Functional meaning of oscillatory brain activity in various frequency bands in the human electroencephalogram (EEG) is increasingly researched. While most research focuses on event-related changes of brain activity in response to external events there is also increasing interest in internal brain states influencing information processing. Several studies suggest amplitude changes of EEG oscillatory activity selectively influencing cortical excitability, and more recently it was shown that phase of EEG activity (instantaneous phase) conveys additional meaning. Here we review this field with many conflicting findings and further investigate whether corticospinal excitability in the resting brain is dependent on a specific spontaneously occurring brain state reflected by amplitude and instantaneous phase of EEG oscillations. We applied single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the left sensorimotor cortex, while simultaneously recording ongoing oscillatory activity with EEG. Results indicate that brain oscillations reflect rapid, spontaneous fluctuations of cortical excitability. Instantaneous phase but not amplitude of oscillations at various frequency bands at stimulation site at the time of TMS-pulse is indicative for brain states associated with different levels of excitability (defined by size of the elicited motor evoked potential). These results are further evidence that ongoing brain oscillations directly influence neural excitability which puts further emphasis on their role in orchestrating neuronal firing in the brain.
Changes in ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA) mediated synaptic transmission have been associated with age-related motor and cognitive functional decline. Since anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (atDCS) has been suggested to target cortical GABAergic inhibitory interneurons, its potential for the treatment of deficient inhibitory activity and functional decline is being increasingly discussed. Therefore, after-effects of a single session of atDCS on resting-state and event-related short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) as evaluated with double-pulse TMS and dexterous manual performance were examined using a sham-controlled cross-over design in a sample of older and younger participants. The atDCS effect on resting-state inhibition differed in direction, magnitude, and timing, i.e., late relative release of inhibition in the younger and early relative increase in inhibition in the older. More pronounced release of event-related inhibition after atDCS was exclusively seen in the older. Event-related modulation of inhibition prior to stimulation predicted the magnitude of atDCS-induced effects on resting-state inhibition. Specifically, older participants with high modulatory capacity showed a disinhibitory effect comparable to the younger. Beneficial effects on behavior were mainly seen in the older and in tasks requiring higher dexterity, no clear association with physiological changes was found. Differential effects of atDCS on SICI, discussed to reflect GABAergic inhibition at the level of the primary motor cortex, might be distinct in older and younger participants depending on the functional integrity of the underlying neural network. Older participants with preserved modulatory capacity, i.e., a physiologically "young" motor network, were more likely to show a disinhibitory effect of atDCS. These results favor individually tailored application of tDCS with respect to specific target groups.
Independent use of both hands is characteristic of human action in daily life. By nature, however, in-phase bimanual movements, for example clapping, are easier to accomplish than anti-phase movements, for example playing the piano. It is commonly agreed that interhemispheric interactions play a central role in the coordination of bimanual movements. However, the spatial, temporal, and physiological properties of the interhemispheric signals that coordinate different modes of bimanual movements are still not completely understood. More precisely, do individual interhemispheric connectivity parameters have behavioral relevance for bimanual rapid anti-phase coordination? To address this question, we measured movement-related interhemispheric interactions, i.e., inhibition and facilitation, and correlated them with the performance during bimanual coordination. We found that movement-related facilitation from right premotor to left primary motor cortex (rPMd-lM1) predicted performance in anti-phase bimanual movements. It is of note that only fast facilitation during the preparatory period of a movement was associated with success in anti-phase movements. Modulation of right to left primary motor interaction (rM1-lM1) was not related to anti-phase but predicted bimanual in-phase and unimanual behavior. These data suggest that strictly timed modulation of interhemispheric rPMd-lM1 connectivity is essential for independent high-frequency use of both hands. The rM1-lM1 results indicate that adjustment of connectivity between homologous M1 may be important for the regulation of homologous muscle synergies.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are well-established tools for investigating the human motor system in-vivo. We here studied the relationship between movement-related fMRI signal changes in the primary motor cortex (M1) and electrophysiological properties of the hand motor area assessed with neuronavigated TMS in 17 healthy subjects. The voxel showing the highest task-related BOLD response in the left hand motor area during right hand movements was identified for each individual subject. This fMRI peak voxel in M1 served as spatial target for coil positioning during neuronavigated TMS. We performed correlation analyses between TMS parameters, BOLD signal estimates and effective connectivity parameters of M1 assessed with dynamic causal modeling (DCM). The results showed a negative correlation between the movement-related BOLD signal in left M1 and resting as well as active motor threshold (MT) obtained for left M1. The DCM analysis revealed that higher excitability of left M1 was associated with a stronger coupling between left supplementary motor area (SMA) and M1. Furthermore, BOLD activity in left M1 correlated with ipsilateral silent period (ISP), i.e. the stronger the task-related BOLD response in left M1, the higher interhemispheric inhibition effects targeting right M1. DCM analyses revealed a positive correlation between the coupling of left SMA with left M1 and the duration of ISP. The data show that TMS parameters assessed for the hand area of M1 do not only reflect the intrinsic properties at the stimulation site but also interactions with remote areas in the human motor system.
Current theoretical positions assume that action-related word meanings are established by functional connections between perisylvian language areas and the motor cortex (MC) according to Hebbs associative learning principle. To test this assumption, we probed the functional relevance of the left MC for learning of a novel action word vocabulary by disturbing neural plasticity in the MC with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). In combination with tDCS, subjects learned a novel vocabulary of 76 concrete, body-related actions by means of an associative learning paradigm. Compared with a control condition with "sham" stimulation, cathodal tDCS reduced success rates in vocabulary acquisition, as shown by tests of novel action word translation into the native language. The analysis of learning behavior revealed a specific effect of cathodal tDCS on the ability to associatively couple actions with novel words. In contrast, we did not find these effects in control experiments, when tDCS was applied to the prefrontal cortex or when subjects learned object-related words. The present study lends direct evidence to the proposition that the left MC is causally involved in the acquisition of novel action-related words.
The preparation of a voluntary unimanual action requires sequential processing in bihemispheric motor areas. In both animals and humans, activity in the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd) ipsilateral to the moving hand has been demonstrated to precede ipsilateral primary motor cortex (M1) activity. We investigated with double-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation how right-hemispheric motor areas (rM1, rPMd) modulate left M1 (lM1) during the preparatory period of a finger movement with the dominant right hand. We tested the hypothesis that the influence of higher order motor areas such as rPMd on lM1 (rPMd-lM1) precedes interhemispheric interactions between homologue primary motor areas (rM1-lM1). rPMd-lM1 showed modulation in the early and late phase of movement preparation, whereas the intrinsic state of inhibition between rM1-lM1 was only modulated in the late phase. The present results complement existing hierarchical models of cortical movement control by demonstrating temporospatially distinct involvement of interhemispheric interactions from PMd and M1 during movement preparation.
The goal of this study was to explore the structural correlates of functional language dominance by directly comparing the brain morphology of healthy subjects with left- and right-hemisphere language dominance.
Autoimmune encephalitis associated with IgG antibodies to the N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor subunit NR1 (NMDAR) presents with neurological symptoms, such as seizures, and especially psychiatric symptoms, such as hallucinations, psychosis, agitation and anxiety. To date, however, the pathological relevance of IgM NMDAR antibodies remains elusive. Here, we describe clinical, neuroradiological and neurobiological findings of a 28-year-old male presenting with IgM NMDAR antibodies coincident with autoimmune encephalitis characterized by symptoms of bipolar disorder. After repeated steroid treatment, cognitive and psychiatric abnormalities improved and no NMDAR antibody was detectable. Using primary neuronal cultures, we demonstrate that patients serum containing IgM NMDAR antibodies reduced the detection of NMDAR on neuronal cells and decreased cell survival. Although NMDAR encephalitis with IgG antibodies is increasingly recognized and diagnosed, atypical presentations with NMDAR antibodies with immunoglobulin subclasses other than IgG pose a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Further clinical and neurobiological studies are needed to study the pathophysiological relevance of IgM NMDAR antibodies.
Despite a growing number of studies, the neurophysiology of adult vocabulary acquisition is still poorly understood. One reason is that paradigms that can easily be combined with neuroscientfic methods are rare. Here, we tested the efficiency of two paradigms for vocabulary (re-) acquisition, and compared the learning of novel words for actions and objects. Cortical networks involved in adult native-language word processing are widespread, with differences postulated between words for objects and actions. Words and what they stand for are supposed to be grounded in perceptual and sensorimotor brain circuits depending on their meaning. If there are specific brain representations for different word categories, we hypothesized behavioural differences in the learning of action-related and object-related words. Paradigm A, with the learning of novel words for body-related actions spread out over a number of days, revealed fast learning of these new action words, and stable retention up to 4 weeks after training. The single-session Paradigm B employed objects and actions. Performance during acquisition did not differ between action-related and object-related words (time*word category: p?=?0.01), but the translation rate was clearly better for object-related (79%) than for action-related words (53%, p?=?0.002). Both paradigms yielded robust associative learning of novel action-related words, as previously demonstrated for object-related words. Translation success differed for action- and object-related words, which may indicate different neural mechanisms. The paradigms tested here are well suited to investigate such differences with neuroscientific means. Given the stable retention and minimal requirements for conscious effort, these learning paradigms are promising for vocabulary re-learning in brain-lesioned people. In combination with neuroimaging, neuro-stimulation or pharmacological intervention, they may well advance the understanding of language learning to optimize therapeutic strategies.
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