April 4, 2017: Genetic silencing of olivocerebellar synapses causes dystonia-like behaviour in mice.

Neuroscience student Joshua White, together with his mentor Roy Sillitoe, have published findings related to motor disease in Nature Communications. Theories of cerebellar function place the inferior olive to cerebellum connection at the center of motor behavior. One possible implication of this is that disruption of olivocerebellar signalling could play a major role in initiating motor disease. To test this, White and Sillitoe devised a mouse genetics approach to silence glutamatergic signalling only at olivocerebellar synapses. The resulting mice had a severe neurological condition that mimicked the early-onset twisting, stiff limbs and tremor that is observed in dystonia, a debilitating movement disease. By blocking olivocerebellar excitatory neurotransmission, the researchers eliminated Purkinje cell complex spikes and induced aberrant cerebellar nuclear activity. Pharmacologically inhibiting the erratic output of the cerebellar nuclei in the mutant mice improved movement. Furthermore, deep brain stimulation directed to the interposed cerebellar nuclei reduced dystonia-like postures in these mice. Collectively, these data uncover a neural mechanism by which olivocerebellar dysfunction promotes motor disease phenotypes and identify the cerebellar nuclei as a therapeutic target for surgical intervention.

Feb. 7, 2017: Identification of diverse astrocyte populations and their malignant analogs

Neuroscience Associate Professor Dr. Benjamin Deneen has published an important paper in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The research team has identified subpopulations of astrocytes in the adult brain and their correlates in glioma that are endowed with diverse cellular, molecular and functional properties. These populations selectively contribute to synaptogenesis and tumor pathophysiology, providing a blueprint for understanding diverse astrocyte contributions to neurological disease.

July 1, 2016: Impaired Recall of Positional Memory following Chemogenetic Disruption of Place Field Stability

Dr. Joanna Jankowsky and team have published important findings in the journal Cell Reports. Together they have found that manipulation of entorhinal activity destabilizes spatial coding and disrupts spatial memory. Moreover, Dr. Jankowsky has developed a chemogenetic model for non-invasive neuronal silencing that offers multiple advantages over existing strategies.

June 16, 2016: Microbial Reconstitution Reverses Maternal Diet-Induced Social and Synaptic Deficits in Offspring

Neuroscience Associate Professor Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli, together with his postdoctoral fellow Dr. Shelly Buffington, have published an important paper in the journal Cell. They report that maternal high-fat diet-induced obesity in mice is associated with social behavioral deficits, which are mediated by alterations in the offspring gut microbiome. 

June 16, 2016: Subcellular Imaging of Voltage and Calcium Signals Reveals Neural Processing In Vivo

Neuroscience Assistant Professor and McNair Scholar, Dr. Francois St-Pierre, has published an important paper in the journal Cell. Together with his colleagues, he has performed in vivo, two-photon imaging of novel genetically encoded voltage indicators, as well as calcium imaging, to measure sensory stimulus-evoked signals in the Drosophila visual system with subcellular resolution.

Dec. 21, 2015: A new, multidisciplinary approach to classify cell types in the brain

Published in the journal Nature Biology, a group of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine (Drs. Andreas and Kimberley Tolias’ laboratories), the Karolinska Institutet, and the University of Tübingen have developed a novel technique that allows, for the first time, the anatomical and functional properties of single neurons to be directly linked to their gene expression profiles.

Nov. 30, 2015: Wiring rules untangle brain circuitry

Recent findings from the Tolias lab in Science Magazine indicate that the basic wiring of the local circuitry of the neocortex can be captured using a few connectivity rules that are recycled across the layers of the neocortex.

June, 2015: Using space and time to encode vibrotactile information: toward an estimate of the skin’s achievable throughput.

This paper provides the first steps toward obtaining a realistic estimate of the skin’s achievable throughput, illustrating the best ways to encode data to the skin (using as many dimensions as possible). It also demonstrates how far such interfaces would need to be separated if using multiple arrays in parallel.

March, 2015: Daam2-PIP5K Is a Regulatory Pathway for Wnt Signaling and Therapeutic Target for Remyelination in the CNS

Wnt signaling plays an essential role in developmental and regenerative myelination of the CNS; however, contributions of proximal regulators of the Wnt receptor complex to these processes remain undefined. Findings from this publication suggest a pharmacological strategy to inhibit Daam2-PIP5K function, application of which stimulates remyelination after WMI. These studies integrate information from multiple systems to identify a novel regulatory pathway for Wnt signaling and potential therapeutic target for WMI.

January, 2015: Glial Lipid Droplets and ROS Induced by Mitochondrial Defects Promote Neurodegeneration

Neuroscience graduate student Lucy Liu is the first author on this paper, which connects the presence of lipid droplet accumulation in the glia of specific mutants as a harbinger of neurodegeneration.

December, 2014: A hierarchy of ankyrin-spectrin complexes clusters sodium channels at nodes of Ranvier. (Companion piece 1).

Within the complex structure of the nervous system, loss or disruption of electrical communication between neurons due to disease or injury can cause dysfunction or even death. Sites along myelinated axons called nodes of Ranvier act as “booster stations” to regenerate these electrical signals. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, for the first time, have revealed the essential roles played by scaffolding proteins called ankyrins in the assembly and maintenance of these structures.

December, 2014: Glial ankyrins facilitate paranodal axoglial junction assembly. (Companion piece 2).

Within the complex structure of the nervous system, loss or disruption of electrical communication between neurons due to disease or injury can cause dysfunction or even death. Sites along myelinated axons called nodes of Ranvier act as “booster stations” to regenerate these electrical signals. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, for the first time, have revealed the essential roles played by scaffolding proteins called ankyrins in the assembly and maintenance of these structures.

December, 2014: Characterizing white matter changes in cigarette smokers via Diffusion Tensor Imaging.

These findings provide more conclusive evidence of white matter disruptions caused by nicotine use. By better understanding the neural disruptions correlating with cigarette smoking we can elucidate the addictive course and explore targeted treatment regimens for nicotine dependence. These findings provide more conclusive evidence of white matter disruptions caused by nicotine use. By better understanding the neural disruptions correlating with cigarette smoking we can elucidate the addictive course and explore targeted treatment regimens for nicotine dependence.

November, 2014: Are corporations people too?: The neural correlates of moral judgments about corporations and individuals.

This paper's findings indicate that our brains understand and analyze the actions of corporations and people very similarly, with a small emotional bias against corporations.

October, 2014: Developmental transcription factors oversee glioma sub-types

In a recent Nature Neuroscience paper, researchers in the lab of Dr. Benjamin Deneen found that transcription factor NFIA plays an important role in the development of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes cells that make up the support network in the brain.

October, 2014: Pupil dilation and neural mechanisms they reveal

Dr. Jacob Reimer, a post doctoral fellow in Dr. Andreas Tolias' lab, has discovered that brief episodes of pupil dilation and constriction occur every few seconds while mice are sitting quietly. Using a microscopic electrode to record the electrical activity inside single brain cells, Reimer found that during dilation the cerebral cortex was in a desynchronized state.

July, 2014: Key process required to weaken strength of synaptic connections, store memory identified

In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers from Dr. Costa-Mattioli's laboratory have identified a key process required to weaken strength of synaptic connections and store memory.

June, 2014: Genetic modulation of soluble Aβ rescues cognitive and synaptic impairment in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

A study in the Journal of Neuroscience from Dr. Joanna Jankowsky's lab indicates that transient Aβ species underlie much of the cognitive and synaptic deficits observed in their model, and demonstrates that significant functional and structural recovery can be attained without removing deposited amyloid.

June, 2014: Is There Signal in the Noise?

Nature Neuroscience News and Views (A. Tolias and A. Ecker): A study now shows that variability in neuronal responses in the visual system mainly arises from slow fluctuations in excitability, presumably caused by factors of nonsensory origin, such as arousal, attention or anesthesia.

June, 2014: Dynamic Control of Excitatory Synapse Development by a Rac1 GEF/GAP Regulatory Complex

In a study published in Developmental Cell from Dr. Kim Tolias' lab, we demonstrate that a complex composed of a Rac-GEF (Tiam1) and a Rac-GAP (Bcr) coordinately regulates spine and synapse development.

June, 2014: Population code in mouse V1 facilitates readout of natural scenes through increased sparseness

A recent study in Nature Neuroscience from Dr. Andreas Tolias' lab argues for a functional benefit of sparsification that could be a general principle governing the structure of the population activity throughout cortical microcircuits.

April, 2014: State dependence of noise correlations in macaque primary visual cortex

A study in Neuron from Dr. Andreas Tolias' lab shows that internal signals, such as brain state transitions under anesthesia, can induce noise correlations but can also be estimated and accounted for based on neuronal population activity.

January, 2014: Endogenous attention signals evoked by threshold contrast detection in human superior colliculus

A study in the Journal of Neuroscience from Dr. David Ress' lab shows that functional dissociation of attention within human superior colliculus laminae provides a subcortical basis for the oculomotor theory of attention.