Research Roundup: Grid cells, social value, migranes, fraud

Here's a collection of 3 recently published studies that caught my eye and one recently published case of massive scientific fraud. The Neurophilosophy Blog writes up a recent paper about the discovery of grid cell-like activity in humans. Spoilers: Researchers recorded activity very similar to that of mice grid cells. But with data collected only through population imaging, direct electrophysiological measurements are needed to show the existence of human grid cells.

Updated: Link to the original paper, published today in Nature.

Nature Neuroscience published a brief communication regarding activation of the dorsal amygdala in response to perceived inequality in subjects adverse to such inequality. See the paper for a better description of their methods and conclusions.

Another Nature Neuroscience article describes the neural mechanism behind exacerbation of migrane headaches by light. Spoiler: It's due to posterior thalamic neurons. These neurons receive nociceptive signals from cranial dura mater, but their activity is modulated by projections from retinal ganglion cells. So the light information modulates the nociceptive signal being passed through the thalamus to layers I-V of somatosensory, visual, and associative cortices.

Meanwhile, over at the journal Acta Crystallographica Section E, an editorial published last month reveals some extensive scientific frauds involving papers published during 2007. The editorial states that at least 70 structures were falsified, and that the number of structures will most likely rise. Credit for the discovery goes to Ton Spek. The basis of the fraud involves using a real set of data from a correctly determined structure to produce multiple papers wherein authors changed one or more atoms in the structure to produce a new, wholly imaginary compound. At most, more than 18 fraudulent structures were composed from a common data set.

The editorial states:

"The correspondence authors are Dr H. Zhong and Professor T. Liu, both from Jinggangshan University, Jian, China. The co-authors on these papers included other workers from Jinggangshan University together with authors from different institutions in China. Both these correspondence authors and all co-authors have signed forms agreeing to the retraction of 41 papers published by Dr Zhong and 29 by Professor Liu. Details of these retractions appear elsewhere in this issue of the journal. Having found these problems with articles from Jinggangshan University, all submissions from this University to Acta Crystallographica Sections E or C have now been identified and are being checked for authenticity. Preliminary results indicate that further retractions will result from this exercise."

Editorial by Willian T.A. Harrison, Jim Simpson, Matthias Weil. Acta Crystallographica Section E Structure Reports. Vol 66, pages e1-e2. Jan. 2010. via @bengoldacre


Astra Bryant

Astra Bryant is a graduate of the Stanford Neuroscience PhD program in the labs of Drs. Eric Knudsen and John Huguenard. She used in vitro slice electrophysiology to study the cellular and synaptic mechanisms linking cholinergic signaling and gamma oscillations – two processes critical for the control of gaze and attention, which are disrupted in many psychiatric disorders. She is a senior editor and the webmaster of the NeuWrite West Neuroblog