Research Roundup: September & October 2018

Wednesday, November 7, 2018
By Jennifer Kornbluth
Lab photo

Here are summaries of a selection of the papers published by Duke Neurobiology in September and October 2018:

Motor Learning:

Court Hull and Elizabeth Fleming found how serotonin (5-HT) reduces granule cell activity without altering temporal representations of mossy fiber input. Such changes in network integration could enable flexible, state-specific suppression of cerebellar sensorimotor input that should not be learned or enable reversal learning for unwanted associations.

Timothy Darlington, Jeffrey Beck, and Stephen Lisberger have discovered how brain circuits combine past experience and sensory inputs. 

The Hull lab shows that the cerebellum can learn from correct movements, not just movement errors. 

Senses:

Using a transgenic mouse line, Henry Yin and collaborators show that mice with deletion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor TrkB exhibit social dominance and decreased inhibition within the prefrontal cortex, a key region regulating social behavior. Reversal of the network imbalance with optogenetic inhibition could rescue the behavior. Their results reveal a role of growth factor signaling within cortical interneurons for the development of social cognition.

Greg Field's Lab demonstrates that one type of retinal cell allows mice to be a bit more sensitive to movement in general when it’s dark out, which likely helps them avoid nocturnal predators. 

Kevin Bolding and Kevin Franks revealed how odor identity is preserved in the piriform cortex in spite of wide variations of odor intensity.

Rich Mooney's lab used auditory virtual reality to demonstrate a noise-cancelling circuit in your brain that filters out the thump-thump-thump of your footsteps so that you can hear other things while you walk. 

Review:

Al La Spada and collaborators review the intricate genotype–phenotype relationships and common cellular pathways emerging from recent genetic and mechanistic studies.