Neuroelectric oscillations reflect rhythmic shifting of neuronal ensembles between high and low excitability states. In natural settings, important stimuli often occur in rhythmic streams, and when oscillations entrain to an input rhythm their high excitability phases coincide with events in the stream, effectively amplifying neuronal input responses. When operating in a ‘rhythmic mode’, attention can use these differential excitability states as a mechanism of selection by simply enforcing oscillatory entrainment to a task-relevant input stream. When there is no low-frequency rhythm that oscillations can entrain to, attention operates in a ‘continuous mode’, characterized by extended increase in gamma synchrony. We review the evidence for early sensory selection by oscillatory phase-amplitude modulations, its mechanisms and its perceptual and behavioral consequences.
Gasotransmitters are endogenously generated molecules of gas. Over the past decade we have come to realize that these gaseous signaling molecules are crucially important, being irreplaceable in wide biological applications. However, there are still many challenges for future gasotransmitter research to tackle. These include clarifying the interactions among gasotransmitters; understanding the significance of the cellular gasotransmitter signaling network; and adding new members to the modern family of gasotransmitters in addition to nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), and hydrogen sulfide (H S). Ammonia fulfills all criteria for being a gasotransmitter, and methane is another conceivable candidate. Following the original article postulating the concept of multiple gasotransmitters over a decade ago, this sequel article aims to further inspire interest and exploration into gasotransmitter research.
Information that is congruent with existing knowledge (a schema) is usually better remembered than less congruent information. Only recently, however, has the role of schemas in memory been studied from a systems neuroscience perspective. Moreover, incongruent (novel) information is also sometimes better remembered. Here, we review lesion and neuroimaging findings in animals and humans that relate to this apparent paradoxical relationship between schema and novelty. In addition, we sketch a framework relating key brain regions in medial temporal lobe (MTL) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during encoding, consolidation and retrieval of information as a function of its congruency with existing information represented in neocortex. An important aspect of this framework is the efficiency of learning enabled by congruency-dependent MTL–mPFC interactions.
Fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) has become established in both industry and academia as an alternative approach to high-throughput screening for the generation of chemical leads for drug targets. In FBDD, specialised detection methods are used to identify small chemical compounds (fragments) that bind to the drug target, and structural biology is usually employed to establish their binding mode and to facilitate their optimisation. In this article, we present three recent and successful case histories in FBDD. We then re-examine the key concepts and challenges of FBDD with particular emphasis on recent literature and our own experience from a substantial number of FBDD applications. Our opinion is that careful application of FBDD is living up to its promise of delivering high quality leads with good physical properties and that in future many drug molecules will be derived from fragment-based approaches.
The hallmarks of cancer described by Hanahan and Weinberg are properties that cancer cells must possess for successful transformation. It is believed that each of these hallmarks is independently driven. Although elongation of telomeres is thought to be the prime function of reactivated telomerase reverse transcriptase, this activity does not account for all its effects, such as increasing cell proliferation, resistance to apoptosis, and invasion. Recent studies suggest that the telomerase subunit telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) has novel molecular functions including transcriptional regulation and metabolic reprogramming. We summarize these functions and discuss how they could directly regulate the various hallmarks of cancer. Finally, we suggest that therapeutics targeting noncanonical telomerase functions may work better than those that target its role in telomere extension.
A recent paradigm shift in systems neuroscience is the division of the human brain into functional networks. Functional networks are collections of brain regions with strongly correlated activity both at rest and during cognitive tasks, and each network is believed to implement a different aspect of cognition. We propose here that anxiety disorders and high trait anxiety are associated with a particular pattern of functional network dysfunction: increased functioning of the cingulo-opercular and ventral attention networks as well as decreased functioning of the fronto-parietal and default mode networks. This functional network model can be used to differentiate the pathology of anxiety disorders from other psychiatric illnesses such as major depression and provides targets for novel treatment strategies.
The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) is a central signaling molecule in the innate immune system and is involved in the onset and sustainment of the inflammatory response. RAGE belongs to a class of pattern recognition receptors that recognize common features rather than a specific ligand. Recent structural information on the extracellular portion (ectodomain) of RAGE shed new light on this unusual ability. X-ray crystallographic, NMR and biochemical data suggest that ligand binding is driven largely by electrostatic interactions between the positively charged surface of the ectodomain and negatively charged ligands. In this article, I propose a putative mechanism of RAGE ligand recognition of receptor activation.
Conditioned place preference (CPP) is a learned behavior shown in many vertebrates, including humans. CPP occurs when a subject comes to prefer one place more than others because the preferred location has been paired previously with rewarding events. The CPP paradigm is widely used to explore the reinforcing effects of natural and pharmacological stimuli, including drugs of addiction. There is a general assumption that an acquired place preference is based on classical conditioning derived ‘incentive motivation’. However, this may be an oversimplification of the multiple learning processes involved. We argue that although CPP may appear as an incentive-driven behavior related to secondary reinforcers, it may also be a result of operant conditioning of behavior prevailing at the conditioning site, as well as a result of conditioned treatment effects. Here, we outline alternative explanations for an observed CPP, which may fundamentally affect the interpretation of results with this paradigm in its use as a screening tool for rewarding properties of treatments.
Several theories have proposed possible functions of adult neurogenesis in learning processes on a systems level, such as the avoidance of catastrophic interference and the encoding of temporal and contextual information, and in emotional behavior. Under the assumption of such functionality of new neurons, the question arises: what are the consequences of adult hippocampal neurogenesis beyond the temporally immediate computational benefit? What might provide the evolutionary advantage of maintaining neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus but almost nowhere else? I propose that over the course of life, activity-dependently regulated adult neurogenesis reveals its true significance in the retained ability for lasting and cumulative network adaptations. The hippocampal precursor cells that generate new neurons with their particular acute function represent a ‘neurogenic reserve’: the potential to remain flexible and plastic in hippocampal learning when the individual is exposed to novelty and complexity.
Transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic measurements are revolutionizing the way we model and predict cellular behavior, and multi-omic comparisons are being published with increased regularity. Some have expected a trivial and predictable correlation between mRNA and protein; however, the manifest complexity of biological regulation suggests a more nuanced relationship. Indeed, observing this lack of strict correlation provides clues for new research topics, and has the potential for transformative biological insight.