Carey Lab | Champalimaud; Mainen Lab | Champalimaud; Kording Lab | UPenn; Malda Lab | University Medical Center Utrecht
Locomotion modulates associative learning
Albergaria, Carey and colleagues show that locomotor activity improves associative learning in mice through mechanisms that act on the mossy fiber pathway within the cerebellum.
The cover image incorporates references to Pavlov’s original classical conditioning experiments, within a cerebellar landscape. In a calm winter afternoon a dog is taken for a run before his daily training. He runs through a field of mossy plants, passing by a purkinje tree. Cerebellar clouds compose the bucolic scene. Inside, a bell and a tiny friend await for their arrival.
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Distinct sources of deterministic and stochastic components of action timing decisions in rodent frontal cortex
Murakami et. al investigated the neural basis of waiting decisions, and identified two separable components – a deterministic and a stochastic component. These two components are differentially encoded in neural populations in the frontal cortex.
The cover image depicts an artistic interpretation of the findings, where, in a fantasy environment, two types of dice are tossed around, thrown by a brain-like structure in two different directions. A hourglass overlooks the entire scene.
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Dopaminergic medication increases reliance on current information in parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a condition where patients have less internally-generated dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter crucial for decision-making. In this issue, Vilares et. al, found that PD patients, enrolling in a visual decision making task, could utilize both priors and current sensory information. Nonetheless, patients with lower levels of dopamine (overnight withdrawal of medication), gave less weight to new sensory information, and relied more on their priors.
In this cover, inspired by the research of Vilares et. al, two man stand on a mountain with two peaks which resemble two gaussian distributions (prior and likelihood). They are collectors of stars. While both have already previously gathered a collection of bright spheres, the man on right keeps catching the incoming ones, aided by a special net with the shape of a dopamine molecule.
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Melt Electrospinning Writing of Poly-Hydroxymethylglycolide-co-ε-Caprolactone-Based Scaffolds for Cardiac Tissue Engineering
Current limitations in cardiac tissue engineering revolve around the inability to fully recapitulate the structural organization and mechanical environment of native cardiac tissue. In this study Castilho et al. developed organized ultrafine fibre scaffolds of a hydroxyl-funcionalized polyester that can guide the growth of cardiac cells and improve their mechanical anisotropy.
In this cover one can identify all the main achievements of the authors at one glimpse: Starting from the blueprint of the melt electrospinning writing process, which then builds the pHMGCL based scaffolds, where cardiac progenitor cells correctly align, waiting to be used for cardiac tissue engineering.
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Evidence for a Neural Law of Effect
Athalye et. al used a closed-loop self-stimulation paradigm, in rodents, where the activity of motor cortex neurons assumed patterns progressivelly similar to a target activity pattern which initiated a reinforcement self-stimulation of VTA dopaminergic neurons. In this way, by learning to shape neuronal activity they were able to directly obtain rewarding stimulation.
In the cover image, within a myriad of many pixel-like neurons, a obvious pattern emerges from more active red pixels and from parallel less active blue pixes: the letters corresponding to the word reward.
Volitional modulation of primary visual cortex activity requires the basal ganglia
Using a BMI paradigm, Neely et. al show that rats and mice can learn to produce arbitrary patterns of neural activity in their primary visual cortex (V1) to control an auditory cursor and obtain reward. Learning could be prevented when neurons in the dorsomedial striatum (DMS), which receives input from visual cortex, were optogenetically inhibited, but not during inhibition of nearby neurons in the dorsolateral striatum (DLS).
The cover image is an minimalistic interpretation, where all the elements depicted are related to details of this work. The composition is divided in a top area in white and two basal striped zones. The more medial area is full of action and gives shape to the scene. On the right side is a lateral zone where not much goes on.
The spatiotemporal organization of the striatum encodes action space
Klaus, Martins et al. use neural imaging and advanced behavioural analysis to identify a predominantly local, but not spatially compact, organization of striatal spiny-neurons activity that maps action space. These local, non compact, ensembles of neurons encode forward or rear movement, turns to left or right or resting actions.
The cover image depicts an artistic interpretation of this finding. In a forest of a multitude of spiny trees an animal engages in different behaviours. These different trees are sparselly distributed, with aglomerates of the same kind, here and there. It seems that the different actions of the animal are being influenced by the different types of polen exuding from the forest.
Chiappe Lab | Champalimaud Research – (2017)
Kepecs Lab | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory – (2014)
A feeling of excitement starts boiling, you feel ecstatic, you release some onomatopoeic sound of joy and soon enough start to be greeted by your colleagues. But wait, hold on a second, there is still a list of things the editor needs you to do before your hard word is finally released to the world – you have all those minor corrections to do, the references, the stats, the data repository etc. And in the middle of that humongous list of things there is a paragraph where the editor asks you to submit a cover image. Wouldn’t that be nice, if only you had the time (and talent?) to dedicate yourself to some artistic endeavor.
Well, hold on again, don’t give up so easily. If you do get a cover image, that would be the cherry on top of such a laborious cake. It would give you that bit more of pride for a work well done. You would have your research highlighted for eons. You could even frame a copy of the magazine or print the awarded image on a mug and give it as a present to your family. Finally they’d get some meaningful reward for those long nights you spent at the lab…
Maybe you are one of those lucky scientists that work extensively with microscopy and you have already loads of amazing Nikon Small World’s Award-rated images that you can suggest to the editor. But then again…Most likely you’ll need a image that relates to your research, which you can’t extract straight from your figures. You’ll need what I call a Scientific Metaphor. A illustration that needs to combine your research elements with a pinch of aesthetic salt.
I can help you with that. I’m good at understanding science and at devising great pictures. I’ve already submitted many cover proposals, and got some good ones to be selected. The process is simple, you send me your manuscript, maybe a short digestion of the main points you’d like your work to be remembered, maybe an idea for an image you already dreamt about. I take few days to present you with a first image, we make a couple of iterations and then you send up to three images to the editor. No one knows what happens afterwards, it’s really some kind of obscure editorial decision-making process. But it’s one likely to end in another exciting urrah!