417 research outputs found

    High-Resolution Optical Functional Mapping of the Human Somatosensory Cortex

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    Non-invasive optical imaging of brain function has been promoted in a number of fields in which functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is limited due to constraints induced by the scanning environment. Beyond physiological and psychological research, bedside monitoring and neurorehabilitation may be relevant clinical applications that are yet little explored. A major obstacle to advocate the tool in clinical research is insufficient spatial resolution. Based on a multi-distance high-density optical imaging setup, we here demonstrate a dramatic increase in sensitivity of the method. We show that optical imaging allows for the differentiation between activations of single finger representations in the primary somatosensory cortex (SI). Methodologically our findings confirm results in a pioneering study by Zeff et al. (2007) and extend them to the homuncular organization of SI. After performing a motor task, eight subjects underwent vibrotactile stimulation of the little finger and the thumb. We used a high-density diffuse-optical sensing array in conjunction with optical tomographic reconstruction. Optical imaging disclosed three discrete activation foci one for motor and two discrete foci for vibrotactile stimulation of the first and fifth finger, respectively. The results were co-registered to the individual anatomical brain anatomy (MRI) which confirmed the localization in the expected cortical gyri in four subjects. This advance in spatial resolution opens new perspectives to apply optical imaging in the research on plasticity notably in patients undergoing neurorehabilitation

    Evidence from neuroimaging for the role of the menstrual cycle in the interplay of emotion and cognition

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    Women show increased predisposition for certain psychiatric disorders, such as depression, that are associated with disturbances in the integration of emotion and cognition. While this suggests that sex hormones need to be considered as modulating factors in the regulation of emotion, we still lack a sound understanding of how the menstrual cycle impacts emotional states and cognitive function. Though signals for the influence of the menstrual cycle on the integration of emotion and cognition have appeared as secondary findings in numerous behavioral and neuroimaging studies, this has only very rarely been the primary research goal. This review summarizes evidence: (1) that the menstrual cycle modulates the integration of emotional and cognitive processing on a behavioral level, and (2) that this change in behavior can be associated with functional, molecular and structural changes in the brain during a specific menstrual cycle phase. The growing evidence for menstrual cycle-specific differences suggests a modulating role for sex hormones on the neural networks supporting the integration of emotional and cognitive information. It will further be discussed what methodological aspects need to be considered to capture the role of the menstrual cycle in the emotion-cognition interplay more systematically

    Unhealthy yet Avoidable-How Cognitive Bias Modification Alters Behavioral and Brain Responses to Food Cues in Individuals with Obesity

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    Obesity is associated with automatically approaching problematic stimuli, such as unhealthy food. Cognitive bias modification (CBM) could beneficially impact problematic approach behavior. However, it is unclear which mechanisms are targeted by CBM in obesity. Candidate mechanisms include: (1) altering reward value of food stimuli; and (2) strengthening inhibitory abilities. Thirty-three obese adults completed either CBM or sham training during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. CBM consisted of implicit training to approach healthy and avoid unhealthy foods. At baseline, approach tendencies towards food were present in all participants. Avoiding vs. approaching food was associated with higher activity in the right angular gyrus (rAG). CBM resulted in a diminished approach bias towards unhealthy food, decreased activation in the rAG, and increased activation in the anterior cingulate cortex. Relatedly, functional connectivity between the rAG and right superior frontal gyrus increased. Analysis of brain connectivity during rest revealed training-related connectivity changes of the inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral middle frontal gyri. Taken together, CBM strengthens avoidance tendencies when faced with unhealthy foods and alters activity in brain regions underpinning behavioral inhibition.Peer reviewe

    relationships and interdependencies

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    Behavioral and personality characteristics are factors that may jointly regulate body weight. This study explored the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and self-reported behavioral and personality measures. These measures included eating behavior (based on the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire; Stunkard and Messick, 1985), sensitivity to reward and punishment (based on the Behavioral Inhibition System/Behavioral Activation System (BIS/BAS) scales) (Carver and White, 1994) and self-reported impulsivity (based on the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11; Patton et al., 1995). We found an inverted U-shaped relationship between restrained eating and BMI. This relationship was moderated by the level of disinhibited eating. Independent of eating behavior, BIS and BAS responsiveness were associated with BMI in a gender-specific manner with negative relationships for men and positive relationships for women. Together, eating behavior and BIS/BAS responsiveness accounted for a substantial proportion of BMI variance (men: ‚ąľ25%, women: ‚ąľ32%). A direct relationship between self-reported impulsivity and BMI was not observed. In summary, our results demonstrate a system of linear and non-linear relationships between the investigated factors and BMI. Moreover, body weight status was not only associated with eating behavior (cognitive restraint and disinhibition), but also with personality factors not inherently related to an eating context (BIS/BAS). Importantly, these relationships differ between men and women

    Increasing divergent thinking capabilities with music-feedback exercise

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    Divergent thinking is an essential aspect of creativity and has been shown to be affected both by music and physical exercise. While it has been shown that making music and physical exercise can be beneficial for Divergent Thinking in isolation, it is unclear whether the effects can be combined. The present experiment investigated the relation of physical exertion and being in control of music on Divergent Thinking and the possibility of an interaction effect. Seventy-seven predominantly young, German participants were tested with measurements of Divergent Thinking collected after either (1) physical exercise with music listening, (2) making music with a knob setup without physical effort (music control only), or (3) making physical exercise with musical feedback (Jymmin (TM)). Results showed greater increases in Divergent Thinking scores following music-feedback exercise compared to conditions of physical exercise with music listening and music control only. The data thus demonstrate that making music part of a physical exercise routine more strongly leads to the benefit of increased creative capacities, which we argue will be beneficial for athletes to prepare for certain types of competition/performance and as part of regeneration training

    Insulin Resistance Is Associated with Reduced Food Odor Sensitivity across a Wide Range of Body Weights

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    The worldwide obesity epidemic is a major health problem driven by the modern food environment. Recently, it has been shown that smell perception plays a key role in eating behavior and is altered in obesity. However, the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon are not well understood yet. Since the olfactory system is closely linked to the endocrine system, we hypothesized that hormonal shifts in obesity might explain this relationship. In a within-subject, repeated-measures design, we investigated sensitivity to a food and a non-food odor in the hungry and sated state in 75 young healthy (26 normal weight, 25 overweight, and 24 obese) participants (37 women). To determine metabolic health status and hormonal reactivity in response to food intake, we assessed pre- and postprandial levels of insulin, leptin, glucose, and ghrelin. Odor sensitivity did not directly depend on body weight status/body mass index (BMI) or hunger state. However, we could establish a strong negative mediating effect of insulin resistance on the relationship between BMI/waist-hip ratio and olfactory sensitivity for the food odor. These findings indicate an impact of metabolic health status on sensitivity to food odors. Our results contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind altered smell perception in obesity.Peer reviewe

    No Overt Effects of a 6-Week Exergame Training on Sensorimotor and Cognitive Function in Older Adults. A Preliminary Investigation

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    Several studies investigating the relationship between physical activity and cognition showed that exercise interventions might have beneficial effects on working memory, executive functions as well as motor fitness in old adults. Recently, movement based video games (exergames) have been introduced to have the capability to improve cognitive function in older adults. Healthy aging is associated with a loss of cognitive, as well as sensorimotor functions. During exergaming, participants are required to perform physical activities while being simultaneously surrounded by a cognitively challenging environment. However, only little is known about the impact of exergame training interventions on a broad range of motor, sensory, and cognitive skills. Therefore, the present study aims at investigating the effects of an exergame training over 6 weeks on cognitive, motor, and sensory functions in healthy old participants. For this purpose, 30 neurologically healthy older adults were randomly assigned to either an experimental (ETG, n = 15, 1 h training, twice a week) or a control group (NTG, n = 15, no training). Several cognitive tests were performed before and after exergaming in order to capture potential training-induced effects on processing speed as well as on executive functions. To measure the impact of exergaming on sensorimotor performance, a test battery consisting of pinch and grip force of the hand, tactile acuity, eye-hand coordination, flexibility, reaction time, coordination, and static balance were additionally performed. While we observed significant improvements in the trained exergame (mainly in tasks that required a high load of coordinative abilities), these gains did not result in differential performance improvements when comparing ETG and NTG. The only exergaming- induced difference was a superior behavioral gain in fine motor skills of the left hand in ETG compared to NTG. In an exploratory analysis, within-group comparison revealed improvements in sensorimotor and cognitive tasks (ETG) while NTG only showed an improvement in a static balance test. Taken together, the present study indicates that even though exergames might improve gaming performance, our behavioral assessment was probably not sensitive enough to capture exergaming-induced improvements. Hence, we suggest to use more tailored outcome measures in future studies to assess potential exergaming- induced changes

    Dopamine release, diffusion and uptake : A computational model for synaptic and volume transmission

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    Computational modeling of dopamine transmission is challenged by complex underlying mechanisms. Here we present a new computational model that (I) simultaneously regards release, diffusion and uptake of dopamine, (II) considers multiple terminal release events and (III) comprises both synaptic and volume transmission by incorporating the geometry of the synaptic cleft. We were able to validate our model in that it simulates concentration values comparable to physiological values observed in empirical studies. Further, although synaptic dopamine diffuses into extra-synaptic space, our model reflects a very localized signal occurring on the synaptic level, i.e. synaptic dopamine release is negligibly recognized by neighboring synapses. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that cognitive performance can be predicted by signal variability of neuroimaging data (e.g. BOLD). Signal variability in target areas of dopaminergic neurons (striatum, cortex) may arise from dopamine concentration variability. On that account we compared spatio-temporal variability in a simulation mimicking normal dopamine transmission in striatum to scenarios of enhanced dopamine release and dopamine uptake inhibition. We found different variability characteristics between the three settings, which may in part account for differences in empirical observations. From a clinical perspective, differences in striatal dopaminergic signaling contribute to differential learning and reward processing, with relevant implications for addictive- and compulsive-like behavior. Specifically, dopaminergic tone is assumed to impact on phasic dopamine and hence on the integration of reward-related signals. However, in humans DA tone is classically assessed using PET, which is an indirect measure of endogenous DA availability and suffers from temporal and spatial resolution issues. We discuss how this can lead to discrepancies with observations from other methods such as microdialysis and show how computational modeling can help to refine our understanding of DA transmission. Author summary The dopaminergic system of the brain is very complex and affects various cognitive domains like memory, learning and motor control. Alterations have been observed e.g. in Parkinson's or Huntington's Disease, ADHD, addiction and compulsive disorders, such as pathological gambling and also in obesity. We present a new computational model that allows to simulate the process of dopamine transmission from dopaminergic neurons originated in source brain regions like the VTA to target areas such as the striatum on a synaptic and on a larger, volume-spanning level. The model can further be used for simulations of dopamine related diseases or pharmacological interventions. In general, computational modeling helps to extend our understanding, gained from empirical research, to situations were in vivo measurements are not feasible.Peer reviewe
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