Open AccessArticle
Modeling the Development of Audiovisual Cue Integration in Speech Perception
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 32; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030032 -
Abstract
Adult speech perception is generally enhanced when information is provided from multiple modalities. In contrast, infants do not appear to benefit from combining auditory and visual speech information early in development. This is true despite the fact that both modalities are important to
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Adult speech perception is generally enhanced when information is provided from multiple modalities. In contrast, infants do not appear to benefit from combining auditory and visual speech information early in development. This is true despite the fact that both modalities are important to speech comprehension even at early stages of language acquisition. How then do listeners learn how to process auditory and visual information as part of a unified signal? In the auditory domain, statistical learning processes provide an excellent mechanism for acquiring phonological categories. Is this also true for the more complex problem of acquiring audiovisual correspondences, which require the learner to integrate information from multiple modalities? In this paper, we present simulations using Gaussian mixture models (GMMs) that learn cue weights and combine cues on the basis of their distributional statistics. First, we simulate the developmental process of acquiring phonological categories from auditory and visual cues, asking whether simple statistical learning approaches are sufficient for learning multi-modal representations. Second, we use this time course information to explain audiovisual speech perception in adult perceivers, including cases where auditory and visual input are mismatched. Overall, we find that domain-general statistical learning techniques allow us to model the developmental trajectory of audiovisual cue integration in speech, and in turn, allow us to better understand the mechanisms that give rise to unified percepts based on multiple cues. Full article
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Open AccessCorrection
Correction: Krymchantowski, A.V.; et al. Medication-Overuse Headache: Differences between Daily and Near-Daily Headache Patients; Brain Sciences 2016, 6, 30
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 31; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030031 -
Open AccessReview
The Role of Adenosine Signaling in Headache: A Review
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 30; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030030 -
Abstract
Migraine is the third most prevalent disease on the planet, yet our understanding of its mechanisms and pathophysiology is surprisingly incomplete. Recent studies have built upon decades of evidence that adenosine, a purine nucleoside that can act as a neuromodulator, is involved in
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Migraine is the third most prevalent disease on the planet, yet our understanding of its mechanisms and pathophysiology is surprisingly incomplete. Recent studies have built upon decades of evidence that adenosine, a purine nucleoside that can act as a neuromodulator, is involved in pain transmission and sensitization. Clinical evidence and rodent studies have suggested that adenosine signaling also plays a critical role in migraine headache. This is further supported by the widespread use of caffeine, an adenosine receptor antagonist, in several headache treatments. In this review, we highlight evidence that supports the involvement of adenosine signaling in different forms of headache, headache triggers, and basic headache physiology. This evidence supports adenosine A2A receptors as a critical adenosine receptor subtype involved in headache pain. Adenosine A2A receptor signaling may contribute to headache via the modulation of intracellular Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) production or 5' AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity in neurons and glia to affect glutamatergic synaptic transmission within the brainstem. This evidence supports the further study of adenosine signaling in headache and potentially illuminates it as a novel therapeutic target for migraine. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Predictors of Nightly Subjective-Objective Sleep Discrepancy in Poor Sleepers over a Seven-Day Period
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 29; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030029 -
Abstract
This study sought to examine predictors of subjective/objective sleep discrepancy in poor sleepers. Forty-two individuals with insomnia symptoms (mean age = 36.2 years, 81% female) were recruited to take part in a prospective study which combined seven days of actigraphy with daily assessment
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This study sought to examine predictors of subjective/objective sleep discrepancy in poor sleepers. Forty-two individuals with insomnia symptoms (mean age = 36.2 years, 81% female) were recruited to take part in a prospective study which combined seven days of actigraphy with daily assessment of sleep perceptions, self-reported arousal, sleep effort, and mood upon awakening. A high level of intra-individual variability in measures of sleep discrepancy was observed. Multilevel modelling revealed that higher levels of pre-sleep cognitive activity and lower mood upon awakening were significantly and independently predictive of the underestimation of total sleep time. Greater levels of sleep effort predicted overestimation of sleep onset latency. These results indicate that psychophysiological variables are related to subjective/objective sleep discrepancy and may be important therapeutic targets in the management of insomnia. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Insomnia and Personality—A Network Approach
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 28; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030028 -
Abstract
Studies on personality traits and insomnia have remained inconclusive about which traits show the most direct associations with insomnia severity. It has moreover hardly been explored how traits relate to specific characteristics of insomnia. We here used network analysis in a large sample
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Studies on personality traits and insomnia have remained inconclusive about which traits show the most direct associations with insomnia severity. It has moreover hardly been explored how traits relate to specific characteristics of insomnia. We here used network analysis in a large sample (N = 2089) to obtain an integrated view on the associations of personality traits with both overall insomnia severity and different insomnia characteristics, while distinguishing direct from indirect associations. We first estimated a network describing the associations among the five factor model personality traits and overall insomnia severity. Overall insomnia severity was associated with neuroticism, agreeableness, and openness. Subsequently, we estimated a separate network describing the associations among the personality traits and each of the seven individual items of the Insomnia Severity Index. This revealed relatively separate clusters of daytime and nocturnal insomnia complaints, that both contributed to dissatisfaction with sleep, and were both most directly associated with neuroticism and conscientiousness. The approach revealed the strongest direct associations between personality traits and the severity of different insomnia characteristics and overall insomnia severity. Differentiating them from indirect associations identified the targets for improving Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia with the highest probability of effectively changing the network of associated complaints. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Leisure Activities and Change in Cognitive Stability: A Multivariate Approach
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 27; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030027 -
Abstract
Aging is traditionally associated with cognitive decline, attested by slower reaction times and poorer performance in various cognitive tasks, but also by an increase in intraindividual variability (IIV) in cognitive performance. Results concerning how lifestyle activities protect from cognitive decline are mixed in
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Aging is traditionally associated with cognitive decline, attested by slower reaction times and poorer performance in various cognitive tasks, but also by an increase in intraindividual variability (IIV) in cognitive performance. Results concerning how lifestyle activities protect from cognitive decline are mixed in the literature and all focused on how it affects mean performance. However, IIV has been proven to be an index more sensitive to age differences, and very little is known about the relationships between lifestyle activities and change in IIV in aging. This longitudinal study explores the association between frequency of physical, social, intellectual, artistic, or cultural activities and age-related change in various cognitive abilities, considering both mean performance and IIV. Ninety-six participants, aged 64–93 years, underwent a battery of cognitive tasks at four measurements over a seven-year period, and filled out a lifestyle activity questionnaire. Linear multilevel models were used to analyze the associations between change in cognitive performance and five types of activities. Results showed that the practice of leisure activities was more strongly associated with IIV than with mean performance, both when considering overall level and change in performance. Relationships with IIV were dependent of the cognitive tasks considered and overall results showed protective effects of cultural, physical and intellectual activities on IIV. These results underline the need for considering IIV in the study of age-related cognitive change. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Application of Linear Mixed-Effects Models in Human Neuroscience Research: A Comparison with Pearson Correlation in Two Auditory Electrophysiology Studies
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 26; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030026 -
Abstract
Neurophysiological studies are often designed to examine relationships between measures from different testing conditions, time points, or analysis techniques within the same group of participants. Appropriate statistical techniques that can take into account repeated measures and multivariate predictor variables are integral and essential
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Neurophysiological studies are often designed to examine relationships between measures from different testing conditions, time points, or analysis techniques within the same group of participants. Appropriate statistical techniques that can take into account repeated measures and multivariate predictor variables are integral and essential to successful data analysis and interpretation. This work implements and compares conventional Pearson correlations and linear mixed-effects (LME) regression models using data from two recently published auditory electrophysiology studies. For the specific research questions in both studies, the Pearson correlation test is inappropriate for determining strengths between the behavioral responses for speech-in-noise recognition and the multiple neurophysiological measures as the neural responses across listening conditions were simply treated as independent measures. In contrast, the LME models allow a systematic approach to incorporate both fixed-effect and random-effect terms to deal with the categorical grouping factor of listening conditions, between-subject baseline differences in the multiple measures, and the correlational structure among the predictor variables. Together, the comparative data demonstrate the advantages as well as the necessity to apply mixed-effects models to properly account for the built-in relationships among the multiple predictor variables, which has important implications for proper statistical modeling and interpretation of human behavior in terms of neural correlates and biomarkers. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Hyperarousal and Beyond: New Insights to the Pathophysiology of Insomnia Disorder through Functional Neuroimaging Studies
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 23; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030023 -
Abstract
Neuroimaging studies have produced seemingly contradictory findings in regards to the pathophysiology of insomnia. Although most study results are interpreted from the perspective of a “hyperarousal” model, the aggregate findings from neuroimaging studies suggest a more complex model is needed. We provide a
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Neuroimaging studies have produced seemingly contradictory findings in regards to the pathophysiology of insomnia. Although most study results are interpreted from the perspective of a “hyperarousal” model, the aggregate findings from neuroimaging studies suggest a more complex model is needed. We provide a review of the major findings from neuroimaging studies, then discuss them in relation to a heuristic model of sleep-wake states that involves three major factors: wake drive, sleep drive, and level of conscious awareness. We propose that insomnia involves dysregulation in these factors, resulting in subtle dysregulation of sleep-wake states throughout the 24 h light/dark cycle. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Genes, Gender, Environment, and Novel Functions of Estrogen Receptor Beta in the Susceptibility to Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 24; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030024 -
Abstract
Many neurological disorders affect men and women differently regarding prevalence, progression, and severity. It is clear that many of these disorders may originate from defective signaling during fetal or perinatal brain development, which may affect males and females differently. Such sex-specific differences may
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Many neurological disorders affect men and women differently regarding prevalence, progression, and severity. It is clear that many of these disorders may originate from defective signaling during fetal or perinatal brain development, which may affect males and females differently. Such sex-specific differences may originate from chromosomal or sex-hormone specific effects. This short review will focus on the estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) signaling during perinatal brain development and put it in the context of sex-specific differences in neurodevelopmental disorders. We will discuss ERβ’s recent discovery in directing DNA de-methylation to specific sites, of which one such site may bear consequences for the susceptibility to the neurological reading disorder dyslexia. We will also discuss how dysregulations in sex-hormone signaling, like those evoked by endocrine disruptive chemicals, may affect this and other neurodevelopmental disorders in a sex-specific manner through ERβ. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Neuronal Stress and Injury Caused by HIV-1, cART and Drug Abuse: Converging Contributions to HAND
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 25; doi:10.3390/brainsci7030025 -
Abstract
Multiple mechanisms appear to contribute to neuronal stress and injury underlying HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), which occur despite the successful introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Evidence is accumulating that components of cART can itself be neurotoxic upon long-term exposure. In addition, abuse
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Multiple mechanisms appear to contribute to neuronal stress and injury underlying HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), which occur despite the successful introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Evidence is accumulating that components of cART can itself be neurotoxic upon long-term exposure. In addition, abuse of psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine (METH), seems to compromise antiretroviral therapy and aggravate HAND. However, the combined effect of virus and recreational and therapeutic drugs on the brain is still incompletely understood. However, several lines of evidence suggest a shared critical role of oxidative stress, compromised neuronal energy homeostasis and autophagy in promotion and prevention of neuronal dysfunction associated with HIV-1 infection, cART and psychostimulant use. In this review, we present a synopsis of recent work related to neuronal stress and injury induced by HIV infection, antiretrovirals (ARVs) and the highly addictive psychostimulant METH. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Physical Activity: A Viable Way to Reduce the Risks of Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Vascular Dementia in Older Adults
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 22; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020022 -
Abstract
A recent alarming rise of neurodegenerative diseases in the developed world is one of the major medical issues affecting older adults. In this review, we provide information about the associations of physical activity (PA) with major age-related neurodegenerative diseases and syndromes, including Alzheimer’s
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A recent alarming rise of neurodegenerative diseases in the developed world is one of the major medical issues affecting older adults. In this review, we provide information about the associations of physical activity (PA) with major age-related neurodegenerative diseases and syndromes, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and mild cognitive impairment. We also provide evidence of PA’s role in reducing the risks of these diseases and helping to improve cognitive outcomes in older adults. Finally, we describe some potential mechanisms by which this protective effect occurs, providing guidelines for future research. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Diffusion Assessment of Cortical Changes, Induced by Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 21; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020021 -
Abstract
Promising treatments are being developed to promote functional recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI). Magnetic resonance imaging, specifically Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) has been shown to non-invasively measure both axonal and myelin integrity following traumatic brain and SCI. A novel data-driven model-selection algorithm
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Promising treatments are being developed to promote functional recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI). Magnetic resonance imaging, specifically Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) has been shown to non-invasively measure both axonal and myelin integrity following traumatic brain and SCI. A novel data-driven model-selection algorithm known as Diffusion Basis Spectrum Imaging (DBSI) has been proposed to more accurately delineate white matter injury. The objective of this study was to investigate whether DTI/DBSI changes that extend to level of the cerebral peduncle and internal capsule following a SCI could be correlated with clinical function. A prospective non-randomized cohort of 23 patients with chronic spinal cord injuries and 17 control subjects underwent cranial diffusion weighted imaging, followed by whole brain DTI and DBSI computations. Region-based analyses were performed on cerebral peduncle and internal capsule. Three subgroups of patients were included in the region-based analysis. Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) was also applied to allow whole-brain white matter analysis between controls and all patients. Functional assessments were made using International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury (ISNCSCI) as modified by the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Scale. Whole brain white matter analysis using TBSS finds no statistical difference between controls and all patients. Only cervical ASIA A/B patients in cerebral peduncle showed differences from controls in DTI and DBSI results with region-based analysis. Cervical ASIA A/B SCI patients had higher levels of axonal injury and edema/tissue loss as measured by DBSI at the level of the cerebral peduncle. DTI Fractional Anisotropy (FA), Axial Diffusivity (AD) and Radial Diffusivity (RD) was able to detect differences in cervical ASIA A/B patients, but were non-specific to pathologies. Increased water fraction indicated by DBSI non-restricted isotropic diffusion fraction in the cerebral peduncle, explains the simultaneously increased DTI AD and DTI RD values. Our results further demonstrate the utility of DTI to detect disruption in axonal integrity in white matter, yet a clear shortcoming in differentiating true axonal injury from inflammation/tissue loss. Our results suggest a preservation of axonal integrity at the cortical level and has implications for future regenerative clinical trials. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of the Human Peptide GHK on Gene Expression Relevant to Nervous System Function and Cognitive Decline
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 20; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020020 -
Abstract
Neurodegeneration, the progressive death of neurons, loss of brain function, and cognitive decline is an increasing problem for senior populations. Its causes are poorly understood and therapies are largely ineffective. Neurons, with high energy and oxygen requirements, are especially vulnerable to detrimental factors,
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Neurodegeneration, the progressive death of neurons, loss of brain function, and cognitive decline is an increasing problem for senior populations. Its causes are poorly understood and therapies are largely ineffective. Neurons, with high energy and oxygen requirements, are especially vulnerable to detrimental factors, including age-related dysregulation of biochemical pathways caused by altered expression of multiple genes. GHK (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) is a human copper-binding peptide with biological actions that appear to counter aging-associated diseases and conditions. GHK, which declines with age, has health promoting effects on many tissues such as chondrocytes, liver cells and human fibroblasts, improves wound healing and tissue regeneration (skin, hair follicles, stomach and intestinal linings, boney tissue), increases collagen, decorin, angiogenesis, and nerve outgrowth, possesses anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-pain and anti-anxiety effects, increases cellular stemness and the secretion of trophic factors by mesenchymal stem cells. Studies using the Broad Institute Connectivity Map show that GHK peptide modulates expression of multiple genes, resetting pathological gene expression patterns back to health. GHK has been recommended as a treatment for metastatic cancer, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, inflammation, acute lung injury, activating stem cells, pain, and anxiety. Here, we present GHK’s effects on gene expression relevant to the nervous system health and function. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Surgical Neurostimulation for Spinal Cord Injury
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 18; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020018 -
Abstract
Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating neurological condition characterized by a constellation of symptoms including paralysis, paraesthesia, pain, cardiovascular, bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction. Current treatment for SCI involves acute resuscitation, aggressive rehabilitation and symptomatic treatment for complications. Despite the progress
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Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating neurological condition characterized by a constellation of symptoms including paralysis, paraesthesia, pain, cardiovascular, bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction. Current treatment for SCI involves acute resuscitation, aggressive rehabilitation and symptomatic treatment for complications. Despite the progress in scientific understanding, regenerative therapies are lacking. In this review, we outline the current state and future potential of invasive and non-invasive neuromodulation strategies including deep brain stimulation (DBS), spinal cord stimulation (SCS), motor cortex stimulation (MCS), transcutaneous direct current stimulation (tDCS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in the context of SCI. We consider the ability of these therapies to address pain, sensorimotor symptoms and autonomic dysregulation associated with SCI. In addition to the potential to make important contributions to SCI treatment, neuromodulation has the added ability to contribute to our understanding of spinal cord neurobiology and the pathophysiology of SCI. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reducing Fall Risk with Combined Motor and Cognitive Training in Elderly Fallers
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 19; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020019 -
Abstract
Background. Falling is a major clinical problem in elderly people, demanding effective solutions. At present, the only effective intervention is motor training of balance and strength. Executive function-based training (EFt) might be effective at preventing falls according to evidence showing a relationship between
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Background. Falling is a major clinical problem in elderly people, demanding effective solutions. At present, the only effective intervention is motor training of balance and strength. Executive function-based training (EFt) might be effective at preventing falls according to evidence showing a relationship between executive functions and gait abnormalities. The aim was to assess the effectiveness of a motor and a cognitive treatment developed within the EU co-funded project I-DONT-FALL. Methods. In a sample of 481 elderly people at risk of falls recruited in this multicenter randomised controlled trial, the effectiveness of a motor treatment (pure motor or mixed with EFt) of 24 one-hour sessions delivered through an i-Walker with a non-motor treatment (pure EFt or control condition) was evaluated. Similarly, a 24 one-hour session cognitive treatment (pure EFt or mixed with motor training), delivered through a touch-screen computer was compared with a non-cognitive treatment (pure motor or control condition). Results. Motor treatment, particularly when mixed with EFt, reduced significantly fear of falling (F(1,478) = 6.786, p = 0.009) although to a limited extent (ES −0.25) restricted to the period after intervention. Conclusions. This study suggests the effectiveness of motor treatment empowered by EFt in reducing fear of falling. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial Impairment and Memory in Genetic Disorders: Insights from Mouse Models
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 17; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020017 -
Abstract
Research across the cognitive and brain sciences has begun to elucidate some of the processes that guide navigation and spatial memory. Boundary geometry and featural landmarks are two distinct classes of environmental cues that have dissociable neural correlates in spatial representation and follow
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Research across the cognitive and brain sciences has begun to elucidate some of the processes that guide navigation and spatial memory. Boundary geometry and featural landmarks are two distinct classes of environmental cues that have dissociable neural correlates in spatial representation and follow different patterns of learning. Consequently, spatial navigation depends both on the type of cue available and on the type of learning provided. We investigated this interaction between spatial representation and memory by administering two different tasks (working memory, reference memory) using two different environmental cues (rectangular geometry, striped landmark) in mouse models of human genetic disorders: Prader-Willi syndrome (PWScrm+/p− mice, n = 12) and Beta-catenin mutation (Thr653Lys-substituted mice, n = 12). This exploratory study provides suggestive evidence that these models exhibit different abilities and impairments in navigating by boundary geometry and featural landmarks, depending on the type of memory task administered. We discuss these data in light of the specific deficits in cognitive and brain function in these human syndromes and their animal model counterparts. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
NLRP12 Inflammasome Expression in the Rat Brain in Response to LPS during Morphine Tolerance
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 14; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020014 -
Abstract
Morphine, an effective but addictive analgesic, can profoundly affect the inflammatory response to pathogens, and long-term use can result in morphine tolerance. Inflammasomes are protein complexes involved in the inflammatory response. The nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor (NLR) Family Pyrin Domain Containing (NLRP) 12
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Morphine, an effective but addictive analgesic, can profoundly affect the inflammatory response to pathogens, and long-term use can result in morphine tolerance. Inflammasomes are protein complexes involved in the inflammatory response. The nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor (NLR) Family Pyrin Domain Containing (NLRP) 12 (NLRP12) inflammasome has been reported to have anti-inflammatory activity. In this study, we examined the expression of NLRP12 inflammasome related genes in the adult F344 rat brain in response to the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the presence and absence of morphine tolerance. Morphine tolerance was elicited using the 2 + 4 morphine-pelleting protocol. On Day 1, the rats were pelleted subcutaneously with 2 pellets of morphine (75 mg/pellet) or a placebo; on Days 2 and 4 pellets were given. On Day 5, the animals were randomly assigned to receive either 250 µg/kg LPS or saline (i.p.). The expression of 84 inflammasome related genes in the rat brain was examined using a Ploymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) array. In response to LPS, there was a significant increase in the expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokine genes interleukin-1 beta (Il-1β), interleukin-6 (Il-6), C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (Ccl2), C-C motif chemokine ligand 7 (Ccl7), C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 1 (Cxcl1), and C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 3 (Cxcl3) and a significant decrease in the anti-inflammatory NLRP12 gene in both morphine-tolerant and placebo-control rats compared to saline-treated rats, although the changes were greater in the placebo-control animals. The Library of Integrated Network-Based Cellular Signatures’ (LINCS) connectivity map was used to analyze the list of affected genes to identify potential targets associated with the interactions of LPS and morphine tolerance. Our data indicate that, in the morphine tolerant state, the expression of NLRP12 and its related genes is altered in response to LPS and that the Vacuolar protein-sorting-associated protein 28 (VPS28), which is involved in the transport and sorting of proteins into sub-cellular vesicles, may be the key regulator of these alterations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Experimental Hand Pain on Training-Induced Changes in Motor Performance and Corticospinal Excitability
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 15; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020015 -
Abstract
Pain influences plasticity within the sensorimotor system and the aim of this study was to assess the effect of pain on changes in motor performance and corticospinal excitability during training for a novel motor task. A total of 30 subjects were allocated to
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Pain influences plasticity within the sensorimotor system and the aim of this study was to assess the effect of pain on changes in motor performance and corticospinal excitability during training for a novel motor task. A total of 30 subjects were allocated to one of two groups (Pain, NoPain) and performed ten training blocks of a visually-guided isometric pinch task. Each block consisted of 15 force sequences, and subjects modulated the force applied to a transducer in order to reach one of five target forces. Pain was induced by applying capsaicin cream to the thumb. Motor performance was assessed by a skill index that measured shifts in the speed–accuracy trade-off function. Neurophysiological measures were taken from the first dorsal interosseous using transcranial magnetic stimulation. Overall, the Pain group performed better throughout the training (p = 0.03), but both groups showed similar improvements across training blocks (p < 0.001), and there was no significant interaction. Corticospinal excitability in the NoPain group increased halfway through the training, but this was not observed in the Pain group (Time × Group interaction; p = 0.01). These results suggest that, even when pain does not negatively impact on the acquisition of a novel motor task, it can affect training-related changes in corticospinal excitability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Inhibitory Control under Threat: The Role of Spontaneous Eye Blinks in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(2), 16; doi:10.3390/brainsci7020016 -
Abstract
This study is the first to explore spontaneous eye blink rate (sEBR) in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We investigated the connection between the magnitude of flanker interference in PTSD participants and sEBR during performance on a modified version of the Eriksen
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This study is the first to explore spontaneous eye blink rate (sEBR) in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We investigated the connection between the magnitude of flanker interference in PTSD participants and sEBR during performance on a modified version of the Eriksen flanker task. As a peripheral measure of cognitive control and dopaminergic function, sEBR may illuminate the relationship between PTSD and executive function. Findings revealed a positive relationship between sEBR and flanker interference in participants diagnosed with PTSD, to both threat-related and neutral stimuli, whereas this relationship was negative in participants exposed to trauma but without PTSD and in healthy controls. Although our results are suggestive of sEBR as a potential physiological index of emotional management in PTSD, most of the correlations were not significant, indicating that further research with a larger sample is needed. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Overview of Traumatic Brain Injury: An Immunological Context
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(1), 11; doi:10.3390/brainsci7010011 -
Abstract
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) afflicts people of all ages and genders, and the severity of injury ranges from concussion/mild TBI to severe TBI. Across all spectrums, TBI has wide-ranging, and variable symptomology and outcomes. Treatment options are lacking for the early neuropathology associated
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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) afflicts people of all ages and genders, and the severity of injury ranges from concussion/mild TBI to severe TBI. Across all spectrums, TBI has wide-ranging, and variable symptomology and outcomes. Treatment options are lacking for the early neuropathology associated with TBIs and for the chronic neuropathological and neurobehavioral deficits. Inflammation and neuroinflammation appear to be major mediators of TBI outcomes. These systems are being intensively studies using animal models and human translational studies, in the hopes of understanding the mechanisms of TBI, and developing therapeutic strategies to improve the outcomes of the millions of people impacted by TBIs each year. This manuscript provides an overview of the epidemiology and outcomes of TBI, and presents data obtained from animal and human studies focusing on an inflammatory and immunological context. Such a context is timely, as recent studies blur the traditional understanding of an “immune-privileged” central nervous system. In presenting the evidence for specific, adaptive immune response after TBI, it is hoped that future studies will be interpreted using a broader perspective that includes the contributions of the peripheral immune system, to central nervous system disorders, notably TBI and post-traumatic syndromes. Full article