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UCLA researcher invents new tools to manage 'information overload' threatening neuroscience

UCLA researcher invents new tools to manage 'information overload' threatening neuroscience | neurosci | Scoop.it

Before the digital age, neuroscientists got their information in the library like the rest of us. But the explosion of neuroscience research has resulted in the publication of nearly 2 million papers — more data than any researcher can read and absorb in a lifetime.

 That's why a UCLA team has invented research maps. Easily accessible through an online app, the maps help neuroscientists quickly scan what is already known and plan their next study. The Aug. 8 edition of the journal Neuron describes these new tools.  "Information overload is the elephant in the room that most neuroscientists pretend to ignore," said principal investigator Alcino Silva, a professor of neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "Without a way to organize the literature, we risk missing key discoveries and duplicating earlier experiments. Research maps will enable neuroscientists to quickly clarify what ground has already been covered and to fully grasp its meaning for future studies."


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Scientists construct first map of how the brain organizes everything we see

Scientists construct first map of how the brain organizes everything we see | neurosci | Scoop.it

Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings. (...) - By Yasmin Anwar, Media Relations UC Berkeley News Center, December 19, 2012 


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A Detailed 3-D Atlas of a Human Brain

A Detailed 3-D Atlas of a Human Brain | neurosci | Scoop.it

Scientists have imaged the anatomy of an entire human brain at unprecedented resolution.

 

A new resource will allow scientists to explore the anatomy of a single brain in three dimensions at far greater detail than before, a possibility its creators hope will guide the quest to map brain activity in humans. The resource, dubbed the BigBrain, was created as part of the European Human Brain Project and is freely available online for scientists to use.

 

The researchers behind the BigBrain, led by Katrin Amunts at the Research Centre Jülich and the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf in Germany, imaged the brain of a healthy deceased 65-year-old woman using MRI and then embedded the brain in paraffin wax and cut it into 7,400 slices, each just 20 micrometers thick. Each slice was mounted on a slide and digitally imaged using a flatbed scanner.


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Intriguing Networks's curator insight, June 21, 2013 5:13 AM

certainly an intriguing connection

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The axon as a unique computational unit in neurons

The axon as a unique computational unit in neurons | neurosci | Scoop.it

[Review] In the mammalian cortex, axons are highly ramified and link an enormous number of neurons over large distances. The conventional view assumes that action potentials (APs) are initiated at the axon initial segment in an all-or-none fashion and are then self-propagated orthodromically along axon collaterals without distortion of the AP waveform. By contrast, recent experimental results suggest that the axonal AP waveform can be modified depending on the activation states of the ion channels and receptors on axonal cell membranes. This AP modulation can regulate neurotransmission to postsynaptic neurons. In addition, the latest studies have provided evidence that cortical axons can integrate somatic burst firings and promote activity-dependent ectopic AP generation, which may underlie the oscillogenesis of fast rhythmic network activity. These seminal observations indicate that axons can perform diverse functional operations that extend beyond the prevailing model of axon physiology. (...) - by Sasaki T, Neuroscience Research, Volume 75, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 83–88


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Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves | Video on TED.com

Tan Le's astonishing new computer interface reads its user's brainwaves, making it possible to control virtual objects, and even physical electronics, with mere thoughts (and a little concentration). She demos the headset, and talks about its far-reaching applications.

Tan Le is the founder & CEO of Emotiv Lifescience, a bioinformatics company that's working on identifying biomarkers for mental and other neurological conditions using electroencephalography (EEG).


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A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Real-Time Sharing of Sensorimotor Information

A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Real-Time Sharing of Sensorimotor Information | neurosci | Scoop.it

A brain-to-brain interface (BTBI) enabled a real-time transfer of behaviorally meaningful sensorimotor information between the brains of two rats. In this BTBI, an “encoder” rat performed sensorimotor tasks that required it to select from two choices of tactile or visual stimuli. While the encoder rat performed the task, samples of its cortical activity were transmitted to matching cortical areas of a “decoder” rat using intracortical microstimulation (ICMS). The decoder rat learned to make similar behavioral selections, guided solely by the information provided by the encoder rat's brain. These results demonstrated that a complex system was formed by coupling the animals' brains, suggesting that BTBIs can enable dyads or networks of animal's brains to exchange, process, and store information and, hence, serve as the basis for studies of novel types of social interaction and for biological computing devices. (...) - by Pais-Vieira M. et al., Scientific Reports 3, Article number: 1319, 28 February 2013


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Learning and reconsolidation implicate different synaptic mechanisms

Learning and reconsolidation implicate different synaptic mechanisms | neurosci | Scoop.it

Synaptic mechanisms underlying memory reconsolidation after retrieval are largely unknown. Here we report that synapses in projections to the lateral nucleus of the amygdala implicated in auditory fear conditioning, which are potentiated by learning, enter a labile state after memory reactivation, and must be restabilized through a postsynaptic mechanism implicating the mammalian target of rapamycin kinase-dependent signaling. Fear-conditioning–induced synaptic enhancements were primarily presynaptic in origin. Reconsolidation blockade with rapamycin, inhibiting mammalian target of rapamycin kinase activity, suppressed synaptic potentiation in slices from fear-conditioned rats. Surprisingly, this reduction of synaptic efficacy was mediated by post- but not presynaptic mechanisms. These findings suggest that different plasticity rules may apply to the processes underlying the acquisition of original fear memory and postreactivational stabilization of fear-conditioning–induced synaptic enhancements mediating fear memory reconsolidation. - by Li Y. et al., PNAS, vol. 110 no. 12, 4798–4803



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[Review] Presynaptic NMDA receptors: Are they dendritic receptors in disguise?

[Review] Presynaptic NMDA receptors: Are they dendritic receptors in disguise? | neurosci | Scoop.it

The N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor plays an essential role in excitatory transmission, synaptic integration, and learning and memory. In the classical view, postsynaptic NMDA receptors act as canonical coincidence detectors providing a ‘molecular switch’ for the induction of various forms of short- and long-term synaptic plasticity. Over the past twenty years there has been accumulating evidence to suggest that NMDA receptors are also expressed presynaptically and are involved in the regulation of synaptic transmission and specific forms of activity-dependent plasticity in developing neural circuits. However, the existence of presynaptic NMDA receptors remains a contentious issue. In this review, I will discuss the criteria required for identifying functional presynaptic receptors, novel methods for probing NMDA receptor function, and recent evidence to suggest that NMDA receptors are expressed at presynaptic sites in a target-specific manner. (...) - by Duguid IC, Brain Research Bulletin, Volume 93, April 2013, Pages 4–9


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Complex brain function depends on flexibility - The importance of mixed selectivity in complex cognitive tasks; Neurons that can multitask greatly enhance the brain’s computational power

Complex brain function depends on flexibility - The importance of mixed selectivity in complex cognitive tasks; Neurons that can multitask greatly enhance the brain’s computational power | neurosci | Scoop.it

Over the past few decades, neuroscientists have made much progress in mapping the brain by deciphering the functions of individual neurons that perform very specific tasks, such as recognizing the location or color of an object. 

However, there are many neurons, especially in brain regions that perform sophisticated functions such as thinking and planning, that don’t fit into this pattern. Instead of responding exclusively to one stimulus or task, these neurons react in different ways to a wide variety of things. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller first noticed these unusual activity patterns about 20 years ago, while recording the electrical activity of neurons in animals that were trained to perform complex tasks. 


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Lisa Murray's curator insight, June 6, 2013 2:54 AM

What if creating and innovating is all about flexibility rather than linear, logical planning?