Special Issues

Special Issue Title: Proceedings of the 2018 and 2019 summer schools on brain and gut neuroscience: from molecules to mood

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·  Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2020

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor

      Prof. Massimo Cocchi

      Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy

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Interests: Biochemistry of lipids, fatty acids, linoleic acid and cholesterol

      Associate Prof. Marco Deriu

      DIMEAS, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy

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Interests: Molecular modeling, computational chemistry, molecular dynamics, molecular dynamics simulation, density functional theory, quantum chemistry, parkinson's disease, molecular simulation, alzheimer's disease, protein-protein interaction

      Prof. Jack A. Tuszynski

      1. DIMEAS, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy
      2. Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

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Interests: Physiologically-based models and simulations for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic applications, computational drug discovery, molecular biophysics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The objective behind this collection of papers is to present an integrated view of the human brain in terms of both its hierarchical structural organization and functional complexity. Through the contributed articles that reflect the lectures given in Turin, Italy, our objective is to develop an overview of modern neuroscience in a multi-scale approach starting with molecular aspects and ending with psychological, psychiatric and pharmacological aspects. The assumptions of cognitive neuroscience employ abstractions from the theoretical constructs of 19th century physics. Specifically, neural network models of “emergent conscious experience” rely on analogies to relations among molecules in crystals, fluids, and gases and employ chemical hypotheses regarding the emergence of thoughts, moods, and perceptions from chemical modulation of synaptic interactions among neurons. However, 20th and 21st century science offers probabilistic perspectives from which to view the mind-brain nexus. Quantum mechanics and quantum field theory have given physicists extra “degrees of freedom”, radically multiplied beyond thermodynamics. A relatively new offshoot of quantum physics is quantum information theory, quantum cryptography and actual quantum computation. Quantum logic formally upgrades the classical concept of a “bit” into the notion of a “qubit”. Quantum interference permits vast computational parallelism. Cognitive paradigms drawing upon wave-like quantum logic have recently spawned a new psychological literature. In 2013 Emmanuel Pothos and Jerome Busemeyer advanced an argument that quantum modeling captures many empirically known relations among human perceptions, including mutual interference, order-dependence, and non-localized links, more accurately and completely than does classical neural network theory. Gregory Engel's laboratory and other researchers after him in the last decade demonstrated experimentally that photosynthesis entails intrinsic quantum components giving rise to the field of "quantum biology.” Werner Loewenstein extended quantum biology to include cognitive neuroscience. Hence, it is high time to reconsider new quantum neuroscientific approaches developed over the past three decades as alternatives to traditionally dominant non-quantum paradigms. The way for this has been paved by the work of physicists like Hiroomi Umezawa, Kunio Yasue, Giuseppe Vitiello, Jack Tuszynski, and Travis Craddock, mathematicians like Roger Penrose, and biomedical investigators like Stuart Hameroff and Gustav Bernroider, some of whom will give lectures at this school. These innovators, by plumbing the depths of the brain’s “quantum underground” and its amplifications across diverse scales of the “connectome” have laid a foundation for a possible rapprochement between material substrates and human cognition. In the past few years, quantum-psychological and quantum-neurodynamical ideas have also provided alternative hypotheses concerning the genesis and nature of mental illness. Several efforts in this direction were undertaken by members of the QPP (Quantum Psychopathology) initiative, an effort led by Massimo Cocchi to develop viable quantum paradigms of psychopathology. Nancy Woolf suggested possible links between psychopathology and anomalous quantum computation in cytoskeletal proteins. Paavo Pylkkanen hypothesized a relationship between diffuse physical substrates of mental illness and quantum “pilot waves” gone awry. Massimo Cocchi and his collaborators identified via membrane biophysics possible quantitative correlations between phospholipid composition, serotonin and quantum properties of the cytoskeleton in depression and psychosis. Massimo Pregnolato suggested wave-like quantum logic as a possible non-Boolean algebra underlying primary process in thought disorders. Ursula Werneke reinterpreted the content of “impaired” reality testing in the context of Hugh Everett’s many-worlds ontology. Eliano Pessa proposed a mathematical structure for psychiatric disease nosology based on symmetry breaking. These ideas may guide future explorations of quantum paradigms of psychopathology. First, shifts from coherent to incoherent quantum brain states may, when aberrant, flag neural correlates of psychotic perception. Second, persistently mismatched phase relations among “parallel channels” of quantum information processing may shed light on clinical thought disorders. Third, bulk properties of brain states emerging from scaled-up quantum-statistical aspects of neural matter may include subjective experience, including normal and abnormal variation of moods. Fourth, resonances across the connectome, readjusted to account for quantum uncertainty effects, may inform us about effects of psychotherapeutic interventions, including electromagnetic brain stimulation. An important emerging topic of the gut-brain axis via microbiota has been extensively covered in these lectures. In this advanced course on neuroscience we have collectively explored the strengths and weaknesses of quantum-cognitive and quantum-neurodynamical perspectives on normal and pathological mentation in comparison to mainstream non-quantum paradigms through lectures, exercises and discussions. Emphasis has been placed on the evolution and content of novel paradigms and their empirical correlates while technical details will be kept to a minimum. The audience was introduced to historical, theoretical, and empirically oriented material and then encouraged to synthesize their own sets of conclusions regarding the possible practical relevance of quantum psychology and quantum brain models to neuroscience and psychiatry.

This collection of papers is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Kary Mullis (Nobel Prize, 1993) who was an active participant in QPP Meetings, a friend, mentor and colleague to all of us.

Prof. Massimo Cocchi, Associate Prof. Marco Deriu and Prof. Jack A. Tuszynski

Guest Editor


Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at https://jour.ipublishment.com/imr/access/login by registering and logging into this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by IMR Press.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is $1500. We normally offer a discount greater than 30% (APC: $1050) to all contributors invited by the Editor-in-Chief, Guest Editor (GE) and Editorial board member. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English.


Quantum paradigm, gut-brain axis, microbiota, quantum computation, psychopathology

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Published Papers (5 papers)
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The role of mast cells in the gut and brain
Giovanna Traina
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2021, 20 (1): 185-196.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2021.01.313
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Mast cells are the major effectors in allergic reactions through degranulation and release of inflammatory, vasoactive and nociceptive mediators associated with the pathogenesis of a variety of inflammatory disorders. Mast cells are strategically positioned as gatekeepers at host/environment interfaces, like the skin, airways, gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts, and their presence also in the brain allows them to act not only as sentinels of invading microorganisms but also as targets to respond to different allergens, pathogens and other dangerous agents that can be ingested, inhaled or encountered after the breakdown of the epithelial barrier. Mast cells can respond to any change in the environment by communicating with the different cells involved in the immune response and giving rise to an amplification signal network through feedback loops. They secrete both preformed mediators within minutes of stimulation and de novo synthesized molecules acting as effectors in the relationship between nervous, vascular and immune systems. For this peculiarity, mast cells are master regulators and key players of the immune system and important sources of essential and beneficial mediators with crucial roles in regulating various physiological processes.
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Learning processes in elementary nervous systems§
Giovanna Traina
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2020, 19 (4): 673-678.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2020.04.318
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Invertebrate animal models show simple behaviors supported by neural circuits easily accessible for experimentation and yet complex enough to provide necessary information on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern the vertebrate nervous system's function. The mechanisms underlying simple forms of learning have been extensively studied in the marine gastropod Aplysia californica, in which elementary non-associative learning of the behavioral habituation and sensitization type has been studied using the gill withdrawal reflex. A strong stimulus applied to the neck or tail improves the reflex response through heterosynaptic facilitation. The neurotransmitter serotonin is involved in both behavioral sensitization and dishabituation by acting through the second messenger cyclic adenosine monophosphate, protein kinase A, the phosphorylation of a K+ channel, causing its closure. This broadens the action potential profile, increases the influx of Ca2+ through voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, and enhances the neurotransmitter glutamate's release. Short-term memory is based on covalent modifications of pre-existing proteins, while long-term memory requires gene transcription, protein translation and growth of new synapses. Another simple invertebrate model is the leech Hirudo medicinalis. In nearly-intact preparations, the repetitive application of light electrical stimuli at the level of the caudal portion of the body wall can induce the habituation of swimming induction. At the same time, the stroke on the dorsal skin generates behavioral sensitization or dishabituation. Knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of activity-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity provides a basis for understanding the mechanisms underlying learning, memory, other forms of brain plasticity, and pathological conditions and suggests potential therapeutic interventions.
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Serotonin syndrome: a clinical review of current controversies
Ursula Werneke, Petra Truedson-Martiniussen, Henrik Wikström, Michael Ott
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2020, 19 (4): 719-727.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2020.04.314
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Serotonin syndrome is a state of increased central and peripheral serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) activity. Unless recognized and treated early, serotonin syndrome can lead to seizures, shock and death. Both substances with direct and indirect serotonergic activity can precipitate the syndrome. Serotonin syndrome can occur not only in psychiatric but also in non-psychiatric settings. Yet, clinicians may not be familiar with the condition. We explore some of the current controversies regarding serotonin syndrome. Specifically, we tested the following assumptions: (i) Despite being rare, serotonin syndrome is still clinically relevant; (ii) The Hunter criteria are the gold standard for diagnosing serotonin syndrome; (iii) Hyperthermia is common in cases of serotonin syndrome; (iv) Serotonin syndrome usually develops fast; (v) Severe serotonin syndrome usually or almost exclusively involves monoamine oxidase inhibitors. We found that (i) despite being rare, serotonin syndrome was clinically relevant, (ii) the Hunter criteria could not be regarded as the gold standard for the diagnosis of serotonin syndrome since they missed more cases than the other two diagnostic criteria systems (Sternbach and Radomski criteria), (iii) Serotonin syndrome could occur in the absence of an elevated temperature, (iv) fast onset could not be regarded as a reliable clinical sign of serotonin syndrome, and (v) absence of monoamine oxidase inhibitors treatment did not exclude a diagnosis of serotonin syndrome. Clinicians should bear in mind that in the context of relevant drug history, serotonin syndrome may still be possible in these circumstances.
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From quantum chemistry to quantum biology: a path toward consciousness
Jack A. Tuszynski
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2020, 19 (4): 687-700.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2020.04.393
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This paper presents a historical overview of quantum physics methodology's development and application to various science fields beyond physics, especially biology and consciousness. Following a successful interpretation of several early 20th century experiments, quantum physics gradually provided a conceptual framework for molecular bonds via quantum chemistry. In recent years individual biological phenomena such as photosynthesis and bird navigation have been experimentally and theoretically analyzed using quantum methods, building conceptual foundations for quantum physics' entry into biology. Quantum concepts have also been recently employed to explain physiology's allometric scaling laws by introducing quantum metabolism theory. In the second part of this work, we discuss how quantum physics may also be pivotal to our understanding of consciousness, which has been touted by some researchers as the last frontier of modern science. Others believe that consciousness does not belong within the realm of science at all. Several hypotheses, especially the Orch OR theory, have been suggested over the past two decades to introduce a scientific basis to consciousness theory. We discuss the merits and potential extensions of these approaches.
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Matter, mind and consciousness: from information to meaning
Giuseppe Vitiello
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2020, 19 (4): 701-709.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2020.04.310
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This is a perspective on some theoretical studies obtained in the framework of the dissipative quantum model of brain. The formation of long range neuronal correlations is described in terms of quantum field theory mechanisms operating in systems with a huge number of degrees of freedom. Memory states are constructed through the condensation in the lowest energy state of quanta associated to the long range correlations. Many properties derived from such a modeling are discussed, also in relation with classical/quantum modeling interplay. The brain flexibility in responding to incoming inputs producing novel correlation patterns is attributed to the chaotic character of trajectories or paths through the memory states. A relevant role in the model is played by the fact that the brain is permanently open to its environment. The brain/mind activity is thus described in the formalism of dissipative systems, also accounting for the formation of the meanings of the information carried by the perceptual experiences. A recent novel description of criticality in brain activity during dreaming, meditation and non-ordinary brain states is briefly mentioned. In the model, it is proposed that consciousness finds its origin in the permanent dialog or interaction of the brain with its environment. Although a long way has been done, much work is still necessary to understand the extraordinary functional properties of brain.
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