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This week in PLOS Biology

In PLOS Biology this week, you can read about the sequence of the centipede genome, alternative publication metrics, how we pay attention to our sense of touch, and the information bandwidth of human neurons.

 

What Goes “99-Thump”? The Centipede Genome

Image credit: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052623
Image credit: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052623

The arthropods are one of Earth’s real success stories—there are more species of arthropod than in any other animal phylum, but our knowledge of the genomic basis of arthropod biology is massively skewed towards insects. Myriapoda (e.g. centipedes and millipedes) is the only arthropod class without a sequenced genome. In PLOS Biology this week, Ariel Chipman, David Ferrier and a large international consortium of researchers rectify this by publishing the genome of Strigamia maritima: a Northern European beach-dwelling centipede. For more on some of the fascinating insights they have begun to unravel, see the accompanying synopsis.

 

Alternative Views: ALMs, Altmetrics, Funders and Impact

A perspective publishing this week by Adam Dinsmore, Liz Allen and Kevin Dolby revisits ALMs and Altmetrics. They describe how more evidence of the meaning and validity of ALMs and altmetrics, coupled with greater consistency and transparency in their presentation, would enable research funders to explore their potential value and identify appropriate use cases.

 

How Neurons Pay Attention

Image credit: Flickr user jinterwas
Image credit: Flickr user jinterwas

We know a lot about how attention affects the firing rates of neurons and their synchronization in the visual system, but very little is known about the effects of attention in the other senses. In a new study of the sense of touch in rhesus macaques, Manuel Gomez-Ramirez, Steven Hsiao and colleagues found that top-down selective attention mediates feature selection.  It does this by reducing the noise correlations in neural populations and enhancing the synchronized activity across subpopulations that encode the relevant features of sensory stimuli.

 

Human Neurons Are Faster

 Our knowledge of neuronal information transfer is based on rodent neurons – properties of synaptic information transfer and synaptic depression in humans are not known. In this research paper by Guilherme Testa-Silva, Michele Giugliano, Huibert Mansvelder and colleagues, they discover that because of fast recovery from synaptic depression and fast-initiated action potentials, neuronal information transfer can have a substantially higher bandwidth in human neocortical circuits than in those of rodents.

 

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