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Brain Sci., Volume 10, Issue 6 (June 2020) – 86 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system and is considered to [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating the Impact of Age, Acoustic Exposure, and Electrical Stimulation on Binaural Sensitivity in Adult Bilateral Cochlear Implant Patients
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 406; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060406 - 26 Jun 2020
Viewed by 595
Abstract
Deafness in both ears is highly disruptive to communication in everyday listening situations. Many individuals with profound deafness receive bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) to gain access to spatial cues used in localization and speech understanding in noise. However, the benefit of bilateral CIs, [...] Read more.
Deafness in both ears is highly disruptive to communication in everyday listening situations. Many individuals with profound deafness receive bilateral cochlear implants (CIs) to gain access to spatial cues used in localization and speech understanding in noise. However, the benefit of bilateral CIs, in particular sensitivity to interaural time and level differences (ITD and ILDs), varies among patients. We measured binaural sensitivity in 46 adult bilateral CI patients to explore the relationship between binaural sensitivity and three classes of patient-related factors: age, acoustic exposure, and electric hearing experience. Results show that ILD sensitivity increased with shorter years of acoustic exposure, younger age at testing, or an interaction between these factors, moderated by the duration of bilateral hearing impairment. ITD sensitivity was impacted by a moderating effect between years of bilateral hearing impairment and CI experience. When age at onset of deafness was treated as two categories (<18 vs. >18 years of age), there was no clear effect for ILD sensitivity, but some differences were observed for ITD sensitivity. Our findings imply that maximal binaural sensitivity is obtained by listeners with a shorter bilateral hearing impairment, a longer duration of CI experience, and potentially a younger age at testing. 198/200. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Central Auditory Plasticity)
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Open AccessArticle
Incubation of Negative Affect during Protracted Alcohol Withdrawal Is Age-, but Not Sex-Selective
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 405; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060405 - 26 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 508
Abstract
A prior history of excessive drinking induces a negative affective state in both humans and laboratory rodents, the manifestation of which varies with the age of drinking-onset. In adolescent male mice, negative affect incubates over the course of a 30-day alcohol withdrawal period. [...] Read more.
A prior history of excessive drinking induces a negative affective state in both humans and laboratory rodents, the manifestation of which varies with the age of drinking-onset. In adolescent male mice, negative affect incubates over the course of a 30-day alcohol withdrawal period. In contrast, the negative affect exhibited by adult male mice is robust at 1 day withdrawal, but dissipates with the passage of time. As females tend to consume more alcohol than males, we aimed to explore the affective disturbances exhibited by adolescent and adult C57BL/6J mice of both sexes during more protracted alcohol withdrawal and to relate any behavioral changes observed to plasma corticosterone levels as a biochemical index of stress. Male and female, adolescent and adult, mice were subjected to 14 consecutive days of binge alcohol-drinking using a multi-bottle-choice Drinking-in-the-Dark (DID) procedure (5, 10, 20 and 40% v/v). Age- and sex-matched control mice consumed water only. On either withdrawal day 1 or 70, subgroups of animals were subjected a to 1-day behavioral test battery that included the light–dark box shuttle test, marble-burying test, and Porsolt forced swim test. As expected, adolescent mice consumed more alcohol than adults and females consumed more alcohol than males. However, despite binge-like levels of alcohol consumption, we detected relatively few signs of alcohol withdrawal-induced negative affect and there was no correlation between affective behavior and circulating corticosterone levels. We discuss these findings within the context of our published work, highlighting procedural differences that might account for the relatively weak effect of binge-drinking history upon anxiety and depressive-like behavior observed herein. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Transcutaneous Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation (taVNS) on P3 Event-Related Potentials during a Bayesian Oddball Task
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060404 - 25 Jun 2020
Viewed by 643
Abstract
Transcutaneous auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation (taVNS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique associated with possible modulation of norepinephrinergic (NE) activity. NE is suspected to contribute to generation of the P3 event-related potential. Recent evidence has produced equivocal evidence whether taVNS influences the P3 [...] Read more.
Transcutaneous auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation (taVNS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique associated with possible modulation of norepinephrinergic (NE) activity. NE is suspected to contribute to generation of the P3 event-related potential. Recent evidence has produced equivocal evidence whether taVNS influences the P3 in healthy individuals during oddball tasks. We examined the effect of taVNS on P3 amplitudes using a novel visual Bayesian oddball task, which presented 200 sequences of three stimuli. The three consecutive stimuli in each sequence are labelled Draw 1, Draw 2 and Draw 3. In total, 47 Subjects completed this visual Bayesian oddball task under randomised sham and active taVNS stimulation in parallel with an electroencephalographic (EEG) recording. We conducted exploratory analyses of the effect of taVNS on P3 amplitudes separately for Draws. We found typical oddball effects on P3 amplitudes at Draws 1 and 2, but not Draw 3. At Draw 2, the oddball effect was enhanced during active compared to sham taVNS stimulation. These data provide evidence that taVNS influences parietal P3 amplitudes under specific circumstances. Only P3 amplitudes at Draw 2 were affected, which may relate to closure of Bayesian inference after Draw 2. Our findings seemingly support previously reported links between taVNS and the NE system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cognitive Neuroscience)
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Open AccessArticle
Neurodynamics of Patients during a Dolphin-Assisted Therapy by Means of a Fractal Intraneural Analysis
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 403; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060403 - 25 Jun 2020
Viewed by 613
Abstract
The recent proliferation of sensor technology applications in therapies for children’s disabilities to promote positive behavior among such children has produced optimistic results in developing a variety of skills and abilities in them. Dolphin-Assisted Therapy (DAT) has also become a topic of public [...] Read more.
The recent proliferation of sensor technology applications in therapies for children’s disabilities to promote positive behavior among such children has produced optimistic results in developing a variety of skills and abilities in them. Dolphin-Assisted Therapy (DAT) has also become a topic of public and research interest for these disorders’ intervention and treatment. This work exposes the development of a system that controls brain–computer interaction when a patient with different abilities undergoes a DAT. To develop the proposed system, TGAM1, i.e., ThinkGear-AM1 series of NeuroSky company, was used, connecting it to an isolated Bluetooth 4.0 communication protocol from a brackish and humid environment, and a Notch Filter was applied to reduce the input noise. In this way, at Definiti Ixtapa-Mexico facilities, we explored the behavior of three children with Infantile Spastic Cerebral Palsy (Experiment 1), as well as the behavior of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and neurotypic children (Experiment 2). This was done applying the Power Spectrum Density (PSD) and the Self-Affine Analysis (SSA) from Electroencephalogram (EEG) biosignals. The EEG Raw data were time series showing the cerebral brain activity (voltage versus time) before and during DAT for the Experiment 1, and before, during DAT and after for the Experiment 2. Likewise, the EEW RAW data were recorded by the first frontopolar electrode (FP1) by means of an EEG biosensor TGAM1 Module. From the PSD we found that in all child patients a huge increment of brain activity during DAT regarding the before and after therapy periods around 376.28%. Moreover, from the SSA we found that the structure function of the all five child patients displayed an antipersistent behavior, characterized by σ δ t H , for before, during DAT and after. Nonetheless, we propose that one way to assess whether a DAT is being efficient to the child patients is to increase the during DAT time when the samples are collected, supposing the data fitting by a power law will raise the time, displaying a persistent behavior or positive correlations, until a crossover appears and the curve tends to be horizontal, pointing out that our system has reached a stationary state. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behavioral and Cognitive Neurodynamics)
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Open AccessBrief Report
Increased Neural Reward Responsivity in Adolescents with ASD after Social Skills Intervention
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 402; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060402 - 24 Jun 2020
Viewed by 733
Abstract
The reward system has been implicated as a potential neural mechanism underlying social-communication deficits in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, it remains unclear whether the neural reward system in ASD is sensitive to behavioral interventions. The current study measured the reward [...] Read more.
The reward system has been implicated as a potential neural mechanism underlying social-communication deficits in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, it remains unclear whether the neural reward system in ASD is sensitive to behavioral interventions. The current study measured the reward positivity (RewP) in response to social and nonsocial stimuli in seven adolescents with ASD before and after participation in the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) intervention. This study also included seven neurotypical adolescents who were tested at two time points but did not receive intervention. We examined the RewP across the course of a task by comparing brain activity during the first versus second half of trials to understand patterns of responsivity over time. Improvements in social skills and decreased social-communication impairments for teens with ASD were observed after PEERS®. Event-related potential (ERP) results suggested increased reward sensitivity during the first half of trials in the ASD group after intervention. Adolescents with ASD who exhibited less reward-related brain activity before intervention demonstrated the greatest behavioral benefits from the intervention. These findings have implications for how neuroscience can be used as an objective outcome measure before and after intervention in ASD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Alexithymia Is Associated with Reduced Quality of Life and Increased Caregiver Burden in Parkinson’s Disease
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 401; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060401 - 24 Jun 2020
Viewed by 624
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most frequent neurodegenerative disease of people who are beyond 50 years of age. People with PD (PwP) suffer from a large variety of motor and non-motor symptoms resulting in reduced health-related quality of life (HR-QoL). In the [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most frequent neurodegenerative disease of people who are beyond 50 years of age. People with PD (PwP) suffer from a large variety of motor and non-motor symptoms resulting in reduced health-related quality of life (HR-QoL). In the last two decades, alexithymia was identified as an additional non-motor symptom in PD. Alexithymia is defined as a cognitive affective disturbance resulting in difficulty to identify and distinguish feelings from bodily sensations of emotional arousal. In PD, the frequency of patients suffering of alexithymia is increased compared to healthy controls. The aim of the present study was to determine the relationship of alexithymia to HR-QoL of the PwP and caregiver burden of the corresponding caregiver. This cross-sectional questionnaire-based study used disease specific questionnaires for HR-QoL and caregiver burden. In total 119 PwP and their corresponding caregivers were included in the study. HR-QoL of the PwP correlated significantly with alexithymia (p < 0.001), especially the sub-components “identifying feelings” (p < 0.001) and “difficulties describing feelings” (p = 0.001). Caregiver burden also correlated significantly with PwP alexithymia (p < 0.001). However, caregiver burden was associated with sub-components “identifying feelings” (p < 0.008) and “external oriented thinking” (p < 0.004). These data support the importance of alexithymia as a non-motor symptom in PD. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Contribution of Dopamine Transporter Gene Methylation Status to Cannabis Dependency
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 400; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060400 - 23 Jun 2020
Viewed by 555
Abstract
The susceptibility to cannabis dependency results from the influence of numerous factors such as social, genetic, as well as epigenetic factors. Many studies have attempted to discover a molecular basis for this disease. However, our study aimed at evaluating the connection between altered [...] Read more.
The susceptibility to cannabis dependency results from the influence of numerous factors such as social, genetic, as well as epigenetic factors. Many studies have attempted to discover a molecular basis for this disease. However, our study aimed at evaluating the connection between altered methylation of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1) promoter CpG sites and cannabis dependency. In the cases of some DNA sequences, including the DAT1 gene region, their methylation status in blood cells may reflect a systemic modulation in the whole organism. Consequently, we isolated the DNA from the peripheral blood cells from a group of 201 cannabis-dependent patients and 285 controls who were healthy volunteers and who were matched for age and sex. The DNA was subjected to bisulfite conversion and sequencing. Our analysis revealed no statistical differences in the general methylation status of the DAT1 gene promoter CpG island between the patients and controls. Yet, the analysis of individual CpG sites where methylation occurred indicated significant differences. These sites are known to be bound by transcription factors (e.g., SP1, p53, PAX5, or GR), which, apart from other functions, were shown to play a role in the development of the nervous system. Therefore, DAT1 gene promoter methylation studies may provide important insight into the mechanism of cannabis dependency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Dopamine in Neural Circuits)
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Open AccessCase Report
Parkinsonian Syndrome with Frontal Lobe Involvement and Anti-Glycine Receptor Antibodies
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 399; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060399 - 23 Jun 2020
Viewed by 630
Abstract
Background: Atypical Parkinsonian syndromes with prominent frontal lobe involvement can occur in the 4R-taupathies progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Secondary forms of movement disorders may occur in the context of autoimmune encephalitis with antineuronal antibodies, such as anti-glycine receptor (anti-GlyR) [...] Read more.
Background: Atypical Parkinsonian syndromes with prominent frontal lobe involvement can occur in the 4R-taupathies progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Secondary forms of movement disorders may occur in the context of autoimmune encephalitis with antineuronal antibodies, such as anti-glycine receptor (anti-GlyR) antibodies, which are typically associated with Stiff-Person spectrum syndrome, or progressive encephalomyelitis with rigidity and myoclonus. Overlaps between neurodegenerative and immunological mechanisms have been recently suggested in anti-IgLON5 disease. In this case study, the authors describe a patient with a Parkinsonian syndrome with frontal lobe involvement and anti-GlyR antibodies. Case presentation: The patient presented was a 63-year-old female. Her symptoms had begun with insomnia at the age of 60, after which, since the age of 61, increasing personality changes developed, leading to a diagnosis of depression with delusional symptoms. Severe cognitive deficits emerged, along with a left-side accentuated Parkinsonian syndrome with postural instability. The personality changes involved frontal systems. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed low-grade mesencephalon atrophy. [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) depicted a moderate hypometabolism bilateral frontal and of the midbrain, while [123I]FPCIT single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) revealed severely reduced dopamine transporter availability in both striata, indicating pronounced nigrostriatal degeneration. In addition, anti-GlyR antibodies were repeatedly found in the serum of the patient (max. titer of 1:640, reference: <1:20). Therefore, an anti-inflammatory treatment with steroids and azathioprine was administered; this resulted in a decrease of antibody titers (to 1:80) but no detectable clinical improvement. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and electroencephalography diagnostics showed inconspicuous findings, and negative CSF anti-GlyR antibody results. Conclusion: The patient presented here was suffering from a complex Parkinsonian syndrome with frontal lobe involvement. Because of the high anti-GlyR antibody titers, the presence of an autoimmune cause of the disorder was discussed. However, since no typical signs of autoimmune anti-GlyR antibody syndrome (e.g., hyperexcitability, anti-GlyR antibodies in CSF, or other inflammatory CSF changes) were detected, the possibility that the anti-GlyR antibodies might have been an unrelated bystander should be considered. Alternatively, the anti-GlyR antibodies might have developed secondarily to neurodegeneration (most likely a 4-repeat tauopathy, PSP or CBD) without exerting overt clinical effects, as in cases of anti-IgLON5 encephalopathy. In this case, such antibodies might also potentially modify the clinical course of classical movement disorders. Further research on the role of antineuronal antibodies in Parkinsonian syndromes is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Dementia Disorders)
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Open AccessArticle
Human Figure Drawings in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Possible Window on the Inner or the Outer World
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 398; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060398 - 23 Jun 2020
Viewed by 937
Abstract
Background: Tests based on human figure drawings (HFD) have captured the attention of clinicians and psychologists for a long time. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the performance of HFD of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) relative to typically [...] Read more.
Background: Tests based on human figure drawings (HFD) have captured the attention of clinicians and psychologists for a long time. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the performance of HFD of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) relative to typically developing (TD) controls. Methods: All children were asked to draw three human figures (man, woman, self-portrait) and were evaluated with a neuropsychological battery. HFD were scored according to the Maturity Scale, and correlative approaches testing maturity against neuropsychological scores were applied. Results: ASDs presented marked deficits in maturity. No significant correlation emerged for both groups between maturity and the theory of mind test. On the contrary, positive and significant correlations between maturity and the affect recognition test (AR) were found, with group-specific patterns. In TD, this result regarded drawings of others, but not self-portraits, while an opposite pattern emerged for ASD, whose sole maturity in self-portraits significantly correlated with the AR scores. Conclusion: These findings suggest that the use of HFD tests with individuals with autism may not be used in clinical practices. However, in basic research, HFDs could be used to highlight dependencies between drawing performance and neuropsychological features, thus possibly providing hints on the functioning of autism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Amplified Concern for Social Risk in Adolescence: Development and Validation of a New Measure
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060397 - 23 Jun 2020
Viewed by 853
Abstract
In adolescence, there is a heightened propensity to take health risks such as smoking, drinking or driving too fast. Another facet of risk taking, social risk, has largely been neglected. A social risk can be defined as any decision or action that could [...] Read more.
In adolescence, there is a heightened propensity to take health risks such as smoking, drinking or driving too fast. Another facet of risk taking, social risk, has largely been neglected. A social risk can be defined as any decision or action that could lead to an individual being excluded by their peers, such as appearing different to one’s friends. In the current study, we developed and validated a measure of concern for health and social risk for use in individuals of 11 years and over (N = 1399). Concerns for both health and social risk declined with age, challenging the commonly held stereotype that adolescents are less worried about engaging in risk behaviours, compared with adults. The rate of decline was steeper for social versus health risk behaviours, suggesting that adolescence is a period of heightened concern for social risk. We validated our measure against measures of rejection sensitivity, depression and risk-taking behaviour. Greater concern for social risk was associated with increased sensitivity to rejection and greater depressed mood, and this association was stronger for adolescents compared with adults. We conclude that social risks should be incorporated into future models of risk-taking behaviour, especially when they are pitted against health risks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adolescent Cognitive Development across Contexts)
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Open AccessReview
Multiscale Computation and Dynamic Attention in Biological and Artificial Intelligence
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 396; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060396 - 20 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1474
Abstract
Biological and artificial intelligence (AI) are often defined by their capacity to achieve a hierarchy of short-term and long-term goals that require incorporating information over time and space at both local and global scales. More advanced forms of this capacity involve the adaptive [...] Read more.
Biological and artificial intelligence (AI) are often defined by their capacity to achieve a hierarchy of short-term and long-term goals that require incorporating information over time and space at both local and global scales. More advanced forms of this capacity involve the adaptive modulation of integration across scales, which resolve computational inefficiency and explore-exploit dilemmas at the same time. Research in neuroscience and AI have both made progress towards understanding architectures that achieve this. Insight into biological computations come from phenomena such as decision inertia, habit formation, information search, risky choices and foraging. Across these domains, the brain is equipped with mechanisms (such as the dorsal anterior cingulate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) that can represent and modulate across scales, both with top-down control processes and by local to global consolidation as information progresses from sensory to prefrontal areas. Paralleling these biological architectures, progress in AI is marked by innovations in dynamic multiscale modulation, moving from recurrent and convolutional neural networks—with fixed scalings—to attention, transformers, dynamic convolutions, and consciousness priors—which modulate scale to input and increase scale breadth. The use and development of these multiscale innovations in robotic agents, game AI, and natural language processing (NLP) are pushing the boundaries of AI achievements. By juxtaposing biological and artificial intelligence, the present work underscores the critical importance of multiscale processing to general intelligence, as well as highlighting innovations and differences between the future of biological and artificial intelligence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Neuroscience)
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Open AccessArticle
Neurochemical Correlates of Brain Atrophy in Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Cortical Thickness Study
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060395 - 20 Jun 2020
Viewed by 641
Abstract
(1) Background: Recently, a series of clinical neuroimaging studies on fibromyalgia (FM) have shown a reduction in cortical volume and abnormally high glutamate (Glu) and glutamate + glutamine (Glx) levels in regions associated with pain modulation. However, it remains unclear whether the volumetric [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Recently, a series of clinical neuroimaging studies on fibromyalgia (FM) have shown a reduction in cortical volume and abnormally high glutamate (Glu) and glutamate + glutamine (Glx) levels in regions associated with pain modulation. However, it remains unclear whether the volumetric decreases and increased Glu levels in FM are related each other. We hypothesized that higher Glu levels are related to decreases in cortical thickness (CT) and volume in FM patients. (2) Methods: Twelve females with FM and 12 matched healthy controls participated in a session of combined 3.0 Tesla structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and single-voxel MR spectroscopy focused on the thalami and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices (VLPFC). The thickness of the cortical and subcortical gray matter structures and the Glu/Cr and Glx/Cr ratios were estimated. Statistics included an independent t-test and Spearman’s test. (3) Results: The Glu/Cr ratio of the left VLPFC was negatively related to the CT of the left inferior frontal gyrus (pars opercularis (p = 0.01; r = −0.75) and triangularis (p = 0.01; r = −0.70)). Moreover, the Glx/Cr ratio of the left VLPFC was negatively related to the CT of the left middle anterior cingulate gyrus (p = 0.003; r = −0.81). Significantly lower CTs in FM were detected in subparts of the cingulate gyrus on both sides and in the right inferior occipital gyrus (p < 0.001). (4) Conclusions: Our findings are in line with previous observations that high glutamate levels can be related, in a concentration-dependent manner, to the morphological atrophy described in FM patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Collection on Clinical Neuroscience)
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Open AccessArticle
Cholinergic System and NGF Receptors: Insights from the Brain of the Short-Lived Fish Nothobranchius furzeri
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060394 - 20 Jun 2020
Viewed by 614
Abstract
Nerve growth factor (NGF) receptors are evolutionary conserved molecules, and in mammals are considered necessary for ensuring the survival of cholinergic neurons. The age-dependent regulation of NTRK1/NTRKA and p75/NGFR in mammalian brain results in a reduced response of the cholinergic neurons to neurotrophic [...] Read more.
Nerve growth factor (NGF) receptors are evolutionary conserved molecules, and in mammals are considered necessary for ensuring the survival of cholinergic neurons. The age-dependent regulation of NTRK1/NTRKA and p75/NGFR in mammalian brain results in a reduced response of the cholinergic neurons to neurotrophic factors and is thought to play a role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we study the age-dependent expression of NGF receptors (NTRK1/NTRKA and p75/NGFR) in the brain of the short-lived teleost fish Nothobranchius furzeri. We observed that NTRK1/NTRKA is more expressed than p75/NGFR in young and old animals, although both receptors do not show a significant age-dependent change. We then study the neuroanatomical organization of the cholinergic system, observing that cholinergic fibers project over the entire neuroaxis while cholinergic neurons appear restricted to few nuclei situated in the equivalent of mammalian subpallium, preoptic area and rostral reticular formation. Finally, our experiments do not confirm that NTRK1/NTRKA and p75/NGFR are expressed in cholinergic neuronal populations in the adult brain of N. furzeri. To our knowledge, this is the first study where NGF receptors have been analyzed in relation to the cholinergic system in a fish species along with their age-dependent modulation. We observed differences between mammals and fish, which make the African turquoise killifish an attractive model to further investigate the fish specific NGF receptors regulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Neurotrophic Factors)
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Open AccessReview
Theory of Mind Deficits and Neurophysiological Operations in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 393; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060393 - 20 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 817
Abstract
Theory of Mind (ToM) is a multifaceted skill set which encompasses a variety of cognitive and neurobiological aspects. ToM deficits have long been regarded as one of the most disabling features in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. One of the theories that attempts [...] Read more.
Theory of Mind (ToM) is a multifaceted skill set which encompasses a variety of cognitive and neurobiological aspects. ToM deficits have long been regarded as one of the most disabling features in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. One of the theories that attempts to account for these impairments is that of “broken mirror neurons”. The aim of this review is to present the most recent available studies with respect to the connection between the function of mirror neurons in individuals with ASD and ToM-reflecting sensorimotor, social and attentional stimuli. The majority of these studies approach the theory of broken mirror neurons critically. Only studies from the last 15 years have been taken into consideration. Findings from electroencephalography (EEG) studies so far indicate that further research is necessary to shed more light on the mechanisms underlying the connection(s) between ToM and neurophysiological operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Novel Connectome-based Electrophysiological Study of Subjective Cognitive Decline Related to Alzheimer’s Disease by Using Resting-state High-density EEG EGI GES 300
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060392 - 19 Jun 2020
Viewed by 915
Abstract
Aim: To investigate for the first time the brain network in the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) spectrum by implementing a high-density electroencephalography (HD-EEG - EGI GES 300) study with 256 channels in order to seek if the brain connectome can be effectively used to [...] Read more.
Aim: To investigate for the first time the brain network in the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) spectrum by implementing a high-density electroencephalography (HD-EEG - EGI GES 300) study with 256 channels in order to seek if the brain connectome can be effectively used to distinguish cognitive impairment in preclinical stages. Methods: Twenty participants with AD, 30 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 20 with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) and 22 healthy controls (HC) were examined with a detailed neuropsychological battery and 10 min resting state HD-EEG. We extracted correlation matrices by using Pearson correlation coefficients for each subject and constructed weighted undirected networks for calculating clustering coefficient (CC), strength (S) and betweenness centrality (BC) at global (256 electrodes) and local levels (29 parietal electrodes). Results: One-way ANOVA presented a statistically significant difference among the four groups at local level in CC [F (3, 88) = 4.76, p = 0.004] and S [F (3, 88) = 4.69, p = 0.004]. However, no statistically significant difference was found at a global level. According to the independent sample t-test, local CC was higher for HC [M (SD) = 0.79 (0.07)] compared with SCD [M (SD) = 0.72 (0.09)]; t (40) = 2.39, p = 0.02, MCI [M (SD) = 0.71 (0.09)]; t (50) = 0.41, p = 0.004 and AD [M (SD) = 0.68 (0.11)]; t (40) = 3.62, p = 0.001 as well, while BC showed an increase at a local level but a decrease at a global level as the disease progresses. These findings provide evidence that disruptions in brain networks in parietal organization may potentially represent a key factor in the ability to distinguish people at early stages of the AD continuum. Conclusions: The above findings reveal a dynamically disrupted network organization of preclinical stages, showing that SCD exhibits network disorganization with intermediate values between MCI and HC. Additionally, these pieces of evidence provide information on the usefulness of the 256 HD-EEG in network construction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Brain Dynamics: Latest Advances and Prospects)
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Open AccessArticle
Reward Responsiveness in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study: African Americans’ Diminished Returns of Parental Education
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 391; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060391 - 19 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 671
Abstract
(1) Background: Reward responsiveness (RR) is a risk factor for high-risk behaviors such as aggressive behaviors and early sexual initiation, which are all reported to be higher in African American and low socioeconomic status adolescents. At the same time, parental education is one [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Reward responsiveness (RR) is a risk factor for high-risk behaviors such as aggressive behaviors and early sexual initiation, which are all reported to be higher in African American and low socioeconomic status adolescents. At the same time, parental education is one of the main drivers of reward responsiveness among adolescents. It is still unknown if some of this racial and economic gap is attributed to weaker effects of parental education for African Americans, a pattern also called minorities’ diminished returns (MDRs). (2) Aim: We compared non-Hispanic White and African American adolescents for the effects of parent education on adolescents RR, a psychological and cognitive construct that is closely associated with high-risk behaviors such as the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. (3) Methods: This was a cross-sectional analysis that included 7072 adolescents from the adolescent brain cognitive development (ABCD) study. The independent variable was parent education. The main outcome as adolescents’ RR measured by the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) and behavioral activation system (BAS) measure. (4) Results: In the overall sample, high parent education was associated with lower levels of RR. In the overall sample, we found a statistically significant interaction between race and parent education on adolescents’ RR. The observed statistical interaction term suggested that high parent education is associated with a weaker effect on RR for African American than non-Hispanic White adolescents. In race-stratified models, high parent education was only associated with lower RR for non-Hispanic White but not African American adolescents. (5) Conclusion: Parent education reduces RR for non-Hispanic White but not African American adolescents. To minimize the racial gap in brain development and risk-taking behaviors, we need to address societal barriers that diminish the returns of parent education and resources in African American families. We need public and social policies that target structural and societal barriers, such as the unequal distribution of opportunities and resources. To meet such an aim, we need to reduce the negative effects of social stratification, segregation, racism, and discrimination in the daily lives of African American parents and families. Through an approach like this, African American families and parents can effectively mobilize their resources and utilize their human capital to secure the best possible tangible outcomes for their adolescents. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Lacking Pace but Not Precision: Age-Related Information Processing Changes in Response to a Dynamic Attentional Control Task
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060390 - 19 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 613
Abstract
Age-related decline in information processing can have a substantial impact on activities such as driving. However, the assessment of these changes is often carried out using cognitive tasks that do not adequately represent the dynamic process of updating environmental stimuli. Equally, traditional tests [...] Read more.
Age-related decline in information processing can have a substantial impact on activities such as driving. However, the assessment of these changes is often carried out using cognitive tasks that do not adequately represent the dynamic process of updating environmental stimuli. Equally, traditional tests are often static in their approach to task complexity, and do not assess difficulty within the bounds of an individual’s capability. To address these limitations, we used a more ecologically valid measure, the Swansea Test of Attentional Control (STAC), in which a threshold for information processing speed is established at a given level of accuracy. We aimed to delineate how older, compared to younger, adults varied in their performance of the task, while also assessing relationships between the task outcome and gender, general cognition (MoCA), perceived memory function (MFQ), cognitive reserve (NART), and aspects of mood (PHQ-9, GAD-7). The results indicate that older adults were significantly slower than younger adults but no less precise, irrespective of gender. Age was negatively correlated with the speed of task performance. Our measure of general cognition was positively correlated with the task speed threshold but not with age per se. Perceived memory function, cognitive reserve, and mood were not related to task performance. The findings indicate that while attentional control is less efficient in older adulthood, age alone is not a defining factor in relation to accuracy. In a real-life context, general cognitive function, in conjunction with dynamic measures such as STAC, may represent a far more effective strategy for assessing the complex executive functions underlying driving ability. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Functional Aspects of Hypothalamic Asymmetry
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 389; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060389 - 19 Jun 2020
Viewed by 607
Abstract
Anatomically, the brain is a symmetric structure. However, growing evidence suggests that certain higher brain functions are regulated by only one of the otherwise duplicated (and symmetric) brain halves. Hemispheric specialization correlates with phylogeny supporting intellectual evolution by providing an ergonomic way of [...] Read more.
Anatomically, the brain is a symmetric structure. However, growing evidence suggests that certain higher brain functions are regulated by only one of the otherwise duplicated (and symmetric) brain halves. Hemispheric specialization correlates with phylogeny supporting intellectual evolution by providing an ergonomic way of brain processing. The more complex the task, the higher are the benefits of the functional lateralization (all higher functions show some degree of lateralized task sharing). Functional asymmetry has been broadly studied in several brain areas with mirrored halves, such as the telencephalon, hippocampus, etc. Despite its paired structure, the hypothalamus has been generally considered as a functionally unpaired unit, nonetheless the regulation of a vast number of strongly interrelated homeostatic processes are attributed to this relatively small brain region. In this review, we collected all available knowledge supporting the hypothesis that a functional lateralization of the hypothalamus exists. We collected and discussed findings from previous studies that have demonstrated lateralized hypothalamic control of the reproductive functions and energy expenditure. Also, sporadic data claims the existence of a partial functional asymmetry in the regulation of the circadian rhythm, body temperature and circulatory functions. This hitherto neglected data highlights the likely high-level ergonomics provided by such functional asymmetry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Mental Fatigue on Postural Sway in Healthy Older Adults and Stroke Populations
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 388; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060388 - 19 Jun 2020
Viewed by 609
Abstract
The aim of this study was to examine the effect of mental fatigue on postural sway under different sensory conditions in healthy older adults and in persons with chronic stroke (PwCS). Thirty healthy older adults (> 60 years old), randomly separated into experimental [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to examine the effect of mental fatigue on postural sway under different sensory conditions in healthy older adults and in persons with chronic stroke (PwCS). Thirty healthy older adults (> 60 years old), randomly separated into experimental and control groups, as well as 15 PwCS participated in this study. Experimental groups were asked to stand on a force platform wearing seven inertial sensors while performing the Sensory Organization Test (SOT) under two cognitive conditions (single- and dual-task) before and after a mental fatigue task (stop-signal task for 60 min). The control group performed the same protocol before and after watching a movie for 60 min. Changes in subjective fatigue was assessed by the NASA Task Load Index and psychophysiological workload was assessed by heart rate variability (HRV). Postural sway was assessed by calculating the Jerk and root mean square (RMS) of center of mass (COM). Higher Jerk and RMS of COM (p < 0.05) were observed after the mental fatigue task in both healthy older adults and PwCS during SOT, which was not observed in the control group (p > 0.05). Additionally, postural sway increased in the three groups as the SOT conditions became more challenging. Our results indicate that mental fatigue, induced by sustained cognitive activity, can impair balance during SOT in older adult and stroke populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Balance Rehabilitation in Neurological Disorders)
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Open AccessArticle
Behavioral and Cognitive Electrophysiological Differences in the Executive Functions of Taiwanese Basketball Players as a Function of Playing Position
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060387 - 19 Jun 2020
Viewed by 605
Abstract
The effect of the predominant playing position of elite basketball players on executive functions using both behavioral and electrophysiological measurements was investigated in the present study. Forty-six elite basketball players, including 27 guards and 19 forwards, were recruited. Event-related potential (ERP) signals were [...] Read more.
The effect of the predominant playing position of elite basketball players on executive functions using both behavioral and electrophysiological measurements was investigated in the present study. Forty-six elite basketball players, including 27 guards and 19 forwards, were recruited. Event-related potential (ERP) signals were simultaneously recorded when the athletes performed the visual Go/NoGo task. Analyses of the results revealed that the guards and forwards groups exhibited comparable behavioral (i.e., reaction time (RTs) and accuracy rates (ARs)) performance. With regards to the electrophysiological indices, the guards relative to the forwards exhibited a shorter N2 latency in the Go condition, a longer N2 latency in the NoGo condition, and a smaller P3 amplitude across the two conditions. These results suggested that although the guards and forwards exhibited similar abilities in terms of behavioral inhibition, different neural processing efficiencies still exist in the basketball playing positions, with guards showing divergent efficiencies in the target evaluation and response selection of the target and non-target stimuli and fewer cognitive resources during premotor preparation and decision-making as compared to the forwards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease Risk: A Meta-Meta-Analysis
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 386; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060386 - 18 Jun 2020
Viewed by 611
Abstract
Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common subtype of dementia. In the last ten years, the relationship between cholesterol and AD has been investigated. Evidence suggests that cholesterol is associated with AD and represents promising targets for intervention. However, the causality of [...] Read more.
Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common subtype of dementia. In the last ten years, the relationship between cholesterol and AD has been investigated. Evidence suggests that cholesterol is associated with AD and represents promising targets for intervention. However, the causality of these associations is unclear. Therefore, we sought to conduct a meta-meta-analysis to determine the effect of cholesterol on the development AD. Then, we assessed the effect of serum levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), total cholesterol (TC) and triglycerides (TG), on AD risk. Methods: A systematic search of meta-analyses was conducted. Scopus, Web of Science, Science direct, PubMed and Google academic system databases were reviewed. Results: We found 100 primary studies and five meta-analyses to analyze the relationships between cholesterol and AD. The total effect of cholesterol on risk of AD was significant and heterogeneous. Subgroup analysis shows that LDL-C levels influence the development of AD. However, non-significant effects of HDL-C, TC and TG levels on AD were found. Conclusions: These results strengthen the evidence that LDL-C cholesterol levels increase risk for AD. More initiatives to investigate the relationship between cholesterol and AD are needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias)
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Open AccessCase Report
Microstructural Changes in Motor Functional Conversion Disorder: Multimodal Imaging Approach on a Case
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060385 - 18 Jun 2020
Viewed by 544
Abstract
Background: Functional motor conversion disorders are characterized by neurological symptoms unrelated to brain structural lesions. The present study was conducted on a woman presenting motor symptoms causing motor dysfunction, using advanced multimodal neuroimaging techniques, electrophysiological and neuropsychological assessment. Methods. The patient underwent fluorodeoxyglucose-positron [...] Read more.
Background: Functional motor conversion disorders are characterized by neurological symptoms unrelated to brain structural lesions. The present study was conducted on a woman presenting motor symptoms causing motor dysfunction, using advanced multimodal neuroimaging techniques, electrophysiological and neuropsychological assessment. Methods. The patient underwent fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography-computed tomography (FDG-PET-CT) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with both task and resting-state paradigms and was compared with 11 healthy matched controls. To test differences in structural parameters, Bayesian comparison was performed. To test differences in functional parameters, a first- and second-level analysis was performed in task fMRI, while a seed-to-seed analysis to evaluate the connections between brain regions and identify intersubject variations was performed in resting-state fMRI. Results. FDG-PET showed two patterns of brain metabolism, involving the cortical and subcortical structures. Regarding the diffusion data, microstructural parameters were altered for U-shape fibers for the hand and feet regions. Resting-state analysis showed hypoconnectivity between the parahippocampal and superior temporal gyrus. Neurophysiological assessment showed no alterations. Finally, an initial cognitive impairment was observed, paralleled by an anxiety and mild depressive state. Conclusions. While we confirmed no structural alterations sustaining this functional motor disorder, we report microstructural changes in sensory–motor integration for both the hand and feet regions that could functionally support clinical manifestations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multimodal Imaging Approach in CNS Pathologies)
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Open AccessReview
Mini-Review on the Possible Interconnections between the Gut-Brain Axis and the Infertility-Related Neuropsychiatric Comorbidities
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060384 - 17 Jun 2020
Viewed by 925
Abstract
Both the gut-brain axis (GBA) and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis remain an intriguing yet obscure network with a strong influence over other systems of organs. Recent reports have sought to describe the multitude of harmful stressors that may impact the HPA axis along [...] Read more.
Both the gut-brain axis (GBA) and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis remain an intriguing yet obscure network with a strong influence over other systems of organs. Recent reports have sought to describe the multitude of harmful stressors that may impact the HPA axis along with the interconnections between these. This has improved our knowledge of how the underlying mechanisms working to establish homeostasis are affected. A disruption to the HPA axis can amplify the chances of gastrointestinal deficiencies, whilst also increasing the risk of a wide spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders. Thus, the influence of microorganisms found throughout the digestive tract possess the ability to affect both physiology and behaviour by triggering responses, which may be unfavourable. This is sometimes the case in of infertility. Numerous supplements have been formulated with the intention of rebalancing the gut microflora. Accordingly, the gut flora may alter the pharmacokinetics of drugs used as part of fertility treatments, potentially exacerbating the predisposition for various neurological disorders, regardless of the age and gender. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain–Microbiome Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle
Pathological Findings in Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy: A Single-Center Experience
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 383; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060383 - 17 Jun 2020
Viewed by 537
Abstract
Objective: Segmental demyelination is the pathological hallmark of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP), but other elementary lesions are frequently observed, configuring a series of different pathological pictures. In this article, we review the pathological findings of a large series of sural nerve biopsies [...] Read more.
Objective: Segmental demyelination is the pathological hallmark of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP), but other elementary lesions are frequently observed, configuring a series of different pathological pictures. In this article, we review the pathological findings of a large series of sural nerve biopsies from our cohort of CIDP patients. Patients and Methods: Patients with CIDP who underwent nerve biopsy were retrospectively selected from those referred to the Institute of Neurology of the “Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore” in Rome, Italy, from 1982 to February 2020. Sural nerve biopsy was performed according to standard protocols. Results: Sural nerve biopsy was performed in 43/130 CIDP patients. Demyelinating abnormalities and axonal loss were found in 67.4% and 83.7% of biopsies, respectively. Conversely, onion bulbs and inflammatory infiltrates were rare (18.6% and 4.7%, respectively). In three cases, we observed normal pathological findings. Conclusions: A pathognomonic pathological finding of CIDP cannot be established, but we confirm the utility of nerve biopsy in this setting to confirm the diagnosis (also in atypical phenotypes) and to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pathology of Peripheral Neuropathies)
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Open AccessArticle
Behavioral and Autonomic Responses in Treating Children with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: Clinical and Phenomenological Insights from Two Case Reports
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060382 - 17 Jun 2020
Viewed by 559
Abstract
In this study, we aimed to evaluate the process applied in subjects with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to elaborate and communicate their experiences of daily life activities, as well as to assess the autonomic nervous system response that subtend such a process. This [...] Read more.
In this study, we aimed to evaluate the process applied in subjects with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to elaborate and communicate their experiences of daily life activities, as well as to assess the autonomic nervous system response that subtend such a process. This procedure was evaluated for the first time in two eight-year-old girls with high-functioning ASDs. The subjects performed six months of training, based on the cognitive–motivational–individualized (c.m.i.®) approach, which mainly consisted in building domestic procedures and re-elaborating acquired experiences through drawing or the use of icons made by the children. Together with behavioral observations, the response of the autonomic nervous system during such re-elaboration was recorded. A change in communicative and interactive competences was observed, moving from a condition of spontaneity to one in which the girls were engaged in relating their experiences to a parent. Autonomic response highlighted how, in communicating their own experiences, they achieved a state of cognitive activation, which enabled a greater communicative and emotional connection with the interlocutor. This is a proof-of-concept study on the application of the c.m.i.®, which needs to be extensively validated in the clinical setting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
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Open AccessReview
Importance of the Role of ω-3 and ω-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Progression of Brain Cancer
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060381 - 17 Jun 2020
Viewed by 741
Abstract
Brain cancer is one of the most malignant types of cancer in both children and adults. Brain cancer patients tend to have a poor prognosis and a high rate of mortality. Additionally, 20–40% of all other types of cancer can develop brain metastasis. [...] Read more.
Brain cancer is one of the most malignant types of cancer in both children and adults. Brain cancer patients tend to have a poor prognosis and a high rate of mortality. Additionally, 20–40% of all other types of cancer can develop brain metastasis. Numerous pieces of evidence suggest that omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-PUFAs) could potentially be used in the prevention and therapy of several types of cancer. PUFAs and oxylipins are fundamental in preserving physiological events in the nervous system; it is, therefore, necessary to maintain a certain ratio of ω-3 to ω-6 for normal nervous system function. Alterations in PUFAs signaling are involved in the development of various pathologies of the nervous system, including cancer. It is well established that an omega-6-polyunsaturated fatty acid (ω-6 PUFA)-rich diet has a pro-tumoral effect, whereas the consumption of an ω-3 rich diet has an anti-tumoral effect. This review aims to offer a better understanding of brain cancer and PUFAs and to discuss the role and impact of PUFAs on the development of different types of brain cancer. Considering the difficulty of antitumor drugs in crossing the blood–brain barrier, the therapeutic role of ω-3/ω-6 PUFAs against brain cancer would be a good alternative to consider. We highlight our current understanding of the role of PUFAs and its metabolites (oxylipins) in different brain tumors, proliferation, apoptosis, invasion, angiogenesis, and immunosuppression by focusing on recent research in vitro and in vivo. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Neuroscience)
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Open AccessCase Report
The Clinical Application of EEG-Signals Recurrence Analysis as a Measure of Functional Connectivity: Comparative Case Study of Patients with Various Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060380 - 16 Jun 2020
Viewed by 575
Abstract
Background. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a simple and widely used assessment tool that allows one to analyze the bioelectric activity of the brain. As a result, one can observe brain waves with different frequencies and amplitudes that correspond to the temporary synchronization of [...] Read more.
Background. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a simple and widely used assessment tool that allows one to analyze the bioelectric activity of the brain. As a result, one can observe brain waves with different frequencies and amplitudes that correspond to the temporary synchronization of different parts of the brain. Synchronization patterns may be changed by almost any type of pathological conditions, such as psychiatric diseases and structural abnormalities of the brain tissue. In various neuropsychiatric disorders, the coordination of cortical activity may be decreased or enhanced as a result of neurobiological compensatory mechanisms. Methods. In this paper, we analyzed the EEG signals in resting-state condition, with reference to three patients with a similar set of psychopathological symptoms typical for the first psychotic episode, but with different functional and structural neural basis of the disease. Additionally, those patients were compared with a demographically matched healthy individual. We used the non-linear method of time series analysis based on the recurrences of states, to verify whether functional connectivity configurations assessed with recurrence method will qualitatively distinguish patients from a healthy subject, but also differentiate patients from each other. Results. Obtained results confirmed that the connectivity architecture mapped with the recurrence analysis substantially differentiated all participants from each other. An applied analysis additionally showed the specificity of cortical desynchronization and over-synchronization matched to the psychiatric or neurological basis of the disease. Despite this encouraging finding, group-oriented studies are needed to corroborate our qualitative results, based only on a series of clinical case studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience)
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Open AccessArticle
Early Motor Development Predicts Clinical Outcomes of Siblings at High-Risk for Autism: Insight from an Innovative Motion-Tracking Technology
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060379 - 16 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1235
Abstract
Atypical motor patterns are potential early markers and predictors of later diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This study aimed to investigate the early motor trajectories of infants at high-risk (HR) of ASD through MOVIDEA, a semi-automatic software developed to analyze 2D and [...] Read more.
Atypical motor patterns are potential early markers and predictors of later diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This study aimed to investigate the early motor trajectories of infants at high-risk (HR) of ASD through MOVIDEA, a semi-automatic software developed to analyze 2D and 3D videos and provide objective kinematic features of their movements. MOVIDEA was developed within the Italian Network for early detection of Autism Spectrum Disorder (NIDA Network), which is currently coordinating the most extensive surveillance program for infants at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). MOVIDEA was applied to video recordings of 53 low-risk (LR; siblings of typically developing children) and 50 HR infants’ spontaneous movements collected at 10 days and 6, 12, 18, and 24 weeks. Participants were grouped based on their clinical outcome (18 HR received an NDD diagnosis, 32 HR and 53 LR were typically developing). Results revealed that early developmental trajectories of specific motor parameters were different in HR infants later diagnosed with NDDs from those of infants developing typically. Since MOVIDEA was useful in the association of quantitative measures with specific early motor patterns, it should be applied to the early detection of ASD/NDD markers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
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Open AccessArticle
Dreaming and Insomnia: Link between Physiological REM Parameters and Mentation Characteristics
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 378; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060378 - 16 Jun 2020
Viewed by 602
Abstract
(1) Background: An unresolved phenomenon of insomnia disorder is a discrepancy between objectively measured sleep and subjective complaints. It has been shown that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep might be especially vulnerable to an altered perception. The present work aimed to investigate the [...] Read more.
(1) Background: An unresolved phenomenon of insomnia disorder is a discrepancy between objectively measured sleep and subjective complaints. It has been shown that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep might be especially vulnerable to an altered perception. The present work aimed to investigate the link between physiological REM parameters and mentation characteristics in REM sleep. (2) Methods: 22 patients with insomnia and 23 good sleepers indicating at least one REM mentation within an awakening study were included. Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) were calculated to examine group differences and effects of mentation characteristics on number of arousals, REM density, and spectral power prior to awakenings. (3) Results: Increased perceived wakefulness was related to lower delta, theta, and alpha power in the minute prior to the REM awakenings. Nevertheless, no group differences regarding spectral power were found. With respect to number of arousals and REM density, no significant effects of mentation characteristics and no group differences were found. (4) Conclusions: Our results suggest that spectral power in REM sleep is linked with altered sleep perception. Reduced delta, theta, and alpha power might be a signature of this modified REM sleep associated with a high level of perceived wakefulness. Future awakening studies are necessary to further explore the link between physiological REM parameters and sleep perception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dream Recall and the Brain)
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Open AccessReview
The Impact of Physical Activities on Cognitive Performance among Healthy Older Individuals
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060377 - 16 Jun 2020
Viewed by 605
Abstract
The population is aging in developed countries. This aging process results in many changes, both physical and mental. Over the years, there has been a gradual decline in the level of cognitive functions closely related to the ageing process, which is most often [...] Read more.
The population is aging in developed countries. This aging process results in many changes, both physical and mental. Over the years, there has been a gradual decline in the level of cognitive functions closely related to the ageing process, which is most often connected with ageing diseases such as dementia. So far, pharmacological treatment has not yet been able to cure this neurological disorder. Health policies around the world seek to find alternative programs and strategies to help a healthy population prevent cognitive decline and prolong active life. One such strategy appears to be physical activity. The aim of this review is to discuss the impact of physical activity on cognitive performance among healthy older individuals. The methodology of this study is based on a systematic electronic literature search of available studies found in three databases: PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus. The findings suggest that any physical activity in older age seems to have a positive impact on the improvement of cognitive function. Furthermore, it appears that dancing, due to its multiple mechanisms, might have the biggest effect on the enhancement of cognitive performance in healthy older individuals. However, controlled clinical trials of physical activity intervention in older adults are rare. Therefore, further research in this area (particularly on the amount of physical activity, its intensity and type) is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Cognitive Plasticity)
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