Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to readers, or important in the respective research area. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
What Is the Role of Resilience and Coping Strategies on the Mental Health of the General Population during the COVID-19 Pandemic? Results from the Italian Multicentric COMET Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(9), 1231; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11091231 - 17 Sep 2021
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 2881
Abstract
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health are now well documented, however, few studies have been focused on the role of coping strategies and resilience in counterbalancing these detrimental effects. Data are derived from the COvid Mental hEalth Trial (COMET), a [...] Read more.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health are now well documented, however, few studies have been focused on the role of coping strategies and resilience in counterbalancing these detrimental effects. Data are derived from the COvid Mental hEalth Trial (COMET), a national multicentric trial carried out in the Italian general population. The final sample consisted of 20,720 participants, 53.1% (n = 11,000) of the sample reported low levels of resilience. Adaptive coping strategies and resilience levels did not have any significant protective impact on the levels of depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms. Only self-distraction was a risk factor for poor mental health (Beta Coefficient, B = 0.1, 95% Confidence Interval, CI: 0.003 to 0.267 for stress symptoms; B = 0.2; 95% CI: 0.077 to 0.324 for anxiety symptoms and B = 0.2, 95% CI: 0.105 to 0.382 for depressive symptoms). High levels of resilience were predicted by adaptive coping strategies, such as acceptance (B = 1.8, CI 95% = 1.4–2.7). Exposure to the different weeks of lockdown, being infected by COVID-19, and being a healthcare professional did not influence the levels of resilience. Our findings should be carefully considered, since the low levels of resilience may represent the missing link between the pandemic and the current increase in mental health problems. Full article
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Article
Early Right Motor Cortex Response to Happy and Fearful Facial Expressions: A TMS Motor-Evoked Potential Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(9), 1203; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11091203 - 13 Sep 2021
Cited by 27 | Viewed by 2347
Abstract
The ability to rapidly process others’ emotional signals is crucial for adaptive social interactions. However, to date it is still unclear how observing emotional facial expressions affects the reactivity of the human motor cortex. To provide insights on this issue, we employed single-pulse [...] Read more.
The ability to rapidly process others’ emotional signals is crucial for adaptive social interactions. However, to date it is still unclear how observing emotional facial expressions affects the reactivity of the human motor cortex. To provide insights on this issue, we employed single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate corticospinal motor excitability. Healthy participants observed happy, fearful and neutral pictures of facial expressions while receiving TMS over the left or right motor cortex at 150 and 300 ms after picture onset. In the early phase (150 ms), we observed an enhancement of corticospinal excitability for the observation of happy and fearful emotional faces compared to neutral expressions specifically in the right hemisphere. Interindividual differences in the disposition to experience aversive feelings (personal distress) in interpersonal emotional contexts predicted the early increase in corticospinal excitability for emotional faces. No differences in corticospinal excitability were observed at the later time (300 ms) or in the left M1. These findings support the notion that emotion perception primes the body for action and highlights the role of the right hemisphere in implementing a rapid and transient facilitatory response to emotional arousing stimuli, such as emotional facial expressions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neuromodulation of Language, Cognition and Emotion)
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Article
Systemic Inflammatory Response Index and Futile Recanalization in Patients with Ischemic Stroke Undergoing Endovascular Treatment
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(9), 1164; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11091164 - 31 Aug 2021
Cited by 33 | Viewed by 2683
Abstract
Futile recanalization remains a significant challenge for endovascular treatment (EVT) of acute ischemic stroke (AIS). The inflammatory response that occurs after cerebral infarct plays a central role in stroke pathobiology that can influence the outcome of a recanalization procedure. The aim of this [...] Read more.
Futile recanalization remains a significant challenge for endovascular treatment (EVT) of acute ischemic stroke (AIS). The inflammatory response that occurs after cerebral infarct plays a central role in stroke pathobiology that can influence the outcome of a recanalization procedure. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the systemic inflammatory response index (SIRI) and futile recanalization in patients with AIS. We retrospectively identified consecutive patients with ischemic stroke due to proximal arterial occlusion in the anterior circulation, who were treated with EVT and achieved near-complete or complete recanalization. Absolute neutrophil count (ANC), absolute monocyte count (AMC), and absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) were collected from admission blood work to calculate SIRI as ANC × AMC/ALC. The study outcome was futile recanalization, defined as poor functional status [modified Rankin scale (mRS) score ≥ 3] at 3 months despite complete or near-complete recanalization. A total of 184 patients were included. Futile recanalization was observed in 110 (59.8%) patients. Older patients (odds ratio (OR) = 1.07, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04–1.10, p < 0.001), higher admission National Institutes of Health stroke scale score (OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.02–1.19, p = 0.013), and higher admission SIRI (OR = 1.08, 95% CI: 1.01–1.17, p = 0.028) increased the risk of the poor outcome at 3 months despite complete or near-complete recanalization. Full article
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Article
Maternal Immune Activation Causes Social Behavior Deficits and Hypomyelination in Male Rat Offspring with an Autism-Like Microbiota Profile
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(8), 1085; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11081085 - 18 Aug 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3114
Abstract
Maternal immune activation (MIA) increases the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in offspring. Microbial dysbiosis is associated with ASD symptoms. However, the alterations in the brain–gut–microbiota axis in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced MIA offspring remain unclear. Here, we examined the social behavior, anxiety-like and [...] Read more.
Maternal immune activation (MIA) increases the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in offspring. Microbial dysbiosis is associated with ASD symptoms. However, the alterations in the brain–gut–microbiota axis in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced MIA offspring remain unclear. Here, we examined the social behavior, anxiety-like and repetitive behavior, microbiota profile, and myelination levels in LPS-induced MIA rat offspring. Compared with control offspring, MIA male rat offspring spent less time in an active social interaction with stranger rats, displayed more anxiety-like and repetitive behavior, and had more hypomyelination in the prefrontal cortex and thalamic nucleus. A fecal microbiota analysis revealed that MIA offspring had a higher abundance of Alistipes, Fusobacterium, and Ruminococcus and a lower abundance of Coprococcus, Erysipelotrichaies, and Actinobacteria than control offspring, which is consistent with that of humans with ASD. The least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) method was applied to determine the relative importance of the microbiota, which indicated that the abundance of Alistipes and Actinobacteria was the most relevant for the profile of defective social behavior, whereas Fusobacterium and Coprococcus was associated with anxiety-like and repetitive behavior. In summary, LPS-induced MIA offspring showed an abnormal brain–gut–microbiota axis with social behavior deficits, anxiety-like and repetitive behavior, hypomyelination, and an ASD-like microbiota profile. Full article
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Article
Fecal Transplant and Bifidobacterium Treatments Modulate Gut Clostridium Bacteria and Rescue Social Impairment and Hippocampal BDNF Expression in a Rodent Model of Autism
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(8), 1038; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11081038 - 05 Aug 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 4488
Abstract
Autism is associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction and gut microbiota dysbiosis, including an overall increase in Clostridium. Modulation of the gut microbiota is suggested to improve autistic symptoms. In this study, we explored the implementation of two different interventions that target the microbiota in [...] Read more.
Autism is associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction and gut microbiota dysbiosis, including an overall increase in Clostridium. Modulation of the gut microbiota is suggested to improve autistic symptoms. In this study, we explored the implementation of two different interventions that target the microbiota in a rodent model of autism and their effects on social behavior: the levels of different fecal Clostridium spp., and hippocampal transcript levels. Autism was induced in young Sprague Dawley male rats using oral gavage of propionic acid (PPA) for three days, while controls received saline. PPA-treated animals were divided to receive either saline, fecal transplant from healthy donor rats, or Bifidobacterium for 22 days, while controls continued to receive saline. We found that PPA attenuated social interaction in animals, which was rescued by the two interventions. PPA-treated animals had a significantly increased abundance of fecal C. perfringens with a concomitant decrease in Clostridium cluster IV, and exhibited high hippocampal Bdnf expression compared to controls. Fecal microbiota transplantation or Bifidobacterium treatment restored the balance of fecal Clostridium spp. and normalized the level of Bdnf expression. These findings highlight the involvement of the gut–brain axis in the etiology of autism and propose possible interventions in a preclinical model of autism. Full article
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Article
Insomnia, Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms during the COVID-19 Pandemic May Depend on the Pre-Existent Health Status Rather than the Profession
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(8), 1001; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11081001 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2025
Abstract
Despite the high number of studies on mental health among healthcare workers, only a few have attempted to assess the mental health of people with chronic diseases during the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, the aim of this study is to evaluate the symptoms of [...] Read more.
Despite the high number of studies on mental health among healthcare workers, only a few have attempted to assess the mental health of people with chronic diseases during the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, the aim of this study is to evaluate the symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and depression among people with chronic diseases working in healthcare and in other professions. The study participants were divided into two groups. The first group consisted of 441 healthcare workers, and the second consisted of 572 non-healthcare professionals. Correlation analysis showed a strong correlation between autoimmune diseases and an increase in GAD-7 scale, ISI score, and PHQ-9 scale. Therefore, only autoimmune diseases were included for further analyses as a predictor of insomnia, depression, and anxiety. After adjusting the results for gender, age, smoking, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and profession, the group with autoimmune diseases showed a more than a 2-fold increase in the risk of anxiety symptoms, a more than 2.5-fold increase in the risk of depressive symptoms, and a 4-fold increase in the risk of insomnia symptoms. This study shows that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the incidence of insomnia, anxiety disorders, and depressive disorders may depend on the pre-existent health status of an individual rather than on their profession. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sleep Disorders and COVID-19)
Article
Quantitative Evaluation of Task-Induced Neurological Outcome after Stroke
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(7), 900; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11070900 - 07 Jul 2021
Cited by 35 | Viewed by 2594
Abstract
Electroencephalography (EEG) can access ischemic stroke-derived cortical impairment and is believed to be a prospective predictive method for acute stroke prognostics, neurological outcome, and post-stroke rehabilitation management. This study aims to quantify EEG features to understand task-induced neurological declines due to stroke and [...] Read more.
Electroencephalography (EEG) can access ischemic stroke-derived cortical impairment and is believed to be a prospective predictive method for acute stroke prognostics, neurological outcome, and post-stroke rehabilitation management. This study aims to quantify EEG features to understand task-induced neurological declines due to stroke and evaluate the biomarkers to distinguish the ischemic stroke group and the healthy adult group. We investigated forty-eight stroke patients (average age 72.2 years, 62% male) admitted to the rehabilitation center and seventy-five healthy adults (average age 77 years, 31% male) with no history of known neurological diseases. EEG was recorded through frontal, central, temporal, and occipital cortical electrodes (Fz, C1, C2, T7, T8, Oz) using wireless EEG devices and a newly developed data acquisition platform within three months after the appearance of symptoms of ischemic stroke (clinically confirmed). Continuous EEG data were recorded during the consecutive resting, motor (walking and working activities), and cognitive reading tasks. The statistical results showed that alpha, theta, and delta activities are biomarkers classifying the stroke patients and the healthy adults in the motor and cognitive states. DAR and DTR of the stroke group differed significantly from those of the healthy control group during the resting, motor, and cognitive tasks. Using the machine-learning approach, the C5.0 model showed 78% accuracy for the resting state, 89% accuracy in the functional motor walking condition, 84% accuracy in the working condition, and 85% accuracy in the cognitive reading state for classification the stroke group and the control group. This study is expected to be helpful for post-stroke treatment and post-stroke recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Behavioral Neuroscience)
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Article
Frequency and Determinants of Olfactory Hallucinations in Parkinson’s Disease Patients
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(7), 841; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11070841 - 24 Jun 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 1390
Abstract
Background: Olfactory dysfunctions and hallucinations are considered common nonmotor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Visual and auditory hallucinations are well-known; however, olfactory hallucinations (OHs) are not fully investigated. The aim of this study was to evaluate OHs in PD patients, and their correlation [...] Read more.
Background: Olfactory dysfunctions and hallucinations are considered common nonmotor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Visual and auditory hallucinations are well-known; however, olfactory hallucinations (OHs) are not fully investigated. The aim of this study was to evaluate OHs in PD patients, and their correlation to motor impairment, cognitive abilities, visual and auditory hallucinations, and olfactory and gustatory function. Methods: A sample of 273 patients was enrolled: 141 PD patients (mean age ± SD: 70.1 ± 9.5 years) and 132 healthy controls (mean age ± SD: 69.4 ± 9.6 years). In all patients, the following parameters were evaluated: motor symptoms (UPDRS-III), olfactory function, cognitive abilities, and occurrence of OH, gustatory hallucinations (GHs), and visual/auditory hallucinations. Results: OHs were found only in PD patients with a percentage of 11.3%. Among PD patients with OHs, 2.8% also presented GHs. High significant frequencies of females, the presence of visual/auditory hallucinations, and a high mean UPDRS-III score were found in patients with OHs related to patients without them. Binary logistic regression evidenced the presence of visual/auditory hallucinations and sex as main variables predicting the presence of OHs. Conclusions: Our data indicated that OHs occur frequently in PD patients, especially in women, and often concomitant with visual and auditory hallucinations, without any association with olfactory impairment. Full article
Article
Post-Acute COVID-19 Symptoms, a Potential Link with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A 6-Month Survey in a Mexican Cohort
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(6), 760; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060760 - 08 Jun 2021
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 5677
Abstract
The aim of this study was to describe the clinical evolution during 6 months of follow-up of adults recovered from COVID-19. We tried to determine how many met the definition of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). A total of 130 patients (51.0 ± [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to describe the clinical evolution during 6 months of follow-up of adults recovered from COVID-19. We tried to determine how many met the definition of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). A total of 130 patients (51.0 ± 14 years, 34.6% female) were enrolled. Symptoms were common, participants reported a median number of 9 (IQR 5–14) symptoms. Fatigue was the most common symptom (61/130; 46.9%). Patients with fatigue were older 53.9 ± 13.5 years compared with 48.5 ± 13.3 years in those without fatigue (p = 0.02) and had a longer length of hospital stay, 17 ± 14 days vs. 13 ± 10 days (p = 0.04). There was no difference in other comorbidities between patients with fatigue and those without it, and no association between COVID-19 severity and fatigue. After multivariate adjustment of all baseline clinical features, only age 40 to 50 years old was positively associated with fatigue, OR 2.5 (95% CI 1.05–6.05) p = 0.03. In our survey, only 17 (13%) patients met the Institute of Medicine’s criteria for “systemic exertion intolerance disease,” the new name of ME/CFS. In conclusion, in some patients, the features of post-acute COVID-19 syndrome overlap with the clinical features of ME/CFS. Full article
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Article
Changes in the Brain Activity and Visual Performance of Patients with Strabismus and Amblyopia after a Compete Cycle of Light Therapy
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(5), 657; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11050657 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3674
Abstract
This research assesses the brain activity and visual performance at baseline and after light therapy (LTH), of seventeen patients with strabismus and amblyopia (SA), and eleven healthy controls (HCs) from Querétaro, México. Quantitative electroencephalogram analysis (qEEG) was used to record the brain activity, [...] Read more.
This research assesses the brain activity and visual performance at baseline and after light therapy (LTH), of seventeen patients with strabismus and amblyopia (SA), and eleven healthy controls (HCs) from Querétaro, México. Quantitative electroencephalogram analysis (qEEG) was used to record the brain activity, and clinical metrics such as the visual acuity, angle of deviation, phoria state, stereopsis, and visual fields determined the visual performance. Results showed a constant higher alpha-wave frequency for HCs. Low voltages remained negative for HCs and positive for SA patients across stimulation. After LTH, high voltage increased in SA patients, and decreased in HCs. A second spectral peak, (theta-wave), was exclusively recorded in SA patients, at baseline and after LTH. Positive Spearman correlations for alpha-wave frequency, low and high voltages were only seen in SA patients. Synchronized brain activity was recorded in all SA patients stimulated with filters transmitting light in the blue but not in the red spectrum. Enhancement in the visual performance of SA patients was found, whereas deterioration of the phoria state and a decrease in the amount of stereopsis was seen in HCs. To conclude, only a suffering brain and a visual pathway which needs to be enabled can benefit from LTH. Full article
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Article
Neuropsychological Profile, Emotional/Behavioral Problems, and Parental Stress in Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(5), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11050584 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 2605
Abstract
Background: The aim of our study was to trace a specific neuropsychological profile, to investigate emotional-behavioral problems and parental stress in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Level 1/High functioning (ASD-HF), Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) disorders and to highlight [...] Read more.
Background: The aim of our study was to trace a specific neuropsychological profile, to investigate emotional-behavioral problems and parental stress in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Level 1/High functioning (ASD-HF), Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) disorders and to highlight similarities and differences among the three groups. Methods: We retrospectively collected the data from a total of 62 subjects with ASD-HF (n = 19) ADHD (n = 21), SLD (n = 22) and 20 typical development. All the participants underwent neuropsychological standardized test for the evaluation of cognitive profile (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Fourth Edition—WISC-IV), behavioral and emotional problems (Child Behavior CheckList CBCL), and parental stress (Parental Stress Index Short Form—PSI-SF). The scores of the ASD-HF, ADHD, and SLD groups were compared using non-parametric statistic methods (Kruskall–Wallis H test and U Mann–Whitney for post-hoc analysis). Results: The ASD-HF group were significantly higher in all areas of the WISC-IV than the other two clinical groups. The SLD group performed significantly lower than ASD-HF in Working Memory Index. The SLD group showed lower scores on the somatic problems subscale than the other two groups. In the Difficult Child subscale of the PSI-SF, parents of ADHD children scored lower than the mothers of SLD subjects and higher than the fathers of SLD subjects. In all three groups there are specific deficiencies compared to the control group in the cognitive profile, behavioral and emotional problems, and parental stress. Conclusions: Our comparative analysis highlighted similarities and differences in three groups of children with different neurodevelopmental disorders, helping to better define cognitive, behavioral, and emotional characteristics of these children and parental stress of their parents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurological Diseases in Children Series II)
Article
Relationship between Sensory Alterations and Repetitive Behaviours in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Parents’ Questionnaire Based Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(4), 484; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11040484 - 11 Apr 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2208
Abstract
The relationship between sensory profile and repetitive behaviours in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has long been known. However, there is no consensus on the type of relationship that exists between them. This monocentric retrospective–prospective observational study aimed (a) to detect a clinical correlation [...] Read more.
The relationship between sensory profile and repetitive behaviours in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has long been known. However, there is no consensus on the type of relationship that exists between them. This monocentric retrospective–prospective observational study aimed (a) to detect a clinical correlation between the severity of repetitive behaviours and the alterations of sensory profile in a sample of 50 children diagnosed with ASD; (b) to evaluate how different patterns of stereotypies and sensory alterations correlate with each other and with the main clinical–instrumental variables in the same sample. We enrolled 29 children in the retrospective phase of the study and 21 in the prospective phase. The Repetitive Behaviour Scale-Revised (RBS-R) and the Short Sensory Profile (SSP) were administered to the caregivers, and clinical–instrumental data were collected. SSP and RBS-R total scores directly correlated with a high significance rate. Among the subscales, the strongest correlations involved “Visual/Auditory Sensitivity”, related to “Stereotyped Behaviour” and “Sameness Behaviour”. “Under-Responsive/Seeks Sensation” related to “Stereotyped Behaviour”. Sex and intellectual disability significantly influenced both the stereotypies and the sensory alterations of the examined population. In conclusion, this study provides new insights into the relationship between sensory alterations and repetitive behaviours in ASD children by using direct medical observation and parent observation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurological Diseases in Children Series II)
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Article
Transcutaneous Spinal Cord Stimulation Enhances Walking Performance and Reduces Spasticity in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(4), 472; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11040472 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2901
Abstract
Gait dysfunction and spasticity are common debilitating consequences of multiple sclerosis (MS). Improvements of these motor impairments by lumbar transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) have been demonstrated in spinal cord injury. Here, we explored for the first time the motor effects of lumbar [...] Read more.
Gait dysfunction and spasticity are common debilitating consequences of multiple sclerosis (MS). Improvements of these motor impairments by lumbar transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) have been demonstrated in spinal cord injury. Here, we explored for the first time the motor effects of lumbar tSCS applied at 50 Hz for 30 min in 16 individuals with MS and investigated their temporal persistence post-intervention. We used a comprehensive protocol assessing walking ability, different presentations of spasticity, standing ability, manual dexterity, and trunk control. Walking ability, including walking speed and endurance, was significantly improved for two hours beyond the intervention and returned to baseline after 24 h. Muscle spasms, clonus duration, and exaggerated stretch reflexes were reduced for two hours, and clinically assessed lower-extremity muscle hypertonia remained at improved levels for 24 h post-intervention. Further, postural sway during normal standing with eyes open was decreased for two hours. No changes were detected in manual dexterity and trunk control. Our results suggest that transcutaneous lumbar SCS can serve as a clinically accessible method without known side effects that holds the potential for substantial clinical benefit across the disability spectrum of MS. Full article
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Article
Enhancing the Effects of Neurofeedback Training: The Motivational Value of the Reinforcers
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(4), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11040457 - 03 Apr 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4646
Abstract
The brain activity that is measured by electroencephalography (EEG) can be modified through operant conditioning, specifically using neurofeedback (NF). NF has been applied to several disorders claiming that a change in the erratic brain activity would be accompanied by a reduction of the [...] Read more.
The brain activity that is measured by electroencephalography (EEG) can be modified through operant conditioning, specifically using neurofeedback (NF). NF has been applied to several disorders claiming that a change in the erratic brain activity would be accompanied by a reduction of the symptoms. However, the expected results are not always achieved. Some authors have suggested that the lack of an adequate response may be due to an incorrect application of the operant conditioning principles. A key factor in operant conditioning is the use of reinforcers and their value in modifying behavior, something that is not always sufficiently taken into account. This work aims to clarify the relevance of the motivational value versus the purely informational value of the reinforcer. In this study, 113 subjects were randomly assigned two different reinforcer conditions: a selected reinforcer—the subjects subjectively selected the reinforcers—or an imposed reinforcer—the reinforcers were assigned by the experimenter—and both groups undertook NF sessions to enhance the sensorimotor rhythm (SMR). In addition, the selected reinforcer group was divided into two subgroups: one receiving real NF and the other one sham NF. There were no significant differences between the groups at baseline in terms of SMR amplitude. After the intervention, only those subjects belonging to the selected reinforcer group and receiving real NF increased their SMR. Our results provide evidence for the importance of the motivational value of the reinforcer in Neurofeedback success. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collection on Cognitive Neuroscience)
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Article
Gender, Anxiety, and Legitimation of Violence in Adolescents Facing Simulated Physical Aggression at School
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(4), 458; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11040458 - 03 Apr 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2132
Abstract
We analyzed gender and anxiety differences in middle school students facing a physical peer aggression situation. The participants were 1147 adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years (male: n = 479; female: n = 668) who watched a 12 s animation representing the [...] Read more.
We analyzed gender and anxiety differences in middle school students facing a physical peer aggression situation. The participants were 1147 adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years (male: n = 479; female: n = 668) who watched a 12 s animation representing the situation and filled out a questionnaire to analyze the legitimation of violent behaviors and anxiety levels. We registered their decisions to solve the situation using a categorical scale that included assertive, avoidant, aggressive, submissive, and supportive behaviors. Gender was not associated with the adolescent’s behaviors in facing a simulated peer aggression situation. However, male teenagers tended to perceive adults as sanctioners and neutrals; those who used the diffusion of responsibility and dehumanization to justify their behavior also showed a higher state of anxiety. Female teenagers who expected legitimation from their peers, presented higher anxiety as well. Educational interventions may use these results, helping adolescents to understand that their acts have substantial implications in the lives of others. It is essential to develop group interventions that modify how adolescents manage their conflicts and change gender stereotypes that significantly impact health. We highlight the need for linking families in educational programs facing the challenges of transforming the legitimization of violence in parental practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disruptive Behavior Disorders: Symptoms, Evaluation and Treatment)
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Article
Unveiling the Mysteries of Dyslexia—Lessons Learned from the Prospective Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Dyslexia
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(4), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11040427 - 27 Mar 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3661
Abstract
This paper reviews the observations of the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Dyslexia (JLD). The JLD is a prospective family risk study in which the development of children with familial risk for dyslexia (N = 108) due to parental dyslexia and controls without dyslexia [...] Read more.
This paper reviews the observations of the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Dyslexia (JLD). The JLD is a prospective family risk study in which the development of children with familial risk for dyslexia (N = 108) due to parental dyslexia and controls without dyslexia risk (N = 92) were followed from birth to adulthood. The JLD revealed that the likelihood of at-risk children performing poorly in reading and spelling tasks was fourfold compared to the controls. Auditory insensitivity of newborns observed during the first week of life using brain event-related potentials (ERPs) was shown to be the first precursor of dyslexia. ERPs measured at six months of age related to phoneme length identification differentiated the family risk group from the control group and predicted reading speed until the age of 14 years. Early oral language skills, phonological processing skills, rapid automatized naming, and letter knowledge differentiated the groups from ages 2.5–3.5 years onwards and predicted dyslexia and reading development, including reading comprehension, until adolescence. The home environment, a child’s interest in reading, and task avoidance were not different in the risk group but were found to be additional predictors of reading development. Based on the JLD findings, preventive and intervention methods utilizing the association learning approach have been developed. Full article
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Article
The Arabic Version of the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale: Factorial Validity and Measurement Invariance
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(4), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11040419 - 26 Mar 2021
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 2181
Abstract
University students experience high levels of stress due to university transition, academic commitments, and financial matters. Higher stress perceptions along with limited coping resources endanger mental health for a considerable number of students and may ruin their performance. The current study evaluated the [...] Read more.
University students experience high levels of stress due to university transition, academic commitments, and financial matters. Higher stress perceptions along with limited coping resources endanger mental health for a considerable number of students and may ruin their performance. The current study evaluated the psychometric properties of the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (10 items), PSS-10, in a sample of 379 female Emeriti students. Exploratory factor analysis resulted in two factors with eigenvalues of 3.88 and 1.19, which explained 60.6% of the variance. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed good model fits of two correlated factors (Comparative Fit Index (CFI) = 0.962, Tucker–Lewis Index (TLI) = 0.950, standardized root-mean-square residual (SRMR) = 0.0479, and root mean-square error of approximation (RMSEA) = 0.067). Internal consistency of the PSS-10 and its positive and negative subscales was acceptable (coefficient α = 0.67, 0.79, and 0.86, respectively). Multigroup analysis revealed that the PSS-10 holds invariance across different groups of age, marital status, and financial status (average monthly expenditure). Convergent and concurrent validity tests signify the importance of considering scores of subscales of the PSS-10 along with its total score. Full article
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Article
Observational Fear Learning in Rats: Role of Trait Anxiety and Ultrasonic Vocalization
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(4), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11040423 - 26 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2272
Abstract
Rats can acquire fear by observing conspecifics that express fear in the presence of conditioned fear stimuli. This process is called observational fear learning and is based on the social transmission of the demonstrator rat’s emotion and the induction of an empathy-like or [...] Read more.
Rats can acquire fear by observing conspecifics that express fear in the presence of conditioned fear stimuli. This process is called observational fear learning and is based on the social transmission of the demonstrator rat’s emotion and the induction of an empathy-like or anxiety state in the observer. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of trait anxiety and ultrasonic vocalization in observational fear learning. Two experiments with male Wistar rats were performed. In the first experiment, trait anxiety was assessed in a light–dark box test before the rats were submitted to the observational fear learning procedure. In the second experiment, ultrasonic vocalization was recorded throughout the whole observational fear learning procedure, and 22 kHz and 50 kHz calls were analyzed. The results of our study show that trait anxiety differently affects direct fear learning and observational fear learning. Direct fear learning was more pronounced with higher trait anxiety, while observational fear learning was the best with a medium-level of trait anxiety. There were no indications in the present study that ultrasonic vocalization, especially emission of 22 kHz calls, but also 50 kHz calls, are critical for observational fear learning. Full article
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Article
The Effects of 10 Hz and 20 Hz tACS in Network Integration and Segregation in Chronic Stroke: A Graph Theoretical fMRI Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030377 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2140
Abstract
Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) has emerged as a promising technique to non-invasively modulate the endogenous oscillations in the human brain. Despite its clinical potential to be applied in routine rehabilitation therapies, the underlying modulation mechanism has not been thoroughly understood, especially for [...] Read more.
Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) has emerged as a promising technique to non-invasively modulate the endogenous oscillations in the human brain. Despite its clinical potential to be applied in routine rehabilitation therapies, the underlying modulation mechanism has not been thoroughly understood, especially for patients with neurological disorders, including stroke. In this study, we aimed to investigate the frequency-specific stimulation effect of tACS in chronic stroke. Thirteen chronic stroke patients underwent tACS intervention, while resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected under various frequencies (sham, 10 Hz and 20 Hz). The graph theoretical analysis indicated that 20 Hz tACS might facilitate local segregation in motor-related regions and global integration at the whole-brain level. However, 10 Hz was only observed to increase the segregation from whole-brain level. Additionally, it is also observed that, for the network in motor-related regions, the nodal clustering characteristic was decreased after 10 Hz tACS, but increased after 20 Hz tACS. Taken together, our results suggested that tACS in various frequencies might induce heterogeneous modulation effects in lesioned brains. Specifically, 20 Hz tACS might induce more modulation effects, especially in motor-related regions, and they have the potential to be applied in rehabilitation therapies to facilitate neuromodulation. Our findings might shed light on the mechanism of neural responses to tACS and facilitate effectively designing stimulation protocols with tACS in stroke in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Stimulation and Neuroplasticity)
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Article
68Ga-DOTATOC PET/CT Follow Up after Single or Hypofractionated Gamma Knife ICON Radiosurgery for Meningioma Patients
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030375 - 15 Mar 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1157
Abstract
68Ga-DOTATOC represents a useful tool in tumor contouring for radiosurgery planning. We present a case series of patients affected by meningiomas on who we performed 68Ga-DOTATOC positron emission tomography (PET)/CT pre-operatively, a subgroup of which also underwent a post-operative 68Ga-DOTATOC [...] Read more.
68Ga-DOTATOC represents a useful tool in tumor contouring for radiosurgery planning. We present a case series of patients affected by meningiomas on who we performed 68Ga-DOTATOC positron emission tomography (PET)/CT pre-operatively, a subgroup of which also underwent a post-operative 68Ga-DOTATOC PET/CT to evaluate the standardized uptake value (SUV) modification after Gamma Knife ICON treatment in single or hypofractionated fractions. Twenty patients were enrolled/included in this study: ten females and ten males. The median age was 52 years (range 33–80). The median tumor diameter was 3.68 cm (range 0.12–22.26 cm), and the median pre-radiotherapy maximum SUV value was 11 (range 2.3–92). The average of the relative percentage changes between SUVs at baseline and follow up was −6%, ranging from −41% to 56%. The SUV was reduced in seven out of 12 patients (58%), stable in two out of 12 (17%), and increased in three out of 12 (25%), suggesting a biological response of the tumor to the Gamma Knife treatment in most of the cases. 68Ga-DOTATOC-PET represents a valuable tool in assessing the meningioma diagnosis for primary radiosurgery; it is also promising for follow-up assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modern Image-Guided Surgical Strategies in Neurosurgical Oncology)
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Article
Upper and Lower Motor Neuron Degenerations Are Somatotopically Related and Temporally Ordered in the Sod1 Mouse Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030369 - 13 Mar 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2092
Abstract
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating and fatal neurodegenerative disease arising from the combined degeneration of upper motor neurons (UMN) in the motor cortex, and lower motor neurons (LMN) in the brainstem and spinal cord. This dual impairment raises two major questions: [...] Read more.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating and fatal neurodegenerative disease arising from the combined degeneration of upper motor neurons (UMN) in the motor cortex, and lower motor neurons (LMN) in the brainstem and spinal cord. This dual impairment raises two major questions: (i) are the degenerations of these two neuronal populations somatotopically related? and if yes (ii), where does neurodegeneration start? If studies carried out on ALS patients clearly demonstrated the somatotopic relationship between UMN and LMN degenerations, their temporal relationship remained an unanswered question. In the present study, we took advantage of the well-described Sod1G86R model of ALS to interrogate the somatotopic and temporal relationships between UMN and LMN degenerations in ALS. Using retrograde labelling from the cervical or lumbar spinal cord of Sod1G86R mice and controls to identify UMN, along with electrophysiology and histology to assess LMN degeneration, we applied rigorous sampling, counting, and statistical analyses, and show that UMN and LMN degenerations are somatotopically related and that UMN depletion precedes LMN degeneration. Together, the data indicate that UMN degeneration is a particularly early and thus relevant event in ALS, in accordance with a possible cortical origin of the disease, and emphasize the need to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind UMN degeneration, towards new therapeutic avenues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Upper Motor Neurons in Health and Disease)
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Article
Differential Deep Convolutional Neural Network Model for Brain Tumor Classification
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 352; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030352 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 2602
Abstract
The classification of brain tumors is a difficult task in the field of medical image analysis. Improving algorithms and machine learning technology helps radiologists to easily diagnose the tumor without surgical intervention. In recent years, deep learning techniques have made excellent progress in [...] Read more.
The classification of brain tumors is a difficult task in the field of medical image analysis. Improving algorithms and machine learning technology helps radiologists to easily diagnose the tumor without surgical intervention. In recent years, deep learning techniques have made excellent progress in the field of medical image processing and analysis. However, there are many difficulties in classifying brain tumors using magnetic resonance imaging; first, the difficulty of brain structure and the intertwining of tissues in it; and secondly, the difficulty of classifying brain tumors due to the high density nature of the brain. We propose a differential deep convolutional neural network model (differential deep-CNN) to classify different types of brain tumor, including abnormal and normal magnetic resonance (MR) images. Using differential operators in the differential deep-CNN architecture, we derived the additional differential feature maps in the original CNN feature maps. The derivation process led to an improvement in the performance of the proposed approach in accordance with the results of the evaluation parameters used. The advantage of the differential deep-CNN model is an analysis of a pixel directional pattern of images using contrast calculations and its high ability to classify a large database of images with high accuracy and without technical problems. Therefore, the proposed approach gives an excellent overall performance. To test and train the performance of this model, we used a dataset consisting of 25,000 brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images, which includes abnormal and normal images. The experimental results showed that the proposed model achieved an accuracy of 99.25%. This study demonstrates that the proposed differential deep-CNN model can be used to facilitate the automatic classification of brain tumors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neural Engineering, Neuroergonomics and Neurorobotics)
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The Effect of Maternal Immune Activation on Social Play-Induced Ultrasonic Vocalization in Rats
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 344; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030344 - 09 Mar 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1505
Abstract
Prenatal maternal infection is associated with an increased risk of various neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Maternal immune activation (MIA) can be experimentally induced by prenatal administration of polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C), a synthetic viral-like double-stranded RNA. Although this MIA model [...] Read more.
Prenatal maternal infection is associated with an increased risk of various neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Maternal immune activation (MIA) can be experimentally induced by prenatal administration of polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C), a synthetic viral-like double-stranded RNA. Although this MIA model is adopted in many studies, social and communicative deficits, included in the first diagnostic criterion of ASD, are poorly described in the offspring of poly(I:C)-exposed dams. This study aimed to characterize the impact of prenatal poly(I:C) exposure on socio-communicative behaviors in adolescent rats. For this purpose, social play behavior was assessed in both males and females. We also analyzed quantitative and structural changes in ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) emitted by rats during the play test. Deficits of social play behaviors were evident only in male rats. Males also emitted a significantly decreased number of USVs during social encounters. Prenatal poly(I:C) exposure also affected acoustic call parameters, as reflected by the increased peak frequencies. Additionally, repetitive behaviors were demonstrated in autistic-like animals regardless of sex. This study demonstrates that prenatal poly(I:C) exposure impairs socio-communicative functioning in adolescent rats. USVs may be a useful tool for identifying early autistic-like abnormalities. Full article
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Article
Safinamide Improves Non-Motor Symptoms Burden in Parkinson’s Disease: An Open-Label Prospective Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 316; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030316 - 02 Mar 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2401
Abstract
Some studies observed a benefit of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients after treatment with safinamide in some non-motor symptoms (NMSs). The aim of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of safinamide on NMS burden in PD. SAFINONMOTOR (an open-label study of the effectiveness [...] Read more.
Some studies observed a benefit of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients after treatment with safinamide in some non-motor symptoms (NMSs). The aim of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of safinamide on NMS burden in PD. SAFINONMOTOR (an open-label study of the effectiveness of safinamide on non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease patients) is a prospective open-label single-arm study conducted in five centers from Spain. The primary efficacy outcome was the change from baseline (V1) to the end of the observational period (6 months) (V4) in the non-motor symptoms scale (NMSS) total score. Between May/2019 and February/2020 50 patients were included (age 68.5 ± 9.12 years; 58% females; 6.4 ± 5.1 years from diagnosis). At 6 months, 44 patients completed the follow-up (88%). The NMSS total score was reduced by 38.5% (from 97.5 ± 43.7 in V1 to 59.9 ± 35.5 in V4; p < 0.0001). By domains, improvement was observed in sleep/fatigue (−35.8%; p = 0.002), mood/apathy (−57.9%; p < 0.0001), attention/memory (−23.9%; p = 0.026), gastrointestinal symptoms (−33%; p = 0.010), urinary symptoms (−28.3%; p = 0.003), and pain/miscellaneous (−43%; p < 0.0001). Quality of life (QoL) also improved with a 29.4% reduction in the PDQ-39SI (from 30.1 ± 17.6 in V1 to 21.2 ± 13.5 in V4; p < 0.0001). A total of 21 adverse events in 16 patients (32%) were reported, 5 of which were severe (not related to safinamide). Dyskinesias and nausea were the most frequent (6%). Safinamide is well tolerated and improves NMS burden and QoL in PD patients with severe or very severe NMS burden at 6 months. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Behavioral Neuroscience)
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Article
Mothers’ Experiences and Challenges Raising a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 309; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030309 - 02 Mar 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 4425
Abstract
Although the study of autism is burgeoning with important implications both for public health and society, there is little research exploring the experiences of raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from the maternal perspective. The aim of this study was to [...] Read more.
Although the study of autism is burgeoning with important implications both for public health and society, there is little research exploring the experiences of raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from the maternal perspective. The aim of this study was to investigate the lived experiences of mothers of children with ASD in Greece. Nine mothers of children with ASD were recruited and engaged in semistructured interviews. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three interconnected themes were identified in the analysis: (a) emotional burden, (b) family burden, and (c) social burden. A key finding in the themes was the sense of burden, distress, and vulnerability experienced by the mothers. The findings provide valuable understanding of the experiences of mothers raising children with ASD in one of Europe’s medium-income countries. Further, results can be used by researchers, clinicians, mental health providers, and policy makers to address the unique needs of families caring for and supporting children with ASD. Full article
Article
One Year Trajectory of Caregiver Burden in Parkinson’s Disease and Analysis of Gender-Specific Aspects
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 295; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030295 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1564
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder that leads to impairments in activities of daily living. In addition to reducing patients’ quality of life, this disease also affects caregivers’ well-being. Until recently, caregiver burden was mainly assessed by generic questionnaires, [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder that leads to impairments in activities of daily living. In addition to reducing patients’ quality of life, this disease also affects caregivers’ well-being. Until recently, caregiver burden was mainly assessed by generic questionnaires, which do not take the characteristics of the chronic disease into consideration. In the case of PD, this issue has been addressed by the introduction of the “Parkinson’s disease caregiver burden” questionnaire (PDCB). Data on longitudinal trajectories of caregiver burden are still missing in the literature. In this study, we assessed the one-year trajectory of caregiver burden by the PDCB as a disease-specific questionnaire. Further, gender-specific aspects of caregiver burden were analyzed by applying a caregiver task questionnaire. PDCB total score (n = 84 patients and caregivers) did not significantly change from baseline (30.4) to one year at follow-up (31.5). No significant difference was detected between female and male caregivers in global burden and-specific caregiver tasks. Our data showed only a mild increase of caregiver burden in the timeframe of one year. Gender-specific differences do not seem to impact-specific caregiver tasks in the presented study population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Caregiver Burden in Movement Disorders and Neurodegenerative Diseases)
Article
Cerebrospinal Fluid Parameters in Antisense Oligonucleotide-Treated Adult 5q-Spinal Muscular Atrophy Patients
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 296; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030296 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1661
Abstract
Approval of nusinersen, an intrathecally administered antisense oligonucleotide, for the treatment of 5q-spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) marked the beginning of a new therapeutic era in neurological diseases. Changes in routine cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) parameters under nusinersen have only recently been described in adult [...] Read more.
Approval of nusinersen, an intrathecally administered antisense oligonucleotide, for the treatment of 5q-spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) marked the beginning of a new therapeutic era in neurological diseases. Changes in routine cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) parameters under nusinersen have only recently been described in adult SMA patients. We aimed to explore these findings in a real-world setting and to identify clinical and procedure-associated features that might impact CSF parameters. Routinely collected CSF parameters (leukocyte count, lactate, total protein, CSF/serum albumin quotient (QAlbumin), oligoclonal bands) of 28 adult SMA patients were examined for up to 22 months of nusinersen treatment. Total protein and QAlbumin values significantly increased in the first 10 months, independent of the administration procedure. By month 14, no further increases were detected. Two patients developed transient pleocytosis. In two cases, positive oligoclonal bands were found in the beginning and in four patients throughout the whole observation period. No clinical signs of inflammatory central nervous system disease were apparent. Our data confirm elevated CSF total protein and QAlbumin during nusinersen treatment. These alterations may be caused by both repeated lumbar punctures and the interval between procedures rather than by the medication itself. Generally, there were no severe alterations of CSF routine parameters. These results further underline the safety of nusinersen therapy. Full article
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Article
Neuroprotective Effect of α-Mangostin in Ameliorating Propionic Acid-Induced Experimental Model of Autism in Wistar Rats
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 288; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030288 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 2099
Abstract
Several studies have documented the role of hyper-activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) in Autism pathogenesis. Alpha-mangostin (AMG) is a phytoconstituents with anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, and ERK inhibition properties in many diseases. Our research aims to investigate the neuroprotective effect of AMG in the [...] Read more.
Several studies have documented the role of hyper-activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) in Autism pathogenesis. Alpha-mangostin (AMG) is a phytoconstituents with anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, and ERK inhibition properties in many diseases. Our research aims to investigate the neuroprotective effect of AMG in the rat model of intracerebroventricular-propionic acid (ICV-PPA) induced autism with a confirmation of its effect on the ERK signaling. Autism was induced in Wistar rats (total 36 rats; 18 male/18 female) by multiple doses of PPA through ICV injection for 11 days. Actophotometer and beam walking tasks were used to evaluate animals’ motor abilities, and the Morris water maze task was utilized to confirm the cognition and memory in animals. Long term administration of AMG100 mg/kg and AMG200 mg/kg continued from day 12 to day 44 of the experiment. Before that, animals were sacrificed, brains isolated, morphological, gross pathological studies were performed, and neurochemical analysis was performed in the brain homogenates. Cellular and molecular markers, including ERK, myelin basic protein, apoptotic markers including caspase-3, Bax, Bcl-2, neuroinflammatory markers, neurotransmitters, and oxidative stress markers, have been tested throughout the brain. Thus, AMG reduces the overactivation of the ERK signaling and also restored autism-like behavioral and neurochemical alterations. Full article
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Article
Multiple Subtypes of Alzheimer’s Disease Base on Brain Atrophy Pattern
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 278; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020278 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1692
Abstract
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a disease of a heterogeneous nature, which can be disentangled by exploring the characteristics of each AD subtype in the brain structure, neuropathology, and cognition. In this study, a total of 192 AD and 228 cognitively normal (CN) subjects [...] Read more.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a disease of a heterogeneous nature, which can be disentangled by exploring the characteristics of each AD subtype in the brain structure, neuropathology, and cognition. In this study, a total of 192 AD and 228 cognitively normal (CN) subjects were obtained from the Alzheimer’s disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. Based on the cortical thickness patterns, the mixture of experts method (MOE) was applied to the implicit model spectrum of transforms lined with each AD subtype, then their neuropsychological and neuropathological characteristics were analyzed. Furthermore, the piecewise linear classifiers composed of each AD subtype and CN were resolved, and each subtype was comprehensively explained. The following four distinct AD subtypes were discovered: bilateral parietal, frontal, and temporal atrophy AD subtype (occipital sparing AD subtype (OSAD), 29.2%), left temporal dominant atrophy AD subtype (LTAD, 22.4%), minimal atrophy AD subtype (MAD, 16.1%), and diffuse atrophy AD subtype (DAD, 32.3%). These four subtypes display their own characteristics in atrophy pattern, cognition, and neuropathology. Compared with the previous studies, our study found that some AD subjects showed obvious asymmetrical atrophy in left lateral temporal-parietal cortex, OSAD presented the worst cerebrospinal fluid levels, and MAD had the highest proportions of APOE ε4 and APOE ε2. The subtype characteristics were further revealed from the aspect of the model, making it easier for clinicians to understand. The results offer an effective support for individual diagnosis and prognosis. Full article
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Article
Self-Positivity or Self-Negativity as a Function of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020264 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1928
Abstract
Self and emotions are key motivational factors of a person strivings for health and well-being. Understanding neural mechanisms supporting the relationship between these factors bear far-reaching implications for mental health disorders. Recent work indicates a substantial overlap between self-relevant and emotion information processing [...] Read more.
Self and emotions are key motivational factors of a person strivings for health and well-being. Understanding neural mechanisms supporting the relationship between these factors bear far-reaching implications for mental health disorders. Recent work indicates a substantial overlap between self-relevant and emotion information processing and has proposed the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) as one shared neural signature. However, the precise cognitive and neural mechanisms represented by the MPFC in investigations of self- and emotion-related processing are largely unknown. Here we examined whether the neural underpinnings of self-related processing in the MPFC link to positive or negative emotions. We collected fMRI data to test the distinct and shared neural circuits of self- and emotion-related processing while participants performed personal (self, friend, or stranger) and emotion (happy, sad, or neutral) associative matching tasks. By exploiting tight control over the factors that determine the effects of self-relevance and emotions (positive: Happy vs. neutral; negative: Sad vs. neutral), our univariate analysis revealed that the ventral part of the MPFC (vmPFC), which has established involvement in self-prioritisation effects, was not recruited in the negative emotion prioritisation effect. In contrast, there were no differences in brain activity between the effects of positive emotion- and self-prioritisation. These results were replicated by both region of interest (ROI)-based analysis in the vmPFC and the seed- to voxel functional connectivity analysis between the MPFC and the rest of the brain. The results suggest that the prioritisation effects for self and positive emotions are tightly linked together, and the MPFC plays a large role in discriminating between positive and negative emotions in relation to self-relevance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Bases of Conscious Awareness and Self-Representation)
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Beyond Reading Modulation: Temporo-Parietal tDCS Alters Visuo-Spatial Attention and Motion Perception in Dyslexia
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020263 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2513
Abstract
Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder with an atypical activation of posterior left-hemisphere brain reading networks (i.e., temporo-occipital and temporo-parietal regions) and multiple neuropsychological deficits. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a tool for manipulating neural activity and, in turn, neurocognitive processes. While studies [...] Read more.
Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder with an atypical activation of posterior left-hemisphere brain reading networks (i.e., temporo-occipital and temporo-parietal regions) and multiple neuropsychological deficits. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a tool for manipulating neural activity and, in turn, neurocognitive processes. While studies have demonstrated the significant effects of tDCS on reading, neurocognitive changes beyond reading modulation have been poorly investigated. The present study aimed at examining whether tDCS on temporo-parietal regions affected not only reading, but also phonological skills, visuo-spatial working memory, visuo-spatial attention, and motion perception in a polarity-dependent way. In a within-subjects design, ten children and adolescents with dyslexia performed reading and neuropsychological tasks after 20 min of exposure to Left Anodal/Right Cathodal (LA/RC) and Right Anodal/Left Cathodal (RA/LC) tDCS. LA/RC tDCS compared to RA/LC tDCS improved text accuracy, word recognition speed, motion perception, and modified attentional focusing in our group of children and adolescents with dyslexia. Changes in text reading accuracy and word recognition speed—after LA/RC tDCS compared to RA/LC—were related to changes in motion perception and in visuo-spatial working memory, respectively. Our findings demonstrated that reading and domain-general neurocognitive functions in a group of children and adolescents with dyslexia change following tDCS and that they are polarity-dependent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Neurocognitive Deficits and Dyslexia)
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Article
Heart Rate Variability and Decision-Making: Autonomic Responses in Making Decisions
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020243 - 15 Feb 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2937
Abstract
Decision-making is one of the most crucial cognitive processes in daily life. An adaptable, rapid, and flexible decision requires integration between brain and body. Heart rate variability (HRV) indexes this brain–body connection and appears to be related to cognitive performance. However, its relationship [...] Read more.
Decision-making is one of the most crucial cognitive processes in daily life. An adaptable, rapid, and flexible decision requires integration between brain and body. Heart rate variability (HRV) indexes this brain–body connection and appears to be related to cognitive performance. However, its relationship with decision-making is poorly analyzed. This study investigates the relationship between HRV and the decision-making process, assessed through the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). One hundred and thirty healthy university students (mean age = 23.35 ± 2.50) participated in the study. According to IGT performance, they were divided into high decision-makers (n = 79) and low decision-makers (n = 51). Heart rate variability was measured in the resting, reactivity (i.e., during IGT), and recovery phases. Higher vagally mediated HRV (vmHRV; indexed in frequency domain measures) was evidenced in good decision-makers in the resting, reactivity, and recovery phases. During the task, a higher vagal modulation after a first evaluation was highlighted in good decision-makers. In conclusion, HRV proves to be a valid index of inhibitory circuit functioning in the prefrontal cortex. The relationship with cognitive functions was also confirmed, considering the ability to inhibit disadvantageous responses and make better decisions. Full article
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Article
A Framework for Instantaneous Driver Drowsiness Detection Based on Improved HOG Features and Naïve Bayesian Classification
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 240; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020240 - 14 Feb 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3297
Abstract
Due to their high distinctiveness, robustness to illumination and simple computation, Histogram of Oriented Gradient (HOG) features have attracted much attention and achieved remarkable success in many computer vision tasks. In this paper, an innovative framework for driver drowsiness detection is proposed, where [...] Read more.
Due to their high distinctiveness, robustness to illumination and simple computation, Histogram of Oriented Gradient (HOG) features have attracted much attention and achieved remarkable success in many computer vision tasks. In this paper, an innovative framework for driver drowsiness detection is proposed, where an adaptive descriptor that possesses the virtue of distinctiveness, robustness and compactness is formed from an improved version of HOG features based on binarized histograms of shifted orientations. The final HOG descriptor generated from binarized HOG features is fed to the trained Naïve Bayes (NB) classifier to make the final driver drowsiness determination. Experimental results on the publicly available NTHU-DDD dataset verify that the proposed framework has the potential to be a strong contender for several state-of-the-art baselines, by achieving a competitive detection accuracy of 85.62%, without loss of efficiency or stability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neural Engineering, Neuroergonomics and Neurorobotics)
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Article
Long-Lasting Cognitive Abnormalities after COVID-19
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020235 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 51 | Viewed by 7933
Abstract
Considering the mechanisms capable of causing brain alterations in COVID-19, we aimed to study the occurrence of cognitive abnormalities in the months following hospital discharge. We recruited 38 (aged 22–74 years; 27 males) patients hospitalized for complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nonintensive COVID [...] Read more.
Considering the mechanisms capable of causing brain alterations in COVID-19, we aimed to study the occurrence of cognitive abnormalities in the months following hospital discharge. We recruited 38 (aged 22–74 years; 27 males) patients hospitalized for complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nonintensive COVID units. Participants underwent neuropsychological testing about 5 months after hospital discharge. Of all patients, 42.1% had processing speed deficits, while 26.3% showed delayed verbal recall deficits. Twenty-one percent presented with deficits in both processing speed and verbal memory. Bivariate analysis revealed a positive correlation between the lowest arterial oxygen partial pressure (PaO2) to fractional inspired oxygen (FiO2) (P/F) ratio during hospitalization and verbal memory consolidation performance (SRT-LTS score, r = 0.404, p = 0.027), as well as a positive correlation between SpO2 levels upon hospital arrival and delayed verbal recall performance (SRT-D score, rs = 0.373, p = 0.042). Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) during hospitalization was associated with worse verbal memory performance (ARDS vs. no ARDS: SRT-LTS mean score = 30.63 ± 13.33 vs. 44.50 ± 13.16, p = 0.007; SRT-D mean score = 5.95 ± 2.56 vs. 8.10 ± 2.62, p = 0.029). Cognitive abnormalities can frequently be found in COVID-19 patients 5 months after hospital discharge. Increased fatigability, deficits of concentration and memory, and overall decreased cognitive speed months after hospital discharge can interfere with work and daily activities. Full article
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Article
Impact of SAfinamide on Depressive Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease Patients (SADness-PD Study): A Multicenter Retrospective Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020232 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 2208
Abstract
Background: We aimed to assess the effects of safinamide on depression, motor symptoms, and the serotonin syndrome related to its co-administration with antidepressants in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the data of patients at 1 and 3 months of [...] Read more.
Background: We aimed to assess the effects of safinamide on depression, motor symptoms, and the serotonin syndrome related to its co-administration with antidepressants in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the data of patients at 1 and 3 months of follow-up compared to baseline. Results: n = 82 (safinamide 50 mg = 22, 100 mg = 60, with antidepressants = 44). First, we found improvement in depression (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale: −6 ± 5.10 at 1 month and −7.27 ± 5.10 at 3 months, p < 0.0001; Patient Global Impression of Improvement Scale: 60.3% and 69.5% of patients at 1 and 3 months reported some improvement). Second, safinamide improved the daily life activities and motor symptoms/motor complications (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS-II): −2.51 ± 6.30 and −2.47 ± 6.11 at 1 and 3 months, p < 0.0001; III: −3.58 ± 8.68 and −4.03 ± 8.95 at 1 and 3 months, p < 0.0001; IV: −0.61 ± 2.61 and −0.8 ± 2.53 at 1 and 3 months, p < 0.0001). Third, 7.31% and 8.53% of patients developed non-severe adverse events related to safinamide at 1 and 3 months. Serotonin syndrome was not observed in the patients treated with antidepressants; some isolated serotonin syndrome symptoms were reported. Conclusions: Safinamide could be useful for treating depression in PD; it was effective for motor symptoms and motor complications and safe even when co-administered with antidepressants. Full article
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Article
Bliss in and Out of the Body: The (Extra)Corporeal Space Is Impervious to Social Pleasant Touch
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020225 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1475
Abstract
Slow, gentle stimulation of hairy skin is generally accompanied by hedonic sensations. This phenomenon, also known as (positive) affective touch, is likely to be the basis of affiliative interactions with conspecifics by promoting inter-individual bindings. Previous studies on healthy humans have demonstrated that [...] Read more.
Slow, gentle stimulation of hairy skin is generally accompanied by hedonic sensations. This phenomenon, also known as (positive) affective touch, is likely to be the basis of affiliative interactions with conspecifics by promoting inter-individual bindings. Previous studies on healthy humans have demonstrated that affective touch can remarkably impact behavior. For instance, by administering the Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) paradigm, the embodiment of a fake hand enhances after a slow, affective touch compared to a fast, neutral touch. However, results coming from this area are not univocal. In addition, there are no clues in the existing literature on the relationship between affective touch and the space around our body. To overcome these lacks, we carried out two separate experiments where participants underwent a RHI paradigm (Experiment 1) and a Visuo-Tactile Interaction task (Experiment 2), designed to tap into body representation and peripersonal space processing, respectively. In both experiments, an affective touch (CT-optimal, 3 cm/s) and neutral touch (CT-suboptimal, 18 cm/s) were delivered by the experimenter on the dorsal side of participants’ hand through a “skin to skin” contact. In Experiment 1, we did not find any modulation of body representation—not at behavioral nor at a physiological level—by affective touch. In Experiment 2, no visuo-tactile spatial modulation emerged depending upon the pleasantness of the touch received. These null findings are interpreted in the light of the current scientific context where the real nature of affective touch is often misguided, and they offer the possibility to pave the way for understanding the real effects of affective touch on body/space representation. Full article
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Article
Creating a Theoretical Framework to Underpin Discourse Assessment and Intervention in Aphasia
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020183 - 02 Feb 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2848
Abstract
Discourse (a unit of language longer than a single sentence) is fundamental to everyday communication. People with aphasia (a language impairment occurring most frequently after stroke, or other brain damage) have communication difficulties which lead to less complete, less coherent, and less complex [...] Read more.
Discourse (a unit of language longer than a single sentence) is fundamental to everyday communication. People with aphasia (a language impairment occurring most frequently after stroke, or other brain damage) have communication difficulties which lead to less complete, less coherent, and less complex discourse. Although there are multiple reviews of discourse assessment and an emerging evidence base for discourse intervention, there is no unified theoretical framework to underpin this research. Instead, disparate theories are recruited to explain different aspects of discourse impairment, or symptoms are reported without a hypothesis about the cause. What is needed is a theoretical framework that would clarify the specific linguistic skills that create completeness, coherence, and complexity (i.e., richness) in discourse, and illuminate both the processes involved in discourse production and the reasons for breakdown. This paper reports a review and synthesis of the theoretical literature relevant to spoken discourse in aphasia discourse, and we propose a novel theoretical framework which unites these disparate sources. This framework is currently being tested as the foundation for Linguistic Underpinnings of Narrative in Aphasia (LUNA) treatment research. In this paper, we outline the novel framework and exemplify how it might be used to guide clinical practice and research. Future collaborative research is needed to develop this framework into a processing model for spoken discourse. Full article
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Article
Action Video Games Enhance Attentional Control and Phonological Decoding in Children with Developmental Dyslexia
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020171 - 29 Jan 2021
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 4724
Abstract
Reading acquisition is extremely difficult for about 5% of children because they are affected by a heritable neurobiological disorder called developmental dyslexia (DD). Intervention studies can be used to investigate the causal role of neurocognitive deficits in DD. Recently, it has been proposed [...] Read more.
Reading acquisition is extremely difficult for about 5% of children because they are affected by a heritable neurobiological disorder called developmental dyslexia (DD). Intervention studies can be used to investigate the causal role of neurocognitive deficits in DD. Recently, it has been proposed that action video games (AVGs)—enhancing attentional control—could improve perception and working memory as well as reading skills. In a partial crossover intervention study, we investigated the effect of AVG and non-AVG training on attentional control using a conjunction visual search task in children with DD. We also measured the non-alphanumeric rapid automatized naming (RAN), phonological decoding and word reading before and after AVG and non-AVG training. After both video game training sessions no effect was found in non-alphanumeric RAN and in word reading performance. However, after only 12 h of AVG training the attentional control was improved (i.e., the set-size slopes were flatter in visual search) and phonological decoding speed was accelerated. Crucially, attentional control and phonological decoding speed were increased only in DD children whose video game score was highly efficient after the AVG training. We demonstrated that only an efficient AVG training induces a plasticity of the fronto-parietal attentional control linked to a selective phonological decoding improvement in children with DD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Neurocognitive Deficits and Dyslexia)
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Article
Individual Alpha Peak Frequency, an Important Biomarker for Live Z-Score Training Neurofeedback in Adolescents with Learning Disabilities
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020167 - 28 Jan 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3280
Abstract
Learning disabilities (LDs) have an estimated prevalence between 5% and 9% in the pediatric population and are associated with difficulties in reading, arithmetic, and writing. Previous electroencephalography (EEG) research has reported a lag in alpha-band development in specific LD phenotypes, which seems to [...] Read more.
Learning disabilities (LDs) have an estimated prevalence between 5% and 9% in the pediatric population and are associated with difficulties in reading, arithmetic, and writing. Previous electroencephalography (EEG) research has reported a lag in alpha-band development in specific LD phenotypes, which seems to offer a possible explanation for differences in EEG maturation. In this study, 40 adolescents aged 10–15 years with LDs underwent 10 sessions of Live Z-Score Training Neurofeedback (LZT-NF) Training to improve their cognition and behavior. Based on the individual alpha peak frequency (i-APF) values from the spectrogram, a group with normal i-APF (ni-APF) and a group with low i-APF (li-APF) were compared in a pre-and-post-LZT-NF intervention. There were no statistical differences in age, gender, or the distribution of LDs between the groups. The li-APF group showed a higher theta absolute power in P4 (p = 0.016) at baseline and higher Hi-Beta absolute power in F3 (p = 0.007) post-treatment compared with the ni-APF group. In both groups, extreme waves (absolute Z-score of ≥1.5) were more likely to move toward the normative values, with better results in the ni-APF group. Conversely, the waves within the normal range at baseline were more likely to move out of the range after treatment in the li-APF group. Our results provide evidence of a viable biomarker for identifying optimal responders for the LZT-NF technique based on the i-APF metric reflecting the patient’s neurophysiological individuality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantitative EEG and Cognitive Neuroscience)
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Article
Intrastriatal Administration of AAV5-miHTT in Non-Human Primates and Rats Is Well Tolerated and Results in miHTT Transgene Expression in Key Areas of Huntington Disease Pathology
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020129 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3170
Abstract
Huntington disease (HD) is a fatal, neurodegenerative genetic disorder with aggregation of mutant Huntingtin protein (mutHTT) in the brain as a key pathological mechanism. There are currently no disease modifying therapies for HD; however, HTT-lowering therapies hold promise. Recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype [...] Read more.
Huntington disease (HD) is a fatal, neurodegenerative genetic disorder with aggregation of mutant Huntingtin protein (mutHTT) in the brain as a key pathological mechanism. There are currently no disease modifying therapies for HD; however, HTT-lowering therapies hold promise. Recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 5 expressing a microRNA that targets HTT mRNA (AAV5-miHTT) is in development for the treatment of HD with promising results in rodent and minipig HD models. To support a clinical trial, toxicity studies were performed in non-human primates (NHP, Macaca fascicularis) and Sprague-Dawley rats to evaluate the safety of AAV5-miHTT, the neurosurgical administration procedure, vector delivery and expression of the miHTT transgene during a 6-month observation period. For accurate delivery of AAV5-miHTT to the striatum, real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with convection-enhanced delivery (CED) was used in NHP. Catheters were successfully implanted in 24 NHP, without neurological symptoms, and resulted in tracer signal in the target areas. Widespread vector DNA and miHTT transgene distribution in the brain was found, particularly in areas associated with HD pathology. Intrastriatal administration of AAV5-miHTT was well tolerated with no clinically relevant changes in either species. These studies demonstrate the excellent safety profile of AAV5-miHTT, the reproducibility and tolerability of intrastriatal administration, and the delivery of AAV5-miHTT to the brain, which support the transition of AAV5-miHTT into clinical studies. Full article
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Article
The Development of Brain Network in Males with Autism Spectrum Disorders from Childhood to Adolescence: Evidence from fNIRS Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010120 - 18 Jan 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2255
Abstract
In the current study, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) was used to collect resting-state signals from 77 males with autism spectrum disorders (ASD, age: 6~16.25) and 40 typically developing (TD) males (age: 6~16.58) in the theory-of-mind (ToM) network. The graph theory analysis was used [...] Read more.
In the current study, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) was used to collect resting-state signals from 77 males with autism spectrum disorders (ASD, age: 6~16.25) and 40 typically developing (TD) males (age: 6~16.58) in the theory-of-mind (ToM) network. The graph theory analysis was used to obtain the brain network properties in ToM network, and the multiple regression analysis demonstrated that males with ASD showed a comparable global network topology, and a similar age-related decrease in the medial prefrontal cortex area (mPFC) compared to TD individuals. Nevertheless, participants with ASD showed U-shaped trajectories of nodal metrics of right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), and an age-related decrease in the left middle frontal gyrus (MFG), while trajectories of TD participants were opposite. The nodal metrics of the right TPJ was negatively associated with the social deficits of ASD, while the nodal metrics of the left MFG was negatively associated with the communication deficits of ASD. Current findings suggested a distinct developmental trajectory of the ToM network in males with ASD from childhood to adolescence. Full article
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Article
Identifying Diurnal Variability of Brain Connectivity Patterns Using Graph Theory
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010111 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2189
Abstract
Significant differences exist in human brain functions affected by time of day and by people’s diurnal preferences (chronotypes) that are rarely considered in brain studies. In the current study, using network neuroscience and resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) data, we examined the effect of [...] Read more.
Significant differences exist in human brain functions affected by time of day and by people’s diurnal preferences (chronotypes) that are rarely considered in brain studies. In the current study, using network neuroscience and resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) data, we examined the effect of both time of day and the individual’s chronotype on whole-brain network organization. In this regard, 62 participants (39 women; mean age: 23.97 ± 3.26 years; half morning- versus half evening-type) were scanned about 1 and 10 h after wake-up time for morning and evening sessions, respectively. We found evidence for a time-of-day effect on connectivity profiles but not for the effect of chronotype. Compared with the morning session, we found relatively higher small-worldness (an index that represents more efficient network organization) in the evening session, which suggests the dominance of sleep inertia over the circadian and homeostatic processes in the first hours after waking. Furthermore, local graph measures were changed, predominantly across the left hemisphere, in areas such as the precentral gyrus, putamen, inferior frontal gyrus (orbital part), inferior temporal gyrus, as well as the bilateral cerebellum. These findings show the variability of the functional neural network architecture during the day and improve our understanding of the role of time of day in resting-state functional networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Human Brain Connectivity)
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Communication
Peripheral Neuropathies Seen by Ultrasound: A Literature Analysis through Lexical Evaluation, Geographical Assessment and Graph Theory
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010113 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1477
Abstract
(1) Background: Ultrasound is a well-known tool used for the diagnosis and management of many diseases, including peripheral neuropathies. The main aim of this study was the lexical analysis of the literature on this topic considering the most cited words and the relationship [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Ultrasound is a well-known tool used for the diagnosis and management of many diseases, including peripheral neuropathies. The main aim of this study was the lexical analysis of the literature on this topic considering the most cited words and the relationship between the words and the papers. Furthermore, a geographical analysis was performed to evaluate the worldwide prevalence. (2) Methods: We performed a literature search on PubMed, and we calculated the occurrence of the words indicating nerves and the body parts. Furthermore, we calculated the number of papers for each country, considering the affiliation of the first author. Finally, to describe the relationships between the words and the papers, we used the 30 most cited words, and we built a matrix describing in which papers a word was cited. This matrix was used to create a network based on the graph theory using Gephi 0.9.2 software. (3) Results: The most cited nerves were median and ulnar ones, and the most cited body parts were hand, wrist and elbow. The United States of America was the most productive country, with 80 papers. The graph of the network showed the importance of ultrasound as support for therapy. (4) Conclusions: The study represents a lexical analysis of the literature and shows information about subjects, authors and relationships of the papers. This may be helpful for better understanding and evaluation of the situation of the current literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pathology of Peripheral Neuropathies)
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Article
A Phase 1/2 Study of Flavocoxid, an Oral NF-κB Inhibitor, in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 115; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010115 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2179
Abstract
Flavocoxid is a blended extract containing baicalin and catechin with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to the inhibition of the cyclooxygenase (COX) and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) enzymes, nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) pathways. This phase [...] Read more.
Flavocoxid is a blended extract containing baicalin and catechin with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to the inhibition of the cyclooxygenase (COX) and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) enzymes, nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) pathways. This phase 1/2 study was designed to assess the safety and tolerability of flavocoxid in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Thirty-four patients were recruited: 17 were treated with flavocoxid at an oral dose of 250 or 500 mg, according to body weight, for one year; 17 did not receive flavocoxid and served as controls. The treatment was well tolerated and nobody dropped out. Flavocoxid induced a significant reduction in serum interleukin (IL)-1 beta and TNF-alpha only in the group of DMD boys on add-on therapy (flavocoxid added to steroids for at least six months). The decrease in IL-1 beta was higher in younger boys. The serum H2O2 concentrations significantly decreased in patients treated with flavocoxid alone with a secondary reduction of serum glutathione peroxidase (GPx) levels, especially in younger boys. The exploratory outcome measures failed to show significant effects but there was a trend showing that the younger boys who received treatment were faster at performing the Gowers’ maneuver, while the older boys who received treatment were faster at doing the 10-m walk test (10MWT). Therefore, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study for at least two/three years is warranted to verify flavocoxid as a steroid substitute or as add-on therapy to steroids. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Research in Neuromuscular Disorders)
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Article
Influence of Increasing Task Complexity and Use of Informational Assistance Systems on Mental Workload
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010102 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1981
Abstract
(1) Background: Cognitive aspects and complexity in modern manual mixed model assembly are increasing. To reduce mental workload (MWL), informational assistance systems are introduced. The influence of complexity and used assistance system on MWL should be investigated to further improve the implementation of [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Cognitive aspects and complexity in modern manual mixed model assembly are increasing. To reduce mental workload (MWL), informational assistance systems are introduced. The influence of complexity and used assistance system on MWL should be investigated to further improve the implementation of such assistance systems. (2) Methods: Using a simulated close to real-life assembly task a 2 × 3 design was chosen, with two levels of assembly complexity (within subjects) and three different assistance systems (paper, Augmented Reality (AR)-glasses, tablet–between subjects). MWL was measured using either physiological response (electrocardiogram (ECG) and eye-tracking) or performance indicators. (3) Results: An influence of task complexity on MWL can be shown. Additionally, usability based differences between the used assistance systems become more evident with reference to the results of area of interest analysis. (4) Conclusions: Using a multi-modal measurement approach, it is possible to detect complexity-based differences in MWL. Additional research on validity and alignment is needed to further use these for (neuro-) ergonomic considerations and recommendations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Perspectives on Neuroergonomics)
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Article
Sensory Processing and Aggressive Behavior in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010095 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 5691
Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be accompanied by aggressive behavior and is associated with sensory processing difficulties. The present study aims to investigate the direct association between sensory processing and aggressive behavior in adults with ASD. A total of 101 Dutch adult participants [...] Read more.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be accompanied by aggressive behavior and is associated with sensory processing difficulties. The present study aims to investigate the direct association between sensory processing and aggressive behavior in adults with ASD. A total of 101 Dutch adult participants with ASD, treated in outpatient or inpatient facilities, completed the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (AASP), the Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire (RPQ), and the Aggression Questionnaire—Short Form (AQ-SF). Results revealed that sensory processing difficulties are associated with more aggressive behavior (f2=0.25), more proactive (f2=0.19) and reactive aggression (f2=0.27), more physical (f2=0.08) and verbal aggression (f2=0.13), and more anger (f2=0.20) and hostility (f2=0.12). Evidence was found for an interaction of the neurological threshold and behavioral response on total aggression and hostility. Participants with higher scores in comparison to the norm group in sensory sensitivity had the highest risk of aggressive behavior. In conclusion, clinical practice may benefit from applying detailed diagnostics on sensory processing difficulties when treating aggressive behavior in adults with ASD. Full article
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Article
Gait Recovery with an Overground Powered Exoskeleton: A Randomized Controlled Trial on Subacute Stroke Subjects
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010104 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2706
Abstract
Background: Overground Robot-Assisted Gait Training (o-RAGT) provides intensive gait rehabilitation. This study investigated the efficacy of o-RAGT in subacute stroke subjects, compared to conventional gait training. Methods: A multicenter randomized controlled trial was conducted on 75 subacute stroke subjects (38 in the Experimental [...] Read more.
Background: Overground Robot-Assisted Gait Training (o-RAGT) provides intensive gait rehabilitation. This study investigated the efficacy of o-RAGT in subacute stroke subjects, compared to conventional gait training. Methods: A multicenter randomized controlled trial was conducted on 75 subacute stroke subjects (38 in the Experimental Group (EG) and 37 in the Control Group (CG)). Both groups received 15 sessions of gait training (5 sessions/week for 60 min) and daily conventional rehabilitation. The subjects were assessed at the beginning (T1) and end (T2) of the training period with the primary outcome of a 6 Minutes Walking Test (6MWT), the Modified Ashworth Scale of the Affected lower Limb (MAS-AL), the Motricity Index of the Affected lower Limb (MI-AL), the Trunk Control Test (TCT), Functional Ambulation Classification (FAC), a 10 Meters Walking Test (10MWT), the modified Barthel Index (mBI), and the Walking Handicap Scale (WHS). Results: The 6MWT increased in both groups, which was confirmed by both frequentist and Bayesian analyses. Similar outcomes were registered in the MI-AL, 10MWT, mBI, and MAS-AL. The FAC and WHS showed a significant number of subjects improving in functional and community ambulation in both groups at T2. Conclusions: The clinical effects of o-RAGT were similar to conventional gait training in subacute stroke subjects. The results obtained in this study are encouraging and suggest future clinical trials on the topic. Full article
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Article
Rhythmic Chanting and Mystical States across Traditions
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010101 - 13 Jan 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 5479
Abstract
Chanting is a form of rhythmic, repetitive vocalization practiced in a wide range of cultures. It is used in spiritual practice to strengthen community, heal illness, and overcome psychological and emotional difficulties. In many traditions, chanting is used to induce mystical states, an [...] Read more.
Chanting is a form of rhythmic, repetitive vocalization practiced in a wide range of cultures. It is used in spiritual practice to strengthen community, heal illness, and overcome psychological and emotional difficulties. In many traditions, chanting is used to induce mystical states, an altered state of consciousness characterised by a profound sense of peace. Despite the global prevalence of chanting, its psychological effects are poorly understood. This investigation examined the psychological and contextual factors associated with mystical states during chanting. Data were analyzed from 464 participants across 33 countries who regularly engaged in chanting. Results showed that 60% of participants experienced mystical states during chanting. Absorption, altruism, and religiosity were higher among people who reported mystical states while chanting compared to those who did not report mystical states. There was no difference in mystical experience scores between vocal, silent, group or individual chanting and no difference in the prevalence of mystical states across chanting traditions. However, an analysis of subscales suggested that mystical experiences were especially characterised by positive mood and feelings of ineffability. The research sheds new light on factors that impact upon chanting experiences. A framework for understanding mystical states during chanting is proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rhythmic Motor Pattern Generation)
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Article
BCI Training Effects on Chronic Stroke Correlate with Functional Reorganization in Motor-Related Regions: A Concurrent EEG and fMRI Study
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010056 - 06 Jan 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2588
Abstract
Brain–computer interface (BCI)-guided robot-assisted training strategy has been increasingly applied to stroke rehabilitation, while few studies have investigated the neuroplasticity change and functional reorganization after intervention from multimodality neuroimaging perspective. The present study aims to investigate the hemodynamic and electrophysical changes induced by [...] Read more.
Brain–computer interface (BCI)-guided robot-assisted training strategy has been increasingly applied to stroke rehabilitation, while few studies have investigated the neuroplasticity change and functional reorganization after intervention from multimodality neuroimaging perspective. The present study aims to investigate the hemodynamic and electrophysical changes induced by BCI training using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) respectively, as well as the relationship between the neurological changes and motor function improvement. Fourteen chronic stroke subjects received 20 sessions of BCI-guided robot hand training. Simultaneous EEG and fMRI data were acquired before and immediately after the intervention. Seed-based functional connectivity for resting-state fMRI data and effective connectivity analysis for EEG were processed to reveal the neuroplasticity changes and interaction between different brain regions. Moreover, the relationship among motor function improvement, hemodynamic changes, and electrophysical changes derived from the two neuroimaging modalities was also investigated. This work suggested that (a) significant motor function improvement could be obtained after BCI training therapy, (b) training effect significantly correlated with functional connectivity change between ipsilesional M1 (iM1) and contralesional Brodmann area 6 (including premotor area (cPMA) and supplementary motor area (SMA)) derived from fMRI, (c) training effect significantly correlated with information flow change from cPMA to iM1 and strongly correlated with information flow change from SMA to iM1 derived from EEG, and (d) consistency of fMRI and EEG results illustrated by the correlation between functional connectivity change and information flow change. Our study showed changes in the brain after the BCI training therapy from chronic stroke survivors and provided a better understanding of neural mechanisms, especially the interaction among motor-related brain regions during stroke recovery. Besides, our finding demonstrated the feasibility and consistency of combining multiple neuroimaging modalities to investigate the neuroplasticity change. Full article
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Article
SURINPARK: Safinamide for Urinary Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11010057 - 06 Jan 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2088
Abstract
Background: Urinary symptoms are common, disabling and generally unresponsive to treatment in Parkinson´s disease (PD). Safinamide is approved as an add-on therapy to levodopa to improve fluctuations. Methods: Retrospective analysis of electronic records of nondemented PD patients seen consecutively in a Movement Disorders [...] Read more.
Background: Urinary symptoms are common, disabling and generally unresponsive to treatment in Parkinson´s disease (PD). Safinamide is approved as an add-on therapy to levodopa to improve fluctuations. Methods: Retrospective analysis of electronic records of nondemented PD patients seen consecutively in a Movement Disorders Unit (November 2018–February 2019). All were assessed with Scale for Outcomes in Parkinson’s disease for Autonomic Symptoms-Urinary subscale (SCOPA-AUT-U) by the attending neurologist, and a month afterwards by an independent researcher blinded to treatment and clinical records in a routine clinical practice setting. Clinical variables were compared among patients who were prescribed safinamide (SA+) for the treatment of motor fluctuations and those with different treatment regimes (SA−). Results: From 169 patients screened initially, 54 were excluded due to severe incontinence, absence of urinary symptoms or previous safinamide treatment. Thirty-five patients were included in SA+ and 79 in SA−. Both groups were comparable in terms of clinical variables, except in basal urinary symptoms, with more severity in the SA+ group. In the follow-up assessment, total SCOPA-AUT-U, as well as urgency, incontinence, frequency and nocturia subscales improved significantly in the SA+ group, while the SA− group remained unchanged. Conclusions: Safinamide could be helpful in the improvement of urinary symptoms in PD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collection on Clinical Neuroscience)
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