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NeuroSci, Volume 4, Issue 2 (June 2023) – 6 articles

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12 pages, 278 KiB  
Article
Unlocking the Beat: Dopamine and Eye Blink Response to Classical Music
by Leigh M. Riby, Sam K. Fenwick, Dimana Kardzhieva, Beth Allan and Deborah McGann
NeuroSci 2023, 4(2), 152-163; https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci4020014 - 20 Jun 2023
Viewed by 3655
Abstract
The present study examined music-induced dopamine release, as measured by a proxy measure of spontaneous eye blinks. Specifically, we explored the effects of uplifting and sombre tones in different sections of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to investigate the affective content of musical pieces within [...] Read more.
The present study examined music-induced dopamine release, as measured by a proxy measure of spontaneous eye blinks. Specifically, we explored the effects of uplifting and sombre tones in different sections of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to investigate the affective content of musical pieces within one composition. Seventeen participants listened to four concertos (Major modes: “Spring” and “Autumn”, Minor modes: “Summer” and “Winter”) and a silence condition while completing a three-stimulus odd-ball attention task. Electrooculograms were recorded from electrodes placed above and under the left eye. Self-reported arousal and music preference measures were also gathered during the testing session. In addition, the P3a Event-Related Potential (ERP) component was analysed as another potential index of dopamine function. Results revealed significant differences in the blink rates during music listening and silence, with the largest effect observed for the sad, melancholic “Winter” concerto. However, no significant correlation was found between blink rate and music preference or arousal. Furthermore, no reliable association was found between blink rate and the P3a ERP component, suggesting that these measures tap into different aspects of dopamine function. These findings contribute to understanding the link between dopamine and blink rate, particularly in response to classical music. Crucially, the study’s discovery that the “Winter” concerto, with its sorrowful tone, significantly increased the blink rate highlights the significance of sad music and perhaps the programmatic qualities of this concerto to induce a strong emotional response. Full article
18 pages, 767 KiB  
Review
Olfactory Dysfunction in Parkinson’s Disease, Its Functional and Neuroanatomical Correlates
by Gabriel Torres-Pasillas, Donají Chi-Castañeda, Porfirio Carrillo-Castilla, Gerardo Marín, María Elena Hernández-Aguilar, Gonzalo Emiliano Aranda-Abreu, Jorge Manzo and Luis I. García
NeuroSci 2023, 4(2), 134-151; https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci4020013 - 5 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3575
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is known for its motor alterations, but the importance of non-motor symptoms (NMSs), such as olfactory dysfunction (OD), is increasingly recognized. OD may manifest during the prodromal period of the disease, even before motor symptoms appear. Therefore, it is suggested [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is known for its motor alterations, but the importance of non-motor symptoms (NMSs), such as olfactory dysfunction (OD), is increasingly recognized. OD may manifest during the prodromal period of the disease, even before motor symptoms appear. Therefore, it is suggested that this symptom could be considered a marker of PD. This article briefly describes PD, the evolution of the knowledge about OD in PD, the prevalence of this NMS and its role in diagnosis and as a marker of PD progression, the assessment of olfaction in patients with PD, the role of α-synuclein and its aggregates in the pathophysiology of PD, and then describes some functional, morphological, and histological alterations observed in different structures related to the olfactory system, such as the olfactory epithelium, olfactory bulb, anterior olfactory nucleus, olfactory tract, piriform cortex, hippocampus, orbitofrontal cortex, and amygdala. In addition, considering the growing evidence that suggests that the cerebellum is also involved in the olfactory system, it has also been included in this work. Comprehending the existing functional and neuroanatomical alterations in PD could be relevant for a better understanding of the mechanisms behind OD in patients with this neurodegenerative disorder. Full article
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16 pages, 624 KiB  
Review
Social Touch: Its Mirror-like Responses and Implications in Neurological and Psychiatric Diseases
by Laura Clara Grandi and Stefania Bruni
NeuroSci 2023, 4(2), 118-133; https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci4020012 - 26 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2707
Abstract
What is the significance of a touch encoded by slow-conducted unmyelinated C-tactile (CT) fibers? It is the so-called affiliative touch, which has a fundamental social impact. In humans, it has been demonstrated that the affiliative valence of this kind of touch is encoded [...] Read more.
What is the significance of a touch encoded by slow-conducted unmyelinated C-tactile (CT) fibers? It is the so-called affiliative touch, which has a fundamental social impact. In humans, it has been demonstrated that the affiliative valence of this kind of touch is encoded by a dedicated central network, not involved in the encoding of discriminative touch, namely, the “social brain”. Moreover, CT-related touch has significant consequences on the human autonomic system, not present in the case of discriminative touch, which does not involve CT fibers as the modulation of vagal tone. In addition, CT-related touch provokes central effects as well. An interesting finding is that CT-related touch can elicit “mirror-like responses” since there is evidence that we would have the same perception of a caress regardless of whether it would be felt or seen and that the same brain areas would be activated. Information from CT afferents in the posterior insular cortex likely provides a basis for encoding observed caresses. We also explored the application of this kind of touch in unphysiological conditions and in premature newborns. In the present literature review, we aim to (1) examine the effects of CT-related touch at autonomic and central levels and (2) highlight CT-related touch and mirror networks, seeking to draw a line of connection between them. Finally, the review aims to give an overview of the involvement of the CT system in some neurologic and psychiatric diseases. Full article
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13 pages, 279 KiB  
Article
“I Feel Like I Work Full-Time for Parkinson’s”: A Longitudinal Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Experiences of Parkinson’s Informal Caregivers during COVID-19 in England
by Ian W. Garner, Craig D. Murray, Fiona J. R. Eccles, Nicolò Zarotti and Jane Simpson
NeuroSci 2023, 4(2), 105-117; https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci4020011 - 19 May 2023
Viewed by 1581
Abstract
While the direct effects of COVID-19 caused widespread global suffering and death, the indirect impacts—via public health preventative measures and a reduction in health and social care services—were also devastating for many. More recently, it has also become increasingly apparent that such measures [...] Read more.
While the direct effects of COVID-19 caused widespread global suffering and death, the indirect impacts—via public health preventative measures and a reduction in health and social care services—were also devastating for many. More recently, it has also become increasingly apparent that such measures have had disproportionate effects, exacerbating existing health inequalities. For caregivers of individuals with chronic illness, the effects have been marked and particularly so for informal caregivers of individuals with complex neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s. Nine informal caregivers (all partners: three men and six women) of individuals with Parkinson’s in England took part in individual semi-structured interviews on two occasions (December 2021/January 2022 and May 2022). The interviews focused on their experiences of supporting their partner, their own challenges, and how these evolved and changed post-lockdown. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to inform the methodology and analysis. Four themes were identified: (i) lockdown-induced revolution and evolution of the relationship dynamic with partner; (ii) fighting to be seen, heard, and understood in healthcare encounters; (iii) making sense of, and adapting to, risk in a time of COVID-19; and (iv) managing isolation and need for support during and after lockdown. The negative effects from both the lockdowns and the depletion of usual health and support services were apparent for all participants. Existing vulnerabilities from being a carer of an individual with complex needs were also exacerbated. As caregivers worked hard to mitigate these effects for their partners as much as possible, the long-term impact of such intense psychological and practical effort was often considerable. Ultimately, a simple restoration of pre-lockdown support levels may be insufficient to facilitate a successful return to optimal levels of support and wellbeing. Full article
2 pages, 178 KiB  
Editorial
Featured Papers in NeuroSci
by Xavier Gallart-Palau
NeuroSci 2023, 4(2), 103-104; https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci4020010 - 30 Apr 2023
Viewed by 997
Abstract
In this topical collection, Arsiwalla et al [...] Full article
24 pages, 2545 KiB  
Perspective
The Morphospace of Consciousness: Three Kinds of Complexity for Minds and Machines
by Xerxes D. Arsiwalla, Ricard Solé, Clément Moulin-Frier, Ivan Herreros, Martí Sánchez-Fibla and Paul Verschure
NeuroSci 2023, 4(2), 79-102; https://doi.org/10.3390/neurosci4020009 - 27 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4397
Abstract
In this perspective article, we show that a morphospace, based on information-theoretic measures, can be a useful construct for comparing biological agents with artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The axes of this space label three kinds of complexity: (i) autonomic, (ii) computational and (iii) [...] Read more.
In this perspective article, we show that a morphospace, based on information-theoretic measures, can be a useful construct for comparing biological agents with artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The axes of this space label three kinds of complexity: (i) autonomic, (ii) computational and (iii) social complexity. On this space, we map biological agents such as bacteria, bees, C. elegans, primates and humans; as well as AI technologies such as deep neural networks, multi-agent bots, social robots, Siri and Watson. A complexity-based conceptualization provides a useful framework for identifying defining features and classes of conscious and intelligent systems. Starting with cognitive and clinical metrics of consciousness that assess awareness and wakefulness, we ask how AI and synthetically engineered life-forms would measure on homologous metrics. We argue that awareness and wakefulness stem from computational and autonomic complexity. Furthermore, tapping insights from cognitive robotics, we examine the functional role of consciousness in the context of evolutionary games. This points to a third kind of complexity for describing consciousness, namely, social complexity. Based on these metrics, our morphospace suggests the possibility of additional types of consciousness other than biological; namely, synthetic, group-based and simulated. This space provides a common conceptual framework for comparing traits and highlighting design principles of minds and machines. Full article
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