Questions for Discussion

Glutamate/GABA Week 1 Questions:

  1. How are neuronal excitation and inhibition related to behavioral excitation and inhibition?
  2. How does the action of NMDA receptors differ from that of the other ionotropic receptors?
  3. Describe the families of glutamate receptors. Considering their evolutionary history the set of glutamate receptors appears to be paraphyletic. How might you imagine this state of affairs came about?
  4. Why are GABAA receptors inhibitory? Could their effect be erased under conditions close to those of normal physiology?
  5. What consequences does alcohol have for GABA receptors? What effect will these changes have on the excitability of neurons?

Glutamate/GABA Week 2 Questions:

  1. How do G-proteins work?
  2. Describe the major actions of GPCR's in neurons.
  3. How would active metabotropic glutamate receptors affect excitability compared to active ionotropic glutamate receptors?
  4. What different effects would mGluR1 and 2 have from the other metabotropic glutamate receptors?
  5. What different consequences will GABAA and GABAB signaling have for the responsiveness of a neuron to future excitation? If interneuron activity is briefly high in a brain region how might we expect the responsiveness to change over the next few seconds?

AcetylCholine Questions

  1. There are many different metabotropic receptors which affect potassium currents. What evolutionary story might lie behind the profusion of messengers?
  2. Some metabotropic receptors are expressed pre-synaptically. What consequences will their activity have for synaptic transmission? Are these effects different or similar to expression post-synaptically
  3. G & H suggest that the action of ACh is diffuse rather than targetted. If this is true, what would you expect to see in the distribution of the ACh receptors over the cell? Are there any differences for the muscarinic (metabotropic) family of ACh receptors rather than nicotinic (ionotropic)?
  4. What might be the consequence high ACh signaling for the input-output relationship of a brain region, if the receptors are mostly on the excitatory cells? If the receptors are mostly on the interneurons?

Norepinephrine signaling Questions

  1. Describe the difference between tonic and phasic firing of LC neurons.
  2. What kinds of metaphors have been proposed to summarize NE function? What kinds of interesting behavior has NE _NOT_ been linked to?
  3. The Aston-Jones article takes a different point of view from the Bouret and Sara article. What are the points of agreement? Where do they differ? What kind of evidence do they each cite?
  4. What contribution does the first part of the Ramos article make to this debate?
  5. To what extent can the ruling metaphor of the Bouret paper explain the data that are emphasized by Aston-Jones? And vice-versa?

Serotonin Questions:

  1. Is there any consensus on the 'function' of serotonin?

Dopamine Questions:

  1. How do the putative functions of dopamine differ from those attributed to Norepinephrine?
  2. How does Panksepp's perspective differ from the perspectives of most authors so far?
  3. Do you find Schultz or Redgrave more convincing?
  4. Does Panksepp resolve the tension between motivational and learning theories?