Research Topic

Hardwired to Self-Wire: The Role of Neuromodulation in Behaviour

About this Research Topic

Animals own a repertoire of innate behaviors whose complexity varies with species (from mollusks to human). However, these behaviors need to be adapted in function of the environment in order to ensure feeding, reproduction and protection from predators. The implementation of these behaviors is ensured by the nervous system. Since pioneering work of Golgi and Jamon y Cajal in the XIXth century, numerous neuroscientists have shown that the nervous system is made of specialized cells (the neurons) connecting one the other to build neural networks. At first glance it looks like that, due to this network organization, the nervous system is wired like a printed circuit board that always produce the same stereotyped output in response to an input signal. This conception of the nervous system is in total contradiction with the function of the latter which allows living beings to adapt to their environment and its possible changes.

This leads to the question “how so a hardwired system can be responsible for such multivariate behavior?”. The response lies in the “neuromodulation” concept. It consists in the various plasticity mechanisms that allow the neural networks to reorganize themselves in order to adapt their functioning to the needs of the animal. For example, when lampreys migrate to upstream spawning grounds, the neural network controlling locomotion is subject to long-lasting modulation. Somehow, we can say that neural networks are hardwired to self-wire. Learning and memory are complex processes that involve various regions of the brain (cerebral cortex, hippocampus, amygdala…) that can be broken down into specific neural populations. Even if numerous studies have explored these processes and their synaptic plasticity mechanisms, the fine details of the interplay between these neuronal populations are far to be fully understood. In the same way, neural networks controlling motricity are highly plastic despite a strongly structured architecture, like arc reflexes for example. The goal of the present Research Topic is to bring together experts studying neuromodulation from the molecular/synaptic and cellular levels to the most integrated levels, in order to build a bridge from neurons to behavior.

This Research Topic will welcome Original Research articles focusing on the role of neural networks neuromodulation in behavior, Method manuscripts describing new technological advances in the field and Review articles summarizing the most up-to-date knowledge on Neuromodulation. Authors are welcomed to:

1. Explore new mechanisms and roles of synaptic plasticity in behavior;
2. Summarize the main properties presiding to synaptic neuromodulation in terms of neurotransmitters/receptors interactions;
3. Explore how neuronal population activity is modulated to ensure complex behaviors especially studies using cutting edge technologies, like for example optogenetics or DREADD, to question the role of specific neuronal populations in living animals;
4. Elucidate how functional properties of neuronal networks can be altered by modifications of neuron’s morphology (reorganization of dendritic arborization, sprouting, axon initial segment alteration...). It would be of great interest to decipher the mechanisms linking neuronal morphology changes to animal behavior.


Keywords: neural networks, behavior, neuromodulation, synapse, intrinsic properties


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Animals own a repertoire of innate behaviors whose complexity varies with species (from mollusks to human). However, these behaviors need to be adapted in function of the environment in order to ensure feeding, reproduction and protection from predators. The implementation of these behaviors is ensured by the nervous system. Since pioneering work of Golgi and Jamon y Cajal in the XIXth century, numerous neuroscientists have shown that the nervous system is made of specialized cells (the neurons) connecting one the other to build neural networks. At first glance it looks like that, due to this network organization, the nervous system is wired like a printed circuit board that always produce the same stereotyped output in response to an input signal. This conception of the nervous system is in total contradiction with the function of the latter which allows living beings to adapt to their environment and its possible changes.

This leads to the question “how so a hardwired system can be responsible for such multivariate behavior?”. The response lies in the “neuromodulation” concept. It consists in the various plasticity mechanisms that allow the neural networks to reorganize themselves in order to adapt their functioning to the needs of the animal. For example, when lampreys migrate to upstream spawning grounds, the neural network controlling locomotion is subject to long-lasting modulation. Somehow, we can say that neural networks are hardwired to self-wire. Learning and memory are complex processes that involve various regions of the brain (cerebral cortex, hippocampus, amygdala…) that can be broken down into specific neural populations. Even if numerous studies have explored these processes and their synaptic plasticity mechanisms, the fine details of the interplay between these neuronal populations are far to be fully understood. In the same way, neural networks controlling motricity are highly plastic despite a strongly structured architecture, like arc reflexes for example. The goal of the present Research Topic is to bring together experts studying neuromodulation from the molecular/synaptic and cellular levels to the most integrated levels, in order to build a bridge from neurons to behavior.

This Research Topic will welcome Original Research articles focusing on the role of neural networks neuromodulation in behavior, Method manuscripts describing new technological advances in the field and Review articles summarizing the most up-to-date knowledge on Neuromodulation. Authors are welcomed to:

1. Explore new mechanisms and roles of synaptic plasticity in behavior;
2. Summarize the main properties presiding to synaptic neuromodulation in terms of neurotransmitters/receptors interactions;
3. Explore how neuronal population activity is modulated to ensure complex behaviors especially studies using cutting edge technologies, like for example optogenetics or DREADD, to question the role of specific neuronal populations in living animals;
4. Elucidate how functional properties of neuronal networks can be altered by modifications of neuron’s morphology (reorganization of dendritic arborization, sprouting, axon initial segment alteration...). It would be of great interest to decipher the mechanisms linking neuronal morphology changes to animal behavior.


Keywords: neural networks, behavior, neuromodulation, synapse, intrinsic properties


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

07 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

07 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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