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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Reliability and effectiveness of transmission from exteroceptive sensory neurons to spiking local interneurons in the locust.

Mechanosensory information from exteroceptive hairs on the legs of a locust is first processed in a segmental ganglion by a midline population of spiking local interneurons for use in adjustments of posture and locomotion. Each interneuron receives excitatory inputs from a characteristic array of these receptors so that the surface of a leg is mapped onto the whole population of interneurons as a series of overlapping receptive fields. The properties of this first synaptic connection, and the contributions of individual afferents forming the receptive fields of the interneurons are examined. The gain of the excitatory synaptic connection between the hair afferents and the interneurons is often high, so that a single afferent spike can lead directly to a spike in the interneuron. Repetitive spikes in a hair afferent evoke EPSPs in an interneuron that decline in amplitude but that may summate. The first EPSP in any sequence is always the largest. The high frequencies of afferent spikes that are evoked by a normal deflection of a hair saturate the synaptic connection so that the amplitude of depolarization is no greater than to a single spike. The EPSPs from two hairs in a receptive field can summate but lead to no heterosynaptic facilitation. High-frequency bursts of spikes in one afferent can reduce the postsynaptic effect of another afferent. The amplitude of the EPSPs and the gain of the synaptic connections differ markedly between the hairs that comprise the receptive field of an interneuron. There are gradients of effectiveness, generally according to the axes of the leg, with one group of adjacent hairs producing the largest-amplitude EPSPs and having the highest gains. Individual hairs may contribute to the receptive field of more than one interneuron, and the gain of these connections may differ. The complexity of a receptive field is further accentuated by the specificity of connections made by the different physiological types of hair receptors. High-threshold hairs may make synaptic connections with an interneuron, but adjacent low-threshold hairs may not. This organization of the receptive fields means that the interneurons are sensitive to certain inputs and can reliably pass on a signal from one hair. It also implies that greater weighting is given to inputs from certain regions.[1]


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