To explore the association between findings on advanced, but available, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences of the cervical spinal cord and muscular system, in tandem with biomechanical measures of maximum volitional plantar flexion torques as a proxy for a mild incomplete spinal cord injury.
Impaired cognitive empathy (ie, understanding the emotional experiences of others) is associated with poor social functioning in schizophrenia. However, it is unclear whether the neural activity underlying cognitive empathy relates to social functioning. This study examined the neural activation supporting cognitive empathy performance and whether empathy-related activation during correctly performed trials was associated with self-reported cognitive empathy and measures of social functioning. Thirty schizophrenia outpatients and 24 controls completed a cognitive empathy paradigm during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Neural activity corresponding to correct judgments about the expected emotional expression in a social interaction was compared in schizophrenia subjects relative to control subjects. Participants also completed a self-report measure of empathy and 2 social functioning measures (social competence and social attainment). Schizophrenia subjects demonstrated significantly lower accuracy in task performance and were characterized by hypoactivation in empathy-related frontal, temporal, and parietal regions as well as hyperactivation in occipital regions compared with control subjects during accurate cognitive empathy trials. A cluster with peak activation in the supplementary motor area (SMA) extending to the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC) correlated with social competence and social attainment in schizophrenia subjects but not controls. These results suggest that neural correlates of cognitive empathy may be promising targets for interventions aiming to improve social functioning and that brain activation in the SMA/aMCC region could be used as a biomarker for monitoring treatment response.
Common goals in the development of human-machine interface (HMI) technology are to reduce cognitive workload and increase function. However, objective and quantitative outcome measures assessing cognitive workload have not been standardized for HMI research. The present study examines the efficacy of a simple event-related potential (ERP) measure of cortical effort during myoelectric control of a virtual limb for use as an outcome tool. Participants trained and tested on two methods of control, direct control (DC) and pattern recognition control (PRC), while electroencephalographic (EEG) activity was recorded. Eighteen healthy participants with intact limbs were tested using DC and PRC under three conditions: passive viewing, easy, and hard. Novel auditory probes were presented at random intervals during testing, and significant task-difficulty effects were observed in the P200, P300, and a late positive potential (LPP), supporting the efficacy of ERPs as a cognitive workload measure in HMI tasks. LPP amplitude distinguished DC from PRC in the hard condition with higher amplitude in PRC, consistent with lower cognitive workload in PRC relative to DC for complex movements. Participants completed trials faster in the easy condition using DC relative to PRC, but completed trials more slowly using DC relative to PRC in the hard condition. The results provide promising support for ERPs as an outcome measure for cognitive workload in HMI research such as prosthetics, exoskeletons, and other assistive devices, and can be used to evaluate and guide new technologies for more intuitive HMI control.
The purpose of this study is to identify white matter microstructure changes following bilateral upper extremity motor skill training to increase our understanding of learning-induced structural plasticity and enhance clinical strategies in physical rehabilitation. Eleven healthy subjects performed two visuo-spatial motor training tasks over 9 sessions (2-3 sessions per week). Subjects controlled a cursor with bilateral simultaneous movements of the shoulders and upper arms using a body machine interface. Before the start and within 2days of the completion of training, whole brain diffusion tensor MR imaging data were acquired. Motor training increased fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the posterior and anterior limbs of the internal capsule, the corona radiata, and the body of the corpus callosum by 4.19% on average indicating white matter microstructure changes induced by activity-dependent modulation of axon number, axon diameter, or myelin thickness. These changes may underlie the functional reorganization associated with motor skill learning.
Previous data using T1-weighted MRI demonstrated neck muscle fat infiltration (MFI) in patients with poor functional recovery following whiplash. Such findings do not occur in those with milder symptoms of whiplash, chronic non-traumatic neck pain or healthy controls, suggesting traumatic factors play a role. Muscle degeneration could potentially represent a quantifiable marker of poor recovery, but the temporal constraints of running a T1-weighted sequence and performing the subsequent analysis for muscle fat may be a barrier for clinical translation. The purpose of this preliminary study was to evaluate, quantify and compare MFI for the cervical multifidus muscles with T1-weighted imaging and a more rapid quantitative 3D multi-echo gradient echo (GRE) Dixon based method in healthy subjects.
The simplest expression of episodic memory is the experience of familiarity, the isolated recognition that something has been encountered previously. Brain structures of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) make essential contributions to episodic memory, but the distinct contributions from each MTL structure to familiarity are debatable. Here we used specialized tests to assess recognition impairments and their relationship to MTL integrity in people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI, n=19), people with probable Alzheimers disease (AD; n=10), and age-matched individuals without any neurological disorder (n=20). Recognition of previously presented silhouette objects was tested in two formats-forced-choice recognition with four concurrent choices (one target and three foils) and yes/no recognition with individually presented targets and foils. Every foil was extremely similar to a corresponding target, such that forced-choice recognition could be based on differential familiarity among the choices, whereas yes/no recognition necessitated additional memory and decision factors. Only yes/no recognition was impaired in the aMCI group, whereas both forced-choice and yes/no recognition were impaired in the AD group. Magnetic resonance imaging showed differential brain atrophy, as MTL volume was reduced in the AD group but not in the aMCI group. Pulsed arterial spin-labeled scans demonstrated that MTL blood flow was abnormally increased in aMCI, which could indicate physiological dysfunction prior to the emergence of significant atrophy. Regression analyses with data from all patients revealed that regional patterns of MTL integrity were differentially related to forced-choice and yes/no recognition. Smaller perirhinal cortex volume was associated with lower forced-choice recognition accuracy, but not with lower yes/no recognition accuracy. Instead, smaller hippocampal volumes were associated with lower yes/no recognition accuracy. In sum, familiarity memory can be specifically assessed using the forced-choice recognition test, it declines later than other MTL-dependent memory functions as AD progresses, and it has distinct anatomical substrates.
To use structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to characterize changes in gray matter and white matter volumes between patients with childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and matched controls, between patients with childhood-onset SLE with and those without neurocognitive deficit, and in relation to disease duration and treatment with steroids.
Cultures vary in the extent to which they emphasize group members to habitually attend to the needs, perspectives, and internal experiences of others compared to the self. Here we examined the influence that collectivistic and individualistic cultural environments may play on the engagement of the neurobiological processes that underlie the perception and processing of emotional pain. Using cross-cultural fMRI, Korean and Caucasian-American participants passively viewed scenes of others in situations of emotional pain and distress. Regression analyses revealed that the value of other-focusedness was associated with heightened neural response within the affective pain matrix (i.e. anterior cingulate cortex and insula) to a greater extent for Korean relative to Caucasian-American participants. These findings suggest that mindsets promoting attunement to the subjective experience of others may be especially critical for pain-related and potentially empathic processing within collectivistic relative to individualistic cultural environments.
INTRODUCTION: Neuropsychiatric manifestations are common in childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (cSLE) and often include neurocognitive dysfunction (NCD). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can measure brain activation during tasks that invoke domains of cognitive function impaired by cSLE. This study investigates specific changes in brain function attributable to NCD in cSLE that have potential to serve as imaging biomarkers. METHODS: Formal neuropsychological testing was done to measure cognitive ability and to identify NCD. Participants performed fMRI tasks probing three cognitive domains impacted by cSLE: visuoconstructional ability (VCA), working memory, and attention. Imaging data, collected on 3-Tesla scanners, included a high-resolution T1-weighted anatomic reference image followed by a T2*-weighted whole-brain echo planar image series for each fMRI task. Brain activation using blood oxygenation level-dependent contrast was compared between cSLE patients with NCD (NCD-group, n = 7) vs. without NCD (noNCD-group, n = 14) using voxel-wise and region of interest-based analyses. The relationship of brain activation during fMRI tasks and performance in formal neuropsychological testing was assessed. RESULTS: Greater brain activation was observed in the noNCD-group vs. NCD-group during VCA and working memory fMRI tasks. Conversely, compared to the noNCD-group, the NCD-group showed more brain activation during the attention fMRI task. In region of interest analysis, brain activity during VCA and working memory fMRI tasks was positively associated with the participants neuropsychological test performance. In contrast, brain activation during the attention fMRI task was negatively correlated with neuropsychological test performance. While the NCD group performed worse than the noNCD group during VCA and working memory tasks, the attention task was performed equally well by both groups. CONCLUSIONS: NCD in patients with cSLE is characterized by differential activation of functional neuronal networks during fMRI tasks probing working memory, VCA, and attention. Results suggest a compensatory mechanism allows maintenance of attentional performance under NCD. This mechanism appears to break down for the VCA and working memory challenges presented in this study. The observation that neuronal network activation is related to the formal neuropsychological testing performance makes fMRI a candidate imaging biomarker for cSLE-associated NCD.
Whiplash associated disorder (WAD) represents an enormous economic, social and personal burden. Five out of 10 people with WAD never fully recover and up to 25% continue to have moderate to severe pain-related disability. Unfortunately, clear and definitive reasons as to why half of individuals with WAD recover uneventfully and the other half do not, remain elusive. Identifying the factors that can reliably predict outcome holds considerable importance for not only WAD, but arguably for other acute musculoskeletal traumas. The precise pathology present in WAD has been controversial and often biased by outdated models. Fortunately, a combination of new measurement technology that illuminates pain processing, physical and social functioning and post-traumatic stress responses (and possibly markers of altered muscle size/shape/physiology) is providing a clearer picture of the multisystem pathophysiology in individuals with persistent WAD. The aim of this professional issues paper is to illuminate the clinical and research communities with regards to the growing body of knowledge for determining the trajectory of a patient with whiplash.
Most men have a category-specific pattern of genital and subjective sexual arousal, responding much more strongly to erotic stimuli depicting their preferred sex than to erotic stimuli depicting their nonpreferred sex. In contrast, women tend to have a less specific arousal pattern. To better understand this sex difference, we used neuroimaging to explore its neural correlates. Heterosexual and homosexual women viewed erotic photographs of either men or women. Evoked neural activity was monitored via fMRI and compared with responses to the same stimuli in heterosexual and homosexual men. Overall, a network of limbic (as well as the anterior cingulate) and visual processing regions showed significantly less category-specific activity in women than men. This was primarily driven by weaker overall activations to preferred-sex stimuli in women, though there was also some evidence of stronger limbic activations to nonpreferred-sex stimuli in women. Primary results were similar for heterosexual and homosexual participants. Women did show some evidence of category-specific responses in the visual processing regions, although even in these regions they exhibited less differential activity than men. In the anterior cingulate, a region with high concentrations of sex-hormone receptors, subjective and neural category specificity measures correlated positively for women but negatively for men, suggesting a possible sex difference in the role of the anterior cingulate. Overall, results suggest that men tend to show more differentiated neural responses than do women to erotic photographs of one sex compared to the other sex, though women may not be entirely indifferent to which sex is depicted.
Brain oscillatory activity has long been thought to have spatial properties, the details of which are unresolved. Here we examine spatial organizational rules for the human brain oscillatory activity as measured by blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal. Resting-state BOLD signal was transformed into frequency space (Welchs method) and averaged across subjects, and its spatial distribution was studied as a function of four frequency bands, spanning the full BOLD bandwidth. The brain showed anatomically constrained distribution of power for each frequency band. This result was replicated on a repository dataset of 195 subjects. Next, we examined larger-scale organization by parceling the neocortex into regions approximating Brodmann areas (BAs). This indicated that BAs of simple function/connectivity (unimodal), versus complex properties (transmodal), are dominated by low-frequency BOLD oscillations, and within the visual ventral stream we observe a graded shift of power to higher-frequency bands for BAs further removed from the primary visual cortex (increased complexity), linking BOLD frequency properties to hodology. Additionally, BOLD oscillation properties for the default mode network demonstrated that it is composed of distinct frequency-dependent regions. When the same analysis was performed on a visual-motor task, frequency-dependent global and voxelwise shifts in BOLD oscillations could be detected at brain sites mostly outside those identified with general linear modeling. Thus, analysis of BOLD oscillations in full bandwidth uncovers novel brain organizational rules, linking anatomical structures and functional networks to characteristic BOLD oscillations. The approach also identifies changes in brain intrinsic properties in relation to responses to external inputs.
Learning of complex motor skills requires learning of component movements as well as the sequential structure of their order and timing. Using a Serial Interception Sequence Learning (SISL) task, participants learned a sequence of precisely timed interception responses through training with a repeating sequence. Following initial implicit learning of the repeating sequence, functional MRI data were collected during performance of that known sequence and compared with activity evoked during novel sequences of actions, novel timing patterns, or both. Reduced activity was observed during the practiced sequence in a distributed bilateral network including extrastriate occipital, parietal, and premotor cortical regions. These reductions in evoked activity likely reflect improved efficiency in visuospatial processing, spatio-motor integration, motor planning, and motor execution for the trained sequence, which is likely supported by nondeclarative skill learning. In addition, the practiced sequence evoked increased activity in the left ventral striatum and medial prefrontal cortex, while the posterior cingulate was more active during periods of better performance. Many prior studies of perceptual-motor skill learning have found increased activity in motor areas of the frontal cortex (e.g., motor and premotor cortex, SMA) and striatal areas (e.g., the putamen). The change in activity observed here (i.e., decreased activity across a cortical network) may reflect skill learning that is predominantly expressed through more accurate performance rather than decreased reaction time.
Cultures vary in the extent to which people prefer social hierarchical or egalitarian relations between individuals and groups. Here we examined the effect of cultural variation in preference for social hierarchy on the neural basis of intergroup empathy. Using cross-cultural neuroimaging, we measured neural responses while Korean and American participants observed scenes of racial ingroup and outgroup members in emotional pain. Compared to Caucasian-American participants, Korean participants reported experiencing greater empathy and elicited stronger activity in the left temporo-parietal junction (L-TPJ), a region previously associated with mental state inference, for ingroup compared to outgroup members. Furthermore, preferential reactivity within this region to the pain of ingroup relative to outgroup members was associated with greater preference for social hierarchy and ingroup biases in empathy. Together, these results suggest that cultural variation in preference for social hierarchy leads to cultural variation in ingroup-preferences in empathy, due to increased engagement of brain regions associated with representing and inferring the mental states of others.
Limited information is available concerning changes that occur in the brain early in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. This investigation evaluated resting-state functional connectivity, which is based on correlations of spontaneous blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) oscillations between brain regions, in 15 subjects within the first year of HIV infection and in 15 age-matched controls. Resting-state fMRI data for each session were concatenated in time across subjects to create a single 4D dataset and decomposed into 36 independent component analysis (ICA) using Multivariate Exploratory Linear Optimized Decomposition into Independent Components. ICA components were back-reconstructed for each subjects 4D data to estimate subject-specific spatial maps using the dual-regression technique. Comparison of spatial maps between HIV and controls revealed significant differences in the lateral occipital cortex (LOC) network. Reduced coactivation in left inferior parietal cortex within the LOC network was identified in the HIV subjects. Connectivity strength within this region correlated with performance on tasks involving visual-motor coordination (Grooved Pegboard and Rey Figure Copy) in the HIV group. The findings indicate prominent changes in resting-state functional connectivity of visual networks early in HIV infection. This network may sustain injury in association with the intense viremia and brain viral invasion before immune defenses can contain viral replication. Resting-state functional connectivity may have utility as a noninvasive neuroimaging biomarker for central nervous system impairment in early HIV infection.
Understanding how the human brain translates sensory impressions into conscious percepts is a key challenge of neuroscience research. Work in this area has overwhelmingly centered on the conscious experience of vision at the exclusion of the other senses--in particular, smell. We hypothesized that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is a central substrate for olfactory conscious experience because of its privileged physiological role in odor processing. Combining functional magnetic resonance imaging, peripheral autonomic recordings, and olfactory psychophysics, we studied a case of complete anosmia (smell loss) in a patient with circumscribed traumatic brain injury to the right OFC. Despite a complete absence of conscious olfaction, the patient exhibited robust "blind smell," as indexed by reliable odor-evoked neural activity in the left OFC and normal autonomic responses to odor hedonics during presentation of stimuli to the left nostril. These data highlight the right OFCs critical role in subserving human olfactory consciousness.
Cultural neuroscience is an emerging research discipline that investigates cultural variation in psychological, neural and genomic processes as a means of articulating the bidirectional relationship of these processes and their emergent properties. Research in cultural neuroscience integrates theory and methods from anthropology, cultural psychology, neuroscience and neurogenetics. Here, we review a set of core theoretical and methodological challenges facing researchers when planning and conducting cultural neuroscience studies, and provide suggestions for overcoming these challenges. In particular, we focus on the problems of defining culture and culturally appropriate experimental tasks, comparing neuroimaging data acquired from different populations and scanner sites and identifying functional genetic polymorphisms relevant to culture. Implications of cultural neuroscience research for addressing current issues in population health disparities are discussed.
This study examined patterns of neural activation associated with treatment-induced improvement of complex sentence production (and comprehension) in six individuals with stroke-induced agrammatic aphasia, taking into account possible alterations in blood flow often associated with stroke, including delayed time-to-peak of the hemodynamic response function (HRF) and hypoperfused tissue. Aphasic participants performed an auditory verification fMRI task, processing object cleft, subject cleft, and simple active sentences, prior to and following a course of Treatment of Underlying Forms (TUF; Thompson et al., 2003), a linguistically based approach for treating aphasic sentence deficits, which targeted object relative clause constructions. The patients also were scanned in a long-trials task to examine HRFs, to account for any local deviations resulting from stroke, and perfusion images were obtained to evaluate regions of hypoperfused tissue. Region-of-interest (ROI) analyses were conducted (bilaterally), modeling participant-specific local HRFs in left hemisphere areas activated by 12 healthy age-matched volunteers performing the same task, including the middle and inferior frontal gyri, precentral gyrus, middle and superior temporal gyri, and insula, and additional regions associated with complex syntactic processing, including the posterior perisylvian and superior parietal cortices. Results showed that, despite individual variation in activation differences from pre- to post-treatment scans in the aphasic participants, main-effects analyses revealed a general shift from left superior temporal activation to more posterior temporoparietal areas, bilaterally. Time-to-peak of these responses correlated negatively with blood flow, as measured with perfusion imaging.
Sleep deprivation impairs many cognitive abilities, but these impairments can be reversed after a certain quantity and quality of sleep. The ability to inhibit responding is particularly susceptible to disruption after prolonged wakefulness. How recovery sleep (RS) alters brain activity, leading to improved performance on a variety of cognitive tasks, remains unclear. This issue was examined in the current study using spectral analysis of electroencephalogram (EEG) data during sleep. These measures of sleep physiology were acquired after both normal sleep (NS) and RS, and were related to measures of inhibitory control and concurrent brain activity. Subjects were nine young adults who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging twice, after 9 h of NS and after 10 h of RS that followed 38 h of being awake. A multiple regression model was used to examine differences between conditions in (1) EEG spectral power during sleep, (2) probability of successful inhibition in a go/no-go task, and (3) activation within a region of right prefrontal cortex during the task. Performance recovery, as indexed by reduced performance differences between conditions, was predicted by increased delta power and decreased sigma power in RS compared with NS. These EEG variables predicted most of the variance in inhibitory performance difference between conditions. Regressions also suggested that RS improved performance because of changes in brain function including prefrontal regions that resulted from delta rebound. We thus propose that slow waves, reflected in delta power during RS, act to restore brain function, thereby improving cognitive performance that entails response inhibition.
Individualism and collectivism refer to cultural values that influence how people construe themselves and their relation to the world. Individualists perceive themselves as stable entities, autonomous from other people and their environment, while collectivists view themselves as dynamic entities, continually defined by their social context and relationships. Despite rich understanding of how individualism and collectivism influence social cognition at a behavioral level, little is known about how these cultural values modulate neural representations underlying social cognition. Using cross-cultural functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined whether the cultural values of individualism and collectivism modulate neural activity within medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) during processing of general and contextual self judgments. Here, we show that neural activity within the anterior rostral portion of the MPFC during processing of general and contextual self judgments positively predicts how individualistic or collectivistic a person is across cultures. These results reveal two kinds of neural representations of self (eg, a general self and a contextual self) within MPFC and demonstrate how cultural values of individualism and collectivism shape these neural representations.
Mental representations of social status hierarchy share properties with that of numbers. Previous neuroimaging studies have shown that the neural representation of numerical magnitude lies within a network of regions within inferior parietal cortex. However the neural basis of social status hierarchy remains unknown. Using fMRI, we studied subjects while they compared social status magnitude of people, objects and symbols, as well as numerical magnitude. Both social status and number comparisons recruited bilateral intraparietal sulci. We also observed a semantic distance effect whereby neural activity within bilateral intraparietal sulci increased for semantically close relative to far numerical and social status comparisons. These results demonstrate that social status and number comparisons recruit distinct and overlapping neuronal representations within human inferior parietal cortex.
Previous research has shown that people solve insight or creative problems better when in a positive mood (assessed or induced), although the precise mechanisms and neural substrates of this facilitation remain unclear. We assessed mood and personality variables in 79 participants before they attempted to solve problems that can be solved by either an insight or an analytic strategy. Participants higher in positive mood solved more problems, and specifically more with insight, compared with participants lower in positive mood. fMRI was performed on 27 of the participants while they solved problems. Positive mood (and to a lesser extent and in the opposite direction, anxiety) was associated with changes in brain activity during a preparatory interval preceding each solved problem; modulation of preparatory activity in several areas biased people to solve either with insight or analytically. Analyses examined whether (a) positive mood modulated activity in brain areas showing responsivity during preparation; (b) positive mood modulated activity in areas showing stronger activity for insight than noninsight trials either during preparation or solution; and (c) insight effects occurred in areas that showed mood-related effects during preparation. Across three analyses, the ACC showed sensitivity to both mood and insight, demonstrating that positive mood alters preparatory activity in ACC, biasing participants to engage in processing conducive to insight solving. This result suggests that positive mood enhances insight, at least in part, by modulating attention and cognitive control mechanisms via ACC, perhaps enhancing sensitivity to detect non-prepotent solution candidates.
Argument structure, as in the participant roles entailed within the lexical representation of verbs, affects verb processing. Recent neuroimaging studies show that when verbs are heard or read, the posterior temporoparietal region shows increased activation for verbs with greater versus lesser argument structure complexity, usually bilaterally. In addition, patients with agrammatic aphasia show verb production deficits, graded based on argument structure complexity. In the present study, we used fMRI to examine the neural correlates of verb production in overt action naming conditions. In addition, we tested the differential effects of naming when verbs were presented dynamically in video segments versus statically in line drawings. Results showed increased neuronal activity associated with production of transitive as compared to intransitive verbs not only in posterior regions, but also in left inferior frontal cortex. We also found significantly greater activation for transitive versus intransitive action naming for videos compared to pictures in the right inferior and superior parietal cortices, areas associated with object manipulation. These findings indicate that verbs with greater argument structure density engender graded activation of both anterior and posterior portions of the language network and support verb naming deficit patterns reported in lesion studies. In addition, the similar findings derived under video and static picture naming conditions provide validity for using videos in neuroimaging studies, which are more naturalistic and perhaps ecologically valid than using static pictures to investigate action naming.
To appropriately adapt to constant sensory stimulation, neurons in the auditory system are tuned to various acoustic characteristics, such as center frequencies, frequency modulations, and their combinations, particularly those combinations that carry species-specific communicative functions. The present study asks whether such tunings extend beyond acoustic and communicative functions to auditory self-relevance and expertise. More specifically, we examined the role of the listening biography--an individuals long term experience with a particular type of auditory input--on perceptual-neural plasticity. Two groups of expert instrumentalists (violinists and flutists) listened to matched musical excerpts played on the two instruments (J.S. Bach Partitas for solo violin and flute) while their cerebral hemodynamic responses were measured using fMRI. Our experimental design allowed for a comprehensive investigation of the neurophysiology (cerebral hemodynamic responses as measured by fMRI) of auditory expertise (i.e., when violinists listened to violin music and when flutists listened to flute music) and nonexpertise (i.e., when subjects listened to music played on the other instrument). We found an extensive cerebral network of expertise, which implicates increased sensitivity to musical syntax (BA 44), timbre (auditory association cortex), and sound-motor interactions (precentral gyrus) when listening to music played on the instrument of expertise (the instrument for which subjects had a unique listening biography). These findings highlight auditory self-relevance and expertise as a mechanism of perceptual-neural plasticity, and implicate neural tuning that includes and extends beyond acoustic and communication-relevant structures.
The blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal is dependent on multiple physiological factors such as cerebral blood flow (CBF), local oxygen metabolism (CMRO(2)) and cerebral blood volume (CBV). Since caffeine affects both CBF and neural activity, its effects on BOLD remain controversial. The calibrated BOLD approach is an excellent tool to study caffeine because it combines CBF and BOLD measures to estimate changes in CMRO(2). The present study used the calibrated BOLD approach with 5% CO(2) to determine if a 2.5 mg/kg intravenous injection of caffeine changes the coupling between CBF and CMRO(2) during motor and visual tasks. The results show that caffeine decreases n, the CBF:CMRO(2) coupling ratio, from 2.58 to 2.33 in motor (p=0.006) and from 2.45 to 2.23 in visual (p=0.002) areas respectively. The current study also demonstrated that caffeine does not alter cerebrovascular reactivity to CO(2). These results highlight the importance of the calibrated BOLD approach in improving interpretation of the BOLD signal in the presence of substances like caffeine.
Previous stroke studies using fMRI or lesion characterization methods to study the preservation of motor performance have been limited in defining anatomical structure critical for functional performance. This study attempts to overcome this limitation by using voxel-based lesion symptom mapping (VLSM) to identify specific anatomical regions required for preservation of motor function.
Caffeine is a popular psychostimulant, typically found in beverages. While low to intermediate doses of caffeine are associated with positive feelings and increased mental performance and alertness, high doses induce negative feelings such as insomnia, anxiety and nervousness. We investigate if this nonlinear dose-response is present for caffeines effects on functional activation. Twenty-seven healthy subjects were assigned randomly to four different groups: saline, 1 mg/kg, 2.5 mg/kg and 5 mg/kg doses of caffeine. Simultaneous ASL/BOLD timeseries were collected both before and after an intravenous infusion of saline or caffeine and the task-induced CBF and BOLD percent changes were compared. The maximum increase in BOLD response was associated with the intermediate caffeine dose of 2.5 mg/kg, which increased BOLD response by 32.2% and 32.5% in motor and visual areas respectively. The maximum increase in CBF response was associated with the highest caffeine dose of 5 mg/kg. This difference could be related to a different density of A(1) and A(2A) adenosine receptors in the brain.
The way in which normal variations in human neuroanatomy relate to brain function remains largely uninvestigated. This study addresses the question by relating anatomical measurements of Heschls gyrus (HG), the structure containing human primary auditory cortex, to how this region processes temporal and spectral acoustic information. In this study, subjects right and left HG were identified and manually indicated on anatomical magnetic resonance imaging scans. Volumes of gray matter, white matter, and total gyrus were recorded, and asymmetry indices were calculated. Additionally, cortical auditory activity in response to noise stimuli varying orthogonally in temporal and spectral dimensions was assessed and related to the volumetric measurements. A high degree of anatomical variability was seen, consistent with other reports in the literature. The auditory cortical responses showed the expected leftward lateralization to varying rates of stimulus change and rightward lateralization of increasing spectral information. An explicit link between auditory structure and function is then established, in which anatomical variability of auditory cortex is shown to relate to individual differences in the way that cortex processes acoustic information. Specifically, larger volumes of left HG were associated with larger extents of rate-related cortex on the left, and larger volumes of right HG related to larger extents of spectral-related cortex on the right. This finding is discussed in relation to known microanatomical asymmetries of HG, including increased myelination of its fibers, and implications for language learning are considered.
Since there remains a need to examine the nature of the neural effect and therapeutic efficacy/effectiveness of sensory stimulation provided to persons in states of seriously impaired consciousness, a passive sensory stimulation intervention, referred to as the Familiar Auditory Sensory Training (FAST) protocol, was developed for examination in an ongoing, double-blind, randomized clinical trial (RCT). The FAST protocol is described in this article according to the preliminary framework, which is a synthesis of knowledge regarding principles of plasticity and capabilities of the human brain to automatically and covertly process sensory input. Feasibility issues considered during the development of the intervention are also described. To enable replication of this intervention, we describe procedures to create the intervention and lessons learned regarding the creation process. The potential effect of the intervention is illustrated using functional brain imaging of nondisabled subjects. This illustration also demonstrates the relevance of the rationale for designing the FAST protocol. To put the intervention within the context of the scientific development process, the article culminates with a description of the study design for the ongoing RCT examining the efficacy of the FAST protocol.
Increasingly, clinical trials based on brain imaging are adopting multiple sites/centers to increase their subject pool and to expedite the studies, and more longitudinal studies are using multiple imaging methods to assess structural and functional changes. Careful investigation of the test-retest reliability and image quality of inter- or intra- scanner neuroimaging measurements are critical in the design, statistical analysis and interpretation of results. We propose a framework and specific metrics to quantify the reproducibility and image quality for neuroimaging studies (structural, BOLD and Diffusion Tensor Imaging) collected across identical scanners and following a major hardware repair (gradient coil replacement). We achieved consistent measures for the proposed metrics: structural (mean volume in specific regions and stretch factor), functional (temporal Signal-to-Noise ratio), diffusion (mean Fractional Anisotropy and Mean Diffusivity in multiple regions). The proposed frame work of imaging metrics should be used to perform daily quality assurance testing and incorporated into multi-center studies.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging is the most widely used imaging technique to study treatment-induced recovery in post-stroke aphasia. The longitudinal design of such studies adds to the challenges researchers face when studying patient populations with brain damage in cross-sectional settings. The present review focuses on issues specifically relevant to neuroimaging data analysis in aphasia treatment research identified in discussions among international researchers at the Neuroimaging in Aphasia Treatment Research Workshop held at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois, USA). In particular, we aim to provide the reader with a critical review of unique problems related to the pre-processing, statistical modeling and interpretation of such data sets. Despite the fact that data analysis procedures critically depend on specific design features of a given study, we aim to discuss and communicate a basic set of practical guidelines that should be applicable to a wide range of studies and useful as a reference for researchers pursuing this line of research.
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