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Brain Cholinergic Mechanisms

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889197149 Year: Pages: 127 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-714-9 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-04-07 11:22:02
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Much of our understanding of brain physiology has focused on what one might call, first order processes. These essentially include the primary synaptic mechanisms underlying excitation (mainly glutamate) and inhibition (mainly GABA). Our attention has focused on how the balance of excitation and inhibition regulates the timing, patterns, and extent of information flow across various circuits. A lot less is understood regarding second order processes that sculpt and modify these primary interactions. One such modulatory transmitter in the brain is acetylcholine (ACh). The importance of ACh in modulating various behaviors related to learning, memory, and attention has been recognized over the last four decades as has its involvement in various neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. However, our understanding of the mechanistic bases for these actions is at its infancy, at best and much remains to be understood. The array of receptor subtypes for nicotinic and muscarinic receptors, their different locations, and complex signal transduction mechanisms remain a puzzle. Transmitter (ACh) release sites and their relationship to receptor loci are poorly understood. Overall, we lack a unifying framework for conceptualizing how disparate actions of the transmitter on receptors lead to circuit modulation and, eventually, influences on cognition. By its very nature, reports on cholinergic signaling are quite scattered, presented in journals across sub-disciplines and in the context of the systems they modulate. Hence, there is need for consolidation of these studies under a single cover that would allow one to compare and contrast the effects of this transmitter across systems and contexts. This special issue represents one such compilation. The issue addresses cholinergic modulation of defined circuits that lead to specific behaviors and consists of a judicious mixture of review articles and primary papers. The articles focus on three aspects of the system: 1) Cellular targets of cholinergic signaling. 2) Receptor mechanisms. 3) Endogenous transmitter distribution and action. While no common mechanism emerges that can explain cholinergic actions on brain functions, on can postulate that the transmitter system is dynamic, modulating the balance of excitation and inhibition in various circuits. This modulation sets up timed network oscillations and it is tempting to speculate that these oscillations form a template for better encoding of afferent inputs. One can broadly envision the role of the cholinergic system as facilitating processes that allow for more efficient acquisition of learning and engraving of memories. Thus, understanding the mechanisms underlying tonic and stimulus-dependent release of ACh and how it alters firing templates of neuronal networks would be the first step towards elucidating its role in learning and memory. This special topics edition provides clues to some of the actions of ACh. It is hoped that the articles allow the reader to extract common themes and potential mechanisms of cholinergic regulation that will lead to elucidation of general principles governing the actions of this important neuromodulator.

What can simple brains teach us about how vision works

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889196784 Year: Pages: 290 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-678-4 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Neurology
Added to DOAB on : 2016-08-16 10:34:25
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Vision is the process of extracting behaviorally-relevant information from patterns of light that fall on retina as the eyes sample the outside world. Traditionally, nonhuman primates (macaque monkeys, in particular) have been viewed by many as the animal model-of-choice for investigating the neuronal substrates of visual processing, not only because their visual systems closely mirror our own, but also because it is often assumed that “simpler” brains lack advanced visual processing machinery. However, this narrow view of visual neuroscience ignores the fact that vision is widely distributed throughout the animal kingdom, enabling a wide repertoire of complex behaviors in species from insects to birds, fish, and mammals. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in alternative animal models for vision research, especially rodents. This resurgence is partly due to the availability of increasingly powerful experimental approaches (e.g., optogenetics and two-photon imaging) that are challenging to apply to their full potential in primates. Meanwhile, even more phylogenetically distant species such as birds, fish, and insects have long been workhorse animal models for gaining insight into the core computations underlying visual processing. In many cases, these animal models are valuable precisely because their visual systems are simpler than the primate visual system. Simpler systems are often easier to understand, and studying a diversity of neuronal systems that achieve similar functions can focus attention on those computational principles that are universal and essential. This Research Topic provides a survey of the state of the art in the use of animal models of visual functions that are alternative to macaques. It includes original research, methods articles, reviews, and opinions that exploit a variety of animal models (including rodents, birds, fishes and insects, as well as small New World monkey, the marmoset) to investigate visual function. The experimental approaches covered by these studies range from psychophysics and electrophysiology to histology and genetics, testifying to the richness and depth of visual neuroscience in non-macaque species.

Hierarchical Object Representations in the Visual Cortex and Computer Vision

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889197989 Year: Pages: 290 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-798-9 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2017-02-03 17:04:57
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Over the past 40 years, neurobiology and computational neuroscience has proved that deeper understanding of visual processes in humans and non-human primates can lead to important advancements in computational perception theories and systems. One of the main difficulties that arises when designing automatic vision systems is developing a mechanism that can recognize - or simply find - an object when faced with all the possible variations that may occur in a natural scene, with the ease of the primate visual system. The area of the brain in primates that is dedicated at analyzing visual information is the visual cortex. The visual cortex performs a wide variety of complex tasks by means of simple operations. These seemingly simple operations are applied to several layers of neurons organized into a hierarchy, the layers representing increasingly complex, abstract intermediate processing stages. In this Research Topic we propose to bring together current efforts in neurophysiology and computer vision in order 1) To understand how the visual cortex encodes an object from a starting point where neurons respond to lines, bars or edges to the representation of an object at the top of the hierarchy that is invariant to illumination, size, location, viewpoint, rotation and robust to occlusions and clutter; and 2) How the design of automatic vision systems benefit from that knowledge to get closer to human accuracy, efficiency and robustness to variations.

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