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News tips from the Journal of Neuroscience

Society for Neuroscience

1. A BDNF Polymorphism and Cortical Size in Normal Humans
Lukas Pezawas, Beth A. Verchinski, Venkata S. Mattay, Joseph H. Callicott, Bhaskar S. Kolachana, Richard E. Straub, Michael F. Egan, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, and Daniel R. Weinberger.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) contributes to synaptic plasticity and memory formation by several mechanisms. The human val66met polymorphism in the BDNF gene affects its targeting and secretion and thus provides a natural probe of deficits in neurtrophin function. The authors suggest that BDNF not only influences fast-acting synaptic mechansims, but also shapes circuit development in a way that can be seen at the macroscopic level.

2. Nicotine Withdrawal and the beta4 AChR Subunit
Ramiro Salas, Fredalina Pieri, and Mariella De Biasi

Sadly, quitting smoking is no easy task. This week, Salas et al. report that nicotinic acetycholine receptors containing beta4 subunits are one of the molecular culprits that makes it hard to quit. The authors suggest that the nicotinic receptors associated with negative reinforcement (withdrawal) may be different from those associated with positive reinforcement, which occurs during the early stages of addiction.


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