JNeurosci: Highlights from the Jan. 25 issue

Check out these newsworthy studies from the January 25, 2017, issue of JNeurosci. Media interested in obtaining the full text of the studies should contact media@sfn.org.

How We Think About Our Thinking

Successful decision-making involves thinking about our thinking: By evaluating the decisions we make, we can adjust our behavior and possibly make better decisions in the future. But how we make these kinds of "metacognitive" decisions and the brain areas that support them have been a mystery. In a new study, researchers recorded electroencephalography (EEG) signals as participants completed a task that involved making decisions and judging the quality of their decisions. They find theta brain waves in the prefrontal cortex — an area critical for judgment and decision-making — underlie our metacognitive abilities.

Corresponding author: Martijn Wokke, martijnwokke@gmail.com

Brains of Shape-Shifting Squid Have Unique Organization

Cephalopods — octopus, squid, and cuttlefish — go incognito and communicate with other members of their species in a unique way: by altering the color and texture of their skin. Under the control of specific areas of the brain, muscles contract and expand pigment-containing sacks in the skin to adjust the skin's appearance. In a new study in oval squids, researchers reveal how the brain areas controlling this shape-shifting ability are organized.

Corresponding author: Chuan-Chin Chiao, ccchiao@life.nthu.edu.tw

Immune Cell Activity May Explain Chronic Pain and Memory Problems After Injury

Of the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain, nearly 70 percent also experience memory deficits. Previous studies in rodents with nerve injuries suggested altered neuronal signaling was to blame for both pain and memory problems. In a new study in mice, researchers find neural connections are enhanced in pain-sensing neurons in the spinal cord but diminished in the hippocampus — an area of the brain critical for memory formation — following nerve injury. They also find immune cell activity and signaling underlie theses opposing changes.

Corresponding author: Xian-Guo Liu, liuxg@mail.sysu.edu.cn

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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