A Biochemical Pathway For Blocking Your Worst Fears?

mGluR5 Has a Critical Role in Inhibitory Learning
Jian Xu, Yongling Zhu, Anis Contractor, and Stephen F. Heinemann1

The mechanisms that contribute to the extinction of previously acquired memories are not well understood. These processes, often referred to as inhibitory learning, are thought to be parallel learning mechanisms that require a reacquisition of new information and suppression of previously acquired experiences in order to adapt to novel situations. Using newly generated metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) knock-out mice, we investigated the role of mGluR5 in the acquisition and reversal of an associative conditioned task and a spatial reference task. We found that acquisition of fear conditioning is partially impaired in mice lacking mGluR5. More markedly, we found that extinction of both contextual and auditory fear was completely abolished in mGluR5 knock-out mice. In the Morris Water Maze test (MWM), mGluR5 knock-out mice exhibited mild deficits in the rate of acquisition of the regular water maze task, but again had significant deficits in the reversal task, despite overall spatial memory being intact. Together, these results demonstrate that mGluR5 is critical to the function of neural circuits that are required for inhibitory learning mechanisms, and suggest that targeting metabotropic receptors may be useful in treating psychiatric disorders in which aversive memories are inappropriately retained.

Brain decline begins at age 27

When does age-related cognitive decline begin?
Timothy A. Salthouse
Neurobiology of Aging 30 (2009) 507–514

Cross-sectional comparisons have consistently revealed that increased age is associated with lower levels of cognitive performance, even in the range from 18 to 60 years of age. However, the validity of cross-sectional comparisons of cognitive functioning in young and middle-aged adults has been questioned because of the discrepant age trends found in longitudinal and cross-sectional analyses. The results of the current project suggest that a major factor contributing to the discrepancy is the masking of age-related declines in longitudinal comparisons by large positive effects associated with prior test experience. Results from three methods of estimating retest effects in this project, together with results from studies comparing non-human animals raised in constant environments and from studies examining neurobiological variables not susceptible to retest effects, converge on a conclusion that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s.

Emotion Perception

Emotion perception in emotionless face images suggests a norm-based representation
Donald Neth, Aleix M. Martinez
Volume 9, Number 1, Article 5, Pages 1-11, Journal Of Vision

Perception of facial expressions of emotion is generally assumed to correspond to underlying muscle movement. However, it is often observed that some individuals have sadder or angrier faces, even for neutral, motionless faces. Here, we report on one such effect caused by simple static configural changes. In particular, we show four variations in the relative vertical position of the nose, mouth, eyes, and eyebrows that affect the perception of emotion in neutral faces. The first two configurations make the vertical distance between the eyes and mouth shorter than average, resulting in the perception of an angrier face. The other two configurations make this distance larger than average, resulting in the perception of sadness. These perceptions increase with the amount of configural change, suggesting a representation based on variations from a norm (prototypical) face.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Got this from APA today.

Apply for an NIH grant for research that you can do in two years.
Of the NIH $10 billion, at least $200 million over the next two years is for a new initiative called NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research, to fund 200 or more grants at $1 million each. The program will support research on "Challenge Topics," and first on the list is Behavior, Behavioral Change, and Prevention. This is a unique opportunity to conduct research in a short time frame. The application deadline is April 27, 2009, and grants will begin this fall. See: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/challenge_award/

If you recently applied to NIH or NSF and received good reviews but were not funded,contact the program officer who oversaw the process.
At the end of the last federal fiscal year, about 14,000 applications were approved for funding but went unfunded. NIH is planning to review these applications to see if any would benefit from two-year funding. This will not be done in a formulaic manner; rather, grants will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Program officers will be involved in this process, so it can only help to contact them to discuss your application.

NSF is also planning to fund recently approved but unfunded proposals. Call the NSF program officer in your area if you think your proposal might be in this category.

If you have an existing grant, you may be eligible for a supplement.
The stimulus funding may also be available to expand an existing NIH grant. Some funding will be awarded through a competitive process, while other funding will be administratively allocated. Few details are available at this time, and each Institute and agency will determine its priorities for supplemental funding. Another reason to call NIH or NSF staff.

A word of advice.
This funding is part of the Recovery Act, so it's meant to create jobs and stimulate the economy, all in a transparent and trackable way. If you do any of the above, be sure to pay particular attention to the economic impact of your grant: How many jobs will it create? How will you measure and track spending? Job creation? If you are at, or are partnering with, an institution located in an under-represented geographic area, please highlight that, since geographic location may be a criterion for grant awards. After all, the economy needs to be stimulated throughout the United States.

Read more about it here.