1,490 research outputs found

    The VWFA: It\u27s not just for words anymore

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    Reading is an important but phylogenetically new skill. While neuroimaging studies have identified brain regions used in reading, it is unclear to what extent these regions become specialized for use predominantly in reading vs. other tasks. Over the past several years, our group has published three studies addressing this question, particularly focusing on whether the putative visual word form area (VWFA) is used predominantly in reading, or whether it is used more generally in a number of tasks. Our three studies utilize a range of neuroimaging techniques, including task based fMRI experiments, a seed based resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) experiment, and a network based RSFC experiment. Overall, our studies indicate that the VWFA is not used specifically or even predominantly for reading. Rather the VWFA is a general use region that has processing properties making it particularly useful for reading, though it continues to be used in any task that requires its general processing properties. Our network based RSFC analysis extends this finding to other regions typically thought to be used predominantly for reading. Here, we review these findings and describe how the three studies complement each other. Then, we argue that conceptualizing the VWFA as a brain region with specific processing characteristics rather than a brain region devoted to a specific stimulus class, allows us to better explain the activity seen in this region during a variety of tasks. Having this type of conceptualization not only provides a better understanding of the VWFA but also provides a framework for understanding other brain regions, as it affords an explanation of function that is in keeping with the long history of studying the brain in terms of the type of information processing performed (Posner, 1978)

    Inventory Investment, Internal-Finance Fluctuation, and the Business Cycle

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    macroeconomics, inventory investment, internal-finance fluctuation, business cycle

    Task Control Signals in Pediatric Tourette Syndrome Show Evidence of Immature and Anomalous Functional Activity

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    Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a pediatric movement disorder that may affect control signaling in the brain. Previous work has proposed a dual-networks architecture of control processing involving a task-maintenance network and an adaptive control network (Dosenbach et al., 2008). A prior resting-state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) analysis in TS has revealed functional immaturity in both putative control networks, with “anomalous” correlations (i.e., correlations outside the typical developmental range) limited to the adaptive control network (Church et al., 2009). The present study used functional MRI (fMRI) to study brain activity related to adaptive control (by studying start-cues signals), and to task-maintenance (by studying signals sustained across a task set). Two hypotheses from the previous rs-fcMRI results were tested. First, adaptive control (i.e., start-cue) activity will be altered in TS, including activity inconsistent with typical development (“anomalous”). Second, group differences found in task-maintenance (i.e., sustained) activity will be consistent with functional immaturity in TS. We examined regions found through a direct comparison of adolescents with and without TS, as well as regions derived from a previous investigation that showed differences between unaffected children and adults. The TS group showed decreased start-cue signal magnitude in regions where start-cue activity is unchanged over typical development, consistent with anomalous adaptive control. The TS group also had higher magnitude sustained signals in frontal cortex regions that overlapped with regions showing differences over typical development, consistent with immature task-maintenance in TS. The results demonstrate task-related fMRI signal differences anticipated by the atypical functional connectivity found previously in adolescents with TS, strengthening the evidence for functional immaturity and anomalous signaling in control networks in adolescents with TS

    Studying Brain Organization via Spontaneous fMRI Signal

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    In recent years, some substantial advances in understanding human (and nonhuman) brain organization have emerged from a relatively unusual approach: the observation of spontaneous activity, and correlated patterns in spontaneous activity, in the “resting” brain. Most commonly, spontaneous neural activity is measured indirectly via fMRI signal in subjects who are lying quietly in the scanner, the so-called “resting state.” This Primer introduces the fMRI-based study of spontaneous brain activity, some of the methodological issues active in the field, and some ways in which resting-state fMRI has been used to delineate aspects of area-level and supra-areal brain organization

    Role of the anterior insula in task-level control and focal attention

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    In humans, the anterior insula (aI) has been the topic of considerable research and ascribed a vast number of functional properties by way of neuroimaging and lesion studies. Here, we argue that the aI, at least in part, plays a role in domain-general attentional control and highlight studies (Dosenbach et al. 2006; Dosenbach et al. 2007) supporting this view. Additionally, we discuss a study (Ploran et al. 2007) that implicates aI in processes related to the capture of focal attention. Task-level control and focal attention may or may not reflect information processing supported by a single functional area (within the aI). Therefore, we apply a novel technique (Cohen et al. 2008) that utilizes resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) to determine whether separable regions exist within the aI. rs-fcMRI mapping suggests that the ventral portion of the aI is distinguishable from more dorsal/anterior regions, which are themselves distinct from more posterior parts of the aI. When these regions are applied to functional MRI (fMRI) data, the ventral and dorsal/anterior regions support processes potentially related to both task-level control and focal attention, whereas the more posterior aI regions did not. These findings suggest that there exists some functional heterogeneity within aI that may subserve related but distinct types of higher-order cognitive processing

    Manipulation of length and lexicality localizes the functional neuroanatomy of phonological processing in adult readers

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    In a previous study of single word reading, regions in the left supramarginal gyrus and left angular gyrus showed positive BOLD activity in children but significantly less activity in adults for high-frequency words. This developmental decrease may reflect decreased reliance on phonological processing for familiar stimuli in adults. Therefore, in the present study, variables thought to influence phonological demand (string length and lexicality) were manipulated. Length and lexicality effects in the brain were explored using both ROI and whole-brain approaches. In the ROI analysis, the supramarginal and angular regions from the previous study were applied to this study. The supramarginal region showed a significant positive effect of length, consistent with a role in phonological processing, whereas the angular region showed only negative deflections from baseline with a strong effect of lexicality and other weaker effects. At the whole-brain level, varying effects of length and lexicality and their interactions were observed in 85 regions throughout the brain. The application of hierarchical clustering analysis to the BOLD time course data derived from these regions revealed seven clusters, with potentially revealing anatomical locations. Of note, a left angular gyrus region was the sole constituent of one cluster. Taken together, these findings in adult readers (1) provide support for a widespread set of brain regions affected by lexical variables, (2) corroborate a role for phonological processing in the left supramarginal gyrus, and (3) do not support a strong role for phonological processing in the left angular gyrus

    Evaluation of denoising strategies to address motion-correlated artifacts in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data from the human connectome roject

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    Like all resting-state functional connectivity data, the data from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) are adversely affected by structured noise artifacts arising from head motion and physiological processes. Functional connectivity estimates (Pearson's correlation coefficients) were inflated for high-motion time points and for high-motion participants. This inflation occurred across the brain, suggesting the presence of globally distributed artifacts. The degree of inflation was further increased for connections between nearby regions compared with distant regions, suggesting the presence of distance-dependent spatially specific artifacts. We evaluated several denoising methods: censoring high-motion time points, motion regression, the FMRIB independent component analysis-based X-noiseifier (FIX), and mean grayordinate time series regression (MGTR; as a proxy for global signal regression). The results suggest that FIX denoising reduced both types of artifacts, but left substantial global artifacts behind. MGTR significantly reduced global artifacts, but left substantial spatially specific artifacts behind. Censoring high-motion time points resulted in a small reduction of distance-dependent and global artifacts, eliminating neither type. All denoising strategies left differences between high- and low-motion participants, but only MGTR substantially reduced those differences. Ultimately, functional connectivity estimates from HCP data showed spatially specific and globally distributed artifacts, and the most effective approach to address both types of motion-correlated artifacts was a combination of FIX and MGTR

    Multivariate pattern classification of pediatric Tourette syndrome using functional connectivity MRI

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    Tourette syndrome (TS) is a developmental neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by motor and vocal tics. Individuals with TS would benefit greatly from advances in prediction of symptom timecourse and treatment effectiveness. As a first step, we applied a multivariate method - support vector machine (SVM) classification - to test whether patterns in brain network activity, measured with resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) MRI, could predict diagnostic group membership for individuals. RSFC data from 42 children with TS (8-15 yrs) and 42 unaffected controls (age, IQ, in-scanner movement matched) were included. While univariate tests identified no significant group differences, SVM classified group membership with ~70% accuracy (p < .001). We also report a novel adaptation of SVM binary classification that, in addition to an overall accuracy rate for the SVM, provides a confidence measure for the accurate classification of each individual. Our results support the contention that multivariate methods can better capture the complexity of some brain disorders, and hold promise for predicting prognosis and treatment outcome for individuals with TS

    Specialized late cingulo-opercular network activation elucidates the mechanisms underlying decisions about ambiguity

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    Cortical task control networks, including the cingulo-opercular (CO) network play a key role in decision-making across a variety of functional domains. In particular, the CO network functions in a performance reporting capacity that supports successful task performance, especially in response to errors and ambiguity. In two studies testing the contribution of the CO network to ambiguity processing, we presented a valence bias task in which masked clearly and ambiguously valenced emotional expressions were slowly revealed over several seconds. This slow reveal task design provides a window into the decision-making mechanisms as they unfold over the course of a trial. In the main study, the slow reveal task was administered to 32 young adults in the fMRI environment and BOLD time courses were extracted from regions of interest in three control networks. In a follow-up study, the task was administered to a larger, online sample (n = 81) using a more extended slow reveal design with additional unmasking frames. Positive judgments of surprised faces were uniquely accompanied by slower response times and strong, late activation in the CO network. These results support the initial negativity hypothesis, which posits that the default response to ambiguity is negative and positive judgments are associated with a more effortful controlled process, and additionally suggest that this controlled process is mediated by the CO network. Moreover, ambiguous trials were characterized by a second CO response at the end of the trial, firmly placing CO function late in the decision-making process

    Evidence accumulation and the moment of recognition: dissociating perceptual recognition processes using fMRI

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    Decision making can be conceptualized as the culmination of an integrative process in which evidence supporting different response options accumulates gradually over time. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate brain activity leading up to and during decisions about perceptual object identity. Pictures were revealed gradually and subjects signaled the time of recognition (TR) with a button press. We examined the time course of TR-dependent activity to determine how brain regions tracked the timing of recognition. In several occipital regions, activity increased primarily as stimulus information increased, suggesting a role in lower-level sensory processing. In inferior temporal, frontal, and parietal regions, a gradual buildup in activity peaking in correspondence with TR suggested that these regions participated in the accumulation of evidence supporting object identity. In medial frontal cortex, anterior insula/frontal operculum, and thalamus, activity remained near baseline until TR, suggesting a relation to the moment of recognition or the decision itself. The findings dissociate neural processes that function in concert during perceptual recognition decisions
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