Advances in Neuroscience The latest articles from Hindawi Publishing Corporation © 2014 , Hindawi Publishing Corporation . All rights reserved. Synthetic Cathinones and Their Rewarding and Reinforcing Effects in Rodents Wed, 04 Jun 2014 06:47:47 +0000 Synthetic cathinones, colloquially referred to as “bath salts,” are derivatives of the psychoactive alkaloid cathinone found in Catha edulis (Khat). Since the mid-to-late 2000s, these amphetamine-like psychostimulants have gained popularity amongst drug users due to their potency, low cost, ease of procurement, and constantly evolving chemical structures. Concomitant with their increased use is the emergence of a growing collection of case reports of bizarre and dangerous behaviors, toxicity to numerous organ systems, and death. However, scientific information regarding the abuse liability of these drugs has been relatively slower to materialize. Recently we have published several studies demonstrating that laboratory rodents will readily self-administer the “first generation” synthetic cathinones methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone via the intravenous route, in patterns similar to those of methamphetamine. Under progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement, the rank order of reinforcing efficacy of these compounds is MDPV ≥ methamphetamine > methylone. MDPV and methylone, as well as the “second generation” synthetic cathinones α-pyrrolidinovalerophenone (α-PVP) and 4-methylethcathinone (4-MEC), also dose-dependently increase brain reward function. Collectively, these findings indicate that synthetic cathinones have a high abuse and addiction potential and underscore the need for future assessment of the extent and duration of neurotoxicity induced by these emerging drugs of abuse. Lucas R. Watterson and M. Foster Olive Copyright © 2014 Lucas R. Watterson and M. Foster Olive. All rights reserved. Developing Attention: Behavioral and Brain Mechanisms Thu, 08 May 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Brain networks underlying attention are present even during infancy and are critical for the developing ability of children to control their emotions and thoughts. For adults, individual differences in the efficiency of attentional networks have been related to neuromodulators and to genetic variations. We have examined the development of attentional networks and child temperament in a longitudinal study from infancy (7 months) to middle childhood (7 years). Early temperamental differences among infants, including smiling and laughter and vocal reactivity, are related to self-regulation abilities at 7 years. However, genetic variations related to adult executive attention, while present in childhood, are poor predictors of later control, in part because individual genetic variation may have many small effects and in part because their influence occurs in interaction with caregiver behavior and other environmental influences. While brain areas involved in attention are present during infancy, their connectivity changes and leads to improvement in control of behavior. It is also possible to influence control mechanisms through training later in life. The relation between maturation and learning may allow advances in our understanding of human brain development. Michael I. Posner, Mary K. Rothbart, Brad E. Sheese, and Pascale Voelker Copyright © 2014 Michael I. Posner et al. All rights reserved. Rett Syndrome: Coming to Terms with Treatment Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:22:54 +0000 Rett syndrome (RTT) has experienced remarkable progress over the past three decades since emerging as a disorder of worldwide proportions, particularly with discovery of the linkage of RTT to MECP2 mutations. The advances in clinical research and the increasing pace of basic science investigations have accelerated the pattern of discovery and understanding. Clinical trials are ongoing and others are planned. A review of these events and the prospects for continued success are highlighted below. The girls and women encountered today with RTT are, overall, in better general, neurologic, and behavioral health than those encountered earlier. This represents important progress worldwide from the concerted efforts of a broadly based and diverse clinical and basic research consortium as well as the efforts of parents, family, and friends. Alan Percy Copyright © 2014 Alan Percy. All rights reserved. Neurocognitive Basis of Schizophrenia: Information Processing Abnormalities and Clues for Treatment Sun, 09 Feb 2014 09:41:06 +0000 Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe psychiatric disorder that affects all aspects of patients’ lives. Over the past decades, research applying methods from psychology and neuroscience has increasingly been zooming in on specific information processing abnormalities in schizophrenia. Impaired activation of and connectivity between frontotemporal, frontoparietal, and frontostriatal brain networks subserving cognitive functioning and integration of cognition and emotion has been consistently reported. Major issues in schizophrenia research concern the cognitive and neural basis of hallucinations, abnormalities in cognitive-emotional processing, social cognition (including theory of mind), poor awareness of illness, and apathy. Recent findings from cognitive neuroscience studies in these areas are discussed. The findings may have implications for treatment, for example, noninvasive neurostimulation of specific brain areas. Ultimately, a better understanding of the cognitive neuroscience of schizophrenia will pave the way for the development of effective treatment strategies. André Aleman Copyright © 2014 André Aleman. All rights reserved. Reelin in the Years: Controlling Neuronal Migration and Maturation in the Mammalian Brain Sun, 05 Jan 2014 08:53:41 +0000 The extracellular protein Reelin was initially identified as an essential factor in the control of neuronal migration and layer formation in the developing mammalian brain. In the years following its discovery, however, it became clear that Reelin is a multifunctional protein that controls not only the positioning of neurons in the developing brain, but also their growth, maturation, and synaptic activity in the adult brain. In this review, we will highlight the major discoveries of the biological activities of Reelin and the underlying molecular mechanisms that affect the development and function of the mammalian brain, from embryonic ages to adulthood. Gabriella D'Arcangelo Copyright © 2014 Gabriella D'Arcangelo. All rights reserved.