ResearchPad - neuroanatomy https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Effect of experimental, morphological and mechanical factors on the murine spinal cord subjected to transverse contusion: A finite element study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_8463 Finite element models combined with animal experimental models of spinal cord injury provides the opportunity for investigating the effects of the injury mechanism on the neural tissue deformation and the resulting tissue damage. Thus, we developed a finite element model of the mouse cervical spinal cord in order to investigate the effect of morphological, experimental and mechanical factors on the spinal cord mechanical behavior subjected to transverse contusion. The overall mechanical behavior of the model was validated with experimental data of unilateral cervical contusion in mice. The effects of the spinal cord material properties, diameter and curvature, and of the impactor position and inclination on the strain distribution were investigated in 8 spinal cord anatomical regions of interest for 98 configurations of the model. Pareto analysis revealed that the material properties had a significant effect (p<0.01) for all regions of interest of the spinal cord and was the most influential factor for 7 out of 8 regions. This highlighted the need for comprehensive mechanical characterization of the gray and white matter in order to develop effective models capable of predicting tissue deformation during spinal cord injuries.

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<![CDATA[Multiple Morphometric Assessment of Microglial Cells in Deafferented Spinal Trigeminal Nucleus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Ncab786c7-8035-479e-b0e5-030a71683607

Microglia (MG) are the first cells to react to the abnormal incoming signals that follow an injury of sensory nerves and play a critical role in the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain, a common sequel of nerve injuries. Here we present population data on cell number, soma size, and length of processes of MG in the caudal division of the spinal trigeminal nucleus (Sp5C) in control mice and at the peak of microgliosis (7 days) following unilateral transection of the infraorbital nerve (IoN). The study is performed combining several bias- and assumption-free imaging and stereological approaches with different immunolabeling procedures, with the objective of tackling some hard problems that often hinder proper execution of MG morphometric studies. Our approach may easily be applied to low-density MG populations, but also works, with limited biases, in territories where MG cell bodies and processes form dense meshworks. In controls, and contralaterally to the deafferented side, MG cell body size and shape and branching pattern matched well the descriptions of “resting” or “surveillant” MG described elsewhere, with only moderate intersubject variability. On the superficial laminae of the deafferented side, however, MG displayed on average larger somata and remarkable diversity in shape. The number of cells and the length of MG processes per mm3 increased 5 and 2.5 times, respectively, indicating a net 50% decrease in the mean length of processes per cell. By using specific immunolabeling and cell sorting of vascular macrophages, we found only a negligible fraction of these cells in Sp5C, with no differences between controls and deafferented animals, suggesting that blood-borne monocytes play at most a very limited role in the microgliosis occurring following sensory nerve deafferentation. In sum, here we present reliable morphometric data on MG in control and deafferented trigeminal nuclei using efficient methods that we propose may equally be applied to any morphometric population analysis of these cells under different physiological or pathological conditions.

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<![CDATA[The Golgi Apparatus of Neocortical Glial Cells During Hibernation in the Syrian Hamster]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N1505e20a-83da-4eaf-9312-85bab6c84c10

Hibernating mammals undergo torpor periods characterized by a general decrease in body temperature, metabolic rate, and brain activity accompanied by complex adaptive brain changes that appear to protect the brain from extreme conditions of hypoxia and low temperatures. These processes are accompanied by morphological and neurochemical changes in the brain including those in cortical neurons such as the fragmentation and reduction of the Golgi apparatus (GA), which both reverse a few hours after arousal from the torpor state. In the present study, we characterized – by immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy – the GA of cortical astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglial cells in the Syrian hamster, which is a facultative hibernator. We also show that after artificial induction of hibernation, in addition to neurons, the GA of glia in the Syrian hamster undergoes important structural changes, as well as modifications in the intensity of immunostaining and distribution patterns of Golgi structural proteins at different stages of the hibernation cycle.

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<![CDATA[Electrical synapses regulate both subthreshold integration and population activity of principal cells in response to transient inputs within canonical feedforward circuits]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c7d95e0d5eed0c484734e89

As information about the world traverses the brain, the signals exchanged between neurons are passed and modulated by synapses, or specialized contacts between neurons. While neurotransmitter-based synapses tend to exert either excitatory or inhibitory pulses of influence on the postsynaptic neuron, electrical synapses, composed of plaques of gap junction channels, continuously transmit signals that can either excite or inhibit a coupled neighbor. A growing body of evidence indicates that electrical synapses, similar to their chemical counterparts, are modified in strength during physiological neuronal activity. The synchronizing role of electrical synapses in neuronal oscillations has been well established, but their impact on transient signal processing in the brain is much less understood. Here we constructed computational models based on the canonical feedforward neuronal circuit and included electrical synapses between inhibitory interneurons. We provided discrete closely-timed inputs to the circuits, and characterize the influence of electrical synapse strength on both subthreshold summation and spike trains in the output neuron. Our simulations highlight the diverse and powerful roles that electrical synapses play even in simple circuits. Because these canonical circuits are represented widely throughout the brain, we expect that these are general principles for the influence of electrical synapses on transient signal processing across the brain.

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<![CDATA[Microglia exit the CNS in spinal root avulsion]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c79a3e5d5eed0c4841d1bf2

Microglia are central nervous system (CNS)-resident cells. Their ability to migrate outside of the CNS, however, is not understood. Using time-lapse imaging in an obstetrical brachial plexus injury (OBPI) model, we show that microglia squeeze through the spinal boundary and emigrate to peripheral spinal roots. Although both macrophages and microglia respond, microglia are the debris-clearing cell. Once outside the CNS, microglia re-enter the spinal cord in an altered state. These peripheral nervous system (PNS)-experienced microglia can travel to distal CNS areas from the injury site, including the brain, with debris. This emigration is balanced by two mechanisms—induced emigration via N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA) dependence and restriction via contact-dependent cellular repulsion with macrophages. These discoveries open the possibility that microglia can migrate outside of their textbook-defined regions in disease states.

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<![CDATA[Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of pituitaries during the initiation of puberty in gilts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8accc9d5eed0c48498ffd8

It has been widely recognized that the early or delayed puberty appears to display harmful effects on adult health outcomes. During the timing of puberty, pituitaries responds to the hypothalamus and then introduce the following response of ovaries in hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. DNA methylation has been recently suggested to regulate the onset of puberty in female mammals. However, to date, the changes of DNA methylation in pituitaries have not been investigated during pubertal transition. In this study, using gilts as the pubertal model, the genome-scale DNA methylation of pituitaries was profiled and compared across Pre-, In- and Post-puberty by using the reduced representation bisulfite sequencing. We found that average methylation levels of each genomic feature in Post- were lower than Pre- and In-pubertal stage in CpG context, but they were higher in In- than that in Pre- and Post-pubertal stage in CpH (where H = A, T, or C) context. The methylation patterns of CpHs were more dynamic than that of CpGs at the location of high CpG content, low CpG content promoter genes, and differently genomic CGIs. Furthermore, the differently genomic CGIs were likely to show in a similar manner in CpG context but display in a stage-specific manner in the CpH context across the Pre-, In- and Post-pubertal stage. Among these pubertal stages, 5 kb upstream regions of the transcription start sites were protected from both CpG and CpH methylation changes. 12.65% of detected CpGs were identified as the differentially methylated CpGs, regarding 4301 genes which were involved in the fundamental functions of pituitaries. 0.35% of detected CpHs were identified as differentially methylated CpHs, regarding 3691 genes which were involved in the biological functions of releasing gonadotropin hormones. These observations and analyses would provide valuable insights into epigenetic mechanism of the initiation of puberty in pituitary level.

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<![CDATA[Localization of near-infrared labeled antibodies to the central nervous system in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c706776d5eed0c4847c7081

Antibodies, including antibodies to the RNA binding protein heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1, have been shown to contribute to the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis, thus it is important to assess their biological activity using animal models of disease. Near-infrared optical imaging of fluorescently labeled antibodies and matrix metalloproteinase activity were measured and quantified in an animal model of multiple sclerosis, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. We successfully labeled, imaged and quantified the fluorescence signal of antibodies that localized to the central nervous system of mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Fluorescently labeled anti-heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 antibodies persisted in the central nervous system of mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, colocalized with matrix metalloproteinase activity, correlated with clinical disease and shifted rostrally within the spinal cord, consistent with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis being an ascending paralysis. The fluorescent antibody signal also colocalized with matrix metalloproteinase activity in brain. Previous imaging studies in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis analyzed inflammatory markers such as cellular immune responses, dendritic cell activity, blood brain barrier integrity and myelination, but none assessed fluorescently labeled antibodies within the central nervous system. This data suggests a strong association between autoantibody localization and disease. This system can be used to detect other antibodies that might contribute to the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system including multiple sclerosis.

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<![CDATA[The braincase of Malawisaurus dixeyi (Sauropoda: Titanosauria): A 3D reconstruction of the brain endocast and inner ear]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dca27d5eed0c48452a84d

A braincase of the Cretaceous titanosaurian sauropod Malawisaurus dixeyi, complete except for the olfactory region, was CT scanned and a 3D rendering of the endocast and inner ear was generated. Cranial nerves appear in the same configuration as in other sauropods, including derived features that appear to characterize titanosaurians, specifically, an abducens nerve canal that passes lateral to the pituitary fossa rather than entering it. Furthermore, the hypoglossal nerve exits the skull via a single foramen, consistent with most titanosaurians, while other saurischians, including the basal titanosauriform, Giraffatitan, contain multiple rootlets. The size of the vestibular labyrinth is smaller than in Giraffatitan, but larger than in most derived titanosaurians. Similar to the condition found in Giraffatitan, the anterior semicircular canal is larger than the posterior semicircular canal. This contrasts with more derived titanosaurians that contain similarly sized anterior and posterior semicircular canals, congruent with the interpretation of Malawisaurus as a basal titanosaurian. Measurements of the humerus of Malawisaurus provide a body mass estimate of 4.7 metric tons. Comparison of body mass to radius of the semicircular canals of the vestibular labyrinth reveals that Malawisaurus fits the allometric relationship found in previous studies of extant mammals and Giraffatitan brancai. As in Giraffatitan, the anterior semicircular canal is significantly larger than is predicted by the allometric relationship suggesting greater sensitivity and slower movement of the head in the sagittal plane.

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<![CDATA[Information integration in large brain networks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c65dcadd5eed0c484dec021

An outstanding problem in neuroscience is to understand how information is integrated across the many modules of the brain. While classic information-theoretic measures have transformed our understanding of feedforward information processing in the brain’s sensory periphery, comparable measures for information flow in the massively recurrent networks of the rest of the brain have been lacking. To address this, recent work in information theory has produced a sound measure of network-wide “integrated information”, which can be estimated from time-series data. But, a computational hurdle has stymied attempts to measure large-scale information integration in real brains. Specifically, the measurement of integrated information involves a combinatorial search for the informational “weakest link” of a network, a process whose computation time explodes super-exponentially with network size. Here, we show that spectral clustering, applied on the correlation matrix of time-series data, provides an approximate but robust solution to the search for the informational weakest link of large networks. This reduces the computation time for integrated information in large systems from longer than the lifespan of the universe to just minutes. We evaluate this solution in brain-like systems of coupled oscillators as well as in high-density electrocortigraphy data from two macaque monkeys, and show that the informational “weakest link” of the monkey cortex splits posterior sensory areas from anterior association areas. Finally, we use our solution to provide evidence in support of the long-standing hypothesis that information integration is maximized by networks with a high global efficiency, and that modular network structures promote the segregation of information.

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<![CDATA[The effect of endurance training and testosterone supplementation on the expression of blood spinal cord barrier proteins in rats]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6b2694d5eed0c484289cf8

The present study aimed to estimate the effect of endurance training, two doses of testosterone, and the combination of these stimuli on the level of the endothelial proteins claudin, occludin, JAM-1, VE-cadherin, ZO-1, ZO-2, and P-glycoprotein in rat spinal cords. Adult male Wistar rats were trained using a motor-driven treadmill for 6 weeks (40–60 min, 5 times per week) and/or were treated for 6 weeks with two doses of testosterone (i.m.; 8 mg/kg or 80 mg/kg body weight). Spinal cords were collected 48 hours after the last training cycle and stored at -80°C. The levels of selected proteins in whole tissue lysates of the spinal cord were measured by western blot. Testosterone-treated trained rats had significantly lower claudin levels than vehicle-treated trained rats. High doses of testosterone resulted in a significant decrease in claudin-5 in untrained rats compared to the control group. Both doses of testosterone significantly reduced occludin levels compared to those in vehicle-treated untrained rats. The JAM-1 level in the spinal cords of both trained and untrained animals receiving testosterone was decreased in a dose-dependent manner. The JAM-1 level in the trained group treated with high doses of testosterone was significantly higher than that in the untrained rats treated with 80 mg/kg of testosterone. VE-cadherin levels were decreased in all groups receiving testosterone regardless of endurance training and were also diminished in the vehicle-treated group compared to the control group. Testosterone treatment did not exert a significant effect on ZO-1 protein levels. Testosterone and/or training had no significant effects on ZO-2 protein levels in the rat spinal cords. Endurance training increased P-glycoprotein levels in the rat spinal cords. The results suggest that an excessive supply of testosterone may adversely impact the expression of endothelial proteins in the central nervous system, which, in turn, may affect the blood-brain barrier function.

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<![CDATA[Serotonin and neuropeptides are both released by the HSN command neuron to initiate Caenorhabditis elegans egg laying]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c536ad5d5eed0c484a479f2

Neurons typically release both a small-molecule neurotransmitter and one or more neuropeptides, but how these two types of signal from the same neuron might act together remains largely obscure. For example, serotonergic neurons in mammalian brain express the neuropeptide Substance P, but it is unclear how this co-released neuropeptide might modulate serotonin signaling. We studied this issue in C. elegans, in which all serotonergic neurons express the neuropeptide NLP-3. The serotonergic Hermaphrodite Specific Neurons (HSNs) are command motor neurons within the egg-laying circuit which have been shown to release serotonin to initiate egg-laying behavior. We found that egg-laying defects in animals lacking serotonin were far milder than in animals lacking HSNs, suggesting that HSNs must release other signal(s) in addition to serotonin to stimulate egg laying. While null mutants for nlp-3 had only mild egg-laying defects, animals lacking both serotonin and NLP-3 had severe defects, similar to those of animals lacking HSNs. Optogenetic activation of HSNs induced egg laying in wild-type animals, and in mutant animals lacking either serotonin or NLP-3, but failed to induce egg laying in animals lacking both. We recorded calcium activity in the egg-laying muscles of animals lacking either serotonin, NLP-3, or both. The single mutants, and to a greater extent the double mutant, showed muscle activity that was uncoordinated and unable to expel eggs. Specifically, the vm2 muscles cells, which are direct postsynaptic targets of the HSN, failed to contract simultaneously with other egg-laying muscle cells. Our results show that the HSN neurons use serotonin and the neuropeptide NLP-3 as partially redundant co-transmitters that together stimulate and coordinate activity of the target cells onto which they are released.

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<![CDATA[Regenerative capacity in the lamprey spinal cord is not altered after a repeated transection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52bbd5eed0c4842bcf38

The resilience of regeneration in vertebrates is not very well understood. Yet understanding if tissues can regenerate after repeated insults, and identifying limitations, is important for elucidating the underlying mechanisms of tissue plasticity. This is particularly challenging in tissues, such as the nervous system, which possess a large number of terminally differentiated cells and often exhibit limited regeneration in the first place. However, unlike mammals, which exhibit very limited regeneration of spinal cord tissues, many non-mammalian vertebrates, including lampreys, bony fishes, amphibians, and reptiles, regenerate their spinal cords and functionally recover even after a complete spinal cord transection. It is well established that lampreys undergo full functional recovery of swimming behaviors after a single spinal cord transection, which is accompanied by tissue repair at the lesion site, as well as axon and synapse regeneration. Here we begin to explore the resilience of spinal cord regeneration in lampreys after a second spinal transection (re-transection). We report that by all functional and anatomical measures tested, lampreys regenerate after spinal re-transection just as robustly as after single transections. Recovery of swimming, synapse and cytoskeletal distributions, axon regeneration, and neuronal survival were nearly identical after spinal transection or re-transection. Only minor differences in tissue repair at the lesion site were observed in re-transected spinal cords. Thus, regenerative potential in the lamprey spinal cord is largely unaffected by spinal re-transection, indicating a greater persistent regenerative potential than exists in some other highly regenerative models. These findings establish a new path for uncovering pro-regenerative targets that could be deployed in non-regenerative conditions.

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<![CDATA[The NIH BRAIN Initiative: Advancing neurotechnologies, integrating disciplines]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c059df6d5eed0c4849c98f7

In 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began funding an ambitious research program, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, with the singular focus of advancing our understanding of brain circuits though development and application of breakthrough neurotechnologies. As we approach the halfway mark of this 10-year effort aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of information processing in the human brain, it is timely to review the progress and the future trajectory of BRAIN Initiative research.

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<![CDATA[Adaptive feature detection from differential processing in parallel retinal pathways]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bfdb370d5eed0c4845c97bf

To transmit information efficiently in a changing environment, the retina adapts to visual contrast by adjusting its gain, latency and mean response. Additionally, the temporal frequency selectivity, or bandwidth changes to encode the absolute intensity when the stimulus environment is noisy, and intensity differences when noise is low. We show that the On pathway of On-Off retinal amacrine and ganglion cells is required to change temporal bandwidth but not other adaptive properties. This remarkably specific adaptive mechanism arises from differential effects of contrast on the On and Off pathways. We analyzed a biophysical model fit only to a cell’s membrane potential, and verified pharmacologically that it accurately revealed the two pathways. We conclude that changes in bandwidth arise mostly from differences in synaptic threshold in the two pathways, rather than synaptic release dynamics as has previously been proposed to underlie contrast adaptation. Different efficient codes are selected by different thresholds in two independently adapting neural pathways.

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<![CDATA[Lactosylceramide synthases encoded by B4galt5 and 6 genes are pivotal for neuronal generation and myelin formation in mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b8b29d640307c405292ca4e

It is uncertain which β4-galactosyltransferase (β4GalT; gene name, B4galt), β4GalT-5 and/or β4GalT-6, is responsible for the production of lactosylceramide (LacCer) synthase, which functions in the initial step of ganglioside biosynthesis. Here, we generated conditional B4galt5 knockout (B4galt5 cKO) mice, using Nestin-Cre mice, and crossed these with B4galt6 KO mice to generate B4galt5 and 6 double KO (DKO) mice in the central nervous system (CNS). LacCer synthase activity and major brain gangliosides were completely absent in brain homogenates from the DKO mice, although LacCer synthase activity was about half its normal level in B4galt5 cKO mice and B4galt6 KO mice. The DKO mice were born normally but they showed growth retardation and motor deficits at 2 weeks and died by 4 weeks of age. Histological analyses showed that myelin-associated proteins were rarely found localized in axons in the cerebral cortex, and axonal and myelin formation were remarkably impaired in the spinal cords of the DKO mice. Neuronal cells, differentiated from neurospheres that were prepared from the DKO mice, showed impairments in neurite outgrowth and branch formation, which can be explained by the fact that neurospheres from DKO mice could weakly interact with laminin due to lack of gangliosides, such as GM1a. Furthermore, the neurons were immature and perineuronal nets (PNNs) were poorly formed in DKO cerebral cortices. Our results indicate that LacCer synthase is encoded by B4galt5 and 6 genes in the CNS, and that gangliosides are indispensable for neuronal maturation, PNN formation, and axonal and myelin formation.

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<![CDATA[Prolactin selectively transported to cerebrospinal fluid from blood under hypoxic/ischemic conditions]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b49f0bb463d7e3adec7b983

Aim

The aim of this study was to determine and to verify the correlation between the amount of prolactin (PRL) levels in the blood and in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) by various causes of death as an indicator for acute hypoxia in autopsy cases. It is to confirm the cause of the change in prolactin level in CSF by in vitro system.

Materials and methods

In autopsy materials, the PRL levels in blood from the right heart ventricle and in the CSF were measured by chemiluminescent enzyme immunoassay, and changes in the percentage of PRL-positive cells in the pituitary gland were examined using an immunohistochemical method. Furthermore, an inverted culture method was used as an in vitro model of the blood-CSF barrier using epithelial cells of the human choroid plexus (HIBCPP cell line) and SDR-P-1D5 or MSH-P3 (PRL-secreting cell line derived from miniature swine hypophysis) under normoxic or hypoxic (5% oxygen) conditions, and as an index of cell activity, we used Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF).

Results and discussion

Serum PRL levels were not significantly different between hypoxia/ischemia cases and other causes of death. However, PRL levels in CSF were three times higher in cases of hypoxia/ischemia than in those of the other causes of death. In the cultured cell under the hypoxia condition, PRL and VEGF showed a high concentration at 10 min. We established a brain-CSF barrier model to clarify the mechanism of PRL transport to CSF from blood, the PRL concentrations from blood to CSF increased under hypoxic conditions from 5 min. These results suggested that PRL moves in CSF through choroidal epithelium from blood within a short time. PRL is hypothesized to protect the hypoxic/ischemic brain, and this may be because of the increased transportation of the choroid plexus epithelial cells.

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<![CDATA[On the apparent decrease in Olympic sprinter reaction times]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b49f0b5463d7e3adec7b97f

Reaction times of Olympic sprinters provide insights into the most rapid of human response times. To determine whether minimum reaction times have changed as athlete training has become ever more specialized, we analyzed the results from the Olympic Games between 2004 and 2016. The results for the 100 m and 110 m hurdle events show that minimum reaction times have systematically decreased between 2004 and 2016 for both sexes, with women showing a marked decrease since 2008 that eliminated the sex difference in 2012. Because overall race times have not systematically decreased between 2004 and 2016, the most likely explanation for the apparent decrease in reaction times is a reduction in the proprietary force thresholds used to calculate the reaction times based on force sensors in starting blocks—and not the result of more specialized or effective training.

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<![CDATA[Anti-angiogenic VEGFAxxxb transcripts are not expressed in the medio-basal hypothalamus of the seasonal sheep]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b03d277463d7e6e6b5b7909

This study investigated Vegfa expression in the pars tuberalis (PT) of the pituitary and medio-basal hypothalamus (MBH) of sheep, across seasons and reproductive states. It has recently been proposed that season impacts alternative splicing of Vegfa mRNA in the PT, which shifts the balance between angiogenic VEGFAxxx and anti-angiogenic VEGFAxxxb isoforms (with xxx the number of amino acids of the mature VEGFA proteins) to modulate seasonal breeding. Here, we used various RT-PCR methodologies and analysis of RNAseq datasets to investigate seasonal variation in expression and splicing of the ovine Vegfa gene. Collectively, we identify 5 different transcripts for Vegfa within the ewe PT/MBH, which correspond to splicing events previously described in mouse and human. All identified transcripts encode angiogenic VEGFAxxx isoforms, with no evidence for alternative splicing within exon 8. These findings led us to investigate in detail how “Vegfaxxxb-like” PCR products could be generated by RT-PCR and misidentified as endogenous transcripts, in sheep and human HEK293 cells. In conclusion, our findings do not support the existence of anti-angiogenic VEGFAxxxb isoforms in the ovine PT/MBH and shed new light on the interpretation of prior studies, which claimed to identify Vegfaxxxb isoforms by RT-PCR.

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<![CDATA[From Spontaneous Motor Activity to Coordinated Behaviour: A Developmental Model]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dabeab0ee8fa60bafde8

In mammals, the developmental path that links the primary behaviours observed during foetal stages to the full fledged behaviours observed in adults is still beyond our understanding. Often theories of motor control try to deal with the process of incremental learning in an abstract and modular way without establishing any correspondence with the mammalian developmental stages. In this paper, we propose a computational model that links three distinct behaviours which appear at three different stages of development. In order of appearance, these behaviours are: spontaneous motor activity (SMA), reflexes, and coordinated behaviours, such as locomotion. The goal of our model is to address in silico four hypotheses that are currently hard to verify in vivo: First, the hypothesis that spinal reflex circuits can be self-organized from the sensor and motor activity induced by SMA. Second, the hypothesis that supraspinal systems can modulate reflex circuits to achieve coordinated behaviour. Third, the hypothesis that, since SMA is observed in an organism throughout its entire lifetime, it provides a mechanism suitable to maintain the reflex circuits aligned with the musculoskeletal system, and thus adapt to changes in body morphology. And fourth, the hypothesis that by changing the modulation of the reflex circuits over time, one can switch between different coordinated behaviours. Our model is tested in a simulated musculoskeletal leg actuated by six muscles arranged in a number of different ways. Hopping is used as a case study of coordinated behaviour. Our results show that reflex circuits can be self-organized from SMA, and that, once these circuits are in place, they can be modulated to achieve coordinated behaviour. In addition, our results show that our model can naturally adapt to different morphological changes and perform behavioural transitions.

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<![CDATA[Structure-Function Discrepancy: Inhomogeneity and Delays in Synchronized Neural Networks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa8ab0ee8fa60ba825c

The discrepancy between structural and functional connectivity in neural systems forms the challenge in understanding general brain functioning. To pinpoint a mapping between structure and function, we investigated the effects of (in)homogeneity in coupling structure and delays on synchronization behavior in networks of oscillatory neural masses by deriving the phase dynamics of these generic networks. For homogeneous delays, the structural coupling matrix is largely preserved in the coupling between phases, resulting in clustered stationary phase distributions. Accordingly, we found only a small number of synchronized groups in the network. Distributed delays, by contrast, introduce inhomogeneity in the phase coupling so that clustered stationary phase distributions no longer exist. The effect of distributed delays mimicked that of structural inhomogeneity. Hence, we argue that phase (de-)synchronization patterns caused by inhomogeneous coupling cannot be distinguished from those caused by distributed delays, at least not by the naked eye. The here-derived analytical expression for the effective coupling between phases as a function of structural coupling constitutes a direct relationship between structural and functional connectivity. Structural connectivity constrains synchronizability that may be modified by the delay distribution. This explains why structural and functional connectivity bear much resemblance albeit not a one-to-one correspondence. We illustrate this in the context of resting-state activity, using the anatomical connectivity structure reported by Hagmann and others.

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