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Brain Sci., Volume 10, Issue 4 (April 2020) – 62 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) The role of infections in the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is still [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Relation of Intracerebral Hemorrhage Descriptors with Clinical Factors
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040252 - 24 Apr 2020
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Abstract
The association between intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) shape and a poor treatment outcome has been established by few authors. We decided to analyze whether computationally assessed hemorrhage shape irregularity is associated with any known predictors of its poor treatment outcome. We retrospectively analyzed 48 [...] Read more.
The association between intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) shape and a poor treatment outcome has been established by few authors. We decided to analyze whether computationally assessed hemorrhage shape irregularity is associated with any known predictors of its poor treatment outcome. We retrospectively analyzed 48 patients with spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage. For each patient we calculated Fractal Dimension, Compactness, Fourier Factor and Circle Factor. Our study showed that patients above 65 years old had significantly higher Compactness (0.70 ± 0.19 vs. 0.56 ± 0.20; p < 0.01), Fractal Dimension (0.46 ± 0.22 vs. 0.32 ± 0.20; p = 0.03) and Circle Factor (0.51 ± 0.25 vs. 0.35 ± 0.17; p < 0.01). Patients with hemorrhage growth had significantly higher Compactness (0.74 ± 0.23 vs. 0.58 ± 0.18; p < 0.01), Circle Factor (0.55 ± 0.27 vs. 0.37 ± 0.18; p < 0.01) and Fourier Factor (0.96 ± 0.06 vs. 0.84 ± 0.19; p = 0.03). In conclusion, irregularity resulting from the number of appendices can be a predictor of ICH growth; however, the size of those appendices is also important. Shape roughness better reflects the severity of brain tissue damage and a patient’s general condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neuroimaging)
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Open AccessOpinion
Building, Hosting and Recruiting: A Brief Introduction to Running Behavioral Experiments Online
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040251 - 24 Apr 2020
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Abstract
Researchers have ample reasons to take their experimental studies out of the lab and into the online wilderness. For some, it is out of necessity, due to an unforeseen laboratory closure or difficulties in recruiting on-site participants. Others want to benefit from the [...] Read more.
Researchers have ample reasons to take their experimental studies out of the lab and into the online wilderness. For some, it is out of necessity, due to an unforeseen laboratory closure or difficulties in recruiting on-site participants. Others want to benefit from the large and diverse online population. However, the transition from in-lab to online data acquisition is not trivial and might seem overwhelming at first. To facilitate this transition, we present an overview of actively maintained solutions for the critical components of successful online data acquisition: creating, hosting and recruiting. Our aim is to provide a brief introductory resource and discuss important considerations for researchers who are taking their first steps towards online experimentation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Visual Search in (Virtual) Reality)
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Open AccessArticle
Self-Concept and Inattention or Hyperactivity–Impulsivity Symptomatology: The Role of Anxiety
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040250 - 23 Apr 2020
Viewed by 576
Abstract
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been associated with low levels of self-concept (academic, emotional, social or physical), although this association can differ in the function of the inattention or hyperactivity–impulsivity symptomatology. Furthermore, the relation between ADHD and self-concept can be mediated or moderated by [...] Read more.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been associated with low levels of self-concept (academic, emotional, social or physical), although this association can differ in the function of the inattention or hyperactivity–impulsivity symptomatology. Furthermore, the relation between ADHD and self-concept can be mediated or moderated by the levels of anxiety. This work is aimed to examine the differential effect of inattention symptomatology and hyperactivity–impulsivity symptomatology on academic, emotional, social and physical self-concept and the mediating or moderating role of anxiety in this relationship. A total of 167 students (70.7% boys and 29.3% girls) aged between 11 and 16 participated in this study. Students’ ADHD symptomatology, self-concept in four areas (academic, emotional, social and physical self-concept) and trait anxiety were measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children. The results indicate that trait anxiety mediates the relationship between inattention and emotional, social and physical self-concept but does not moderate this relationship. Trait anxiety does not mediate or moderate the relationship between hyperactivity–impulsivity symptoms and self-concept. When inattention symptomatology increases, academic self-concept decreases directly, but students’ emotional, social and physical self-concept decreases indirectly through trait anxiety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Clinical Neuroscience)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Trajectories of Immediate and Delayed Verbal Memory in the Spanish General Population of Middle-aged and Older Adults
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 249; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040249 - 22 Apr 2020
Viewed by 682
Abstract
(1) Cognitive decline differs among individuals and cognition function domains. We sought to identify distinct groups of immediate and delayed verbal memory in two age subsamples (50–64, 65+ years), and to analyze associated factors. (2) Latent class mixed models were used to identify [...] Read more.
(1) Cognitive decline differs among individuals and cognition function domains. We sought to identify distinct groups of immediate and delayed verbal memory in two age subsamples (50–64, 65+ years), and to analyze associated factors. (2) Latent class mixed models were used to identify verbal memory trajectories in a sample of Spanish community-dwelling individuals over 8 years’ follow up. Chi-square and Kruskal–Wallis tests were used to assess differences among trajectories. (3) Different trajectories were identified. In the case of immediate verbal memory, these were: very low/decline (6.3%), low/stable (38.2%), medium/slow decline (43.4%), and high/slow decline (12.2%) in the middle-aged group, and low/decline (20.4%), medium/slow decline (60.4%), and high/slow decline (19.2%) in the older subsample. In delayed verbal memory, more distinct patterns were found: very low/decline (12.4%), low/stable (51.4%), medium/accelerated decline (24.7%), and high/slow increase (11.4%) in the younger group, and low/slow decline (34.4%), medium/decline (52.7%), and high/slow decline (12.9%) in the older group. (4) Overall, low initial performance and decline were associated with older age, lower education, and higher diabetes/stroke prevalence. Differences found suggests heterogeneity in cognitive ageing. The high prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in those with worse cognition suggests that early interventions to prevent those conditions should be targeted in midlife to delay cognitive decline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Social Interactions Using the Autism Screening Instrument for Education Planning-3rd Edition (ASIEP-3): Interaction Assessment in Children and Adults with Fragile X Syndrome
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040248 - 22 Apr 2020
Viewed by 623
Abstract
An efficient and direct measure of social interactions and autism symptoms is needed for fragile X syndrome (FXS) research and clinical care. The Autism Screening Instrument for Educational Planning-Third Edition (ASIEP-3) Interaction assessment is a brief standardized measure that quantifies social responses under [...] Read more.
An efficient and direct measure of social interactions and autism symptoms is needed for fragile X syndrome (FXS) research and clinical care. The Autism Screening Instrument for Educational Planning-Third Edition (ASIEP-3) Interaction assessment is a brief standardized measure that quantifies social responses under different conditions. The feasibility and validity of the ASIEP-3 was evaluated in 26 males and 13 females with FXS, along with cognitive testing and behavior questionnaires. The videos were scored at 10-second intervals, and the observed behaviors were scored as an interaction, independent play, no response, or aggression. In total, 39/41 participants successfully completed the ASIEP-3 (age M = 14.4 ± 10.2), with a range of cognitive abilities (abbreviated IQ (ABIQ) M = 58.9 ± 17.3, median = 50), behaviors (Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) Total M = 37.00 ± 27.3), and autism diagnoses (N = 22/39). Reliable administration was demonstrated by all team members. The mean coded behaviors included interaction (40.6%), independent play (36.8%), no response (21.1%), and aggressive behavior (<10%). The interaction score was negatively correlated with the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) score (p = 0.037), and the profiles differed by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. The intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) ranged from 0.79 to 0.93 for master’s level and above. Administration of the ASIEP-3 was feasible for FXS across sex, age, ability, and behavior ratings by a trained research team. Reliable scoring required advanced training in the assessment of social development and FXS experience. The scores correlated to ratings and diagnoses of ASD. The ASIEP-3 shows promise to reliably index social interactions in FXS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Update on the Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome)
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Open AccessArticle
The Supplementary Motor Area Responsible for Word Retrieval Decline After Acute Thalamic Stroke Revealed by Coupled SPECT and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 247; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040247 - 22 Apr 2020
Viewed by 584
Abstract
Damage to the thalamus may affect cognition and language, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. In particular, it remains a riddle why thalamic aphasia occasionally occurs and then mostly recovers to some degree. To explore the mechanism of the affected cognition and language, [...] Read more.
Damage to the thalamus may affect cognition and language, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. In particular, it remains a riddle why thalamic aphasia occasionally occurs and then mostly recovers to some degree. To explore the mechanism of the affected cognition and language, we used two neuroimaging techniques—single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), suitable for viewing the affected brain distribution after acute thalamic stroke, and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (f-NIRS), focusing on hemodynamic responses of the supplementary motor area (SMA) responsible for speech production in conjunction with the frontal aslant tract (FAT) pathway. SPECT yielded common perfusion abnormalities not only in the fronto–parieto–cerebellar loop, but also in the SMA, IFG and surrounding language-relevant regions. In NIRS sessions during a phonemic verbal fluency task, we found significant word retrieval decline in acute thalamic patients relative to age-matched healthy volunteers. Further, NIRS showed strong correlation between word retrieval and posterior SMA responses. In addition, follow-up NIRS exhibited increased bilateral SMA responses linked to improving word retrieval ability. The findings suggest that cognitive dysfunction may be related to the fronto–parieto–cerebellar loop, while language dysfunction is attributed to the SMA, IFG and language-related brain areas. SMA may contribute to the recovery of word retrieval difficulty and aphasia after thalamic stroke. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neuroimaging)
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Open AccessArticle
Acute Effects of High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Foot Muscle Strength, Passive Ankle Kinesthesia, and Static Balance: A Pilot Study
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040246 - 21 Apr 2020
Viewed by 696
Abstract
This study aimed to examine the effects of single-session anodal high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) on the strength of intrinsic foot muscles, passive ankle kinesthesia, and static balance. Methods: In this double-blinded self-controlled study, 14 healthy younger adults were asked to complete [...] Read more.
This study aimed to examine the effects of single-session anodal high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) on the strength of intrinsic foot muscles, passive ankle kinesthesia, and static balance. Methods: In this double-blinded self-controlled study, 14 healthy younger adults were asked to complete assessments of foot muscle strength, passive ankle kinesthesia, and static balance before and after a 20-minute session of either HD-tDCS or sham stimulation (i.e., control) at two visits separated by one week. Two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to examine the effects of HD-tDCS on metatarsophalangeal joint flexor strength, toe flexor strength, the passive kinesthesia threshold of ankle joint, and the average sway velocity of the center of gravity. Results: All participants completed all study procedures and no side effects nor risk events were reported. Blinding was shown to be successful, with an overall accuracy of 35.7% in the guess of stimulation type (p = 0.347). No main effects of intervention, time, or their interaction were observed for foot muscle strength (p > 0.05). The average percent change in first-toe flexor strength following anodal HD-tDCS was 12.8 ± 24.2%, with 11 out of 14 participants showing an increase in strength, while the change following sham stimulation was 0.7 ± 17.3%, with 8 out of 14 participants showing an increase in strength. A main effect of time on the passive kinesthesia threshold of ankle inversion, dorsiflexion, and anteroposterior and medial–lateral average sway velocity of the center of gravity in one-leg standing with eyes closed was observed; these outcomes were reduced from pre to post stimulation (p < 0.05). No significant differences were observed for other variables between the two stimulation types. Conclusion: The results of this pilot study suggested that single-session HD-tDCS may improve the flexor strength of the first toe, although no statistically significant differences were observed between the anodal HD-tDCS and sham procedure groups. Additionally, passive ankle kinesthesia and static standing balance performance were improved from pre to post stimulation, but no significant differences were observed between the HD-tDCS and sham procedure groups. This may be potentially due to ceiling effects in this healthy cohort of a small sample size. Nevertheless, these preliminary findings may provide critical knowledge of optimal stimulation parameters, effect size, and power estimation of HD-tDCS for future trials aiming to confirm and expand the findings of this pilot study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessReview
Salivary Biomarkers: Future Approaches for Early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040245 - 21 Apr 2020
Viewed by 916
Abstract
Many neurological diseases are characterized by progressive neuronal degeneration. Early diagnosis and new markers are necessary for prompt therapeutic intervention. Several studies have aimed to identify biomarkers in different biological liquids. Furthermore, it is being considered whether saliva could be a potential biological [...] Read more.
Many neurological diseases are characterized by progressive neuronal degeneration. Early diagnosis and new markers are necessary for prompt therapeutic intervention. Several studies have aimed to identify biomarkers in different biological liquids. Furthermore, it is being considered whether saliva could be a potential biological sample for the investigation of neurodegenerative diseases. This work aims to provide an overview of the literature concerning biomarkers identified in saliva for the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis (MS). Specifically, the studies have revealed that is possible to quantify beta-amyloid1–42 and TAU protein from the saliva of AD patients. Instead, alpha-synuclein and protein deglycase (DJ-1) have been identified as new potential salivary biomarkers for the diagnosis of PD. Nevertheless, future studies will be needed to validate these salivary biomarkers in the diagnosis of neurological diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Early Diagnosis and Intervention in Alzheimer's Disease)
Open AccessArticle
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation at 4 mA Induces Greater Leg Muscle Fatigability in Women Compared to Men
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040244 - 21 Apr 2020
Viewed by 603
Abstract
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has previously shown different cortical excitability and neuropsychological effects between women and men. However, the sex-specific effects of tDCS on leg muscle fatigability has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of [...] Read more.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has previously shown different cortical excitability and neuropsychological effects between women and men. However, the sex-specific effects of tDCS on leg muscle fatigability has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a single session of 2 mA and 4 mA primary motor cortex tDCS on leg muscle fatigability in healthy young men and women in a crossover design. Twenty participants (women = 10) completed isokinetic fatigue testing (40 maximal reps, 120°/s) of the knee extensors and flexors in conjunction with sham, 2 mA, and 4 mA tDCS in a double-blind, randomized design. The fatigue index from each condition was calculated. Women had significantly greater knee extensor fatigability in the 4 mA condition compared to men (57.8 ± 6.8% versus 44.1 ± 18.4%; p = 0.041, d = 0.99). This study provides additional evidence that responses to tDCS may be sex-specific and highlights the necessity of accounting and powering for sex differences in future investigations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Clinical Neuroscience)
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Open AccessArticle
Characteristics of Clinical Symptoms, Cerebral Images and Stroke Etiology in Vertebro-Basilar Artery Fenestration-Related Infarction
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040243 - 20 Apr 2020
Viewed by 578
Abstract
Cerebral artery fenestration is a rare variant of the vascular architecture, but its existence is well documented. The common site of fenestration is the vertebra-basilar artery and it may be found incidentally with subarachnoid hemorrhage. However, fenestration-related cerebral infarction is rare. We analyzed [...] Read more.
Cerebral artery fenestration is a rare variant of the vascular architecture, but its existence is well documented. The common site of fenestration is the vertebra-basilar artery and it may be found incidentally with subarachnoid hemorrhage. However, fenestration-related cerebral infarction is rare. We analyzed the clinical characteristics, stroke etiology, and image findings of fenestration-related cerebral infarction of the vertebrobasilar artery. We reviewed our hospital records and previously published reports to find cases of fenestration-related cerebral infarction. We excluded those with unknown clinical features or radiological findings. We retrieved 4 cases of fenestration-related infarction from our hospital, in which vascular change, headache, vertigo/dizziness, and dissection in stroke etiology were detected. In eight previously reported cases of fenestration-related infarction, similar vascular changes were noted, but they were mainly diagnosed as embolic stroke of undetermined source. However, based on the criteria for dissection in this study, dissection as the stroke etiology was suspected in the previously reported cases. Many hypotheses have been proposed for the development of dissection, thrombus, and aneurysms in fenestration. Although an embryological and morphological study is needed, clinicians must consider basilar artery fenestration-related infarction as a differential diagnosis and intensive non-invasive image study is recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stroke Treatments and Therapies)
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Open AccessArticle
Can Gut Microbiota Be a Good Predictor for Parkinson’s Disease? A Machine Learning Approach
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040242 - 19 Apr 2020
Viewed by 1052
Abstract
The involvement of the gut microbiota in Parkinson’s disease (PD), investigated in several studies, identified some common alterations of the microbial community, such as a decrease in Lachnospiraceae and an increase in Verrucomicrobiaceae families in PD patients. However, the results of other bacterial [...] Read more.
The involvement of the gut microbiota in Parkinson’s disease (PD), investigated in several studies, identified some common alterations of the microbial community, such as a decrease in Lachnospiraceae and an increase in Verrucomicrobiaceae families in PD patients. However, the results of other bacterial families are often contradictory. Machine learning is a promising tool for building predictive models for the classification of biological data, such as those produced in metagenomic studies. We tested three different machine learning algorithms (random forest, neural networks and support vector machines), analyzing 846 metagenomic samples (472 from PD patients and 374 from healthy controls), including our published data and those downloaded from public databases. Prediction performance was evaluated by the area under curve, accuracy, precision, recall and F-score metrics. The random forest algorithm provided the best results. Bacterial families were sorted according to their importance in the classification, and a subset of 22 families has been identified for the prediction of patient status. Although the results are promising, it is necessary to train the algorithm with a larger number of samples in order to increase the accuracy of the procedure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain–Microbiome Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle
Role of Potassium Ions Quantum Tunneling in the Pathophysiology of Phantom Limb Pain
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 241; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040241 - 18 Apr 2020
Viewed by 2000
Abstract
(1) Background: multiple theories were proposed to explain the phenomenon of phantom limb pain (PLP). Nevertheless, the phenomenon is still shrouded in mystery. The aim of this study is to explore the phenomenon from a new perspective, where quantum tunneling of ions, a [...] Read more.
(1) Background: multiple theories were proposed to explain the phenomenon of phantom limb pain (PLP). Nevertheless, the phenomenon is still shrouded in mystery. The aim of this study is to explore the phenomenon from a new perspective, where quantum tunneling of ions, a promising field in medical practice, might play a major role. (2) Methods: investigators designed a quantum mathematical model based on the Schrödinger equation to examine the probability of potassium ions quantum tunneling through closed membrane potassium channels to the inside of phantom axons, leading to the generation of action potential. (3) Results: the model suggests that the probability of action potential induction at a certain region of the membrane of phantom neurons, when a neuron of the stump area is stimulated over 1 mm2 surface area of the membrane available for tunneling is 1.04 × 10−2. Furthermore, upon considering two probabilities of potassium channelopathies, one that decreased the energy of the barrier by 25% and another one by 50%, the tunneling probability became 1.22 × 10−8 and 3.86 × 10−4, respectively. (4) Conclusion: quantum models of potassium ions can provide a reliable theoretical hypothesis to unveil part of the ambiguity behind PLP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Signaling and Synaptic Transmission)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparison of Different Visual Feedback Methods for SSVEP-Based BCIs
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 240; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040240 - 18 Apr 2020
Viewed by 666
Abstract
In this paper we compared different visual feedback methods, informing users about classification progress in a steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP)-based brain–computer interface (BCI) speller application. According to results from our previous studies, changes in stimulus size and contrast as online feedback of [...] Read more.
In this paper we compared different visual feedback methods, informing users about classification progress in a steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP)-based brain–computer interface (BCI) speller application. According to results from our previous studies, changes in stimulus size and contrast as online feedback of classification progress have great impact on BCI performance in SSVEP-based spellers. In this experiment we further investigated these effects, and tested a 4-target SSVEP speller interface with a much higher number of subjects. Five different scenarios were used with variations in stimulus size and contrast, “no feedback”, “size increasing”, “size decreasing”, “contrast increasing”, and “contrast decreasing”. With each of the five scenarios, 24 participants had to spell six letter words (at least 18 selections with this three-steps speller). The fastest feedback modalities were different for the users, there was no visual feedback which was generally better than the others. With the used interface, six users achieved significantly better Information Transfer Rates (ITRs) compared to the “no feedback” condition. Their average improvement by using the individually fastest feedback method was 46.52%. This finding is very important for BCI experiments, as by determining the optimal feedback for the user, the speed of the BCI can be improved without impairing the accuracy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Delineating Repetitive Behavior Profiles across the Lifespan in Fragile X Syndrome
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040239 - 17 Apr 2020
Viewed by 804
Abstract
Restricted repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are a core area of impairment in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but also affect several other neurodevelopmental disorders including fragile X syndrome (FXS). Current literature has begun to describe the RRB profile in FXS up through adolescence; however, little [...] Read more.
Restricted repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are a core area of impairment in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but also affect several other neurodevelopmental disorders including fragile X syndrome (FXS). Current literature has begun to describe the RRB profile in FXS up through adolescence; however, little is known about the subtypes of RRBs in adolescents and adults. Further, literature on the RRB profile of females with FXS is limited. The present study examines the RRB profile across subtypes and specific items in both males and females with FXS while assessing for differences based on age, ASD diagnosis and the impact of IQ. Participants included 154 individuals with FXS (ages 2 to 50 years old). Results revealed a peak in RRB severity in FXS between 7–12 years for the majority of RRB subscales with the exception of Sensory-Motor behaviors peaking between 2 and 12 years before declining. Distinct RRB profiles in males and females with FXS emerged in addition to significant overlap among the item and subscale levels of RRBs across gender. Further, an added diagnosis of ASD significantly increased rates of RRBs across all subscale levels, but not necessarily across all items. Lastly, IQ did not solely account for the presence of RRBs in FXS, with Sensory-Motor behaviors being driven by comorbid ASD in males with FXS, and Restricted Interest behaviors being driven by comorbid ASD regardless of gender. These findings build on the current understanding of RRBs in FXS based on gender and comorbid ASD and lay important groundwork for the development of targeted behavioral and pharmacological treatments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Update on the Treatment of Fragile X Syndrome)
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Open AccessArticle
Bimodal Benefits for Lexical Tone Recognition: An Investigation on Mandarin-speaking Preschoolers with a Cochlear Implant and a Contralateral Hearing Aid
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040238 - 17 Apr 2020
Viewed by 617
Abstract
Pitch perception is known to be difficult for individuals with cochlear implant (CI), and adding a hearing aid (HA) in the non-implanted ear is potentially beneficial. The current study aimed to investigate the bimodal benefit for lexical tone recognition in Mandarin-speaking preschoolers using [...] Read more.
Pitch perception is known to be difficult for individuals with cochlear implant (CI), and adding a hearing aid (HA) in the non-implanted ear is potentially beneficial. The current study aimed to investigate the bimodal benefit for lexical tone recognition in Mandarin-speaking preschoolers using a CI and an HA in opposite ears. The child participants were required to complete tone identification in quiet and in noise with CI + HA in comparison with CI alone. While the bimodal listeners showed confusion between Tone 2 and Tone 3 in recognition, the additional acoustic information from the contralateral HA alleviated confusion between these two tones in quiet. Moreover, significant improvement was demonstrated in the CI + HA condition over the CI alone condition in noise. The bimodal benefit for individual subjects could be predicted by the low-frequency hearing threshold of the non-implanted ear and the duration of bimodal use. The findings support the clinical practice to fit a contralateral HA in the non-implanted ear for the potential benefit in Mandarin tone recognition in CI children. The limitations call for further studies on auditory plasticity on an individual basis to gain insights on the contributing factors to the bimodal benefit or its absence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Central Auditory Plasticity)
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Open AccessEditorial
Fluorescent Guided Surgery in the Surgical Management of Glioma: The Dawn of a New Era
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 237; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040237 - 16 Apr 2020
Viewed by 625
Abstract
A growing body of evidence supports the importance of marginal or even supramarginal resection in cases of high- but also of low-grade gliomas [...] Full article
Open AccessReview
Imaging Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) with Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040236 - 15 Apr 2020
Viewed by 755
Abstract
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of non-invasive neuromodulation that is increasingly being utilized to examine and modify several cognitive and motor functions. Although tDCS holds great potential, it is difficult to determine optimal treatment procedures to accommodate configurations, the complex [...] Read more.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of non-invasive neuromodulation that is increasingly being utilized to examine and modify several cognitive and motor functions. Although tDCS holds great potential, it is difficult to determine optimal treatment procedures to accommodate configurations, the complex shapes, and dramatic conductivity differences among various tissues. Furthermore, recent demonstrations showed that up to 75% of the tDCS current applied to rodents and human cadavers was shunted by the scalp, subcutaneous tissue, and muscle, bringing the effects of tDCS on the cortex into question. Consequently, it is essential to combine tDCS with human neuroimaging to complement animal and cadaver studies and clarify if and how tDCS can affect neural function. One viable approach is positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. PET has unique potential for examining the effects of tDCS within the central nervous system in vivo, including cerebral metabolism, neuroreceptor occupancy, and neurotransmitter activity/binding. The focus of this review is the emerging role of PET and potential PET radiotracers for studying tDCS-induced functional changes in the human brain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cognitive Neuroscience)
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Open AccessArticle
Cerebellar Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Improves Maximum Isometric Force Production during Isometric Barbell Squats
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040235 - 14 Apr 2020
Viewed by 857
Abstract
Maximum voluntary contraction force (MVC) is an important predictor of athletic performance as well as physical fitness throughout life. Many everyday life activities involve multi-joint or whole-body movements that are determined in part through optimized muscle strength. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has [...] Read more.
Maximum voluntary contraction force (MVC) is an important predictor of athletic performance as well as physical fitness throughout life. Many everyday life activities involve multi-joint or whole-body movements that are determined in part through optimized muscle strength. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been reported to enhance muscle strength parameters in single-joint movements after its application to motor cortical areas, although tDCS effects on maximum isometric voluntary contraction force (MIVC) in compound movements remain to be investigated. Here, we tested whether anodal tDCS and/or sham stimulation over primary motor cortex (M1) and cerebellum (CB) improves MIVC during isometric barbell squats (iBS). Our results provide novel evidence that CB stimulation enhances MIVC during iBS. Although this indicates that parameters relating to muscle strength can be modulated through anodal tDCS of the cerebellum, our results serve as an initial reference point and need to be extended. Therefore, further studies are necessary to expand knowledge in this area of research through the inclusion of different tDCS paradigms, for example investigating dynamic barbell squats, as well as testing other whole-body movements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessReview
Microbiome in Multiple Sclerosis: Where Are We, What We Know and Do Not Know
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040234 - 14 Apr 2020
Viewed by 931
Abstract
An increase of multiple sclerosis (MS) incidence has been reported during the last decade, and this may be connected to environmental factors. This review article aims to encapsulate the current advances targeting the study of the gut–brain axis, which mediates the communication between [...] Read more.
An increase of multiple sclerosis (MS) incidence has been reported during the last decade, and this may be connected to environmental factors. This review article aims to encapsulate the current advances targeting the study of the gut–brain axis, which mediates the communication between the central nervous system and the gut microbiome. Clinical data arising from many research studies, which have assessed the effects of administered disease-modifying treatments in MS patients to the gut microbiome, are also recapitulated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Multiple Sclerosis Research)
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Open AccessArticle
P-cresol Alters Brain Dopamine Metabolism and Exacerbates Autism-Like Behaviors in the BTBR Mouse
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 233; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040233 - 13 Apr 2020
Viewed by 818
Abstract
Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction/communication, stereotypic behaviors, restricted interests, and abnormal sensory-processing. Several studies have reported significantly elevated urinary and foecal levels of p-cresol in ASD children, an aromatic compound either of [...] Read more.
Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction/communication, stereotypic behaviors, restricted interests, and abnormal sensory-processing. Several studies have reported significantly elevated urinary and foecal levels of p-cresol in ASD children, an aromatic compound either of environmental origin or produced by specific gut bacterial strains. Methods: Since p-cresol is a known uremic toxin, able to negatively affect multiple brain functions, the present study was undertaken to assess the effects of a single acute injection of low- or high-dose (1 or 10 mg/kg i.v. respectively) of p-cresol in behavioral and neurochemical phenotypes of BTBR mice, a reliable animal model of human ASD. Results: P-cresol significantly increased anxiety-like behaviors and hyperactivity in the open field, in addition to producing stereotypic behaviors and loss of social preference in BTBR mice. Tissue levels of monoaminergic neurotransmitters and their metabolites unveiled significantly activated dopamine turnover in amygdala as well as in dorsal and ventral striatum after p-cresol administration; no effect was recorded in medial-prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Conclusion: Our study supports a gene x environment interaction model, whereby p-cresol, acting upon a susceptible genetic background, can acutely induce autism-like behaviors and produce abnormal dopamine metabolism in the reward circuitry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
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Open AccessReview
Do Post-Translational Modifications Influence Protein Aggregation in Neurodegenerative Diseases: A Systematic Review
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040232 - 11 Apr 2020
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Abstract
The accumulation of abnormal protein aggregates represents a universal hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs). Post-translational modifications (PTMs) regulate protein structure and function. Dysregulated PTMs may influence the propensity for protein aggregation in NDD-proteinopathies. To investigate this, we systematically reviewed the literature to evaluate [...] Read more.
The accumulation of abnormal protein aggregates represents a universal hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs). Post-translational modifications (PTMs) regulate protein structure and function. Dysregulated PTMs may influence the propensity for protein aggregation in NDD-proteinopathies. To investigate this, we systematically reviewed the literature to evaluate effects of PTMs on aggregation propensity for major proteins linked to the pathogenesis and/or progression of NDDs. A search of PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Web of Science Core Collection was conducted to retrieve studies that investigated an association between PTMs and protein aggregation in seven NDDs: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Huntington’s disease (HD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinocerebellar ataxias, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, and multiple sclerosis. Together, 1222 studies were identified, of which 69 met eligibility criteria. We identified that the following PTMs, in isolation or combination, potentially act as modulators of proteinopathy in NDDs: isoaspartate formation in Aβ, phosphorylation of Aβ or tau in AD; acetylation, 4-hydroxy-2-neonal modification, O-GlcNAcylation or phosphorylation of α-synuclein in PD; acetylation or phosphorylation of TAR DNA-binding protein-43 in ALS, and SUMOylation of superoxide dismutase-1 in ALS; and phosphorylation of huntingtin in HD. The potential pharmacological manipulation of these aggregation-modulating PTMs represents an as-yet untapped source of therapy to treat NDDs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
How Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Developmental Language Disorder, and Typical Language Learn to Produce Global and Local Semantic Features
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040231 - 11 Apr 2020
Viewed by 1506
Abstract
A local processing bias, often considered a cognitive style unique to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), may influence the types of semantic features acquired by children with ASD and could contribute to weaknesses in word learning. Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) also struggle [...] Read more.
A local processing bias, often considered a cognitive style unique to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), may influence the types of semantic features acquired by children with ASD and could contribute to weaknesses in word learning. Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) also struggle to learn semantic aspects of words, but this cognitive style has not been ascribed to children with DLD. The purpose of this study was to explore whether global–local processing differences influence the type of semantic features children with ASD, DLD, and their neurotypical peers learn to produce when learning new words. Novel word definitions produced by 36 school-aged children (12 with ASD, 12 with DLD, and 12 with typical language) who participated in an extended word-learning paradigm were used to extract newly learned semantic features. These semantic features were then coded for global and local attributes and analyzed to detect whether there were differences between groups. Results indicated that the children with ASD and DLD produced more global, rather than local, semantic features in their definitions than the children with typical language. An over-reliance on global, rather than local, features in children with ASD and DLD may reflect deficits in depth of word knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Time Window of Perturbation-Induced Response Triggered by Ankle Motion and Body Sway above the Ankle
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040230 - 11 Apr 2020
Viewed by 731
Abstract
We determined the precise time windows of the electromyographic (EMG) response components triggered by ankle motion and by body sway above the ankle. A support surface under the feet of healthy young adult participants in the quiet stance was moved in translation. The [...] Read more.
We determined the precise time windows of the electromyographic (EMG) response components triggered by ankle motion and by body sway above the ankle. A support surface under the feet of healthy young adult participants in the quiet stance was moved in translation. The EMG response component triggered by body displacement above the ankle began at 95–100 ms and ended 145–155 ms after the onset of the support surface translation. The EMG response triggered by ankle dorsiflexion began at 35–50 ms and ended 110–115 ms after the onset of the translation in the soleus muscle, indicating that the response component began at a time similar to the short-latency response. In contrast, the response component in the gastrocnemius muscle began noticeably after that. The EMG response triggered by ankle dorsiflexion began at 75–85 ms and ended 125–135 ms after the onset of the translation in the gastrocnemius muscle. Our findings indicate that the threshold of the early response component to the somatic sensation of the ankle motion in the soleus muscle is lower than that in the gastrocnemius muscle. The response component triggered by the ankle motion continued long after the end of ankle dorsiflexion, indicating that the early component is mediated not only by the monosynaptic stretch reflex pathway but also by the polysynaptic pathway. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Collection on Systems Neuroscience)
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Open AccessArticle
Diffuse Axonal Injury in the Rat Brain: Axonal Injury and Oligodendrocyte Activity Following Rotational Injury
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 229; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040229 - 10 Apr 2020
Viewed by 687
Abstract
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) commonly results in primary diffuse axonal injury (DAI) and associated secondary injuries that evolve through a cascade of pathological mechanisms. We aim at assessing how myelin and oligodendrocytes react to head angular-acceleration-induced TBI in a previously described model. This [...] Read more.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) commonly results in primary diffuse axonal injury (DAI) and associated secondary injuries that evolve through a cascade of pathological mechanisms. We aim at assessing how myelin and oligodendrocytes react to head angular-acceleration-induced TBI in a previously described model. This model induces axonal injuries visible by amyloid precursor protein (APP) expression, predominantly in the corpus callosum and its borders. Brain tissue from a total of 27 adult rats was collected at 24 h, 72 h and 7 d post-injury. Coronal sections were prepared for immunohistochemistry and RNAscope® to investigate DAI and myelin changes (APP, MBP, Rip), oligodendrocyte lineage cell loss (Olig2), oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) (NG2, PDGFRa) and neuronal stress (HSP70, ATF3). Oligodendrocytes and OPCs numbers (expressed as percentage of positive cells out of total number of cells) were measured in areas with high APP expression. Results showed non-statistically significant trends with a decrease in oligodendrocyte lineage cells and an increase in OPCs. Levels of myelination were mostly unaltered, although Rip expression differed significantly between sham and injured animals in the frontal brain. Neuronal stress markers were induced at the dorsal cortex and habenular nuclei. We conclude that rotational injury induces DAI and neuronal stress in specific areas. We noticed indications of oligodendrocyte death and regeneration without statistically significant changes at the timepoints measured, despite indications of axonal injuries and neuronal stress. This might suggest that oligodendrocytes are robust enough to withstand this kind of trauma, knowledge important for the understanding of thresholds for cell injury and post-traumatic recovery potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neuroglia)
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Open AccessArticle
Optimal Interplay between Synaptic Strengths and Network Structure Enhances Activity Fluctuations and Information Propagation in Hierarchical Modular Networks
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040228 - 10 Apr 2020
Viewed by 733
Abstract
In network models of spiking neurons, the joint impact of network structure and synaptic parameters on activity propagation is still an open problem. Here, we use an information-theoretical approach to investigate activity propagation in spiking networks with a hierarchical modular topology. We observe [...] Read more.
In network models of spiking neurons, the joint impact of network structure and synaptic parameters on activity propagation is still an open problem. Here, we use an information-theoretical approach to investigate activity propagation in spiking networks with a hierarchical modular topology. We observe that optimized pairwise information propagation emerges due to the increase of either (i) the global synaptic strength parameter or (ii) the number of modules in the network, while the network size remains constant. At the population level, information propagation of activity among adjacent modules is enhanced as the number of modules increases until a maximum value is reached and then decreases, showing that there is an optimal interplay between synaptic strength and modularity for population information flow. This is in contrast to information propagation evaluated among pairs of neurons, which attains maximum value at the maximum values of these two parameter ranges. By examining the network behavior under the increase of synaptic strength and the number of modules, we find that these increases are associated with two different effects: (i) the increase of autocorrelations among individual neurons and (ii) the increase of cross-correlations among pairs of neurons. The second effect is associated with better information propagation in the network. Our results suggest roles that link topological features and synaptic strength levels to the transmission of information in cortical networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Brain Dynamics: Latest Advances and Prospects)
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Open AccessReview
Metronidazole Encephalopathy EEG Features: A Case Report with Systematic Review of the Literature
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040227 - 10 Apr 2020
Viewed by 765
Abstract
Metronidazole-induced encephalopathy (MIE) is a rare and often under-recognized iatrogenic condition. The diagnosis should be considered in metronidazole-treated patients presenting with acute encephalopathy, unprovoked seizures and cerebellar signs. While typical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings strongly support the diagnosis, electroencephalography (EEG) features have [...] Read more.
Metronidazole-induced encephalopathy (MIE) is a rare and often under-recognized iatrogenic condition. The diagnosis should be considered in metronidazole-treated patients presenting with acute encephalopathy, unprovoked seizures and cerebellar signs. While typical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings strongly support the diagnosis, electroencephalography (EEG) features have been rarely reported and poorly described. We present a longitudinal EEG assessment in one patient with encephalopathy due to metronidazole toxicity who presented a peculiar EEG pattern presentation and evolution. During the acute phase of encephalopathy, the EEG showed a monomorphic, sharply contoured theta activity symmetrically represented over frontal regions with an anterior–posterior progression which evolved in parallel with clinical worsening. Together with a systematic review of the literature, we discuss whether this EEG activity may represent a distinct neurophysiological correlate of ‘cerebellar encephalopathy’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neural Engineering)
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Open AccessReview
Targeting the Orexin System for Prescription Opioid Use Disorder
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040226 - 10 Apr 2020
Viewed by 796
Abstract
Prescription opioids are potent analgesics that are used for clinical pain management. However, the nonmedical use of these medications has emerged as a major concern because of dramatic increases in abuse and overdose. Therefore, effective strategies to prevent prescription opioid use disorder are [...] Read more.
Prescription opioids are potent analgesics that are used for clinical pain management. However, the nonmedical use of these medications has emerged as a major concern because of dramatic increases in abuse and overdose. Therefore, effective strategies to prevent prescription opioid use disorder are urgently needed. The orexin system has been implicated in the regulation of motivation, arousal, and stress, making this system a promising target for the treatment of substance use disorder. This review discusses recent preclinical studies that suggest that orexin receptor blockade could be beneficial for the treatment of prescription opioid use disorder. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Does Insomnia Exist without Hyperarousal? What Else Can There Be?
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040225 - 10 Apr 2020
Viewed by 653
Abstract
While in ancient Greece, incubation rooms were dedicated to the interpretation of dreams, sleep was also studied by famous philosophers such as Aristotle [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insomnia: Beyond Hyperarousal)
Open AccessArticle
Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Multiple Memory Systems During Category Learning
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040224 - 09 Apr 2020
Viewed by 586
Abstract
The brain utilizes distinct neural mechanisms that ease the transition through different stages of learning. Furthermore, evidence from category learning has shown that dissociable memory systems are engaged, depending on the structure of a task. This can even hold true for tasks that [...] Read more.
The brain utilizes distinct neural mechanisms that ease the transition through different stages of learning. Furthermore, evidence from category learning has shown that dissociable memory systems are engaged, depending on the structure of a task. This can even hold true for tasks that are very similar to each other, which complicates the process of classifying brain activity as relating to changes that are associated with learning or reflecting the engagement of a memory system suited for the task. The primary goals of these studies were to characterize the mechanisms that are associated with category learning and understand the extent to which different memory systems are recruited within a single task. Two studies providing spatial and temporal distinctions between learning-related changes in the brain and category-dependent memory systems are presented. The results from these experiments support the notion that exemplar memorization, rule-based, and perceptual similarity-based categorization are flexibly recruited in order to optimize performance during a single task. We conclude that these three methods, along with the memory systems they rely on, aid in the development of expertise, but their engagement might depend on the level of familiarity with a category. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Open AccessArticle
Mesocorticolimbic Interactions Mediate fMRI-Guided Regulation of Self-Generated Affective States
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040223 - 08 Apr 2020
Viewed by 683
Abstract
Increasing evidence shows that the generation and regulation of affective responses is associated with activity of large brain networks that also include phylogenetically older regions in the brainstem. Mesencephalic regions not only control autonomic responses but also participate in the modulation of autonomic, [...] Read more.
Increasing evidence shows that the generation and regulation of affective responses is associated with activity of large brain networks that also include phylogenetically older regions in the brainstem. Mesencephalic regions not only control autonomic responses but also participate in the modulation of autonomic, emotional, and motivational responses. The specific contribution of the midbrain to emotion regulation in humans remains elusive. Neuroimaging studies grounding on appraisal models of emotion emphasize a major role of prefrontal cortex in modulating emotion-related cortical and subcortical regions but usually neglect the contribution of the midbrain and other brainstem regions. Here, the role of mesolimbic and mesocortical networks in core affect generation and regulation was explored during emotion regulation guided by real-time fMRI feedback of the anterior insula activity. The fMRI and functional connectivity analysis revealed that the upper midbrain significantly contributes to emotion regulation in humans. Moreover, differential functional interactions between the dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic system and frontoparietal networks mediate up and down emotion regulatory processes. Finally, these findings further indicate the potential of real-time fMRI feedback approach in guiding core affect regulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Behavioral Neuroscience)
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