014) 


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Kv7 channels as targets for anti-epileptic and psychiatric drug-development

Kv7 channels as targets for anti-epileptic and psychiatric drug-development | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

The Kv7 channels, a family of voltage-dependent K+ channels (Kv7.1–Kv7.5), have gained much attention in drug discovery especially because four members are genetically linked to diseases. For disorders of the CNS focus was originally on epilepsy and pain, but it is becoming increasingly evident that Kv7 channels can also be valid targets for psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and mania. The common denominator is probably neuronal hyperexcitability in different brain areas, which can be successfully attenuated by pharmacological increment of Kv7 channel activity. This perspective attempts to review the current status and challenges for CNS drug discovery based on Kv7 channels as targets for neurological and psychiatric indications with special focus on selectivity and mode-of-actions. - by Grunnet M. et al., European Journal of Pharmacology, Volume 726, 5 March 2014, Pages 133–137


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How to Be a Better Coach, According to Neuroscience

How to Be a Better Coach, According to Neuroscience | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

Sure, running a business is about maximizing the bottom line, but few entrepreneurs care only about the dollars and cents. For most, going into work every day is also about making the world a slightly better place and helping your team get better at what they do. In other words, most business owners aspire to be not just managers but coaches. How do you learn to be a great coach? Thinking back to your Little League days or star turn on the girls’ volleyball team in high school may give you some inspiration. Didn’t the coach point out your weaknesses and provide guidance on how to get better? Your memory doesn’t fail you--traditionally, coaching has largely been about identifying areas in need of improvement and supporting folks as they work towards better performance. But according to the latest science, there's actually a better approach......


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Encoded multisite two-photon microscopy

Encoded multisite two-photon microscopy | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

The advent of scanning two-photon microscopy (2PM) has created a fertile new avenue for noninvasive investigation of brain activity in depth. One principal weakness of this method, however, lies with the limit of scanning speed, which makes optical interrogation of action potential-like activity in a neuronal network problematic. Encoded multisite two-photon microscopy (eMS2PM), a scanless method that allows simultaneous imaging of multiple targets in depth with high temporal resolution, addresses this drawback. eMS2PM uses a liquid crystal spatial light modulator to split a high-power femto-laser beam into multiple subbeams. To distinguish them, a digital micromirror device encodes each subbeam with a specific binary amplitude modulation sequence. Fluorescence signals from all independently targeted sites are then collected simultaneously onto a single photodetector and site-specifically decoded. We demonstrate that eMS2PM can be used to image spike-like voltage transients in cultured cells and fluorescence transients (calcium signals in neurons and red blood cells in capillaries from the cortex) in depth in vivo. These results establish eMS2PM as a unique method for simultaneous acquisition of neuronal network activity. (...) - by Ducros M et al., PNAS August 6, 2013 vol. 110 no. 32 13138-13143


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Very long-term memories may be stored in the pattern of holes in the perineuronal net

Very long-term memories may be stored in the pattern of holes in the perineuronal net | Social Neuroscience Advances | Scoop.it

A hypothesis and the experiments to test it propose that very long-term memories, such as fear conditioning, are stored as the pattern of holes in the perineuronal net (PNN), a specialized ECM that envelops mature neurons and restricts synapse formation. The 3D intertwining of PNN and synapses would be imaged by serial-section EM. Lifetimes of PNN vs. intrasynaptic components would be compared with pulse-chase 15N labeling in mice and 14C content in human cadaver brains. Genetically encoded indicators and antineoepitope antibodies should improve spatial and temporal resolution of the in vivo activity of proteases that locally erode PNN. Further techniques suggested include genetic KOs, better pharmacological inhibitors, and a genetically encoded snapshot reporter, which will capture the pattern of activity throughout a large ensemble of neurons at a time precisely defined by the triggering illumination, drive expression of effector genes to mark those cells, and allow selective excitation, inhibition, or ablation to test their functional importance. The snapshot reporter should enable more precise inhibition or potentiation of PNN erosion to compare with behavioral consequences. Finally, biosynthesis of PNN components and proteases would be imaged. (...) - By Roger Y. TsienPNAS July 23, 2013 vol. 110 no. 3012456-12461


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Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience

A study with low statistical power has a reduced chance of detecting a true effect, but it is less well appreciated that low power also reduces the likelihood that a statistically significant result reflects a true effect. Here, we show that the average statistical power of studies in the neurosciences is very low. The consequences of this include overestimates of effect size and low reproducibility of results. There are also ethical dimensions to this problem, as unreliable research is inefficient and wasteful. Improving reproducibility in neuroscience is a key priority and requires attention to well-established but often ignored methodological principles. - By Button KS et al., Nature Reviews Neuroscience 14, 365-376 (May 2013)


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