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Annals Reports (4)

Edited by Edited by Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences editorial staff
Annals Reports (4)

Published: July 2013

Volume 1292

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The behavioral and neurobiological connections between play and the development of critical cognitive functions, such as attention, remain largely unknown. We do not yet know how these connections relate to the formation of specific abilities, such as spatial ability, and to learning in formal environments, such as in the classroom. Insights into these issues would be beneficial not only for understanding play, attention, and learning individually, but also for the development of more efficacious systems for learning and for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. This meeting report provides a synopsis of the conference “Play, Attention, and Learning: How Do Play and Timing Shape the Development of Attention and Facilitate Classroom Learning?,” held on June 15, 2012 and presented by the New York Academy of Sciences and the Brain Trauma Foundation. The report outlines important research steps that need to be taken in order to address critical questions about play, human activity, and cognitive functions.

Clinical depression is a serious mental disorder characterized by low mood, anhedonia, loss of interest in daily activities, and other symptoms, and is associated with severe consequences including suicide and increased risk of cardiovascular events. The standard of care for the last 50 years has focused on monoamine neurotransmitters, including such treatments as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). However, these treatments have significant limitations: they can take weeks before showing mood-altering effects, and only one to two out of ten patients show clinical effects beyond those associated with placebo. A major paradigm shift in research into the treatment of depression is underway, based on promising results with the glutamatergic NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine. This meeting report presents a summary of the conference “Treatment-Resistant Depression: Glutamate, Stress Hormones, and their Roles in the Regeneration of Neurons,” held on March 25, 2013 at the New York Academy of Sciences. The report discusses how treatment with NMDA receptor antagonists and magnesium have shown the ability to sprout new synaptic connections and reverse stress-induced neural changes, opening up promising new territory for the development of drugs to meet the unmet need in patients with clinical depression.

Also included in this Annals volume is a scholarly review on carbohydrate recognition in the immune system and contributions of neoglycolipid-based microarrays to carbohydrate ligand discovery. Oligosaccharide sequences in glycomes of eukaryotes and prokaryotes are enormously diverse. The reasons are not fully understood, but there is an increasing number of examples of the involvement of specific oligosaccharide sequences as ligands in protein–carbohydrate interactions in health and, directly or indirectly, in every major disease, be it infectious or noninfectious. The pinpointing and characterizing of oligosaccharide ligands within glycomes has been one of the most challenging aspects of molecular cell biology, as oligosaccharides cannot be cloned and are generally available in limited amounts. This overview recounts the background to the development of a microarray system that is poised for surveying proteomes for carbohydrate-binding activities and glycomes for assigning the oligosaccharide ligands.