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JNeurosci: Highlights from the Sept. 7 issue

Society for Neuroscience

Check out these newsworthy studies from the September 7, 2016, issue of JNeurosci. Media interested in obtaining the full text of the studies should contact media@sfn.org.

Anti-Inflammatory Drug Protects Neurons in Rat Model of Parkinson's Disease

Increasing evidence shows inflammation contributes to the neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease.

In a new study, researchers find targeting a specific kind of immune cell with anti-inflammatory drugs modified the brain's inflammatory response, reduced degeneration of dopamine neurons, and improved performance on a motor task.

Corresponding author: Marina Romero-Ramos, mrr@biomed.au.dk

Cellular Changes May Explain Why Strong Fearful Memories Last

Each time we recall a memory, our brain networks change in subtle ways that can tweak the memory itself. But some memories, particularly fearful ones, resist these changes and seem to be more permanent. In a new study, researchers find strong fearful memories alter the composition of specific glutamate receptors in mice, making the memories more resistant to the destabilization associated with memory recall. Scientists are investigating memory modification as a potential treatment for disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the new findings could further these efforts.

Corresponding author: Jonathan Ploski, jonathan.ploski@utdallas.edu

Hyperglycemia Impairs Protective Immune Response to Stroke in Mice

High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, has been linked to poor recovery from and increased mortality after stroke, but the mechanism behind hyperglycemia's detrimental effects is unclear. In a new study in mice, researchers find hyperglycemia prevents certain immune cells from switching to an anti-inflammatory and protective mode. Blocking a specific receptor restored this switching and reversed some of the detrimental effects caused by hyperglycemia.

Corresponding author: Markus Schwaninger, markus.schwaninger@pharma.uni-luebeck.de

Brain Basis of Punishment Decisions

Third-party punishment is crucial to human social organization, and punishment decisions are based primarily on the offender's state of mind and the harm their crime inflicted. In a new study, researchers scanned participants' brains while they judged how a fictional protagonist should be punished. They find evaluation of the offender's mental state involves brain regions that help interpret others' intentions, while evaluating harm uses emotional and sensory processing areas of the brain. The prefrontal cortex integrates the two types of information to determine an appropriate punishment.

Corresponding author: Owen Jones, owen.jones@vanderbilt.edu

Increase in Brain Protein During Adulthood Reduces Dendritic Spine Turnover, Limiting Neuronal Plasticity

Lynx1, a protein blocking nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, is produced more abundantly in the adult brain and consequently limits synaptic plasticity. A new study suggests decreased turnover of dendritic spines -- the small protrusions receiving signals from other neurons -- is the culprit. Mice without the Lynx1 protein had double the rate of spine turnover compared to normal mice, suggesting Lynx1 as a potential therapeutic target for promoting neuronal plasticity in the aging brain.

Corresponding author: Hirofumi Morishita, hirofumi.morishita@mssm.edu

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The Journal of Neuroscience is published by the Society for Neuroscience, an organization of nearly 38,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.

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