Feature

When John Disterhoft, PhD, began his tenure as editor of Behavioral Neuroscience (BN) in January, he brought eight years of experience serving on the journal's editorial board with him. Disterhoft sees his editorship as an opportunity to marry his areas of expertise with the focus of the journal.

"The challenge is to continue development of the journal in the spirit of the last three editors, with some fine-tuning where appropriate," says Disterhoft.

The journal has become one of the premier journals in biological mechanisms of behavior. "Given the direction of the journal, I don't see any need for radical change. What I'm interested in doing happens to overlap quite nicely with my own interests."

Disterhoft will focus on four areas in BN:

  • Mouse behavioral studies. The journal will highlight the optimum techniques to perform behavioral studies in mice, to take advantage of our increasing ability to conduct molecular biology and molecular genetics in mice. Disterhoft hopes the journal will be a leading resource on behavioral models and behavioral work performed on mice.

  • Aging. Readers will find continued focus on the behavioral changes that occur in the aging of animal sand the effects of aging on human behavior.

  • Neuroimaging. Disterhoft expects to increase coverage of breakthroughs in functional magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopic studies. He also wants to include more articles on single-neuron recording techniques, which allow neuroscientists to examine activity in many areas and look in many areas of the brain simultaneously.

  • Human-animal parallel studies. Disterhoft sees neuroscientists going back and forth from animal to human models with more flexibility than two decades ago. "That whole development makes the field much more exciting and is why a journal like BN can make such an important contribution, because it's poised to contain top-quality studies in those areas."

With the advances that have been made in molecular biology and molecular genetics, he wants the best and most influential studies in the journal.

"That's what BN is all about," he adds, "having people consider BN to publish their best work."

Content won't be Disterhoft's only concern. During his editorship he will encourage more minority behavioral neuroscientists to get involved in manuscript review and as members of the editorial board. Admittedly, this will not be an easy task, says Disterhoft, who chairs the minority recruitment committee at Northwestern University. He knows that not enough minorities choose behavioral neuroscience as a career.

Disterhoft's list of priorities also includes shortening the time it takes a submitted manuscript to reach publication. On average, it takes five months for an article to reach print, "which isn't a bad thing," says Disterhoft. However, BN publishes in competition with other journals like Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Science and the Journal of Neuroscience. He and the editorial board will rely more on e-mail and electronic copyediting during the review process.

"BN is looked at as a quality journal," says Disterhoft, "and we want to do everything we can to speed up the process without sacrificing quality."

Further Reading

Send manuscripts to Disterhoft at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University Medical School, 303 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; e-mail: jdisterhoft@northwestern.edu.