New and Exciting in PLoS ONE

There are 12 new articles in PLoS ONE today. As always, you should rate the articles, post notes and comments and send trackbacks when you blog about the papers. You can now also easily place articles on various social services (CiteULike, Mendeley, Connotea, Stumbleupon, Facebook and Digg) with just one click. Here are my own picks for the week – you go and look for your own favourites:
Reef Endemism, Host Specificity and Temporal Stability in Populations of Symbiotic Dinoflagellates from Two Ecologically Dominant Caribbean Corals:

The dinoflagellate genus Symbiodinium forms symbioses with numerous protistan and invertebrate metazoan hosts. However, few data on symbiont genetic structure are available, hindering predictions of how these populations and their host associations will fair in the face of global climate change. Here, Symbiodinium population structure from two of the Caribbean’s ecologically dominant scleractinian corals, Montastraea faveolata and M. annularis, was examined. Tagged colonies on Florida Keys and Bahamian (i.e., Exuma Cays) reefs were sampled from 2003-2005 and their Symbiodinium diversity assessed via internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) rDNA and three Symbiodinium Clade B-specific microsatellite loci. Generally, the majority of host individuals at a site harbored an identical Symbiodinium ITS2 “type” B1 microsatellite genotype. Notably, symbiont genotypes were largely reef endemic, suggesting a near absence of dispersal between populations. Relative to the Bahamas, sympatric M. faveolata and M. annularis in the Florida Keys harbored unique Symbiodinium populations, implying regional host specificity in these relationships. Furthermore, within-colony Symbiodinium population structure remained stable through time and environmental perturbation, including a prolonged bleaching event in 2005. Taken together, the population-level endemism, specificity and stability exhibited by Symbiodinium raises concerns about the long-term adaptive capacity and persistence of these symbioses in an uncertain future of climate change.

Eyes Wide Shut: Amygdala Mediates Eyes-Closed Effect on Emotional Experience with Music:

The perceived emotional value of stimuli and, as a consequence the subjective emotional experience with them, can be affected by context-dependent styles of processing. Therefore, the investigation of the neural correlates of emotional experience requires accounting for such a variable, a matter of an experimental challenge. Closing the eyes affects the style of attending to auditory stimuli by modifying the perceptual relationship with the environment without changing the stimulus itself. In the current study, we used fMRI to characterize the neural mediators of such modification on the experience of emotionality in music. We assumed that closed eyes position will reveal interplay between different levels of neural processing of emotions. More specifically, we focused on the amygdala as a central node of the limbic system and on its co-activation with the Locus Ceruleus (LC) and Ventral Prefrontal Cortex (VPFC); regions involved in processing of, respectively, ‘low’, visceral-, and ‘high’, cognitive-related, values of emotional stimuli. Fifteen healthy subjects listened to negative and neutral music excerpts with eyes closed or open. As expected, behavioral results showed that closing the eyes while listening to emotional music resulted in enhanced rating of emotionality, specifically of negative music. In correspondence, fMRI results showed greater activation in the amygdala when subjects listened to the emotional music with eyes closed relative to eyes open. More so, by using voxel-based correlation and a dynamic causal model analyses we demonstrated that increased amygdala activation to negative music with eyes closed led to increased activations in the LC and VPFC. This finding supports a system-based model of perceived emotionality in which the amygdala has a central role in mediating the effect of context-based processing style by recruiting neural operations involved in both visceral (i.e. ‘low’) and cognitive (i.e. ‘high’) related processes of emotions.

Contrasting Role of Octopamine in Appetitive and Aversive Learning in the Crab Chasmagnathus:

Biogenic amines are implicated in reinforcing associative learning. Octopamine (OA) is considered the invertebrate counterpart of noradrenaline and several studies in insects converge on the idea that OA mediates the reward in appetitive conditioning. However, it is possible to assume that OA could have a different role in an aversive conditioning. Here we pharmacologically studied the participation of OA in two learning processes in the crab Chasmagnathus granulatus, one appetitive and one aversive. It is shown that the aversive memory is impaired by an OA injection applied immediately or 30 minutes after the last training trial. By contrast, the appetitive memory is blocked by OA antagonists epinastine and mianserine, but enhanced by OA when injected together with the supply of a minimum amount of reinforcement. Finally, double-learning experiments in which crabs are given the aversive and the appetitive learning either successively or simultaneously allow us to study the interaction between both types of learning and analyze the presumed action of OA. We found that the appetitive training offered immediately, but not one hour, after an aversive training has an amnesic effect on the aversive memory, mimicking the effect and the kinetic of an OA injection. Our results demonstrate that the role of OA is divergent in two memory processes of opposite signs: on the one hand it would mediate the reinforcement in appetitive learning, and on the other hand it has a deleterious effect over aversive memory consolidation.

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