Largely based on findings from functional neuroimaging studies, the medial parietal lobe is known to contribute to internally directed cognitive processes such as visual imagery or episodic memory. Here, we present 2 patients with behavioral impairments that extend this view. Both had chronic unilateral lesions of nearly the entire medial parietal lobe, but in opposite hemispheres. Routine neuropsychological examination conducted >4 years after the onset of brain damage showed little deficits of minor severity. In contrast, both patients reported persistent unusual visual impairment. A comprehensive series of tachistoscopic experiments with lateralized stimulus presentation and comparison with healthy participants revealed partial visual hemiagnosia for stimuli presented to their contralesional hemifield, applying inferential single-case statistics to evaluate deficits and dissociations. Double dissociations were found in 4 experiments during which participants had to integrate more than one visual element, either through comparison or formation of a global gestalt. Against the background of recent neuroimaging findings, we conclude that of all medial parietal structures, the precuneus is the most likely candidate for a crucial involvement in such bottom-up visual integration.
Textbooks divide between human memory systems based on consciousness. Hippocampus is thought to support only conscious encoding, while neocortex supports both conscious and unconscious encoding. We tested whether processing modes, not consciousness, divide between memory systems in three neuroimaging experiments with 11 amnesic patients (mean age = 45.55 years, standard deviation = 8.74, range = 23-60) and 11 matched healthy control subjects. Examined processing modes were single item versus relational encoding with only relational encoding hypothesized to depend on hippocampus. Participants encoded and later retrieved either single words or new relations between words. Consciousness of encoding was excluded by subliminal (invisible) word presentation. Amnesic patients and controls performed equally well on the single item task activating prefrontal cortex. But only the controls succeeded on the relational task activating the hippocampus, while amnesic patients failed as a group. Hence, unconscious relational encoding, but not unconscious single item encoding, depended on hippocampus. Yet, three patients performed normally on unconscious relational encoding in spite of amnesia capitalizing on spared hippocampal tissue and connections to language cortex. This pattern of results suggests that processing modes divide between memory systems, while consciousness divides between levels of function within a memory system.
Objective: Xenomelia, that is, the nonacceptance of one's own limb, is an intriguing but little understood condition. We sought to further test the most prominent neuroscientific hypothesis that suggests xenomelia results from a breakdown in multisensory integration for the affected body part. Method: A "rubber foot illusion" paradigm was developed and tested in healthy participants and in individuals with a desire for left foot amputation (xenomelia). Behavioral and physiological responses quantified illusory ownership of a fake foot after synchronous and asynchronous stroking of a visible rubber foot and the subject's own hidden foot. Results: Healthy participants (n = 15) showed a rubber foot illusion similar to the well-known rubber hand illusion. Individuals with xenomelia (n = 9) experienced the rubber foot illusion in a way comparable to healthy controls. The only difference in the individuals with xenomelia was an increase in the vividness of the illusion for the undesired limb. This vividness of the illusion correlated positively with the strength of amputation desire. Conclusion: These findings might reflect the malleable sense of the body in xenomelia and suggest a weakened representation of the affected body part. These findings may support the use of multisensory stimulation in therapeutic settings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
After stroke, the injured brain undergoes extensive reorganization and reconnection. Sleep may play a role in synaptic plasticity underlying stroke recovery. To test this hypothesis, we investigated topographic sleep electroencephalographic characteristics, as a measure of brain reorganization, in the acute and chronic stages after hemispheric stroke. We studied eight patients with unilateral stroke in the supply territory of the middle cerebral artery and eight matched controls. All subjects underwent a detailed clinical examination including assessment of stroke severity, sleep habits and disturbances, anxiety and depression, and high-density electroencephalogram examination with 128 electrodes during sleep. The recordings were performed within 10 days after stroke in all patients, and in six patients also 3 months later. During sleep, we found higher slow-wave and theta activity over the affected hemisphere in the infarct area in the acute and chronic stage of stroke. Slow-wave, theta activity and spindle frequency range power over the affected hemisphere were lower in comparison to the non-affected side in a peri-infarct area in the patients' group, which persisted over time. Conversely, in wakefulness, only an increase of delta, theta activity and a slowing of alpha activity over the infarct area were found. Sleep slow-wave activity correlated with stroke severity and outcome. Stroke might have differential effects on the generation of delta activity in wakefulness and sleep slow waves (1-8 Hz). Sleep electroencephalogram changes over both the affected and non-affected hemispheres reflect the acute dysfunction caused by stroke and the plastic changes underlying its recovery. Moreover, these changes correlate with stroke severity and outcome.
Expectations and beliefs shape the experience of pain. This is most evident in context-induced, placebo analgesia, which has recently been shown to interact with the trait of magical thinking (MT) in adults. In children, placebo analgesia and the possible roles that MT and gender might play as modulators of placebo analgesia have remained unexplored. Using a paradigm in which heat-pain stimuli were applied to both forearms, we investigated whether MT and gender can influence the magnitude of placebo analgesia in children. Participants were 49 right-handed children (aged 6-9 years) who were randomly assigned - stratified for MT and gender - to either an analgesia-expectation or a control-expectation condition. For both conditions, the placebo was a blue-colored hand disinfectant that was applied to the children's forearms. Independent of MT, the placebo treatment significantly increased both heat pain threshold and tolerance. The threshold placebo effect was more pronounced for girls than boys. In addition, independent of the expectation treatment, low-MT boys showed a lower tolerance increase on the left compared to the right side. Finally, MT specifically modulated tolerance on the right forearm-side: low-MT boys showed an increase, whereas high-MT boys showed a decrease in heat pain tolerance. This study documented a substantial expectation-induced placebo analgesia response in children (girls > boys) and demonstrated MT and gender-dependent laterality effects in pain perception. The findings may help improve individualized pain management for children.
Body integrity identity disorder (BIID) is characterized by the overwhelming desire to amputate one or more healthy limbs or to be paraplegic. Recently, a neurological explanation of this condition has been proposed, in part on the basis of findings that the insular cortex might present structural anomalies in these individuals. While these studies focused on body representation, much less is known about emotional processing. Importantly, emotional impairments have been found in psychiatric disorders, and a psychiatric etiology is still a valid alternative to purely neurological accounts of BIID. In this study, we explored, by means of a computerized experiment, facial emotion recognition and emotional responses to disgusting images in seven individuals with BIID, taking into account their clinical features and investigating in detail disgust processing, strongly linked to insular functioning. We demonstrate that BIID is not characterized by a general emotional impairment; rather, there is a selectively reduced disgust response to violations of the body envelope. Taken together, our results support the need to explore this condition under an interdisciplinary perspective, taking into account also emotional connotations and the social modulation of body representation.
We discuss ambiguities of the two main dimensions of the map proposed by Bentley and colleagues that relate to the degree of self-reflection the observed agents have upon their behavior. This self-reflection is a variant of the "looping effect" which denotes that, in social research, the product of investigation influences the object of investigation. We outline how this can be understood as a dimension of "height" in the map of Bentley et al.
In cases of "spina bifida," a detailed prenatal imaging assessment of the exact morphology of neural tube defects (NTD) is often limited. Due to the diverse clinical prognosis and prenatal treatment options, imaging parameters that support the prenatal differentiation between open and closed neural tube defects (ONTDs and CNTDs) are required. This fetal MR study aims to evaluate the clivus-supraocciput angle (CSA) and the maximum transverse diameter of the posterior fossa (TDPF) as morphometric parameters to aid in the reliable diagnosis of either ONTDs or CNTDs.
Exceptional experiences (EE) are experiences that deviate from ordinary experiences, for example precognition, supernatural appearances, or déjà vues. In spite of the high frequency of EE in the general population, little is known about their effect on mental health and about the way people cope with EE. This study aimed to assess the quality and quantity of EE in persons from the Swiss general population, to identify the predictors of their help-seeking, and to determine how many of them approach the mental health system.
Reading habits are thought to play an important role in the emergence of cultural differences in visuo-spatial and numerical tasks. Left-to-right readers show a slight visuo-spatial bias to the left side of space, and automatically associate small numbers to the left and larger numbers to the right side of space, respectively. A paradigm that demonstrated an automatic spatial-numerical association involved the generation of random numbers while participants performed lateral head turns. That is, Westerners have been shown to produce more small numbers when the head was turned to the left compared to the right side. We here employed the head turning/random number generation (RNG) paradigm and a line bisection (LB) task with a group of 34 Iranians in their home country. In the participants' native language (Farsi) text is read from right-to-left, but numbers are read from left-to-right. If the reading direction for text determines the layout of spatial-numerical mappings we expected to find more small numbers after right than left head turns. Yet, the generation of small or large numbers was not modulated by lateral head turns and the Iranians showed therefore no association of numbers with space. There was, however, a significant rightward shift in the LB task. Thus, while the current results are congruent with the idea that text reading habits play an important role in the cultural differences observed in visuo-spatial tasks, our data also imply that these habits on their own are not strong enough to induce significant horizontal spatial-numerical associations. In agreement with previous suggestions, we assume that for the emergence of horizontal numerical mappings a congruency between reading habits for words and numbers is required.
We investigate the number preferences of children and adults when generating random digit sequences. Previous research has shown convincingly that adults prefer smaller numbers when randomly choosing between responses 1-6. We analyze randomization choices made by both children and adults, considering a range of experimental studies and task configurations. Children - most of whom are between 8 and 11~years - show a preference for relatively large numbers when choosing numbers 1-10. Adults show a preference for small numbers with the same response set. We report a modest association between children's age and numerical bias. However, children also exhibit a small number bias with a smaller response set available, and they show a preference specifically for the numbers 1-3 across many datasets. We argue that number space demonstrates both continuities (numbers 1-3 have a distinct status) and change (a developmentally emerging bias toward the left side of representational space or lower numbers).
Prenatal neuroimaging requires reference models that reflect the normal spectrum of fetal brain development, and summarize observations from a representative sample of individuals. Collecting a sufficiently large data set of manually annotated data to construct a comprehensive in vivo atlas of rapidly developing structures is challenging but necessary for large population studies and clinical application. We propose a method for the semi-supervised learning of a spatio-temporal latent atlas of fetal brain development, and corresponding segmentations of emerging cerebral structures, such as the ventricles or cortex. The atlas is based on the annotation of a few examples, and a large number of imaging data without annotation. It models the morphological and developmental variability across the population. Furthermore, it serves as basis for the estimation of a structures morphological age, and its deviation from the nominal gestational age during the assessment of pathologies. Experimental results covering the gestational period of 20-30 gestational weeks demonstrate segmentation accuracy achievable with minimal annotation, and precision of morphological age estimation. Age estimation results on fetuses suffering from lissencephaly demonstrate that they detect significant differences in the age offset compared to a control group.
The way in which humans represent their own bodies is critical in guiding their interactions with the environment. To achieve successful body-space interactions, the body representation is strictly connected with that of the space immediately surrounding it through efficient visuo-tactile crossmodal integration. Such a body-space integrated representation is not fixed, but can be dynamically modulated by the use of external tools. Our study aims to explore the effect of using a complex tool, namely a functional prosthesis, on crossmodal visuo-tactile spatial interactions in healthy participants. By using the crossmodal visuo-tactile congruency paradigm, we found that prolonged training with a mechanical hand capable of distal hand movements and providing sensory feedback induces a pattern of interference, which is not observed after a brief training, between visual stimuli close to the prosthesis and touches on the body. These results suggest that after extensive, but not short, training the functional prosthesis acquires a visuo-tactile crossmodal representation akin to real limbs. This finding adds to previous evidence for the embodiment of functional prostheses in amputees, and shows that their use may also improve the crossmodal combination of somatosensory feedback delivered by the prosthesis with visual stimuli in the space around it, thus effectively augmenting the patients visuomotor abilities.
Neuropsychological deficits (NPD) are common in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage (aSAH). NPD are one of the major limiting factors for patients with an otherwise acceptable prognosis for sustained quality of life. There are only a few studies reporting outcome after aSAH, which used a standardized neuropsychological test battery as a primary or secondary outcome measure. Aim of this study was to determine the current practice of reporting NPD following aSAH in clinical studies.
Endogenous opioids have been implicated in mediating (placebo) analgesia, in reward processes, and in the regulation of socially relevant emotions. To explore their potential contributions to higher cognitive functions, we used a novel task with tachistoscopically presented (for 150 ms) pairs of meaningless figures. Healthy right-handed men judged the similarities and dissimilarities between the two figures on a visual analogue scale (VAS) in two separate runs. In a double-blind, between-subjects design, subjects were administered intravenously either 0.2-mg/kg naloxone or placebo 10 min prior to the task, and VAS judgments and response latencies were measured. We found a significant interaction between substance group and type of judgment: The magnitude of the similarity judgments was lower in the naloxone than in the placebo group, while dissimilarity judgments remained uninfluenced by the treatment. Reaction latencies and mood scores, assessed before and after substance administration, did not differ between the two groups, indicating that the findings did not rely on altered motor performance or motivation. We suggest that naloxone decreased the "similarity criterion" in comparative judgments, indicating its potentially modulatory effect on visual cognition. The task introduced here could be used for the implicit study and quantification of subtle affective-cognitive processes beyond the level of mere questionnaire data.
Unrealistic optimism refers to the pervasive tendency of healthy individuals to underestimate their likelihood of future misfortune, including illness. The phenomenon shares a qualitative resemblance with anosognosia, a neurological disorder characterized by a deficient appreciation of manifest current illness or impairment. Unrealistic optimism and anosognosia have been independently associated with a region of right inferior frontal gyrus, the pars opercularis. Moreover, anosognosia is temporarily abolished by vestibular stimulation, particularly by irrigation of the left (but not right) ear with cold water, a procedure known to activate the right inferior frontal region. We therefore hypothesized that left caloric stimulation would attenuate unrealistic optimism in healthy participants.
Complete or partial agenesis of the corpus callosum are rather common developmental abnormalities, resulting in a wide spectrum of clinical neurodevelopmental deficits. Currently, a significant number of these cases are detected by prenatal sonography during second trimester screening examinations. However, major uncertainties about a detailed morphological diagnosis and the clinical significance do not allow accurate prenatal counselling. Here, we were able to demonstrate the 3D connectivity of aberrant commissural tracts in 16 cases with complete and four cases with partial callosal agenesis using the foetal magnetic resonance imaging techniques of diffusion tensor imaging and tractography in utero and in vivo between gestational weeks 20 and 37. The misguided pre-myelinated callosal axons that represent the bundle of Probst were non-invasively visualized, and they showed a degree of structural integrity similar to that of the callosal pathways of age-matched foetuses without cerebral pathologies. In two foetuses, we were able to prove, by post-mortem histology, that diffusion tensor imaging allows the depiction of the bundle of Probst, even during early stages of pre-myelination at 20 and 22 gestational weeks. In cases with partial callosal agenesis, an aberrant sigmoid-shaped bundle was prenatally depicted, confirming the findings of heterotopic interhemispheric connectivity in adults with partial callosal agenesis. In addition to the corpus callosum, other white matter pathways were also involved, including somatosensory and motor pathways that showed significantly higher fractional anisotropy values in cases with callosal agenesis compared with control subjects. A detailed prenatal assessment of abnormal white matter connectivity in cases of midline anomalies will help to explain and understand the clinical heterogeneity in these cases, taking future foetal neurological counselling strategies to a new level.
Talking to oneself can be silent (inner speech) or vocalized for others to hear (private speech, or soliloquy). We investigated these two types of self-communication in 28 deaf signers and 28 hearing adults. With a questionnaire specifically developed for this study, we established the visible analog of vocalized private speech in deaf signers. "Signed soliloquy" is employed regularly and valued as an integral part of everyday functioning. Deaf signers were also found to engage in inner speech, which appeared to have a mostly affirmative character. Together, the findings demonstrate a significantly more frequent use of both inner and private speech in the deaf sample. They underscore the benefits of self-talk in general and provide the first-ever description of an intriguing phenomenon in deaf signers self-communication, that is, signed soliloquy.
Neuroimaging results are typically graphically rendered and color-coded, which influences the process of knowledge generation within neuroscience as well as the public perception of brain research. Analyzing these issues requires empirical information on the display practice in neuroimaging. In our study we evaluated more than 9000 functional images (fMRI and PET) published between 1996 and 2009 with respect to the use of color, image structure, image production software and other factors that may determine the display practice. We demonstrate a variety of display styles despite a remarkable dominance of few image production sites and software systems, outline some tendencies of standardization, and identify shortcomings with respect to color scale explication in neuroimages. We discuss the importance of the finding for knowledge production in neuroimaging, and we make suggestions to improve the display practice in neuroimaging, especially on regimes of color coding.
Eye movements are the physical expression of upper fetal brainstem function. Our aim was to identify and differentiate specific types of fetal eye movement patterns using dynamic MRI sequences. Their occurrence as well as the presence of conjugated eyeball motion and consistently parallel eyeball position was systematically analyzed.
Xenomelia, the "foreign limb syndrome," is characterized by the non-acceptance of one or more of ones own extremities and the resulting desire for elective limb amputation or paralysis. Formerly labeled "body integrity identity disorder" (BIID), the condition was originally considered a psychological or psychiatric disorder, but a brain-centered Zeitgeist and a rapidly growing interest in the neural underpinnings of bodily self-consciousness has shifted the focus toward dysfunctional central nervous system circuits. The present article outlays both mind-based and brain-based views highlighting their shortcomings. We propose that full insight into what should be conceived a "xenomelia spectrum disorder" will require interpretation of individual symptomatology in a social context. A proper social neuroscience of xenomelia respects the functional neuroanatomy of corporeal awareness, but also acknowledges the brains plasticity in response to an individuals history, which is lived against a cultural background. This integrated view of xenomelia will promote the subfield of consciousness research concerned with the unity of body and self.
Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a severe complication of monochorionic pregnancies. Placental hydrops might be a marker for TTTS. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether differences in the placental parenchyma due to TTTS can be seen with fetal MRI.
Although forgetting is often regarded as a deficit that we need to control to optimize cognitive functioning, it can have beneficial effects in a number of contexts. We examined whether disrupting memory for previous numerical responses would attenuate repetition avoidance (the tendency to avoid repeating the same number) during random number generation and thereby improve the randomness of responses. Low suggestible and low dissociative and high dissociative highly suggestible individuals completed a random number generation task in a control condition, following a posthypnotic amnesia suggestion to forget previous numerical responses, and in a second control condition following the cancellation of the suggestion. High dissociative highly suggestible participants displayed a selective increase in repetitions during posthypnotic amnesia, with equivalent repetition frequency to a random system, whereas the other two groups exhibited repetition avoidance across conditions. Our results demonstrate that temporarily disrupting memory for previous numerical responses improves random number generation.
To explore the idea of a perceptual distortion of space in spatial neglect, neglect patients, age-matched healthy controls and right hemisphere control patients judged the vanishing point of horizontally and vertically-moving stimuli. Hemifield of presentation and movement direction of the stimulus presentation was manipulated. The results suggest that neglect patients show a stronger response bias in the direction of the moving stimuli ("representational momentum") than healthy and right hemisphere controls. Furthermore, neglect patients, but not the control groups, showed a direction-specific response whereby the presence of neglect was associated with a larger representational momentum for leftward-moving stimuli. The one left-hemisphere patient with right-sided neglect showed the opposite effect. Thus, neglect patients showed a relative overextension into their neglected side of space. While these findings are in line with the idea of an extension in the representation of contralesional space, other explanations such as deficient spatial remapping, impairments in smooth pursuit and distortions in memorized visuo-motor movements are considered.
Spatial-numerical associations (SNAs) are prevalent yet their origin is poorly understood. We first consider the possible prime role of reading habits in shaping SNAs and list three observations that argue against a prominent influence of this role: (1) directional reading habits for numbers may conflict with those for non-numerical symbols, (2) short-term experimental manipulations can overrule the impact of decades of reading experience, (3) SNAs predate the acquisition of reading. As a promising alternative, we discuss behavioral, neuroscientific, and neuropsychological evidence in support of finger counting as the most likely initial determinant of SNAs. Implications of this "manumerical cognition" stance for the distinction between grounded, embodied, and situated cognition are discussed.
Homeostatically regulated slow-wave oscillations in non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep may reflect synaptic changes across the sleep-wake continuum and the restorative function of sleep. The nonsynonymous c.22G>A polymorphism (rs73598374) of adenosine deaminase (ADA) reduces the conversion of adenosine to inosine and predicts baseline differences in sleep slow-wave oscillations. We hypothesized that this polymorphism affects cognitive functions, and investigated whether it modulates electroencephalogram (EEG), behavioral, subjective, and biochemical responses to sleep deprivation. Attention, learning, memory, and executive functioning were quantified in healthy adults. Right-handed carriers of the variant allele (G/A genotype, n = 29) performed worse on the d2 attention task than G/G homozygotes (n = 191). To test whether this difference reflects elevated homeostatic sleep pressure, sleep and sleep EEG before and after sleep deprivation were studied in 2 prospectively matched groups of G/A and G/G genotype subjects. Deep sleep and EEG 0.75- to 1.5-Hz oscillations in non-REM sleep were significantly higher in G/A than in G/G genotype. Moreover, attention and vigor were reduced, whereas waking EEG alpha activity (8.5-12 Hz), sleepiness, fatigue, and ?-amylase in saliva were enhanced. These convergent data demonstrate that genetic reduction of ADA activity elevates sleep pressure and plays a key role in sleep and waking quality in humans.
We set out to test the hypothesis of right-hemisphere superiority for the implicit detection of a rule. Forty healthy men provided speeded manual responses to randomly presented digits from 1 to 6 (left hand to 1-3, right hand to 4-6). Red digits on trial n signaled that the response on trial n+1 should be made with one hand, blue digits with the other hand. White digits gave no signal (control trials). Half the participants were told that the stimulus color conveyed a rule that could be exploited to improve performance, the other half were not. After completing the first run, participants awareness of the presence and nature of the rule was assessed and all were debriefed. Participants then performed a second run with identical stimulus conditions. In Run 1, none of the participants reported being aware of the nature of the rule. Reaction times (RTs) were longer after signal than no-signal trials, but only for the left hand. Participants informed about the presence of a rule tended to have longer RTs, irrespective of hand. In Run 2, RTs were shorter after signal than no-signal trials, and there were no differences between hands. The observed RT effect for the left-hand points to a right-hemisphere superiority for the detection and application of a rule in the absence of verbal awareness. Longer (instead of shorter) RTs in the signal trials are discussed in the framework of interhemispheric inhibition.
Body integrity identity disorder (BIID) is characterised by profound experience of incongruity between the biological and desired body structure. The condition manifests in "non-belonging" of body parts, and the subsequent desire to amputate, paralyse or disable a limb. Little is known about BIID; however, a neuropsychological model implicating right fronto-parietal and insular networks is emerging, with potential disruption to body representation. We argue that, as there is scant systematic research on BIID published to date and much of the research is methodologically weak, it is premature to assume that the only process underlying bodily experience that is compromised is body representation. The present review systematically investigates which aspects of neurological processing of the body, and sense of self, may be compromised in BIID. We argue that the disorder most likely reflects dysregulation in multiple levels of body processing. That is, the disunity between self and the body could arguably come about through congenital and/or developmental disruption of body representations, which, together with altered multisensory integration, may preclude the experience of self-attribution and embodiment of affected body parts. Ulimately, there is a need for official diagnostic criteria to facilitate epidemiological characterisation of BIID, and for further research to systematically investigate which aspects of body representation and processing are truly compromised in the disorder.
Prenatal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is being increasingly used, in addition to standard ultrasound, for the diagnosis of congenital diseases beyond the central nervous system. Previous studies have demonstrated that MRI may be useful for the in utero visualization of spinal dysraphism and for differentiating between isolated and complex skeletal disorders with associated abnormalities. More recently, attention has focused on the visualization of the human fetal skeleton for the delineation of normal and pathological development of skeletal structures. On 1.5 T, in particular, echoplanar imaging enables the delineation of various epimetaphyseal structures and morphometric measurements of the fetal long bones from 18 gestational weeks until term. This information gathered from prenatal MRI might be helpful in the diagnosis of focal bone abnormalities and generalized skeletal disorders, such as bone dysplasias. Further clinical research, along with the refinement of the newest techniques, will enable expansion of the preliminary findings and help in determining the impact of fetal magnetic resonance bone imaging in the routine clinical setting. This review summarizes the current data in the literature and the authors clinical experience with the magnetic resonance visualization of the developing fetal skeleton and also comments on the potential future applications of this technique.
Situs anomalies refer to an abnormal organ arrangement, which may be associated with severe errors of development. Due regard being given to prenatal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as an adjunct to ultrasonography (US), this study sought to demonstrate the in utero visualization of situs anomalies on MRI, compared to US.
Ovarian cysts are the most frequently encountered intra-abdominal masses in females in utero. They may, at times, require perinatal intervention. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as an adjunct to ultrasonography (US) in prenatal diagnosis, we sought to demonstrate the ability to visualize ovarian cysts on prenatal MRI.
Fetal tumors can have a devastating effect on the fetus, and may occur in association with congenital malformations. In view of the increasing role of fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as an adjunct to prenatal ultrasonography (US), we sought to demonstrate the visualization of fetal tumors, with regard to congenital abnormalities, on MRI.
BACKGROUND: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used as an adjunct to ultrasound in prenatal imaging, the latter being the standard technique in obstetrical medicine. METHODS: Initial results demonstrate the ability to visualise the foetal skeleton and muscles on MRI, and highlight the potentially useful applications for foetal MRI, which has significantly profited from innovations in sequence technology. Echoplanar imaging, thick-slab T2-weighted (w) imaging, and dynamic sequences are techniques complementary to classical T2-w imaging. RESULTS: Recent study data indicate that foetal MRI may be useful in the imaging of spinal dysraphism and in differentiating between isolated and complex skeletal deformities with associated congenital malformations, which might have an impact on pre- and postnatal management. CONCLUSION: More research and technical refinement will be necessary to investigate normal human skeletal development and to identify MR imaging characteristics of skeletal abnormalities.
Safety issues in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are important, especially in fetal MRI. However, since basic data with respect of the effective exposure time in fetal MRI are not available, this study aimed to determine the actual imaging time during a fetal MRI study.
In view of the increasing role of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as an adjunct to prenatal ultrasonography (US), this study sought to demonstrate the visualization of fetal akinesia and associated abnormalities on MRI.
Anatomical and functional hemispheric lateralization originates from differential gene expression and leads to asymmetric structural brain development, which initially appears in the perisylvian regions by 26 gestational weeks (GWs). In this in vivo neuroimaging study, we demonstrated a predominant pattern of temporal lobe (TL) asymmetry in a large cohort of human fetuses between 18 and 37 GWs. Over two-thirds of fetuses showed a larger, left-sided TL, combined with the earlier appearance of the right superior temporal sulcus by 23 GWs (vs. 25 GWs on the left side), which was also deeper than its left counterpart in the majority of cases (94.2%). Shape analysis detected highly significant differences in the contour of the right and left TLs by 20 GWs. Thus, fetal hemispheric asymmetry can be detected in utero, opening new diagnostic possibilities for the assessment of diseases that are believed to be linked to atypical hemispheric lateralization.
It has been speculated that superstitiousness and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) exist along a continuum. The distinction between superstitious behavior and superstitious belief, however, is crucial for any theoretical account of claimed associations between superstitiousness and OCD. By demonstrating that there is a dichotomy between behavior and belief, which is experimentally testable, we can differentiate superstitious behavior from superstitious belief, or magical ideation. Different brain circuits are responsible for these two forms of superstitiousness; thus, determining which type of superstition is prominent in the symptomatology of an individual patient may inform us about the primarily affected neurocognitive systems.
Productive symptoms of schizophrenia and positive-symptom schizotypy have both been related to signs of right-sided hemispatial inattention ("pseudoneglect"). We here set out to explore, in healthy subjects, the relationship between one form of mild schizotypy ("magical ideation"; MI) and asymmetries in number space, which is a bias toward relatively small numbers, reportedly represented to the left of larger numbers.
Little is known about the neuropsychological factors that contribute to individual differences in the asymmetric orientation along the mental number line. The present study documents healthy subjects preference for small numbers over large numbers in a random number generation task. This preference, referred to as "small-number bias" (SNB), varied with prefrontal functional lateralization: it was larger in participants with over-proportionately better performance in design fluency compared to letter fluency than in participants with over-proportionately better performance in letter fluency when compared to design fluency. Asymmetries in learning and memory tasks (verbal vs. non-verbal) were not related to direction or size of the SNB. We conclude that hemispheric asymmetries of specifically prefrontal executive functions are predictive of an individuals lateral orientation bias along the mental number line. Therefore, the focus on parietal contributions to spatial-numerical associations may not be justified. Random number generation may be a helpful method to further explore these associations uncontaminated by the asymmetric involvement of response effectors.
To quantify the distribution of morphologic appearances of urethral anatomy and measure variables of urethral sphincter anatomy in continent, nulliparous, pregnant women by high resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Forebrain malformations include some of the most severe developmental anomalies and require early diagnosis. The proof of normal or abnormal prosencephalic development may have an influence on further management in the event of a suspected fetal malformation. The purpose of this retrospective study was to evaluate the detectability of anatomical landmarks of forebrain development using in vivo fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before gestational week (gw) 27.
We investigated mental representations of body parts and body-related activities in two subjects with congenitally absent limbs (one with, the other without phantom sensations), a wheelchair sports group of paraplegic participants, and two groups of participants with intact limbs. To analyse mental representation structures, we applied Structure Dimensional Analysis. Verbal labels indicating body parts and related activities were presented in randomized lists that had to be sorted according to a hierarchical splitting paradigm. Participants were required to group the items according to whether or not they were considered related, based on their own body perception. Results of the groups of physically intact and paraplegic participants revealed separate clusters for the lower body, upper body, fingers and head. The participant with congenital phantom limbs also showed a clear separation between upper and lower body (but not between fingers and hands). In the participant without phantom sensations of the absent arms, no such modularity emerged, but the specific practice of his right foot in communication and daily routines was reflected. Sorting verbal labels of body parts and activities appears a useful method to assess body representation in individuals with special body anatomy or function and leads to conclusions largely compatible with other assessment procedures.
We report the case of a 40-year-old right-handed German-speaking man who presented with ischemic stroke in the territories of the right superior cerebellar artery and posterior inferior cerebellar artery. The objective of the present study was to investigate the consequences of this cerebellar damage with regard to higher cognitive functions. On admission to the stroke unit, the patient presented with dysarthria, right-sided appendicular ataxia, gait ataxia, and right-sided horizontal nystagmus (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, NIHSS, score 4). When examined 10 days after his stroke using a set of neuropsychological tests, he showed a marked deficit in the ability to remember when and in which context he had previously encountered verbal material. This aspect of memory, so-called source memory, is known to be mediated mainly by frontal and medial temporal structures. The present case suggests the existence of a strong functional connectivity between cerebellum and cortical regions underlying specific memory processes.
Fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may add important diagnostic information to prenatal sonography and has the power to confirm or change decisions at critical points in clinical care. Recent studies have shown MRI to be a critical clinical adjunct in the evaluation of the developing central nervous system (CNS), especially at early gestational ages, and MRI has been used in three significant ways: (1) for the quantification of brain growth and structural abnormalities using biometry, (2) for the qualitative evaluation of CNS microstructure, and (3) for the qualitative assessment of dynamic fetal movements in utero.
Recent technological advances in fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and increased reliability of MRI in depicting abnormalities and lesions, especially in the central nervous system, are increasingly bringing up challenging issues with regard to accurate diagnosis. There are also pitfalls not only attributable to image acquisition but also in clinical interpretation. The misinterpretation of findings because of insufficient knowledge about fetal brain development as visualized by MRI may also be regarded as an important limitation of fetal MRI. We provide an overview of the most common pitfalls experienced in fetal MRI in routine practice, demonstrate how to identify some of the factors that lead to imaging misinterpretation, and suggest ways to tackle these problems, with an emphasis on MR techniques and image calibration.
Separate lines of research have noted recruitment of parietal cortex during tasks involving visuo-spatial processes and empathy. To explore the relationship between these two functions, a self-other perspective transformation task and a task of spatial attention (line bisection) were administered to 40 healthy participants (19 women). Performance on these tasks was examined in relation to self-reported empathy. Rightward biases in line bisection correlated positively with trait-level self-reported empathic concern, suggesting a left hemisphere mediation of this prosocial personality trait. Unexpectedly, speed of perspective taking in the self-other transformation task correlated negatively with empathic concern, but only in women, which we interpret in light of gender differences in empathy and strategies for egocentric mental transformations. Together, the findings partially support the commonalities in visuo-spatial attention, perspective-taking and empathy. More broadly, they shed additional light on the relationship between basic cognitive functions and complex social constructs.
Two apparently disparate phenomena of defective body integrity are reviewed. The first concerns dysmelia, characterized by the congenital absence or deformation of limbs, and the focus of the review is on phantom sensations of people with this kind of physical integrity disorder. The second phenomenon consists of non-psychotic individuals desire to have a healthy limb amputated, which is interpreted as a mismatch between the physical integrity of a particular limb and its representation in multimodal cortical areas of the brain. We outlined commonalities and differences between the two conditions and note the absence, in both areas of research, of a unified theory that would account for the reported phenomenology. Phantom limbs in dysmelia and the desire for limb amputation most likely are the consequence of very early developmental dissociations between physical and phenomenal body shapes. They are mirror images of one another in that the former constitutes an "animation without incarnation" and, the latter, an "incarnation without animation".
Based on interactions between number and space apparent from healthy subjects randomization attempts we expected random number generation (RNG) to be sensitive for the monitoring of unilateral spatial deficits. Specifically, we predicted patients with left-sided hemineglect to evidence "neglect in number space", i.e. to produce a deficiency in the generation of small, "left-sided" numbers. In RNG of digits from 1 to 6, 19 patients with left-sided neglect generated sequences with a higher redundancy, but as many small numbers as did a matched control group. We discuss possible reasons for the absence of a small-number neglect and emphasize that the observed redundancy was not due to a counting bias, as known from other neurological patients, but to an unspecific imbalance in the use of response alternatives. We speculate that this may be the consequence of disrupted fronto-parietal functions normally serving in the sequential organization and manipulation of items in working memory.
Reports of able-bodied participants with the persisting desire for limb amputation raise legal and ethical questions that are partly due to insufficient empirical knowledge about the condition. Here, we searched for potential neurological mechanisms in participants with desire for limb amputation in order to help develop adequate nosological classifications, diagnosis, and treatment.
Endothelial destruction and calcification primarily occur at the aortic side of the calcified aortic valves (AVs). This study investigated whether degenerative AV stenosis (AS) is associated with the presence of valvular endothelial senescence and a reduction in the number and function of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs).
Spatial neglect can be characterized by a "magnetic attraction" towards the right side of a visual stimulus array and a selection of stimuli from that hemispace. This study examined whether these distinctive characteristics in visuo-motor space are also evident in representational number space. Given that numbers are thought to be represented along a left-to-right oriented mental number line, an affinity for the spontaneous selection of larger numbers was anticipated for neglect patients. Contrary to this expectation, neglect patients (n=20) picked a similar range of numbers compared to controls (n=17) when generating a number between 1000 and 10,000 and when playing an imaginary lottery game. There was, however, a positive correlation between the biases for the imaginary lottery, number generation and a number bisection task - demonstrating that exploration asymmetries along the mental number line are consistent within individuals across tasks. Some of the patients selected smaller numbers in all of these tasks, confirming reports of dissociations between physical and numerical-representational forms of neglect. Conversely, only four (20%) of the patients could reliably be classified as demonstrating a neglect in number space. When filling out a physical lottery ticket, the neglect patients showed the expected bias towards picking numbers placed on the right-hand side of the ticket. These results demonstrate that the magnetic attraction towards the right side of mental representations is rather weak and that representational forms of neglect only occasionally co-exist with neglect in physical space.
Xenomelia is the oppressive feeling that one or more limbs of ones body do not belong to ones self. We present the results of a thorough examination of the characteristics of the disorder in 15 males with a strong desire for amputation of one or both legs. The feeling of estrangement had been present since early childhood and was limited to a precisely demarcated part of the leg in all individuals. Neurological status examination and neuropsychological testing were normal in all participants, and psychiatric evaluation ruled out the presence of a psychotic disorder. In 13 individuals and in 13 pair-matched control participants, magnetic resonance imaging was performed, and surface-based morphometry revealed significant group differences in cortical architecture. In the right hemisphere, participants with xenomelia showed reduced cortical thickness in the superior parietal lobule and reduced cortical surface area in the primary and secondary somatosensory cortices, in the inferior parietal lobule, as well as in the anterior insular cortex. A cluster of increased thickness was located in the central sulcus. In the left hemisphere, affected individuals evinced a larger cortical surface area in the inferior parietal lobule and secondary somatosensory cortex. Although of modest size, these structural correlates of xenomelia appear meaningful when discussed against the background of some key clinical features of the disorder. Thus, the predominantly right-sided cortical abnormalities are in line with a strong bias for left-sided limbs as the target of the amputation desire, evident both in our sample and in previously described populations with xenomelia. We also propose that the higher incidence of lower compared with upper limbs (?80% according to previous investigations) may explain the erotic connotations typically associated with xenomelia, also in the present sample. These may have their roots in the proximity of primary somatosensory cortex for leg representation, whose surface area was reduced in the participants with xenomelia, with that of the genitals. Alternatively, the spatial adjacency of secondary somatosensory cortex for leg representation and the anterior insula, the latter known to mediate sexual arousal beyond that induced by direct tactile stimulation of the genital area, might play a role. Although the right hemisphere regions of significant neuroarchitectural correlates of xenomelia are part of a network reportedly subserving body ownership, it remains unclear whether the structural alterations are the cause or rather the consequence of the long-standing and pervasive mismatch between body and self.
The function of thumb posture in mental rotation has not yet been studied intensely, despite its special role in manual action. To investigate if thumb posture modifies relative visual and proprioceptive contributions, we conducted two experiments comprising hand laterality judgement tasks with identical stimuli (left and right hands in palmar and dorsal views presented at four orientations). In half of the stimuli, all digits were extended, whereas in the other half the thumb was flexed into the palm of the hand. In the second experiment, participants thumbs were taped in the same flexed posture that was displayed in half of the stimuli one hour previous to and throughout the experiment. Results of both experiments revealed effects of orientation, side and view on reaction time, but an effect of stimulus thumb posture occurred only in the second experiment in which participants thumbs were fixed. In palmar view, stimuli rotated by 90° with fingers pointing towards the participants midline had shorter reaction times than stimuli rotated (evidentially less comfortably) in the opposite direction. This finding suggests that participants applied motor imagery strategies for palmar but not for dorsal views of the hand, indicating a difference in visual and sensorimotor familiarity.
In a random number generation task, participants are asked to generate a random sequence of numbers, most typically the digits 1 to 9. Such number sequences are not mathematically random, and both extent and type of bias allow one to characterize the brains "internal random number generator". We assume that certain patterns and their variations will frequently occur in humanly generated random number sequences. Thus, we introduce a pattern-based analysis of random number sequences. Twenty healthy subjects randomly generated two sequences of 300 numbers each. Sequences were analysed to identify the patterns of numbers predominantly used by the subjects and to calculate the frequency of a specific pattern and its variations within the number sequence. This pattern analysis is based on the Damerau-Levenshtein distance, which counts the number of edit operations that are needed to convert one string into another. We built a model that predicts not only the next item in a humanly generated random number sequence based on the items immediate history, but also the deployment of patterns in another sequence generated by the same subject. When a history of seven items was computed, the mean correct prediction rate rose up to 27% (with an individual maximum of 46%, chance performance of 11%). Furthermore, we assumed that when predicting one subjects sequence, predictions based on statistical information from the same subject should yield a higher success rate than predictions based on statistical information from a different subject. When provided with two sequences from the same subject and one from a different subject, an algorithm identifies the foreign sequence in up to 88% of the cases. In conclusion, the pattern-based analysis using the Levenshtein-Damarau distance is both able to predict humanly generated random number sequences and to identify person-specific information within a humanly generated random number sequence.
Mental rotation of human hands has been found to differ essentially from mental rotation of objects in such a way that reaction times and error rates of handedness judgements are influenced by the comfort and familiarity of the presented hand postures. To investigate the role of the similarity of the presented hands to the participants own hand, we used different primates hands as stimuli in a mental rotation task. Five out of 24 primate hands were chosen for their ratings in human-likeness and saliency of the thumb according to a questionnaire study and presented in two mental rotation experiments; in the second experiment, they were modified in such a way that all hands appeared thumbless. Results of both experiments revealed effects of species and orientation on reaction times, and an interaction between species and hand side occurred in the second experiment. In the first experiment, the thumbless Colobus hand differed from all other hands, showing the highest reaction times and error rates and failing to show the expected medial-over-lateral advantage. In the second experiment, the eccentricity of the Colobus hand was decreased and the facilitating effect of human-likeness was slightly increased. We conclude that motor strategies were applied that relied less on the asymmetry of the stimuli but rather on their similarity to the human hand. We argue that motor simulation might facilitate the processing of incomplete stimuli by mentally completing them, especially if all stimuli can be processed in a consistent manner.
Spatial neglect is a heterogeneous disorder with a multitude of manifestations and subtypes. Common clinical paper and pencil neglect tests fail to differentiate between these subtypes. For example, neglect patients typically bisect lines to the right. This bias can be caused by an underestimation of the left half of the line (input-related deficit), by the failure to direct actions toward the left side of space (output-related deficit), or by a mixture of these impairments. To disentangle these impairments, we used a test consisting of a line bisection task on a touch screen monitor (manual motor task) and the subsequent judgment of ones own bisection performance (visual perceptual task). It was hypothesized that patients with mainly output-related neglect should be better able to recognize their misbisected lines than patients with purely input-related neglect. In a group of 16 patients suffering from spatial neglect after right brain damage, we found that patients were three times more likely to suffer from a predominantly input-related than from an output-related subtype. The results thus suggest that neglect is typically an input-related impairment. Additional analysis of the line bisection task revealed that temporal (slowness in initiation and execution of contralateral movements) and spatial (insufficient movement amplitude toward the contralesional side) aspects of output-related neglect were mutually unrelated. This independence raises the possibility that a fine-grained differentiation of output-related neglect is required. That is, impairments in lateralized temporal and spatial aspects of movements may underlie different neglect subtypes.
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