Thursday, November 20, 2014

Deciphering the syntax of Nature article titles

We all want to publish in Nature. Papers in Nature are (supposed to be) the complete package: reliable results that show something novel; cool techniques; a famous corresponding author. And if you want to get one, you need a title that shows you are a refined gentleperson who belongs in the Nature club.

So to help you, dear blog reader, I have scoured the archives of Nature* to decipher the ideal form of Nature titles:

[research-y verb-ing] a neural circuit for [behaviour]

For example in hunger there are: Genetic identification of a neural circuit that suppresses appetite; and Deciphering a neuronal circuit that mediates loss of appetite. Or in anxiety there is Genetic dissection of an amygdala microcircuit that gates conditioned fear. Disambiguate is an underused verb here.

If you're feeling poetic, you can rearrange the elements. For example, you can try putting the neural stuff first, like The neural representation of taste quality at the periphery. Or in olfaction, there's Neuronal filtering of multiplexed odour representations.

If you are particularly concise, you can drop the verb altogether, and just combine a couple nouns with a preposition. The cells and peripheral representation of sodium taste in micePerception of sniff phase in mouse olfactionDistinct extended amygdala circuits for divergent motivational states.

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to mention the brain region, molecular marker, or techniques you used to [verb] your [behaviour]. If you are studying how photostimulating AgRP neurons induces feeding, don't mention photostimulation or AgRP (Deconstruction of a neural circuit for hunger). Otherwise, you might end up in Nature Neuroscience (AGRP neurons are sufficient to orchestrate feeding behavior rapidly and without training).

And, most importantly, keep it short. If you're studying taste receptors, go for something like An amino-acid taste receptor. Stuff like Gustatory expression pattern of the human TAS2R bitter receptor gene family reveals a heterogenous population of bitter responsive taste receptor cells goes in the Journal of Neuroscience.

If you have any other examples of the beautiful Nature titles, write in the comments!

*skimmed the tables of contents

Bonus titles:
The receptors and cells for mammalian taste.
Excitatory cortical neurons form fine-scale functional networksA family of candidate taste receptors in human and mouse
Short-term memory in olfactory network dynamics.The detection of carbonation by the Drosophila gustatory system
The cells and logic for mammalian sour taste detection.
The subcellular organization of neocortical excitatory connections.
The receptors and coding logic for bitter taste
The cells and peripheral representation of sodium taste in mice
The molecular basis for water taste in Drosophila

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