Dunedin, New Zealand

University of Otago

Dunedin, New Zealand

The University of Otago in Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest university. It had over 21,000 students enrolled during 2011.The university has New Zealand's highest average research quality and in New Zealand is second only to the University of Auckland in the number of A rated academic researchers it employs. It topped the New Zealand Performance Based Research Fund evaluation in 2006.Founded in 1869 by a committee including Thomas Burns, the university opened in July 1871. Its motto is "Sapere aude" . The Otago University Students' Association answers this with its own motto, "Audeamus" . The university's graduation song Gaudeamus igitur, iuvenes dum sumus... acknowledges students will continue to live up to the challenge if not always in the way intended. Between 1874 and 1961 the University of Otago was a part of the University of New Zealand, and issued degrees in its name.Otago is known for its student life, particularly its flatting, which is often in old sub-standard houses. The nickname Scarfie comes from the habit of wearing a scarf during cold southern winters. The Scarfie term is also referenced in the movie Scarfies. Wikipedia.

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University of Otago and Medical Research Council | Date: 2017-03-10

The invention relates to novel NO donors which are targeted to the mitochondria. The NO donor compounds of the invention allow NO to be selectively provided to the mitochondria.

Hulme S.R.,University of Otago | Jones O.D.,University of Otago | Abraham W.C.,University of Otago
Trends in Neurosciences | Year: 2013

Since its initial conceptualisation, metaplasticity has come to encompass a wide variety of phenomena and mechanisms, creating the important challenge of understanding how they contribute to network function and behaviour. Here, we present a framework for considering potential roles of metaplasticity across three domains of function. First, metaplasticity appears ideally placed to prepare for subsequent learning by either enhancing learning ability generally or by preparing neuronal networks to encode specific content. Second, metaplasticity can homeostatically regulate synaptic plasticity, and this likely has important behavioural consequences by stabilising synaptic weights while ensuring the ongoing availability of synaptic plasticity. Finally, we discuss emerging evidence that metaplasticity mechanisms may play a role in disease causally and may serve as a potential therapeutic target. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Shemmell J.,University of Otago
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience | Year: 2015

Neural pathways underpinning startle reflex and limb stretch reflexes evolved independently and have served vastly different purposes. In their most basic form, the pathways responsible for these reflex responses are relatively simple processing units that produce a motoric response that is proportional to the stimulus received. It is becoming clear however, that rapid responses to external stimuli produced by human and non-human primates are context-dependent in a manner similar to voluntary movements. This mini review discusses the nature of startle and stretch reflex interactions in human and non-human primates and the involvement of the primary motor cortex in their regulation. © 2015 Shemmell.

Purposes: The aims of this paper are three-folds: first, to identify and appraise evidence from published systematic and meta-analytic reviews on 1) movement characteristics of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD); 2) the effects of movement based interventions for ASD; 3) hypothesized underlying neural mechanisms for the movement characteristics. Methods: A meta review of published systematic and meta-analytic reviews on movement characteristics, structural and functional brain anomalies in ASD and the effects of movement based interventions for individuals with ASD between 1806 and October 2012. The methodological quality of the identified systematic and metaanalytic reviews was independently assessed by two assessors with the assessment of multiple systematic reviews (AMSTAR). Results: The search yielded a total of twelve reviews on the movement differences or the movement based interventions. The methodological quality of the reviews varied, but the review conclusions were similar. Although individuals with ASD generally perform less well than age-matched controls in developmental movement tasks, there are few exceptions whose movement abilities are intact. Most movement based interventions report their efficacies. However, all existing studies employ the research design that is inherently incapable of providing strong evidence, and they often fail to report the extent of psychosocial interactions within the movement interventions. The hypothesized neural mechanisms are still under development and speculative in nature. Conclusions: It is premature to designate movement disturbance as a core symptom of ASD. The effects of movement based interventions on ASD core symptoms need to be further validated by stronger evidence based on verified theoretical mechanisms linking ASD with movement disorders. © 2013 Miyahara.

Vanneste S.,University of Texas at Dallas | De Ridder D.,University of Otago
NeuroImage | Year: 2016

Tinnitus has been considered an auditory phantom percept. Recently a theoretical multiphase compensation mechanism at a cortical level has been hypothesized linking auditory deafferentation to tinnitus. This Bayesian brain model predicts that two very different kinds of tinnitus should exist, depending on the amount of hearing loss: an auditory cortex related form of tinnitus not associated with hearing loss, and a (para)hippocampal form associated with hearing loss, in which the auditory cortex might be of little relevance. In order to verify this model, resting state source analyzed EEG recordings were made in 129 tinnitus patients, and correlated to the mean hearing loss, the range of the hearing loss and the hearing loss at the tinnitus frequency. Results demonstrate that tinnitus can be linked to 2 very different mechanisms. In patients with little or no hearing loss, the tinnitus seems to be more related to auditory cortex activity, but not to (para)hippocampal memory related activity, whereas in tinnitus patients with more severe hearing loss, tinnitus seems to be related to (para)hippocampal mechanisms. Furthermore hearing loss seems to drive the communication between the auditory cortex and the parahippocampus, as measured by functional and effective connectivity. © 2015 Elsevier Inc..

Miller J.,University of Otago
Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics | Year: 2016

As a supplement to Gondan and Minakata’s (2015) tutorial on methods for testing the race model inequality, this theoretical note attempts to clarify further (a) the types of models that obey and violate the inequality and (b) the conclusions that can be drawn when the inequality is violated. In particular, the idea that individual racers proceed at the same speed in the single and redundant conditions (also known as “context independence”) is shown to be better understood as an inherent part of Raab’s (1962) original race model than as a separate, additional assumption. Thus, evidence that individual racers proceeded at different speeds in the single and redundant conditions, if available, should be viewed as supporting one type of coactivation model rather than an alternative model. In addition, it is shown that a class of race-like models without the assumption of context independence is so broad that it can never be falsified. © 2015, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.

Jones O.D.,University of Otago
Neuroscience | Year: 2015

For over two decades it has been increasingly appreciated that synaptic plasticity mechanisms are subject to activity-dependent metaplastic regulation. In recent years it has also become apparent that astrocytes are active partners with neurons at synapses, and have the capability to powerfully regulate synaptic plasticity. However, the field of astrocyte-mediated metaplasticity is still very much in its infancy. Further, what contribution astrocyte-mediated metaplasticity makes to hippocampal dysfunction is almost entirely unknown. This contribution may be particularly important given that altered plasticity in the hippocampus is a hallmark of several disease states. The known ways by which astrocytes exert metaplasticity are reviewed here, and hypothetical mechanisms of astrocyte-mediated metaplasticity are considered for the benefit of future investigation. The latter half of this review focuses on what part these mechanisms, and others, may play in the diseased or injured hippocampus, and how this might contribute to the altered cognition seen in several pathologies common to the hippocampus. © 2015 IBRO.

Bates A.E.,University of Otago
Nature communications | Year: 2010

The thermal characteristics of an organism's environment affect a multitude of parameters, from biochemical to evolutionary processes. Hydrothermal vents on mid-ocean ridges are created when warm hydrothermal fluids are ejected from the seafloor and mixed with cold bottom seawater; many animals thrive along these steep temperature and chemical gradients. Two-dimensional temperature maps at vent sites have demonstrated order of magnitude thermal changes over centimetre distances and at time intervals from minutes to hours. To investigate whether animals adapt to this extreme level of environmental variability, we examined differences in the thermal behaviour of mobile invertebrates from aquatic habitats that vary in thermal regime. Vent animals were highly responsive to heat and preferred much cooler fluids than their upper thermal limits, whereas invertebrates from other aquatic environments risked exposure to warmer temperatures. Avoidance of temperatures well within their tolerated range may allow vent animals to maintain a safety margin against rapid temperature fluctuations and concomitant toxicity of hydrothermal fluids.

Winterbourn C.C.,University of Otago
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects | Year: 2014

Background Small molecule fluorescent probes are vital tools for monitoring reactive oxygen species in cells. Scope of review The types of probe available, the extent to which they are specific or quantitative and complications in interpreting results are discussed. Major conclusions Most commonly used probes (e.g. dihydrodichlorofluorescein, dihydrorhodamine) have some value in providing information on changes to the redox environment of the cell, but they are not specific for any one oxidant and the response is affected by numerous chemical interactions and not just increased oxidant generation. These probes generate the fluorescent end product by a free radical mechanism, and to react with hydrogen peroxide they require a metal catalyst. Probe radicals can react with oxygen, superoxide, and various antioxidant molecules, all of which influence the signal. Newer generation probes such as boronates act by a different mechanism in which nucleophilic attack by the oxidant on a blocking group releases masked fluorescence. Boronates react with hydrogen peroxide, peroxynitrite, hypochlorous acid and in some cases superoxide, so are selective but not specific. They react with hydrogen peroxide very slowly, and kinetic considerations raise questions about how the reaction could occur in cells. General significance Data from oxidant-sensitive fluorescent probes can provide some information on cellular redox activity but is widely misinterpreted. Recently developed non-redox probes show promise but are not generally available and more information on specificity and cellular reactions is needed. We do not yet have probes that can quantify cellular production of specific oxidants. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Current methods to study reactive oxygen species - pros and cons and biophysics of membrane proteins. Guest Editor: Christine Winterbourn. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-STG | Phase: ERC-2016-STG | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2017

Bacteria have a range of immune mechanisms, but it is unclear why this diverse armamentarium evolved. The most important immune mechanisms are (1) Surface Modification (SM) (2) Abortive infection (Abi) (3) Restriction Modification (R-M) (4) CRISPR-Cas and (5) prokaryotic Argonaute (pAgo), all of which can occur as stand-alone mechanisms or in combination. The individual mechanisms differ in key aspects, such as their fitness costs (constitutive versus inducible), specificity (indiscriminate versus specific), the recipient of the benefits (individual versus group), the speed of de novo resistance evolution (rapid versus slow), and heritability of immunity. Here I will take a combined in vitro and in vivo approach to tease apart the variables that drive the evolution of these diverse stand-alone and integrated bacterial immune strategies in nature, and examine their associated co-evolutionary dynamics. I focus on three ecological variables that are consistently important in host-symbiont co-evolution: (1) force of infection (2) spatial structure (3) presence of mutualists (plasmids). First, I will perform in vitro manipulations using Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 variants that carry either single or multiple immune mechanisms. Next, I will sequence metagenomes, transcriptomes and viromes of microbial communities from environments that differ in ecological variables that are important in vitro, to examine their importance in vivo. Key ecological mechanisms identified in the first two parts of the project will be used to guide mesocosm experiments to experimentally confirm that these mechanisms are the drivers of the observed patterns of resistance and co-evolution in nature. Finally, I will share my data with mathematical biologists to generate theoretical models to predict and manipulate the evolution of bacterial immune mechanisms, which will facilitate tailored species protection in agriculture and industry.

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