Image of the Day: Make or Break a Habit

Deep within the forebrains of mice, scientists have identified an elusive cell type responsible for forming habits.

Sep 7, 2017
The Scientist Staff

A stained slice of a mouse striatum, depicting fast-spiking interneurons (purple)—newly characterized as habit-forming cellsJUSTIN O'HARE, DUKE UNIVERSITY Duke University researchers demonstrate that a single type of fast-spiking interneuron, found within the mouse striatum, orchestrates the development of habitual behavior.

“This cell is a relatively rare cell but one that is very heavily connected to the main neurons that relay the outgoing message for this brain region,” says senior author Nicole Calakos of Duke University Medical Center in a news release. “We find that this cell is a master controller of habitual behavior, and it appears to do this by re-orchestrating the message sent by the outgoing neurons.”

See J.K. O’Hare et al., “Striatal fast-spiking interneurons selectively modulate circuit output and are required for habitual behavior,” eLife6:e26231, 2017.