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Journal: Reviews in the neurosciences


Abstract Synesthesia is a condition in which stimulation of one sensory modality causes unusual experiences in a different, unstimulated modality. Recent findings suggest that research on synesthesia offers a unique opportunity to study the neural basis of subjective experiences in healthy and pathological brains. This review summarizes and reflects current knowledge concerning synesthesia in its various aspects, including its cognitive, neural, and behavioral aspects. In this context, recent data suggest new connections between specific conditions related to synesthesic mechanisms and association processes linked to construction of synesthetic cross-modal metaphors that may play a role in psychopathological thinking and imagination.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Perception, Mind, Knowledge, Synesthesia, Olivier Messiaen, Wassily Kandinsky


Abstract Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. Pathologically, it is characterized by degeneration of neurons and synapses, the deposition of extracellular plaques consisting of aggregated amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides, and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles made up of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Recently, the spotlights have been centered on two characteristics of AD, neuroinflammation and insulin resistance. Because both of these pathways play roles in synaptic dysfunction and neurodegeneration, they become potential targets for therapeutic intervention that could impede the progression of the disease. Here, we present an overview of the traditional amyloid hypothesis, as well as emerging data on both inflammatory and impaired insulin signaling pathways in AD. It becomes evident that more than one concurrent treatment can be synergistic and various combinations should be discussed as a potential therapeutic strategy to correct the anomalies in AD. Insulin resistance, Aβ/tau pathologies, neuroinflammation, and dysregulation of central nervous system homeostasis are intertwined processes that together create the complex pathology of AD and should be considered as a whole picture.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Central nervous system, Nervous system, Neuron, Brain, Histopathology, Neurology, Synapse


Abstract Febrile seizures (FSs) occur in children older than 1 month and without prior afebrile seizures in the absence of a central nervous system infection or acute electrolyte imbalance. Their pathogenesis is multifactorial. The most relevant familial studies evidence an occurrence rate ranging from 10% to 46% and median recurrence rate of 36% in children with positive familial history for FS. The main twin studies demonstrated a higher concordance rate in monozygotic twins with FS than in dizygotic ones. Linkage studies have proposed 11 chromosomal locations responsible to FS attributed to FEB1 to FEB11. Population-based association studies have shown at least one positive association for 14 of 41 investigated genes with FS. The proinflammatory cytokine interleukin 1β (IL-1β) was the most investigated and also gene associated with susceptibility to FS. A possible role in the overlapping of epilepsy and FS was found for 16 of 36 investigated genes. SCN1A, IL-1β, CHRNA4, and GABRG2 were the most commonly involved genes in this context. The genetic background of FS involves the regulation of different processes, including individual and familial susceptibility, modulation of immune response, and neuronal excitability and interactions with exogenous agents such as viruses.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Nervous system, DNA, Gene, Genetics, Neurology, Twin


Stress is a state of threatened homeostasis during which a variety of adaptive processes are activated to produce physiological and behavioral changes. Stress induction methods are pivotal for understanding these physiological or pathophysiological changes in the body in response to stress. Furthermore, these methods are also important for the development of novel pharmacological agents for stress management. The well-described methods to induce stress in humans include the cold pressor test, Trier Social Stress Test, Montreal Imaging Stress Task, Maastricht Acute Stress Test, CO2 challenge test, Stroop test, Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task, noise stress, and Mannheim Multicomponent Stress Test. Stress assessment in humans is done by measuring biochemical markers such as cortisol, cortisol awakening response, dexamethasone suppression test, salivary α-amylase, plasma/urinary norepinephrine, norepinephrine spillover rate, and interleukins. Physiological and behavioral changes such as galvanic skin response, heart rate variability, pupil size, and muscle and/or skin sympathetic nerve activity (microneurography) and cardiovascular parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure, and self-reported anxiety are also monitored to assess stress response. This present review describes these commonly employed methods to induce stress in humans along with stress assessment methods.

Concepts: Anxiety, Heart, Assessment, Autonomic nervous system, Epinephrine, Sympathetic nervous system, Stress, Norepinephrine


In early- or late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD), inflammation, which is triggered by pathologic conditions, influences the progression of neurodegeneration. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has emerged as a crucial mediator of neurogenesis, because it exhibits a remarkable activity-dependent regulation of expression, which suggests that it may link inflammation to neurogenesis. Emerging evidence suggests that acute and chronic inflammation in AD differentially modulates neurotrophin functions, which are related to the roles of inflammation in neuroprotection and neurodegeneration. Recent studies also indicate novel mechanisms of BDNF-mediated neuroprotection, including the modulation of autophagy. Numerous research studies have demonstrated reverse parallel alterations between proinflammatory cytokines and BDNF during neurodegeneration; thus, we hypothesize that one mechanism that underlies the negative impact of chronic inflammation on neurogenesis is the reduction of BDNF production and function by proinflammatory cytokines.

Concepts: Pneumonia, Neurology, Dementia, Neurotrophin, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, Nerve growth factor, Neurotrophins, Curcumin


A number of limitations associated with the use of hollow nerve guidance conduits (NGCs) require further discussion. Most importantly, the functional recovery outcomes after the placement of hollow NGCs are poor even after the successful bridging of peripheral nerve injuries. However, nerve regeneration scaffolds built using electric spinning have several advantages that may improve functional recovery. Thus, the present study summarizes recent developments in this area, including the key cells that are combined with the scaffold and associated with nerve regeneration, the structure and configuration of the electrospinning design (which determines the performance of the electrospinning scaffold), the materials the electrospinning fibers are composed of, and the methods used to control the morphology of a single fiber. Additionally, this study also discusses the processes underlying peripheral nerve regeneration. The primary goals of the present review were to evaluate and consolidate the findings of studies that used scaffolding biomaterials built by electrospinning used for peripheral nerve regeneration support. It is amazing that the field of peripheral nerve regeneration continues to consistently produce such a wide variety of innovative techniques and novel types of equipment, because the introduction of every new process creates an opportunity for advances in materials for nerve repair.

Concepts: Scaffolding


The ketogenic diet (KD) is characterized by a diet ratio of 4:1 fat to non-fat energy sources. For decades KD has been successfully used to control seizures in epilepsy patients. Investigations into its mechanism of action suggest that it may have an effect on the metabolic, nervous, immune, and digestive systems. In this review, we postulate that KD may also improve depressive symptoms - for that, we highlight the similarities between depression and epilepsy, describe the extent to which body systems involved in both conditions are affected by the KD, and ultimately hypothesize how KD could improve MDD outcomes. Research into animal models and human patients have reported that KD can increase mitochondrial biogenesis and increase cellular resistance to oxidative stress both at the mitochondrial and genetic levels. Its effect on neurotransmitters alters cell-to-cell communication in the brain and may decrease hyperexcitability by increasing Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) and decreasing excitatory neurotransmitter levels. Its anti-inflammatory effects are mediated by decreasing chemo- and cytokine levels, including TNF-alpha and IL-1 levels. Finally, KD can alter gut microbiota (GM). Certain strains of microbiota predominate in major depressive disorder (MDD) when compared to healthy individuals. Recent evidence points to Bacteroidetes as a potential treatment predictor as it seems to increase in KD treatment responders for epilepsy. Each of these observations contributes to the presumed modulatory effects of KD on mood and supports its potential role as antidepressant.


Gut microbiome diversity has been strongly associated with mood-relating behaviours, including major depressive disorder (MDD). This association stems from the recently characterised bi-directional communication system between the gut and the brain, mediated by neuroimmune, neuroendocrine and sensory neural pathways. While the link between gut microbiome and depression is well supported by research, a major question needing to be addressed is the causality in the connection between the two, which will support the understanding of the role that the gut microbiota play in depression. In this article, we address this question by examining a theoretical ‘chronology’, reviewing the evidence supporting two possible sequences of events. First, we discuss that alterations in the gut microbiota populations of specific species might contribute to depression, and secondly, that depressive states might induce modification of specific gut microbiota species and eventually contribute to more severe depression. The feasibility of both sequences is supported by pre-clinical trials. For instance, research in rodents has shown an onset of depressive behaviour following faecal transplantations from patients with MDD. On the other hand, mental induction of stress and depressive behaviour in rodents resulted in reduced gut microbiota richness and diversity. Synthesis of these chronology dynamics raises important research directions to further understand the role that gut microbiota play in mood-relating behaviours, which holds substantial potential clinical outcomes for persons who experience MDD or related depressive disorders.

Concepts: Human brain, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Major depressive disorder, Dysthymia


Abstract Reward seeking is controlled by conditioned stimuli (CSs). There is a positive relation between mesocorticolimbic dopamine (DA) and the performance of learned reward-directed behavior. The mechanisms by which reward-, including drug-, associated stimuli come to acquire the capacity to activate the DA systems are not fully understood. In this review, we discuss the possible neurochemical mechanisms within the ventral tegmental area that may be involved in how CSs acquire the capacity to activate ventral tegmental area (VTA) DA neurons based on principles of long-term potentiation in the VTA and the role of mesocorticolimbic DA in reward-related learning. We propose that CSs function as such because they acquire the capacity to activate VTA DA neurons. Furthermore, CSs come to acquire this control of VTA DA cells when there is coincident N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor stimulation on VTA DA cells and strong depolarization of VTA DA cells, possibly by muscarinic acetylcholine receptor stimulation on these cells. This coincident activity leads to the strengthening of CS-associated glutamatergic synapses and the control by CSs of mesocorticolimbic DA systems and reward-directed behavior.

Concepts: Ventral tegmental area, Neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, Long-term potentiation, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, Acetylcholine receptor, Atropine


Functional magnetic resonance imaging a neuroimaging technique which is used in brain disorders and dysfunction studies, has been improved in recent years by mapping the topology of the brain connections, named connectopic mapping. Based on the fact that healthy and unhealthy brain regions and functions differ slightly, studying the complex topology of the functional and structural networks in the human brain is too complicated considering the growth of evaluation measures. One of the applications of irregular graph deep learning is to analyze the human cognitive functions related to the gene expression and related distributed spatial patterns. Since a variety of brain solutions can be dynamically held in the neuronal networks of the brain with different activity patterns and functional connectivity, both node-centric and graph-centric tasks are involved in this application. In this study, we used an individual generative model and high order graph analysis for the region of interest recognition areas of the brain with abnormal connection during performing certain tasks and resting-state or decompose irregular observations. Accordingly, a high order framework of Variational Graph Autoencoder with a Gaussian distributer was proposed in the paper to analyze the functional data in brain imaging studies in which Generative Adversarial Network is employed for optimizing the latent space in the process of learning strong non-rigid graphs among large scale data. Furthermore, the possible modes of correlations were distinguished in abnormal brain connections. Our goal was to find the degree of correlation between the affected regions and their simultaneous occurrence over time. We can take advantage of this to diagnose brain diseases or show the ability of the nervous system to modify brain topology at all angles and brain plasticity according to input stimuli. In this study, we particularly focused on Alzheimer’s disease.