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Questions for Journal Club Participants

(3) Study Qustions for Seeley and Visscher (2008) Sensory coding of nest-site value in honeybee swarms. J. Exp. Biol. 211:3691-97. 1)

  1. Seeley and Visscher use the term sensory coding in the context of decision making about nest site in honey bee swarms. The same term is used by sensory neurophysiologists that study tbe conversion of a physical stimulus into a neuroelectric event in the nervous system. How does the Seeley/Visscher definition differ from that of the sensory physiologist?
  2. The study has shown that although on average scout bees will perform more waggle dances for good nest sites than they will for mediocre nest sites, the amount of waggle dances individual scout bees perform will vary widely. How could this behavior benefit the hive?
  3. Why is it important to the hive to have scouts preform a higher number of waggle dances for a nest site that the scouts themselves might have discovered compared to sites to which they have been recruited to dance?
  4. When deciding on a nest site what are the two most important factors must the hive take into consideration in its decision making?
  5. According to the research paper the number of waggle dances a scout produces has a decay rate of -17.2 dance circuits per return to swarm. What would happen if this rate were faster? What would happen if this were slower?

(4) Study questions for Holmes et al. (2012) Chronic alcohol remodels prefrontal neurons and disrupts NMDAR-mediated fear extinction encoding

  1. What is the mPFC and what is it's function?

  2. What cognitive processes re affected by chronic intermittent ethanol ? Which cognitive processes were not affected by chronic intermittent ethanol ?
  3. What are the differences in the structure of dendrites of Air mice compared to CIE mice (Figure 2)?

(5) Study questions for Rubia van den Brand et al (2012) Control of Locomotion after Paralyzing Spinal Cord Injury

  1. (to answer and discuss in class) Define a Central Pattern Generator (CPG) in one sentence.
  2. Where were the lesions in the spinal cord made? Why were these locations chosen?
  3. How did the authors stimulate the cord after injury?

(6) Study questions for Peleg et al (2010) Altered histone acetylation is associated with age-dependent memory impairment in mice. Science. 2010, 328:753–6.

  1. What, is general, is histone acetylation, and how does it influence the function of a cell?
  2. In this study, how was it demonstrated that there was memory impairment in one group of mice compared to another? What was the test? What was measured? How were the groups compared statistically?
  3. Before fear conditioning, was there anything unusual about the hippocampal histone acetylation profile of 16-month-old mice compared to that of the 3-moth-old mice? If so, what ? What about after conditioning?
  4. How did the differences between the transcriptome profiles of the 3-month-old fear conditioned mice and the 3-month-old control mice compare to the differences between the transcriptome profiles of the 16-month-old fear conditioned mice and the 16-month-old control mice?
  5. What hypothesis was tested by injecting 16-month-old mice with SAHA ?

(8) Study questions for Ramachandran et al (2010) Dynamic reorganization of referred sensations by movements of phantom limbs. NeuroReport 21(10):727.

  1. What is the postcentral gyrus and what is its function?
  2. What are ‘Reference Fields’ and how are they created?
  3. Define ‘Learned Paralysis’
  4. What is the central hypothesis of this study? How do they test the hypothesis?
  5. What differences were found when reference fields were exposed to touch as opposed to a cold stimulus? Why did they find these differences?

(9) Study questions for Velliste et al. (2008) Cortical control of prosthetic arm for self feeding. Nature 453:1098.

  1. What is the significance of the joystick and the cursor-control experiment mentioned in the paper?
  2. What are the differences between Monkey A and Monkey P?
  3. What is the added dimension of the experiment that makes is four-dimensional (4D) rather than three-dimensional (3D) ?
  4. How is the prosthetic arm controlled by the monkey’s cortical signals in the primary motor cortex? Does the monkey’s own arm respond to the signal as well?

(10) Study questions for Fuchs et al. (2010) Sensitized peripheral nociception in experimental diabetes of the rat (2010) Pain, 151 (2), pp. 496-505

  1. What is STZ and why is it used in this study?
  2. Define nociception. What are some of the peculiar anatomical features of nociceptors?
  3. Hyperglycemia, Ischemia, and Acidotic Hypoxia are all real symptoms seen in diabetic patients. Very briefly explain these conditions, and note how they were simulated in the tested rats.
  4. There are several chemical terms critical to understanding the paper. What is the function of calcitonin gene-related peptide, Substance P, prostaglandin E2, bradykinin, and capsaicin (what vegetable is it found in?)? Also, what is a "v. Frey threshold"? Make a list of these terms as a series of bullet-points.

(11) Study questions for Niyuhire et al (2007) The disruptive effects of the CB1 receptor antagonist rimonabant on extinction learning in mice are task-specific.

  1. What is the difference between an agonist and an antagonist?
  2. What normally binds to CB1 receptors?
  3. What is the purpose of vehicle injection?
  4. How did the behavior of the rimonabant treated mice differ from the vehicle treated mice in the conditioned freezing test, the passive avoidance test, and the appetitively motivated operant conditioning task?

(12) Study questions for Zhang et al. (2012) The most numerous ganglion cell type of the mouse retina is a selective feature detector. PNAS, August 2012.

  1. The authors of this paper conclude (in the title, even) that the retina contains many neurons that act as "feature detectors". What, in general, is a feature detector, and why to the authors contrast feature detectors with pixel detectors? Does it really matter whether a neuron is called a feature detector or a 'gentle filter'?
  2. How are the authors able to visualize only the W3 type ganglion cells so that they can create the map of W3 cell density shown in Figure 1?
  3. The authors conclude that W3 neurons in the retina respond both to lights turning "on" and lights turning "off". How might this be possible, given that cones all respond to lights turning on with hyperpolarization?
  4. The authors conclude that W3 retinal ganglion cells are "feature detectors" for arial predators. Make a list of characteristics of stimuli that cause the cells to fire that would lead to this conclusion.

(13) There will be no formal questions for today's journal club.


(Please prepare answers to the following questions on your own. The responses will not be collected for today's journal club).

  1. What is glutamate excitotoxicity?
  2. What was the effect of BHB and ACA on excitotoxicity?
  3. What was the purpose of doing the GLU+catalase trial (fig. 2, B)?
  4. What is the significance of decreased NAD(P)H levels (fig. 5, B)?



BioNB 4110


© Carl D. Hopkins | e-mail
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior
Ithaca, New York