Nature Neuroscience | Action Potential

Nature Neuroscience turns 10!

Our May editorial takes a brief look back at some of the history of Nature Neuroscience. We also present some of the most-cited papers over the past decade. This is an interesting exercise, as it provides an opportunity to reflect on the interests of both the authors and readers over the past decade.


As promised in the editorial, here is a list of most highly cited paper from each year of the journals publication, up until 2005 (going beyond that, things get a little unreliable since the citation half-life is usually quoted as being somewhere between 2-3 years):

1998: Nature Neuroscience 1, 69 – 73 (1998) ; doi:10.1038/271

Cortisol levels during human aging predict hippocampal atrophy and memory deficits

Sonia J. Lupien, Mony de Leon, Susan de Santi, Antonio Convit, Chaim Tarshish, N. P. V. Nair, Mira Thakur, Bruce S. McEwen, Richard L. Hauger & Michael J. Meaney

447 citations

1999: Nature Neuroscience 2, 266 – 270 (1999) ; doi:10.1038/6368

Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus

Henriette van Praag, Gerd Kempermann & Fred H. Gage

839 citations

2000: Nature Neuroscience 3, 1301 – 1306 (2000) ; doi:10.1038/81834

Chronic systemic pesticide exposure reproduces features of Parkinson’s disease

Ranjita Betarbet, Todd B. Sherer, Gillian MacKenzie, Monica Garcia-Osuna, Alexander V. Panov & J. Timothy Greenamyre

876 citations

2001: Nature Neuroscience 4, 95 – 102 (2001) ; doi:10.1038/82959

Abstract reward and punishment representations in the human orbitofrontal cortex

J. O’Doherty, M. L. Kringelbach, E. T. Rolls, J. Hornak & C. Andrews

454 citations

2002: Nature Neuroscience 5, 452 – 457 (2002) ; doi:10.1038/nn842

Immunization reverses memory deficits without reducing brain A burden in Alzheimer’s disease model

Jean-Cosme Dodart, Kelly R. Bales, Kimberley S. Gannon, Stephen J. Greene, Ronald B. DeMattos, Chantal Mathis, Cynthia A. DeLong, Su Wu, Xin Wu, David M. Holtzman & Steven M. Paul

317 citations

2003: Nature Neuroscience 6, 43 – 50 (2002) ; doi:10.1038/nn980

Neuron-to-astrocyte signaling is central to the dynamic control of brain microcirculation

Micaela Zonta, María Cecilia Angulo, Sara Gobbo, Bernhard Rosengarten, Konstantin-A. Hossmann, Tullio Pozzan & Giorgio Carmignoto

292 citations

2004: Nature Neuroscience 7, 847 – 854 (2004) ; doi:10.1038/nn1276

Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior

Ian C G Weaver, Nadia Cervoni, Frances A Champagne, Ana C D’Alessio, Shakti Sharma, Jonathan R Seckl, Sergiy Dymov, Moshe Szyf & Michael J Meaney

413 citations

2005: Nature Neuroscience 8, 828 – 834 (2005) ; doi:10.1038/nn1463

5-HTTLPR polymorphism impacts human cingulate-amygdala interactions: a genetic susceptibility mechanism for depression

Lukas Pezawas, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Emily M Drabant, Beth A Verchinski, Karen E Munoz, Bhaskar S Kolachana, Michael F Egan, Venkata S Mattay, Ahmad R Hariri & Daniel R Weinberger

236 citations

And, the Top 10 overall:

1. 876 citations

Nature Neuroscience 3, 1301 – 1306 (2000) ; doi:10.1038/81834

Chronic systemic pesticide exposure reproduces features of Parkinson’s disease

Ranjita Betarbet, Todd B. Sherer, Gillian MacKenzie, Monica Garcia-Osuna, Alexander V. Panov & J. Timothy Greenamyre

2. 839 citations

Nature Neuroscience 2, 266 – 270 (1999) ; doi:10.1038/6368

Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus

Henriette van Praag, Gerd Kempermann & Fred H. Gage

3. 746 citations

Nature Neuroscience 2, 260 – 265 (1999) ; doi:10.1038/6365

Learning enhances adult neurogenesis in the hippocampal formation

Elizabeth Gould, Anna Beylin, Patima Tanapat, Alison Reeves & Tracey J. Shors

4. 595 citations

Nature Neuroscience 2, 861 – 863 (1999) ; doi:10.1038/13158

Brain development during childhood and adolescence: a longitudinal MRI study

Jay N. Giedd, Jonathan Blumenthal, Neal O. Jeffries, F. X. Castellanos, Hong Liu, Alex Zijdenbos, Tomá Paus, Alan C. Evans & Judith L. Rapoport

5. 509 citations

Nature Neuroscience 3, 661 – 669 (2000) ; doi:10.1038/76615

Proteomic analysis of NMDA receptor−adhesion protein signaling complexes

Holger Husi, Malcolm A. Ward, Jyoti S. Choudhary, Walter P. Blackstock & Seth G. N. Grant

6. 476 citations

Nature Neuroscience 3, 292 – 297 (2000) ; doi:10.1038/73009

Voluntary orienting is dissociated from target detection in human posterior parietal cortex

Maurizio Corbetta, J. Michelle Kincade, John M. Ollinger, Marc P. McAvoy & Gordon L. Shulman

7. 454 citations

Nature Neuroscience 4, 95 – 102 (2001) ; doi:10.1038/82959

Abstract reward and punishment representations in the human orbitofrontal cortex

J. O’Doherty, M. L. Kringelbach, 2, E. T. Rolls, J. Hornak & C. Andrews

8. 447 citations

Nature Neuroscience 1, 69 – 73 (1998) ; doi:10.1038/271

Cortisol levels during human aging predict hippocampal atrophy and memory deficits

Sonia J. Lupien, Mony de Leon, Susan de Santi, Antonio Convit, Chaim Tarshish, N. P. V. Nair, Mira Thakur, Bruce S. McEwen, Richard L. Hauger & Michael J. Meaney

9. 435 citations

Nature Neuroscience 3, 284 – 291 (2000) ; doi:10.1038/72999

The neural mechanisms of top-down attentional control

J. B. Hopfinger, M. H. Buonocore & G. R. Mangun

10. 413 citations

Nature Neuroscience 7, 847 – 854 (2004) ; doi:10.1038/nn1276

Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior

Ian C G Weaver, Nadia Cervoni, Frances A Champagne, Ana C D’Alessio, Shakti Sharma, Jonathan R Seckl, Sergiy Dymov, Moshe Szyf & Michael J Meaney

An interesting list that spans quite a few sub-disciplines, hopefully reflecting our attempt at balance when covering all fields for our broad readership. What interesting trends do you see? Any interesting developments that you find surprising or completely expected? I look forward to reading your analysis.

Comments

  1. Report this comment

    Met. E. said:

    The question is how many of these papers will withstand the test of time, which you do not answer. I see at least two papers among the most cited that definitely describe artifacts. Nevertheless they keep getting cited because the corresponding fields are “soft” and less rigorous than other more advanced fields of neuroscience.

  2. Report this comment

    Noah Gray said:

    Hi Met. Could you elaborate on this topic; which papers and which fields are “soft”?

  3. Report this comment

    Michael said:

    Noah,

    Maybe this not the forum to compare commercial products but I had never heard of Scopus before and interestingly enough they tend to come up with 10% more citations per paper, compared to the other product out there. On the other hand, there are lots of spelling mistakes (particular in the name of the authors) that make it hard to find a paper in the first place.

    On topic: It would be interesting to find out whether some of those highly cited papers tend to have a large percentage of citations outside their immediate field (not sure how ‘outside’ would best be defined; perhaps by the citing and the cited paper sharing no common references). My suspicion is that they do and my fear is that in many cases the citing authors have read the title and perhaps the abstract of the paper , but are otherwise rather clueless over what the study shows (and doesn’t show), how experiments were conducted etc. Obviously it is a positive if papers make a splash outside their immediate area but it seems that the further one gets away from the circle of experts that can judge a paper and understand its impact, the more capricious some of the citations become.

  4. Report this comment

    Noah Gray said:

    Hi Michael. To which other products are you referring? ISI Web of Knowledge? Any others? It is possible that some of the higher citation counts stem from the fact that Scopus does include some preprint servers on their list, but I doubt that this would systematically increase all their listed citations by 10%.

    As for your “on topic” statements, you actually raise 2 important points.

    1. It is very difficult to measure whether citations come from outside the immediate field since defining “field” is such a subjective measure. Frankly, most papers in Nature Neuroscience these days bridge multiple sub-disciplines, making it difficult to pigeon-hole a study in one particular area.

    2. I would agree with you 100% that as one gets further and further from one’s expertise, it becomes more difficult to find and/or know the best citations to use. Many people rely on the reputation of the journal to help them find the “important” papers, but again, this can be another very subjective measure. It is extremely important for authors to do their homework and treat their reference section with utmost care, utilizing their colleagues, if need be, to assist them in accurately depicting fields of study in which they are not experts.

    Also, related to your second point, the ethical issue of citing a paper based only on a reading of the abstract came to my mind. This is much more likely to happen when one is discussing unfamiliar territory. For the record, I say it is an ethical breach to cite a paper based only on a reading of the abstract.

  5. Report this comment

    DSKS said:

    It’s worth reiterating that Nature Neuroscience, along with every other journal on the market, is primarily a publication (and a good publication, I think), not an arbiter of good science.

    As a publication, the journal is justifiably celebrating the fact that it has snapped up some high impact papers over its relatively short lifetime, allowing it to compete well in the market for subscriptions. I don’t think Nat. Neurosci is suggesting that its papers are particularly “important” in the long run. It is merely the case that they have been widely read, as indicated, albeit imperfectly, by the only easily available statistic; citations.

    The Impact Factor is a fine example of one of those queer and self-perpetuating urban legends. They were never intended to be anything other than a rough parameter used by publishers to assess the competitiveness of their publications in the market. And yet, somewhere along the line, scientists started convincing themselves that everyone else (grant and search committees &c) took this flawed parameter to be the ultimate grade by which to judge the value of a scientist’s work. This paranoia has become so widespread that there is now probably a hint of truth to the underlying fear, even though everyone (that I’ve met at least) agrees that IF is of no use as a grade for good science.

    Group think at its best, imho.

    As it is, what with free access and all that, IF is likely to even lose what little relevance it has as a marketing statistic. But no doubt we’ll all still appeal to it, even as, at the same time, we all deride its usefulness!

    In summary, good on Nat. Neurosci. They’re certainly giving J. Neurosci. a run for its money.