Ana Domingos of the Gulbenkian Science Institute in Portugal has forged a career learning why we like certain types of food. By looking at the reward system of the mouse brain, she has revealed pathways that explain why animals prefer sugar, and perhaps why it may factor so strongly in the Western diet.
While the basal ganglia have long been thought to mediate learning through dopamine-dependent striatal plasticity, their regulation of motor thalamus plays an unexpected and critical role in reinforcement.
Dopamine neurons make novel glutamatergic connections to striatal cholinergic interneurons in the lateral dorsal striatum that are mediated by metabotropic glutamate receptors coupled to TrpC channels.
Computational modeling and molecular-biological analysis reveal the role of mechanical force and downstream Yap signaling in growth control during the development and regeneration of sensory epithelium of the inner ear.