Abstract: There is a wealth of evidence that disrupted sleep and circadian rhythms, which are common in modern society even during the early stages of life, have unfavorable effects on brain function. Altered brain function can cause problem behaviors later in life, such as truancy from or dropping out of school, quitting employment, and committing suicide. In this review, we discuss findings from several large cohort studies together with recent results of a cohort study using the marshmallow test, which was first introduced in the 1960s. This test assessed the ability of four-year-olds to delay gratification and showed how this ability correlated with success later in life. The role of the serotonergic system in sleep and how this role changes with age are also discussed. The serotonergic system is involved in reward processing and interactions with the dorsal striatum, ventral striatum, and the prefrontal cortex are thought to comprise the neural basis for behavioral patterns that are affected by the quantity, quality, and timing of sleep early in life.
Abstract: We review evidence for cross-modal cortical re-organization in clinical populations with hearing loss. Cross-modal plasticity refers to the ability for an intact sensory modality (e.g., vision or somatosensation) to recruit cortical brain regions from a deprived sensory modality (e.g., audition) to carry out sensory processing. We describe evidence for cross-modal changes in hearing loss across the age-spectrum and across different degrees of hearing impairment, including children with profound, bilateral deafness with cochlear implants, single-sided deafness before and after cochlear implantation, and adults with early-stage, mild-moderate, age-related hearing loss. Understanding cross-modal plasticity in the context of auditory deprivation, and the potential for reversal of these changes following intervention, may be vital in directing intervention and rehabilitation options for clinical populations with hearing loss.
Abstract: Anxiety is associated with an exaggerated expectancy of harm, including overestimation of how likely a conditioned stimulus (CS+) predicts a harmful unconditioned stimulus (US). In the current study we tested whether anxiety-associated expectancy of harm increases primary sensory cortex (S1) activity on non-reinforced (i.e., no shock) CS+ trials. Twenty healthy volunteers completed a differential-tone trace conditioning task while undergoing fMRI, with shock delivered to the left hand. We found a positive correlation between trait anxiety and activity in right, but not left, S1 during CS+ versus CS− conditions. Right S1 activity also correlated with individual differences in both primary auditory cortices (A1) and amygdala activity. Lastly, a seed-based functional connectivity analysis demonstrated that trial-wise S1 activity was positively correlated with regions of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), suggesting that higher-order cognitive processes contribute to the anticipatory sensory reactivity. Our findings indicate that individual differences in trait anxiety relate to anticipatory reactivity for the US during associative learning. This anticipatory reactivity is also integrated along with emotion-related sensory signals into a brain network implicated in fear-conditioned responding.
Abstract: Emerging evidence suggests that emotion and affect modulate the relation between sleep and cognition. In the present study, we investigated the role of rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep in mood regulation and memory consolidation for sad stories. In a counterbalanced design, participants (n = 24) listened to either a neutral or a sad story during two sessions, spaced one week apart. After listening to the story, half of the participants had a short (45 min) morning nap. The other half had a long (90 min) morning nap, richer in REM and N2 sleep. Story recall, mood evolution and changes in emotional response to the re-exposure to the story were assessed after the nap. Although recall performance was similar for sad and neutral stories irrespective of nap duration, sleep measures were correlated with recall performance in the sad story condition only. After the long nap, REM sleep density positively correlated with retrieval performance, while re-exposure to the sad story led to diminished mood and increased skin conductance levels. Our results suggest that REM sleep may not only be associated with the consolidation of intrinsically sad material, but also enhances mood reactivity, at least on the short term.
Abstract: This review highlights the most important discovery in the reticular activating system in the last 10 years, the manifestation of gamma band activity in cells of the reticular activating system (RAS), especially in the pedunculopontine nucleus, which is in charge of waking and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The identification of different cell groups manifesting P/Q-type Ca2+ channels that control waking vs. those that manifest N-type channels that control REM sleep provides novel avenues for the differential control of waking vs. REM sleep. Recent discoveries on the development of this system can help explain the developmental decrease in REM sleep and the basic rest-activity cycle.