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Neuron

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neurone string

More than a courier

Once seen as the nerve cells’ foot soldier, the axon emerges as an independent decision-maker

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Rats with lesions on their motor cortices performed tasks exactly as they had done pre-lesion. “We were very puzzled, since we all thought that these learned behaviors should require the motor cortex,” said Bence Ölveczky, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences.

Creatures of habit

Motor cortex is critical to learn new skills, but may not be needed to perform them, study says

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“By discovering the brain molecules that control the development of drug addiction, we hope to identify new treatment approaches,” said Christopher Cowan, HMS associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Integrated Neurobiology Laboratory at McLean.

Addiction clue

Gene essential for normal brain development, and linked to autism spectrum disorders, plays critical role in addiction-related behaviors

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Bence Ölveczky (from left), Yohsuke Miyamoto, and Maurice Smith suggest in a new study that variability in motor function is a key feature of the nervous system that helps lead to better ways to perform a particular action.

Inconsistent? Good

Once viewed as a flaw in the motor system, variability now appears critical to some learning, research says

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