Monoamines have an important role in neural plasticity, a key factor in cortical pain processing that promotes changes in neuronal network connectivity. Monoamine oxidase type A (MAOA) is an enzyme that, due to its modulating role in monoaminergic activity, could play a role in cortical pain processing. The X-linked MAOA gene is characterized by an allelic variant of length, the MAOA upstream Variable Number Tandem Repeat (MAOA-uVNTR) region polymorphism. Two allelic variants of this gene are known, the high-activity MAOA (HAM) and low-activity MAOA (LAM). We investigated the role of MAOA-uVNTR in cortical pain processing in a group of healthy individuals measured by the trigeminal electric pain-related evoked potential (tPREP) elicited by repeated painful stimulation. A group of healthy volunteers was genotyped to detect MAOA-uVNTR polymorphism. Electrical tPREPs were recorded by stimulating the right supraorbital nerve with a concentric electrode. The N2 and P2 component amplitude and latency as well as the N2-P2 inter-peak amplitude were measured. The recording was divided into three blocks, each containing 10 consecutive stimuli and the N2-P2 amplitude was compared between blocks. Of the 67 volunteers, 37 were HAM and 30 were LAM. HAM subjects differed from LAM subjects in terms of amplitude of the grand-averaged and first-block N2-P2 responses (HAM>LAM). The N2-P2 amplitude decreased between the first and third block in HAM subjects but not LAM subjects. The MAOA-uVNTR polymorphism seemed to influence the brain response in a repeated tPREP paradigm and suggested a role of the MAOA as a modulator of neural plasticity related to cortical pain processing.
Although the majority of people with epilepsy have a good prognosis and their seizures can be well controlled with pharmacotherapy, up to one-third of patients can develop drug-resistant epilepsy, especially those patients with partial seizures. This unmet need has driven considerable efforts over the last few decades aimed at developing and testing newer antiepileptic agents to improve seizure control. One of the most promising antiepileptic drugs of the new generation is zonisamide, a benzisoxazole derivative chemically unrelated to other anticonvulsant agents. In this article, the authors present the results of a systematic literature review summarizing the current evidence on the efficacy and tolerability of zonisamide for the treatment of partial seizures. Of particular interest within this updated review are the recent data on the use of zonisamide as monotherapy, as they might open new therapeutic avenues.
Contradiction is a cornerstone of human rationality, essential for everyday life and communication. We investigated electroencephalographic (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in separate recording sessions during contradictory judgments, using a logical structure based on categorical propositions of the Aristotelian Square of Opposition (ASoO). The use of ASoO propositions, while controlling for potential linguistic or semantic confounds, enabled us to observe the spatial temporal unfolding of this contradictory reasoning. The processing started with the inversion of the logical operators corresponding to right middle frontal gyrus (rMFG-BA11) activation, followed by identification of contradictory statement associated with in the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG-BA47) activation. Right medial frontal gyrus (rMeFG, BA10) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC, BA32) contributed to the later stages of process. We observed a correlation between the delayed latency of rBA11 response and the reaction time delay during inductive vs. deductive reasoning. This supports the notion that rBA11 is crucial for manipulating the logical operators. Slower processing time and stronger brain responses for inductive logic suggested that examples are easier to process than general principles and are more likely to simplify communication.
Most patients with Tourette syndrome report characteristic sensory experiences (premonitory urges) associated with the expression of tic symptoms. Despite the central role of these experiences to the clinical phenomenology of Tourette syndrome, little is known about their underlying brain processes. In the present article we present the results of a systematic literature review of the published studies addressing the pathophysiological mechanisms of premonitory urges. We identified some preliminary evidence for specific alterations in sensorimotor processing at both cortical and subcortical levels. A better insight into the brain correlates of premonitory urges could lead to the identification of new targets to treat the sensory initiators of tics in patients with Tourette syndrome.
The neural bases of altered consciousness in patients with epilepsy during seizures and at rest have raised significant interest in the last decade. This exponential growth has been supported by the parallel development of techniques and methods to investigate brain function noninvasively with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. In this article, we review the contribution of magnetoencephalography to deconvolve the bioelectrical changes associated with impaired consciousness during seizures. We use data collected from a patient with refractory absence seizures to discuss how spike-wave discharges are associated with perturbations in optimal connectivity within and between brain regions and discuss indirect evidence to suggest that this phenomenon might explain the cognitive deficits experienced during prolonged 3/s spike-wave discharges. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Epilepsy and Consciousness.
To investigate if Magnetoencephalography (MEG) can add non-redundant information to guide implantation sites for intracranial recordings (IR). The contribution of MEG to intracranial recording planning was evaluated in 12 consecutive patients assessed pre-surgically with MEG followed by IR. Primary outcome measures were the identification of focal seizure onset in IR and favorable surgical outcome. Outcome measures were compared to those of 12 patients matched for implantation type in whom non-invasive pre-surgical assessment suggested clear hypotheses for implantation (non-MEG group). In the MEG group, non-invasive assessment without MEG was inconclusive, and MEG was then used to further help identify implantation sites. In all MEG patients, at least one virtual MEG electrode generated suitable hypotheses for the location of implantations. No differences in outcome measures were found between non-MEG and MEG groups. Although the MEG group included more complex patients, it showed similar percentage of successful implantations as the non-MEG group. This suggests that MEG can contribute to identify implantation sites where standard methods failed.
Over the last few years, zonisamide has been proposed as a potentially useful medication for patients with focal seizures, with or without secondary generalization. Since psychiatric adverse effects, including mania, psychosis, and suicidal ideation, have been associated with its use, it was suggested that the presence of antecedent psychiatric disorders is an important factor associated with the discontinuation of zonisamide therapy in patients with epilepsy. We, therefore, set out to assess the tolerability profile of zonisamide in a retrospective chart review of 23 patients with epilepsy and comorbid mental disorders, recruited from two specialist pediatric (n=11) and adult (n=12) neuropsychiatry clinics. All patients had a clinical diagnosis of treatment-refractory epilepsy after extensive neurophysiological and neuroimaging investigations. The vast majority of patients (n=22/23, 95.7%) had tried previous antiepileptic medications, and most adult patients (n=9/11, 81.8%) were on concomitant medication for epilepsy. In the majority of cases, the psychiatric adverse effects of zonisamide were not severe. Four patients (17.4%) discontinued zonisamide because of lack of efficacy, whereas only one patient (4.3%) discontinued it because of the severity of psychiatric adverse effects (major depressive disorder). The low discontinuation rate of zonisamide in a selected population of patients with epilepsy and neuropsychiatric comorbidity suggests that this medication is safe and reasonably well-tolerated for use in patients with treatment-refractory epilepsy. Given the limitations of the present study, including the relatively small sample size, further research is warranted to confirm this finding.
The basal ganglia are interconnected with cortical areas involved in behavioural, cognitive and emotional processes, in addition to movement regulation. Little is known about which of these functions are associated with individual basal ganglia substructures.
Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) is a chronic childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorder with a significant impact on patients health-related quality of life (HR-QOL). Cavanna et al. (Neurology 2008; 71: 1410-1416) developed and validated the first disease-specific HR-QOL assessment tool for adults with GTS (Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome-Quality of Life Scale, GTS-QOL). This paper presents the translation, adaptation and validation of the GTS-QOL for young Italian patients with GTS.
Objective: Patients with Tourette syndrome (TS) often report characteristic sensory experiences, also called premonitory urges (PUs), which precede tic expression and have high diagnostic relevance. This study investigated the usefulness of a scale developed and validated in children and adolescents-the Premonitory Urge for Tics Scale (PUTS, Woods et al., 2005 )-for the assessment of PUs in adult patients with TS. Method: Standard statistical methods were applied to test the psychometric properties of the PUTS in 102 adult TS outpatients recruited from two specialist clinics in the United Kingdom. Results: The PUTS showed good acceptability and endorsement rates, with evenly distributed scores and low floor and ceiling effects. Item-total correlations were moderate to strong; PUTS total scores were significantly correlated with quantitative measures of TS severity. The PUTS showed excellent internal consistency reliability (Cronbachs alpha=0.85) and Spearmans correlations demonstrated satisfactory convergent and discriminant validity. Conclusions: Although originally devised to assess urges to tic in young patients with TS, the PUTS demonstrated good psychometric properties in a large sample of adults recruited at specialist TS clinics. This instrument is therefore recommended for use across the life span as a valid and reliable self-report measure of sensory experiences accompanying tic expression.
Intermittent photic stimulation (IPS) is a common procedure performed in the electroencephalography (EEG) laboratory in children and adults to detect abnormal epileptogenic sensitivity to flickering light (i.e., photosensitivity). In practice, substantial variability in outcome is anecdotally found due to the many different methods used per laboratory and country. We believe that standardization of procedure, based on scientific and clinical data, should permit reproducible identification and quantification of photosensitivity. We hope that the use of our new algorithm will help in standardizing the IPS procedure, which in turn may more clearly identify and assist monitoring of patients with epilepsy and photosensitivity. Our algorithm goes far beyond that published in 1999 (Epilepsia, 1999a, 40, 75; Neurophysiol Clin, 1999b, 29, 318): it has substantially increased content, detailing technical and logistical aspects of IPS testing and the rationale for many of the steps in the IPS procedure. Furthermore, our latest algorithm incorporates the consensus of repeated scientific meetings of European experts in this field over a period of 6 years with feedback from general neurologists and epileptologists to improve its validity and utility. Accordingly, our European group has provided herein updated algorithms for two different levels of methodology: (1) requirements for defining photosensitivity in patients and in family members of known photosensitive patients and (2) requirements for tailored studies in patients with a clear history of visually induced seizures or complaints, and in those already known to be photosensitive.
In spite of the inherent difficulties in achieving a biologically meaningful definition of consciousness, recent neurophysiological studies are starting to provide some insight in fundamental mechanisms associated with impaired consciousness in neurological disorders. Generalised seizures are associated with disruption of the default state network, a functional network of discrete brain areas, which include the fronto-parietal cortices. Subcortical contribution through activation of thalamocortical structures, as well as striate nuclei are also crucial to produce impaired consciousness in generalised seizures.
We investigated which evoked response component occurring in the first 800 ms after stimulus presentation was most suitable to be used in a classical P300-based brain-computer interface speller protocol. Data was acquired from 275 Magnetoencephalographic sensors in two subjects and from 61 Electroencephalographic sensors in four. To better characterize the evoked physiological responses and minimize the effect of response overlap, a 1000 ms Inter Stimulus Interval was preferred to the short (<400 ms) trial length traditionally used in this class of BCIs. To investigate which scalp regions conveyed information suitable for BCI, a stepwise linear discriminant analysis classifier was used. The method iteratively analyzed each individual sensor and determined its performance indicators. These were then plotted on a 2-D topographic head map. Preliminary results for both EEG and MEG data suggest that components other than the P300 maximally represented in the occipital region, could be successfully used to improve classification accuracy and finally drive this class of BCIs.
The phenomenon of continuous spikes and waves during slow-wave sleep (CSWS) is associated with a number of epileptic syndromes, which share a behavioral phenotype characterized by deterioration of cognitive, behavioral, or sensorimotor functions. Available evidence seems to suggest that spike-wave activity is a result of a complex interaction between cortical and subcortical inhibitory networks and can "per se" produce a transient loss of underlying cortical functions. Syndromes like Landau-Kleffner syndrome, CSWS, and phenomena such as negative myoclonus could share in common--at least at the neurophysiological level--some similarities. Differences in behavioral phenotypes could be explained in term of maturational and genetic differences, as well as by the functional specificity of the involved areas.
A wide range of essential reasoning tasks rely on contradiction identification, a cornerstone of human rationality, communication and debate founded on the inversion of the logical operators "Every" and "Some." A high-density electroencephalographic (EEG) study was performed in 11 normal young adults. The cerebral network involved in the identification of contradiction included the orbito-frontal and anterior-cingulate cortices and the temporo-polar cortices. The event-related dynamic of this network showed an early negative deflection lasting 500 ms after sentence presentation. This was followed by a positive deflection lasting 1.5 s, which was different for the two logical operators. A lesser degree of network activation (either in neuron number or their level of phase locking or both) occurred while processing statements with "Some," suggesting that this was a relatively simpler scenario with one example to be figured out, instead of the many examples or the absence of a counterexample searched for while processing statements with "Every." A self-generated reward system seemed to resonate the recruited circuitry when the contradictory task is successfully completed.
We propose a novel electroencephalographic application of a recently developed cerebral source extraction method (Functional Source Separation, FSS), which starts from extracranial signals and adds a functional constraint to the cost function of a basic independent component analysis model without requiring solutions to be independent. Five ad-hoc functional constraints were used to extract the activity reflecting the temporal sequence of sensory information processing along the somatosensory pathway in response to the separate left and right median nerve galvanic stimulation. Constraints required only the maximization of the responsiveness at specific latencies following sensory stimulation, without taking into account that any frequency or spatial information. After source extraction, the reliability of identified FS was assessed based on the position of single dipoles fitted on its retroprojected signals and on a discrepancy measure. The FS positions were consistent with previously reported data (two early subcortical sources localized in the brain stem and thalamus, the three later sources in cortical areas), leaving negligible residual activity at the corresponding latencies. The high-frequency component of the oscillatory activity (HFO) of the extracted component was analyzed. The integrity of the low amplitude HFOs was preserved for each FS. On the basis of our data, we suggest that FSS can be an effective tool to investigate the HFO behavior of the different neuronal pools, recruited at successive times after median nerve galvanic stimulation. As FSs are reconstructed along the entire experimental session, directional and dynamic HFO synchronization phenomena can be studied.
Cortical pain processing is associated with large-scale changes in neuronal connectivity, resulting from neural plasticity phenomena of which brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a central driver. The common single nucleotide polymorphism Val66Met is associated with reduced BDNF activity. Using the trigeminal pain-related evoked potential (tPREP) to repeated electrical painful stimuli, we investigated whether the methionine substitution at codon 66 of the BDNF gene was associated with changes in cortical processing of noxious stimuli. Fifty healthy volunteers were genotyped: 30 were Val/Val and 20 were Met-carriers. tPREPs to 30 stimuli of the right supraorbital nerve using a concentric electrode were recorded. The N2 and P2 component latencies and the N2-P2 amplitude were measured over the 30 stimuli and separately, by dividing the measurements in 3 consecutive blocks of 10 stimuli. The average response to the 30 stimuli did not differ in latency or amplitude between the 2 genotypes. There was a decrease in the N2-P2 amplitude between first and third block in the Val/Val group but not in Met-carriers. BDNF Val66Met is associated with reduced decremental response to repeated electrical stimuli, possibly as a result of ineffective mechanisms of synaptic memory and brain plasticity associated with the polymorphism.
We investigated 50 young patients with a diagnosis of Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) for the presence of abnormalities in autonomic tone compared with 50 young patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy with absences and 50 typically developing children of comparable age. We analyzed time domain (N-N interval, pNN50) and frequency domain (High Frequency (HF), Low Frequency (LF) and LF/HF ratio) indices from ten-minute resting EKG activity. Patients with RE showed significantly higher HF and lower LF power and lower LF/HF ratio than controls, independent of the epilepsy group, and did not show significant differences in any other autonomic index with respect to the two control groups. In RE, we found a negative relationship between both seizure load and frequency of sleep interictal EEG abnormalities with parasympathetic drive levels. These changes might be the expression of adaptive mechanisms to prevent the excessive sympathetic drive seen in patients with refractory epilepsies.
We analyzed clinical and instrumental data of 403 consecutive newborns with gestational age from 24 to 32 weeks, admitted to the University-Hospital of Parma between January 2000 and December 2007, to evaluate the possible relationship between neonatal mortality and occurrence of neonatal seizures in very preterm newborns. Seventy-four subjects died during hospital stay. Seizures were present in 35 neonates, in whom the mortality rate was 37.1%. Multivariate analysis revealed that birth-weight <1000 g (odds ratio: 4.48; 95% confidence interval: 1.47-13.68; P < .01), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (odds ratio: 5.35; 95% confidence interval: 1.19-23.98; P = .02), and moderately and severely abnormal cerebral ultrasound scan findings (odds ratio: 2.48; 95% confidence interval: 1.02-6.05; P < .04; odds ratio: 9.56; 95% confidence interval: 3.45-26.51; P < .01, respectively) were related to the in-hospital mortality but not the presence of neonatal seizures. Our study suggests that neonatal seizures alone are not an independent risk factor for early death in very preterm newborns.
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