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Brain Sci., Volume 14, Issue 5 (May 2024) – 110 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The examination of connected speech may serve as a valuable tool for exploring speech output in both healthy speakers and individuals with language disorders. Numerous studies incorporate various fluency and silence measures into their analyses to investigate speech output patterns in different populations, along with the underlying cognitive processes that occur while speaking. However, methodological inconsistencies across existing studies pose challenges in comparing their results. In the current study, we introduce CSAP, which is a specific methodological approach to investigate fluency metrics, such as articulation rate and speech rate, as well as silence measures, including the frequency and duration of silent pauses. We emphasize the importance of employing a comprehensive set of measures within a specific methodological framework to better understand speech output patterns. View this paper
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24 pages, 3316 KiB  
Article
Exploring Binocular Visual Attention by Presenting Rapid Dichoptic and Dioptic Series
by Manuel Moreno-Sánchez, Elton H. Matsushima and Jose Antonio Aznar-Casanova
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 518; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050518 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 582
Abstract
This study addresses an issue in attentional distribution in a binocular visual system using RSVP tasks under Attentional Blink (AB) experimental protocols. In Experiment 1, we employed dichoptic RSVP to verify whether, under interocular competition, attention may be captured by a monocular channel. [...] Read more.
This study addresses an issue in attentional distribution in a binocular visual system using RSVP tasks under Attentional Blink (AB) experimental protocols. In Experiment 1, we employed dichoptic RSVP to verify whether, under interocular competition, attention may be captured by a monocular channel. Experiment 2 was a control experiment, where a monoptic RSVP assessed by both or only one eye determines whether Experiment 1 monocular condition results were due to an allocation of attention to one eye. Experiment 3 was also a control experiment designed to determine whether Experiment 1 results were due to the effect of interocular competition or to a diminished visual contrast. Results from Experiment 1 revealed that dichoptic presentations caused a delay in the type stage of the Wyble’s eSTST model, postponing the subsequent tokenization process. The delay in monocular conditions may be further explained by a visual attenuation, due to fusion of target and an empty frame. Experiment 2 evidenced the attentional allocation to monocular channels when forced by eye occlusion. Experiment 3 disclosed that monocular performance in Experiment 1 differs significantly from conditions with interocular competition. While both experiments revealed similar performance in monocular conditions, rivalry conditions exhibit lower detection rates, suggesting that competing stimuli was not responsible for Experiment 1 results. These findings highlight the differences between dichoptic and monoptic presentations of stimuli, particularly on the AB effect, which appears attenuated or absent in dichoptic settings. Furthermore, results suggest that monoptic presentation and binocular fusion stages were a necessary condition for the attentional allocation. Full article
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19 pages, 15633 KiB  
Systematic Review
Dual-Task vs. Single-Task Gait Training to Improve Spatiotemporal Gait Parameters in People with Parkinson’s Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
by Elisabetta Sarasso, Marco Pietro Parente, Federica Agosta, Massimo Filippi and Davide Corbetta
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 517; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050517 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 721
Abstract
Background: People with Parkinson’s disease (pwPD) present alterations of spatiotemporal gait parameters that impact walking ability. While preliminary studies suggested that dual-task gait training improves spatiotemporal gait parameters, it remains unclear whether dual-task gait training specifically improves dual-task gait performance compared to single-task [...] Read more.
Background: People with Parkinson’s disease (pwPD) present alterations of spatiotemporal gait parameters that impact walking ability. While preliminary studies suggested that dual-task gait training improves spatiotemporal gait parameters, it remains unclear whether dual-task gait training specifically improves dual-task gait performance compared to single-task gait training. The aim of this review is to assess the effect of dual-task training relative to single-task gait training on specific gait parameters during dual-task tests in pwPD. Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), searching three electronic databases. Two reviewers independently selected RCTs, extracted data, and applied the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomized trials (Version 2) and the GRADE framework for assessing the certainty of evidence. The primary outcomes were dual-task gait speed, stride length, and cadence. Secondary outcomes included dual-task costs on gait speed, balance confidence, and quality of life. Results: We included 14 RCTs (548 patients). Meta-analyses showed effects favoring dual-task training over single-task training in improving dual-task gait speed (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 0.48, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.20–0.77; 11 studies; low certainty evidence), stride length (mean difference [MD] = 0.09 m, 95% CI = 0.04–0.14; 4 studies; very low certainty evidence), and cadence (MD = 5.45 steps/min, 95% CI = 3.59–7.31; 5 studies; very low certainty evidence). We also found a significant effect of dual-task training over single-task training on dual-task cost and quality of life, but not on balance confidence. Conclusions: Our findings support the use of dual-task training relative to single-task training to improve dual-task spatiotemporal gait parameters in pwPD. Further studies are encouraged to better define the features of dual-task training and the clinical characteristics of pwPD to identify better responders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Updates in Parkinson's Disease)
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28 pages, 5849 KiB  
Article
TSANN-TG: Temporal–Spatial Attention Neural Networks with Task-Specific Graph for EEG Emotion Recognition
by Chao Jiang, Yingying Dai, Yunheng Ding, Xi Chen, Yingjie Li and Yingying Tang
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 516; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050516 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 673
Abstract
Electroencephalography (EEG)-based emotion recognition is increasingly pivotal in the realm of affective brain–computer interfaces. In this paper, we propose TSANN-TG (temporal–spatial attention neural network with a task-specific graph), a novel neural network architecture tailored for enhancing feature extraction and effectively integrating temporal–spatial features. [...] Read more.
Electroencephalography (EEG)-based emotion recognition is increasingly pivotal in the realm of affective brain–computer interfaces. In this paper, we propose TSANN-TG (temporal–spatial attention neural network with a task-specific graph), a novel neural network architecture tailored for enhancing feature extraction and effectively integrating temporal–spatial features. TSANN-TG comprises three primary components: a node-feature-encoding-and-adjacency-matrices-construction block, a graph-aggregation block, and a graph-feature-fusion-and-classification block. Leveraging the distinct temporal scales of features from EEG signals, TSANN-TG incorporates attention mechanisms for efficient feature extraction. By constructing task-specific adjacency matrices, the graph convolutional network with an attention mechanism captures the dynamic changes in dependency information between EEG channels. Additionally, TSANN-TG emphasizes feature integration at multiple levels, leading to improved performance in emotion-recognition tasks. Our proposed TSANN-TG is applied to both our FTEHD dataset and the publicly available DEAP dataset. Comparative experiments and ablation studies highlight the excellent recognition results achieved. Compared to the baseline algorithms, TSANN-TG demonstrates significant enhancements in accuracy and F1 score on the two benchmark datasets for four types of cognitive tasks. These results underscore the significant potential of the TSANN-TG method to advance EEG-based emotion recognition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Network in Computational Neuroscience)
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9 pages, 2010 KiB  
Perspective
A Perspective on the 6th International Conference on Sports Concussion
by Haruo Nakayama, Yu Hiramoto and Satoshi Iwabuchi
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 515; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050515 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 706
Abstract
The International Conference on Sports Concussion, held every four years since 2001, has been instrumental in forming the international consensus on sports-related concussions. However, due to the unprecedented global pandemic of COVID-19, not only the Tokyo Olympics 2020, but also the initially scheduled [...] Read more.
The International Conference on Sports Concussion, held every four years since 2001, has been instrumental in forming the international consensus on sports-related concussions. However, due to the unprecedented global pandemic of COVID-19, not only the Tokyo Olympics 2020, but also the initially scheduled sixth conference was postponed multiple times. Finally, the 6th International Conference on Sports Concussion took place in Amsterdam at the end of October 2022. In July 2023, the Amsterdam Declaration, reflecting the outcomes of this sixth conference, was released. This paper provides an overview of the conference, in which significant updates were revealed and introduced, including revisions to the definition of sports-related concussions, as well as the latest version of the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT), known as SCAT6, the Office Assessment Tool (SCOAT), and the updated staged return-to-play protocol. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sports-Related Concussion Update)
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15 pages, 813 KiB  
Review
Neuroinflammation and Dyskinesia: A Possible Causative Relationship?
by Antonella Cardinale, Antonio de Iure and Barbara Picconi
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 514; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050514 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 607
Abstract
Levodopa (L-DOPA) treatment represents the gold standard therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. L-DOPA therapy shows many side effects, among them, L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias (LIDs) remain the most problematic. Several are the mechanisms underlying these processes: abnormal corticostriatal neurotransmission, pre- and post-synaptic neuronal events, [...] Read more.
Levodopa (L-DOPA) treatment represents the gold standard therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. L-DOPA therapy shows many side effects, among them, L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias (LIDs) remain the most problematic. Several are the mechanisms underlying these processes: abnormal corticostriatal neurotransmission, pre- and post-synaptic neuronal events, changes in gene expression, and altered plasticity. In recent years, researchers have also suggested non-neuronal mechanisms as a possible cause for LIDs. We reviewed recent clinical and pre-clinical studies on neuroinflammation contribution to LIDs. Microglia and astrocytes seem to play a strategic role in LIDs phenomenon. In particular, their inflammatory response affects neuron-glia communication, synaptic activity and neuroplasticity, contributing to LIDs development. Finally, we describe possible new therapeutic interventions for dyskinesia prevention targeting glia cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Studies of the Neuron Model of Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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16 pages, 301 KiB  
Review
mTBI Biological Biomarkers as Predictors of Postconcussion Syndrome—Review
by Ewelina Stępniewska, Maria Kałas, Justyna Świderska and Mariusz Siemiński
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 513; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050513 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 660
Abstract
Postconcussion syndrome (PCS) is one of the leading complications that may appear in patients after mild head trauma. Every day, thousands of people, regardless of age, gender, and race, are diagnosed in emergency departments due to head injuries. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is [...] Read more.
Postconcussion syndrome (PCS) is one of the leading complications that may appear in patients after mild head trauma. Every day, thousands of people, regardless of age, gender, and race, are diagnosed in emergency departments due to head injuries. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a significant public health problem, impacting an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States and up to 69 million people worldwide each year, with 80% of these cases being mild. An analysis of the available research and a systematic review were conducted to search for a solution to predicting the occurrence of postconcussion syndrome. Particular biomarkers that can be examined upon admission to the emergency department after head injury were found as possible predictive factors of PCS development. Setting one unequivocal definition of PCS is still a challenge that causes inconsistent results. Neuron Specific Enolase (NSE), Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP), Ubiquitin C-terminal Hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1), Serum Protein 100 B (s100B), and tau protein are found to be the best predictors of PCS development. The presence of all mentioned biomarkers is confirmed in severe TBI. All mentioned biomarkers are used as predictors of PCS. A combined examination of NSE, GFAP, UCH-1, S100B, and tau protein should be performed to detect mTBI and predict the development of PCS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience)
19 pages, 1250 KiB  
Article
Parafoveal Processing of Orthography, Phonology, and Semantics during Chinese Reading: Effects of Foveal Load
by Lei Zhang, Liangyue Kang, Wanying Chen, Fang Xie and Kayleigh L. Warrington
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 512; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050512 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 543
Abstract
The foveal load hypothesis assumes that the ease (or difficulty) of processing the currently fixated word in a sentence can influence processing of the upcoming word(s), such that parafoveal preview is reduced when foveal load is high. Recent investigations using pseudo-character previews reported [...] Read more.
The foveal load hypothesis assumes that the ease (or difficulty) of processing the currently fixated word in a sentence can influence processing of the upcoming word(s), such that parafoveal preview is reduced when foveal load is high. Recent investigations using pseudo-character previews reported an absence of foveal load effects in Chinese reading. Substantial Chinese studies to date provide some evidence to show that parafoveal words may be processed orthographically, phonologically, or semantically. However, it has not yet been established whether parafoveal processing is equivalent in terms of the type of parafoveal information extracted (orthographic, phonological, semantic) under different foveal load conditions. Accordingly, the present study investigated this issue with two experiments. Participants’ eye movements were recorded as they read sentences in which foveal load was manipulated by placing a low- or high-frequency word N preceding a critical word. The preview validity of the upcoming word N + 1 was manipulated in Experiment 1, and word N + 2 in Experiment 2. The parafoveal preview was either identical to word N + 1(or word N + 2); orthographically related; phonologically related; semantically related; or an unrelated pseudo-character. The results showed robust main effects of frequency and preview type on both N + 1 and N + 2. Crucially, however, interactions between foveal load and preview type were absent, indicating that foveal load does not modulate the types of parafoveal information processed during Chinese reading. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neurolinguistics)
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11 pages, 755 KiB  
Review
Mapping the Neural Basis of Neuroeconomics with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: A Narrative Literature Review
by Carlo A. Mallio, Andrea Buoso, Massimo Stiffi, Laura Cea, Daniele Vertulli, Caterina Bernetti, Gianfranco Di Gennaro, Martijn P. van den Heuvel and Bruno Beomonte Zobel
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 511; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050511 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 501
Abstract
Neuroeconomics merges neuroscience, economics, and psychology to investigate the neural basis of decision making. Decision making involves assessing outcomes with subjective value, shaped by emotions and experiences, which are crucial in economic decisions. Functional MRI (fMRI) reveals key areas of the brain, including [...] Read more.
Neuroeconomics merges neuroscience, economics, and psychology to investigate the neural basis of decision making. Decision making involves assessing outcomes with subjective value, shaped by emotions and experiences, which are crucial in economic decisions. Functional MRI (fMRI) reveals key areas of the brain, including the ventro-medial prefrontal cortex, that are involved in subjective value representation. Collaborative interdisciplinary efforts are essential for advancing the field of neuroeconomics, with implications for clinical interventions and policy design. This review explores subjective value in neuroeconomics, highlighting brain regions identified through fMRI studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neurotechnology and Neuroimaging)
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20 pages, 748 KiB  
Systematic Review
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Treating Fear of Contamination Disorders: A Systematic Review of Healthy and Clinical Populations
by Francesca Ferraioli, Laura Culicetto, Luca Cecchetti, Alessandra Falzone, Francesco Tomaiuolo, Angelo Quartarone and Carmelo Mario Vicario
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 510; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050510 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 630
Abstract
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET), particularly immersive Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (iVRET), has gained attraction as an innovative approach in exposure therapy (ET), notably for some anxiety disorders with a fear of contamination component, such as spider phobia (SP) and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). [...] Read more.
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET), particularly immersive Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (iVRET), has gained attraction as an innovative approach in exposure therapy (ET), notably for some anxiety disorders with a fear of contamination component, such as spider phobia (SP) and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). This systematic work investigates iVRET’s effectiveness in modulating disgust emotion—a shared aberrant feature across these disorders. Recent reviews have evaluated VRET’s efficacy against in vivo ET. However, emerging evidence also highlights iVRET’s potential in diminishing atypical disgust and related avoidance behaviors, expanding beyond traditional fear-focused outcomes. Our systematic synthesis, adhering to PRISMA guidelines, aims to fill this gap by assessing iVRET’s efficacy in regulating disgust emotion within both clinical and at-risk populations, identified through standardized questionnaires and subjective disgust ratings. This research analyzes data from eight studies on clinical populations and five on healthy populations, offering an insight into iVRET’s potential to mitigate the aberrant disgust response, a common transdiagnostic feature in varied psychopathologies. The findings support iVRET’s clinical relevance in disgust management, providing evidence for a broader therapeutic application of iVRET and pointing out the need for more focused and complete investigations in this emergent field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Behavioral Neuroscience)
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13 pages, 3045 KiB  
Article
From Connectivity to Controllability: Unraveling the Brain Biomarkers of Major Depressive Disorder
by Chunyu Pan, Ying Ma, Lifei Wang, Yan Zhang, Fei Wang and Xizhe Zhang
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 509; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050509 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 618
Abstract
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a significant neurological condition associated with aberrations in brain functional networks. Traditional studies have predominantly analyzed these from a network topology perspective. However, given the brain’s dynamic and complex nature, exploring its mechanisms from a network control standpoint [...] Read more.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a significant neurological condition associated with aberrations in brain functional networks. Traditional studies have predominantly analyzed these from a network topology perspective. However, given the brain’s dynamic and complex nature, exploring its mechanisms from a network control standpoint provides a fresh and insightful framework. This research investigates the integration of network controllability and machine learning to pinpoint essential biomarkers for MDD using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. By employing network controllability methods, we identify crucial brain regions that are instrumental in facilitating transitions between brain states. These regions demonstrate the brain’s ability to navigate various functional states, emphasizing the utility of network controllability metrics as potential biomarkers. Furthermore, these metrics elucidate the complex dynamics of MDD and support the development of precision medicine strategies that incorporate machine learning to improve the precision of diagnostics and the efficacy of treatments. This study underscores the value of merging machine learning with network neuroscience to craft personalized interventions that align with the unique pathological profiles of individuals, ultimately enhancing the management and treatment of MDD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Network Connectivity Analysis in Neuroscience)
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14 pages, 319 KiB  
Review
EEG Changes in Migraine—Can EEG Help to Monitor Attack Susceptibility?
by Thomas C. van den Hoek, Mark van de Ruit, Gisela M. Terwindt and Else A. Tolner
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 508; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050508 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 565
Abstract
Migraine is a highly prevalent brain condition with paroxysmal changes in brain excitability believed to contribute to the initiation of an attack. The attacks and their unpredictability have a major impact on the lives of patients. Clinical management is hampered by a lack [...] Read more.
Migraine is a highly prevalent brain condition with paroxysmal changes in brain excitability believed to contribute to the initiation of an attack. The attacks and their unpredictability have a major impact on the lives of patients. Clinical management is hampered by a lack of reliable predictors for upcoming attacks, which may help in understanding pathophysiological mechanisms to identify new treatment targets that may be positioned between the acute and preventive possibilities that are currently available. So far, a large range of studies using conventional hospital-based EEG recordings have provided contradictory results, with indications of both cortical hyper- as well as hypo-excitability. These heterogeneous findings may largely be because most studies were cross-sectional in design, providing only a snapshot in time of a patient’s brain state without capturing day-to-day fluctuations. The scope of this narrative review is to (i) reflect on current knowledge on EEG changes in the context of migraine, the attack cycle, and underlying pathophysiology; (ii) consider the effects of migraine treatment on EEG features; (iii) outline challenges and opportunities in using EEG for monitoring attack susceptibility; and (iv) discuss future applications of EEG in home-based settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neuroscience of Pain)
17 pages, 4003 KiB  
Article
Spatial-Temporal Characteristics of Brain Activity in Autism Spectrum Disorder Based on Hidden Markov Model and Dynamic Graph Theory: A Resting-State fMRI Study
by Shiting Qian, Qinqin Yang, Congbo Cai, Jiyang Dong and Shuhui Cai
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 507; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050507 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 655
Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be used to measure the temporal correlation of blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signals in the brain to assess the brain’s intrinsic connectivity and capture dynamic changes in the brain. In [...] Read more.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be used to measure the temporal correlation of blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signals in the brain to assess the brain’s intrinsic connectivity and capture dynamic changes in the brain. In this study, the hidden Markov model (HMM) and dynamic graph (DG) theory are used to study the spatial-temporal characteristics and dynamics of brain networks based on dynamic functional connectivity (DFC). By using HMM, we identified three typical brain states for ASD and healthy control (HC). Furthermore, we explored the correlation between HMM time-varying properties and clinical autism scale scores. Differences in brain topological characteristics and dynamics between ASD and HC were compared by DG analysis. The experimental results indicate that ASD is more inclined to enter a strongly connected HMM brain state, leading to the isolation of brain networks and alterations in the topological characteristics of brain networks, such as default mode network (DMN), ventral attention network (VAN), and visual network (VN). This work suggests that using different data-driven methods based on DFC to study brain network dynamics would have better information complementarity, which can provide a new direction for the extraction of neuro-biomarkers in the early diagnosis of ASD. Full article
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14 pages, 2142 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Rhythmic Audio-Visual Stimulation on Inhibitory Control: An ERP Study
by Yifan Wang, Di Wu, Kewei Sun, Yan Zhu, Xianglong Chen and Wei Xiao
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 506; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050506 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 582
Abstract
Inhibitory control, as an essential cognitive ability, affects the development of higher cognitive functions. Rhythmic perceptual stimulation has been used to improve cognitive abilities. It is unclear, however, whether it can be used to improve inhibitory control. This study used the Go/NoGo task [...] Read more.
Inhibitory control, as an essential cognitive ability, affects the development of higher cognitive functions. Rhythmic perceptual stimulation has been used to improve cognitive abilities. It is unclear, however, whether it can be used to improve inhibitory control. This study used the Go/NoGo task and the Stroop task to assess various levels of inhibitory control using rhythmic audio-visual stimuli as the stimulus mode. Sixty subjects were randomly divided into three groups to receive 6 Hz, 10 Hz, and white noise stimulation for 30 min. Two tasks were completed by each subject both before and after the stimulus. Before and after the task, closed-eye resting EEG data were collected. The results showed no differences in behavioral and EEG measures of the Go/NoGo task among the three groups. While both 6 Hz and 10 Hz audio-visual stimulation reduced the conflict effect in the Stroop task, only 6 Hz audio-visual stimulation improved the amplitude of the N2 component and decreased the conflict score. Although rhythmic audio-visual stimulation did not enhance response inhibition, it improved conflict inhibition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neuropsychology)
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12 pages, 3622 KiB  
Article
Associations between Total Atherosclerosis Burden of Baroreceptor-Resident Arteries and ECG Abnormalities after Acute Ischemic Stroke
by Zhiyong Fu, Xin Ma, Xiaoxi Zhao, Xiangying Du and Yungao Wan
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 505; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050505 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 622
Abstract
Electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities are the most common cardiac complications after acute ischemic stroke (AIS) and predict poor outcomes. The arterial baroreflex is an essential determinant of cardiovascular autonomic regulation, with receptors mainly residing in carotid sinuses and aortic arch. The atherosclerosis of these [...] Read more.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities are the most common cardiac complications after acute ischemic stroke (AIS) and predict poor outcomes. The arterial baroreflex is an essential determinant of cardiovascular autonomic regulation, with receptors mainly residing in carotid sinuses and aortic arch. The atherosclerosis of these baroreceptor-resident arteries (BRA) is very common in AIS patients and might impair baroreflex function. However, the associations between the atherosclerosis of BRA and ECG abnormalities after AIS are still unknown. In total, 228 AIS patients within 7 days after onset without a pre-existing heart disease were prospectively recruited. With computed tomography angiography, atherosclerosis conditions in 10 segments of the carotid sinuses and aortic arch were scored and summed as the Total Atherosclerosis Burden of BRA (TAB-BRA), and asymptomatic coronary artery stenosis (ACAS) ≥50% was simultaneously assessed. We performed 12-lead ECG to dynamically detect abnormal repolarization, and 24 h Holter ECG to monitor arrhythmias and heart rate variability (HRV) parameters, which are reliable indicators to assess cardiac autonomic function. We found that TAB-BRA was positively associated with abnormal repolarization (OR 1.09; CI% 1.03–1.16; p = 0.003) and serious cardiac arrhythmias (OR 1.08; CI% 1.01–1.15; p = 0.021). In addition, TAB-BRA was an important predictor of abnormal repolarization, persisting over 3 days (OR 1.17; CI% 1.05–1.30; p = 0.003). However, ACAS ≥ 50% did not relate to these ECG abnormalities. TAB-BRA was negatively correlated with parasympathetic-related HRV parameters. Our results indicated that AIS patients with a high TAB-BRA are more likely to have ECG abnormalities and delayed normalization, which may relate to the decreased cardiac parasympathetic activity, but not the accompanied ACAS ≥ 50%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Diagnosis and Management of Acute Ischemic Stroke)
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28 pages, 3584 KiB  
Systematic Review
Neuronal Correlates of Empathy: A Systematic Review of Event-Related Potentials Studies in Perceptual Tasks
by Rita Almeida, Catarina Prata, Mariana R. Pereira, Fernando Barbosa and Fernando Ferreira-Santos
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 504; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050504 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 685
Abstract
Empathy is a crucial component to infer and understand others’ emotions. However, a synthesis of studies regarding empathy and its neuronal correlates in perceptual tasks using event-related potentials (ERPs) has yet to occur. The current systematic review aimed to provide that overview. Upon [...] Read more.
Empathy is a crucial component to infer and understand others’ emotions. However, a synthesis of studies regarding empathy and its neuronal correlates in perceptual tasks using event-related potentials (ERPs) has yet to occur. The current systematic review aimed to provide that overview. Upon bibliographic research, 30 studies featuring empathy assessments and at least one perceptual task measuring ERP components in healthy participants were included. Four main focus categories were identified, as follows: Affective Pictures, Facial Stimuli, Mental States, and Social Language. The Late Positive Potential was the most analyzed in Affective Pictures and was reported to be positively correlated with cognitive and affective empathy, along with other late components. In contrast, for Facial Stimuli, early components presented significant correlations with empathy scales. Particularly, the N170 presented negative correlations with cognitive and affective empathy. Finally, augmented N400 was suggested to be associated with higher empathy scores in the Mental States and Social Language categories. These findings highlight the relevance of early perceptual stages of empathic processing and how different EEG/ERP methodologies provide relevant information. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue EEG and Event-Related Potentials)
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13 pages, 1253 KiB  
Article
Prefrontal Cortex Responses to Social Video Stimuli in Young Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder
by Candida Barreto, Adrian Curtin, Yigit Topoglu, Jessica Day-Watkins, Brigid Garvin, Grant Foster, Zuhal Ormanoglu, Elisabeth Sheridan, James Connell, David Bennett, Karen Heffler and Hasan Ayaz
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 503; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050503 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 902
Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting individuals worldwide and characterized by deficits in social interaction along with the presence of restricted interest and repetitive behaviors. Despite decades of behavioral research, little is known about the brain mechanisms that influence social [...] Read more.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting individuals worldwide and characterized by deficits in social interaction along with the presence of restricted interest and repetitive behaviors. Despite decades of behavioral research, little is known about the brain mechanisms that influence social behaviors among children with ASD. This, in part, is due to limitations of traditional imaging techniques specifically targeting pediatric populations. As a portable and scalable optical brain monitoring technology, functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) provides a measure of cerebral hemodynamics related to sensory, motor, or cognitive function. Here, we utilized fNIRS to investigate the prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity of young children with ASD and with typical development while they watched social and nonsocial video clips. The PFC activity of ASD children was significantly higher for social stimuli at medial PFC, which is implicated in social cognition/processing. Moreover, this activity was also consistently correlated with clinical measures, and higher activation of the same brain area only during social video viewing was associated with more ASD symptoms. This is the first study to implement a neuroergonomics approach to investigate cognitive load in response to realistic, complex, and dynamic audiovisual social stimuli for young children with and without autism. Our results further confirm that new generation of portable fNIRS neuroimaging can be used for ecologically valid measurements of the brain function of toddlers and preschool children with ASD. Full article
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33 pages, 2596 KiB  
Article
A Computational Model for the Simulation of Prepulse Inhibition and Its Modulation by Cortical and Subcortical Units
by Thiago Ohno Bezerra, Antonio C. Roque and Cristiane Salum
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 502; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050502 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 591
Abstract
The sensorimotor gating is a nervous system function that modulates the acoustic startle response (ASR). Prepulse inhibition (PPI) phenomenon is an operational measure of sensorimotor gating, defined as the reduction of ASR when a high intensity sound (pulse) is preceded in milliseconds by [...] Read more.
The sensorimotor gating is a nervous system function that modulates the acoustic startle response (ASR). Prepulse inhibition (PPI) phenomenon is an operational measure of sensorimotor gating, defined as the reduction of ASR when a high intensity sound (pulse) is preceded in milliseconds by a weaker stimulus (prepulse). Brainstem nuclei are associated with the mediation of ASR and PPI, whereas cortical and subcortical regions are associated with their modulation. However, it is still unclear how the modulatory units can influence PPI. In the present work, we developed a computational model of a neural circuit involved in the mediation (brainstem units) and modulation (cortical and subcortical units) of ASR and PPI. The activities of all units were modeled by the leaky-integrator formalism for neural population. The model reproduces basic features of PPI observed in experiments, such as the effects of changes in interstimulus interval, prepulse intensity, and habituation of ASR. The simulation of GABAergic and dopaminergic drugs impaired PPI by their effects over subcortical units activity. The results show that subcortical units constitute a central hub for PPI modulation. The presented computational model offers a valuable tool to investigate the neurobiology associated with disorder-related impairments in PPI. Full article
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18 pages, 1623 KiB  
Article
Use of Ordered Beta Regression Unveils Cognitive Flexibility Index and Longitudinal Cognitive Training Signatures in Normal and Alzheimer’s Disease Pathological Aging
by Daniel Alveal-Mellado and Lydia Giménez-Llort
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 501; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050501 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 697
Abstract
Generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) are a cornerstone data analysis strategy in behavioral research because of their robustness in handling non-normally distributed variables. Recently, their integration with ordered beta regression (OBR), a novel statistical tool for managing percentage data, has opened new avenues [...] Read more.
Generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) are a cornerstone data analysis strategy in behavioral research because of their robustness in handling non-normally distributed variables. Recently, their integration with ordered beta regression (OBR), a novel statistical tool for managing percentage data, has opened new avenues for analyzing continuous response data. Here, we applied this combined approach to investigate nuanced differences between the 3xTg-AD model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and their C57BL/6 non-transgenic (NTg) counterparts with normal aging in a 5-day Morris Water Maze (MWM) test protocol. Our longitudinal study included 22 3xTg-AD mice and 15 NTg mice (both male and female) assessed at 12 and 16 months of age. By identifying and analyzing multiple swimming strategies during three different paradigms (cue, place task, and removal), we uncovered genotypic differences in all paradigms. Thus, the NTg group exhibited a higher percentage of direct search behaviors, while an association between circling episodes and 3xTg-AD animals was found. Furthermore, we also propose a novel metric—the “Cognitive Flexibility Index”—which proved sensitive in detecting sex-related differences. Overall, our integrated GLMMs-OBR approach provides a comprehensive insight into mouse behavior in the MWM test, shedding light on the effects of aging and AD pathology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Models of Neurological Disorders)
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11 pages, 2404 KiB  
Article
Beauty and Paintings: Aesthetic Experience in Patients with Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia When Viewing Abstract and Concrete Paintings
by Claire Boutoleau-Bretonnière, Catherine Thomas-Anterion, Anne-Laure Deruet, Estelle Lamy and Mohamad El Haj
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 500; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050500 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 575
Abstract
We assessed the aesthetic experience of patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) to understand their ability to experience feelings of the sublime and to be moved when viewing paintings. We exposed patients with bvFTD and control participants to concrete and abstract paintings [...] Read more.
We assessed the aesthetic experience of patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) to understand their ability to experience feelings of the sublime and to be moved when viewing paintings. We exposed patients with bvFTD and control participants to concrete and abstract paintings and asked them how moved they were by these paintings and whether the latter were beautiful or ugly. Patients with bvFTD declared being less moved than control participants by both abstract and concrete paintings. No significant differences were observed between abstract and concrete paintings in both patients with bvFTD and control participants. Patients with bvFTD provided fewer “beautiful” and more “ugly” responses than controls for both abstract and concrete paintings. No significant differences in terms of “beautiful” and “ugly” responses were observed between abstract and concrete paintings in both patients with bvFTD and control participants. These findings suggest disturbances in the basic affective experience of patients with bvFTD when they are exposed to paintings, as well as a bias in their ability to judge the aesthetic quality of paintings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neurodegenerative Diseases)
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12 pages, 596 KiB  
Article
No Consistent Antidepressant Effects of Deep Brain Stimulation of the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis
by Paul B. Fitzgerald, Kate Hoy, Karyn E. Richardson, Kirsten Gainsford, Rebecca Segrave, Sally E. Herring, Zafiris J. Daskalakis and Richard G. Bittar
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 499; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050499 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 657
Abstract
Background: Applying deep brain stimulation (DBS) to several brain regions has been investigated in attempts to treat highly treatment-resistant depression, with variable results. Our initial pilot data suggested that the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) could be a promising therapeutic target. [...] Read more.
Background: Applying deep brain stimulation (DBS) to several brain regions has been investigated in attempts to treat highly treatment-resistant depression, with variable results. Our initial pilot data suggested that the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) could be a promising therapeutic target. Objective: The aim of this study was to gather blinded data exploring the efficacy of applying DBS to the BNST in patients with highly refractory depression. Method: Eight patients with chronic severe treatment-resistant depression underwent DBS to the BNST. A randomised, double-blind crossover study design with fixed stimulation parameters was followed and followed by a period of open-label stimulation. Results: During the double-blind crossover phase, no consistent antidepressant effects were seen with any of the four stimulation parameters applied, and no patients achieved response or remission criteria during the blinded crossover phase or during a subsequent period of three months of blinded stimulation. Stimulation-related side effects, especially agitation, were reported by a number of patients and were reversible with adjustment of the stimulation parameters. Conclusions: The results of this study do not support the application of DBS to the BNST in patients with highly resistant depression or ongoing research utilising stimulation at this brain site. The blocked randomised study design utilising fixed stimulation parameters was poorly tolerated by the participants and does not appear suitable for assessing the efficacy of DBS at this location. Full article
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22 pages, 4699 KiB  
Article
Decoding Subject-Driven Cognitive States from EEG Signals for Cognitive Brain–Computer Interface
by Dingyong Huang, Yingjie Wang, Liangwei Fan, Yang Yu, Ziyu Zhao, Pu Zeng, Kunqing Wang, Na Li and Hui Shen
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 498; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050498 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 709
Abstract
In this study, we investigated the feasibility of using electroencephalogram (EEG) signals to differentiate between four distinct subject-driven cognitive states: resting state, narrative memory, music, and subtraction tasks. EEG data were collected from seven healthy male participants while performing these cognitive tasks, and [...] Read more.
In this study, we investigated the feasibility of using electroencephalogram (EEG) signals to differentiate between four distinct subject-driven cognitive states: resting state, narrative memory, music, and subtraction tasks. EEG data were collected from seven healthy male participants while performing these cognitive tasks, and the raw EEG signals were transformed into time–frequency maps using continuous wavelet transform. Based on these time–frequency maps, we developed a convolutional neural network model (TF-CNN-CFA) with a channel and frequency attention mechanism to automatically distinguish between these cognitive states. The experimental results demonstrated that the model achieved an average classification accuracy of 76.14% in identifying these four cognitive states, significantly outperforming traditional EEG signal processing methods and other classical image classification algorithms. Furthermore, we investigated the impact of varying lengths of EEG signals on classification performance and found that TF-CNN-CFA demonstrates consistent performance across different window lengths, indicating its strong generalization capability. This study validates the ability of EEG to differentiate higher cognitive states, which could potentially offer a novel BCI paradigm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience)
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21 pages, 3470 KiB  
Article
Unraveling the Influence of Litter Size, Maternal Care, Exercise, and Aging on Neurobehavioral Plasticity and Dentate Gyrus Microglia Dynamics in Male Rats
by Lane Viana Krejcová, João Bento-Torres, Daniel Guerreiro Diniz, Antonio Pereira, Jr., Manuella Batista-de-Oliveira, Andreia Albuquerque Cunha Lopes de Morais, Rosângela Figueiredo Mendes-da-Silva, Ricardo Abadie-Guedes, Ângela Amâncio dos Santos, Denise Sandrelly Lima, Rubem Carlos Araujo Guedes and Cristovam Wanderley Picanço-Diniz
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 497; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050497 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 746
Abstract
This study explores the multifaceted influence of litter size, maternal care, exercise, and aging on rats’ neurobehavioral plasticity and dentate gyrus microglia dynamics. Body weight evolution revealed a progressive increase until maturity, followed by a decline during aging, with larger litters exhibiting lower [...] Read more.
This study explores the multifaceted influence of litter size, maternal care, exercise, and aging on rats’ neurobehavioral plasticity and dentate gyrus microglia dynamics. Body weight evolution revealed a progressive increase until maturity, followed by a decline during aging, with larger litters exhibiting lower weights initially. Notably, exercised rats from smaller litters displayed higher body weights during the mature and aged stages. The dentate gyrus volumes showed no significant differences among groups, except for aged sedentary rats from smaller litters, which exhibited a reduction. Maternal care varied significantly based on litter size, with large litter dams showing lower frequencies of caregiving behaviors. Behavioral assays highlighted the detrimental impact of a sedentary lifestyle and reduced maternal care/large litters on spatial memory, mitigated by exercise in aged rats from smaller litters. The microglial dynamics in the layers of dentate gyrus revealed age-related changes modulated by litter size and exercise. Exercise interventions mitigated microgliosis associated with aging, particularly in aged rats. These findings underscore the complex interplay between early-life experiences, exercise, microglial dynamics, and neurobehavioral outcomes during aging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Collection on Systems Neuroscience)
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21 pages, 590 KiB  
Article
Frequent Lucid Dreaming Is Associated with Meditation Practice Styles, Meta-Awareness, and Trait Mindfulness
by Elena Gerhardt and Benjamin Baird
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 496; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050496 - 14 May 2024
Viewed by 1059
Abstract
Lucid dreaming involves becoming aware that one’s current experience is a dream, which has similarities with the notion of mindfulness—becoming aware of moment-to-moment changes in experience. Additionally, meta-awareness, the ability to explicitly notice the current content of one’s own mental state, has also [...] Read more.
Lucid dreaming involves becoming aware that one’s current experience is a dream, which has similarities with the notion of mindfulness—becoming aware of moment-to-moment changes in experience. Additionally, meta-awareness, the ability to explicitly notice the current content of one’s own mental state, has also been proposed to play an important role both in lucid dreaming and mindfulness meditation practices. However, research has shown conflicting strengths of associations between mindfulness, meditation, and lucid dreaming frequency, and the link between lucid dreaming and meta-awareness has not yet been empirically studied. This study evaluated the associations between lucid dreaming frequency and different meditation practice styles, mindfulness traits, and individual differences in meta-awareness through an online survey (n = 635). The results suggest that daily frequent meditators experience more lucid dreams than non-frequent meditators. However, weekly frequent meditators did not have a higher lucid dreaming frequency. A positive association was observed between open monitoring styles of meditation and lucid dreaming. The findings also indicate that meta-awareness is higher for meditators and weekly lucid dreamers. Furthermore, frequent lucid dreaming was commonly associated with a non-reactive stance and experiencing transcendence. Overall, the findings suggest a positive relationship between specific meditation practices and lucid dreaming as well as the importance of meta-awareness as a cognitive process linking meditation, mindfulness, and lucid dreaming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Dreaming and Sleep-Related Metacognitions)
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29 pages, 5842 KiB  
Article
Spatiotemporal Patterns of White Matter Maturation after Pre-Adolescence: A Diffusion Kurtosis Imaging Study
by Ezequiel Farrher, Farida Grinberg, Tamara Khechiashvili, Irene Neuner, Kerstin Konrad and N. Jon Shah
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 495; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050495 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 600
Abstract
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) enables the assessment of changes in brain tissue microstructure during maturation and ageing. In general, patterns of cerebral maturation and decline render non-monotonic lifespan trajectories of DTI metrics with age, and, importantly, the rate of microstructural changes is heterochronous [...] Read more.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) enables the assessment of changes in brain tissue microstructure during maturation and ageing. In general, patterns of cerebral maturation and decline render non-monotonic lifespan trajectories of DTI metrics with age, and, importantly, the rate of microstructural changes is heterochronous for various white matter fibres. Recent studies have demonstrated that diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) metrics are more sensitive to microstructural changes during ageing compared to those of DTI. In a previous work, we demonstrated that the Cohen’s d of mean diffusional kurtosis (dMK) represents a useful biomarker for quantifying maturation heterochronicity. However, some inferences on the maturation grades of different fibre types, such as association, projection, and commissural, were of a preliminary nature due to the insufficient number of fibres considered. Hence, the purpose of this follow-up work was to further explore the heterochronicity of microstructural maturation between pre-adolescence and middle adulthood based on DTI and DKI metrics. Using the effect size of the between-group parametric changes and Cohen’s d, we observed that all commissural fibres achieved the highest level of maturity, followed by the majority of projection fibres, while the majority of association fibres were the least matured. We also demonstrated that dMK strongly correlates with the maxima or minima of the lifespan curves of DTI metrics. Furthermore, our results provide substantial evidence for the existence of spatial gradients in the timing of white matter maturation. In conclusion, our data suggest that DKI provides useful biomarkers for the investigation of maturation spatial heterogeneity and heterochronicity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Neurotechnology and Neuroimaging)
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17 pages, 621 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Relationship between Surgical Timing and Postoperative Seizure Outcomes in Cavernoma-Related Epilepsy: A Single-Institution Retrospective Analysis of 63 Patients with a Review of the Literature
by Elsa Nico, Christopher O. Adereti, Ashia M. Hackett, Andrea Bianconi, Anant Naik, Adam T. Eberle, Pere J. Cifre Serra, Stefan W. Koester, Samuel L. Malnik, Brandon M. Fox, Joelle N. Hartke, Ethan A. Winkler, Joshua S. Catapano and Michael T. Lawton
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 494; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050494 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 665
Abstract
Background: Patients with supratentorial cavernous malformations (SCMs) commonly present with seizures. First-line treatments for cavernoma-related epilepsy (CRE) include conservative management (antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)) and surgery. We compared seizure outcomes of CRE patients after early (≤6 months) vs. delayed (>6 months) surgery. Methods [...] Read more.
Background: Patients with supratentorial cavernous malformations (SCMs) commonly present with seizures. First-line treatments for cavernoma-related epilepsy (CRE) include conservative management (antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)) and surgery. We compared seizure outcomes of CRE patients after early (≤6 months) vs. delayed (>6 months) surgery. Methods: We compared outcomes of CRE patients with SCMs surgically treated at our large-volume cerebrovascular center (1 January 2010–31 July 2020). Patients with 1 sporadic SCM and ≥1-year follow-up were included. Primary outcomes were International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) class 1 seizure freedom and AED independence. Results: Of 63 CRE patients (26 women, 37 men; mean ± SD age, 36.1 ± 14.6 years), 48 (76%) vs. 15 (24%) underwent early (mean ± SD, 2.1 ± 1.7 months) vs. delayed (mean ± SD, 6.2 ± 7.1 years) surgery. Most (32 (67%)) with early surgery presented after 1 seizure; all with delayed surgery had ≥2 seizures. Seven (47%) with delayed surgery had drug-resistant epilepsy. At follow-up (mean ± SD, 5.4 ± 3.3 years), CRE patients with early surgery were more likely to have ILAE class 1 seizure freedom and AED independence than those with delayed surgery (92% (44/48) vs. 53% (8/15), p = 0.002; and 65% (31/48) vs. 33% (5/15), p = 0.03, respectively). Conclusions: Early CRE surgery demonstrated better seizure outcomes than delayed surgery. Multicenter prospective studies are needed to validate these findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery)
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18 pages, 428 KiB  
Article
Movement Termination of Slow-Wave Sleep—A Potential Biomarker?
by Yvonne Höller, Stefanía Guðrún Eyjólfsdóttir, Matej Rusiňák, Lárus Steinþór Guðmundsson and Eugen Trinka
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 493; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050493 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 774
Abstract
The duration of slow-wave sleep (SWS) is related to the reported sleep quality and to the important variables of mental and physical health. The internal cues to end an episode of SWS are poorly understood. One such internal cue is the initiation of [...] Read more.
The duration of slow-wave sleep (SWS) is related to the reported sleep quality and to the important variables of mental and physical health. The internal cues to end an episode of SWS are poorly understood. One such internal cue is the initiation of a body movement, which is detectable as electromyographic (EMG) activity in sleep-electroencephalography (EEG). In the present study, we characterized the termination of SWS episodes by movement to explore its potential as a biomarker. To this end, we characterized the relation between the occurrence of SWS termination by movement and individual characteristics (age, sex), SWS duration and spectral content, chronotype, depression, medication, overnight memory performance, and, as a potential neurological application, epilepsy. We analyzed 94 full-night EEG-EMG recordings (75/94 had confirmed epilepsy) in the video-EEG monitoring unit of the EpiCARE Centre Salzburg, Austria. Segments of SWS were counted and rated for their termination by movement or not through the visual inspection of continuous EEG and EMG recordings. Multiple linear regression was used to predict the number of SWS episodes that ended with movement by depression, chronotype, type of epilepsy (focal, generalized, no epilepsy, unclear), medication, gender, total duration of SWS, occurrence of seizures during the night, occurrence of tonic-clonic seizures during the night, and SWS frequency spectra. Furthermore, we assessed whether SWS movement termination was related to overnight memory retention. According to multiple linear regression, patients with overall longer SWS experienced more SWS episodes that ended with movement (t = 5.64; p = 0.001). No other variable was related to the proportion of SWS that ended with movement, including no epilepsy-related variable. A small sample (n = 4) of patients taking Sertraline experienced no SWS that ended with movement, which was significant compared to all other patients (t = 8.00; p < 0.001) and to n = 35 patients who did not take any medication (t = 4.22; p < 0.001). While this result was based on a small subsample and must be interpreted with caution, it warrants replication in a larger sample with and without seizures to further elucidate the role of the movement termination of SWS and its potential to serve as a biomarker for sleep continuity and for medication effects on sleep. Full article
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13 pages, 2255 KiB  
Article
Specific Salivary Neuropeptides Shift Synchronously during Acute Stress in Fire Recruits
by Rebecca Ryznar, Nathan Andrews, Kyle Emery, Michaela Snow, Mark Payton, Francina Towne and Dean Gubler
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 492; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050492 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 650
Abstract
Once thought of as an immune-privileged site, we now know that the nervous system communicates in a bidirectional manner with the immune system via the neuroimmune axis. Neuropeptides constitute a component of this axis, playing critical roles in the brain and periphery. The [...] Read more.
Once thought of as an immune-privileged site, we now know that the nervous system communicates in a bidirectional manner with the immune system via the neuroimmune axis. Neuropeptides constitute a component of this axis, playing critical roles in the brain and periphery. The function of salivary neuropeptides in the acute stress response is not well understood. The purpose of this study is to investigate salivary neuropeptide levels during acute stress. Salivary samples were collected from fire recruits engaged in a stress training exercise previously shown to induce acute stress, at three separate timepoints during the exercise and levels of oxytocin, neurotensin, Substance P, α-MSH, and β-Endorphin were measured using the Human Neuropeptide 5-Plex Custom Assay Eve Technologies. All neuropeptides increased throughout the acute stress simulation and during the recovery phase. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) identified one factor contributing to baseline values across five neuropeptides and Pairwise Pearson Correlation Coefficient analysis showed positive correlations >0.9 for almost all neuropeptide combinations at the pre-stress timepoint. Further analysis identified negative and positive correlations between past-life trauma and self-assessed hardiness, respectively. Calculated neuropeptide scores showed an overall positive correlation to self-assessed hardiness. Altogether, our results suggest that salivary neuropeptides increase synchronously during acute stress and higher levels correlate with an increase in self-assessed hardiness. Further study is required to determine if interventions designed to enhance neuropeptide activity can increase stress resilience, especially in high-stress occupations such as firefighting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neuropeptides and Hormones in Mental Health Disorders)
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13 pages, 263 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Executive Functions in Children with Sensorineural Hearing Loss and in Children with Specific Language Impairment: Preliminary Reports
by Maria Lauriello, Giulia Mazzotta, Antonella Mattei, Ilaria Mulieri, Alessandra Fioretti, Enzo Iacomino and Alberto Eibenstein
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 491; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050491 - 13 May 2024
Viewed by 895
Abstract
Executive functions (EFs) are related abilities, associated with the frontal lobes functions, that allow individuals to modify behavioral patterns when they become unsatisfactory. The aim of this study was to assess EFs in children with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and in children with [...] Read more.
Executive functions (EFs) are related abilities, associated with the frontal lobes functions, that allow individuals to modify behavioral patterns when they become unsatisfactory. The aim of this study was to assess EFs in children with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and in children with “specific language impairment” (SLI), compared with a control group of children with normal development, to identify specific skill deficits. Three groups of preschool children aged between 2 and 6 years were assessed: 19 children with normal hearing, cognitive, and language development, 10 children with SNHL, and 20 children with SLI. The FE-PS 2-6 Battery was used for the assessment of preschool EFs, supplemented with the Modified Bell Test for the analysis of selective attention. Statistically significant differences were found between the two experimental groups and the control one, regarding the investigated skills. Children with SNHL showed a clear deficit in flexibility, whereas children with SLI had greater problems in self-regulation and management of waiting for gratification. Selective attention was found to be deficient in all three groups, with no statistically significant differences. This study shows that the skills investigated were found to be deficient in both SNHL and SLI patients. It is essential to start targeted exercises based on specific deficient skills as part of the rehabilitation program. It is of great importance to understand the consequences of EF deficit in preschool children to achieve an accurate diagnosis and carry out customized rehabilitation programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Tinnitus and Hearing Disorders)
13 pages, 873 KiB  
Systematic Review
The Role of Immersive Virtual Reality Interventions in Pediatric Cerebral Palsy: A Systematic Review across Motor and Cognitive Domains
by Maria Grazia Maggio, Maria Chiara Valeri, Rosaria De Luca, Fulvia Di Iulio, Irene Ciancarelli, Morena De Francesco, Rocco Salvatore Calabrò and Giovanni Morone
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 490; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050490 - 12 May 2024
Viewed by 954
Abstract
Background: In recent years, new technologies have been applied in cerebral palsy. Among these, immersive virtual reality is one with promising motor and cognitive effects along with the reduced costs of its application. The level of immersion of the subject in the illusional [...] Read more.
Background: In recent years, new technologies have been applied in cerebral palsy. Among these, immersive virtual reality is one with promising motor and cognitive effects along with the reduced costs of its application. The level of immersion of the subject in the illusional world gives the feeling of being a real part of the virtual environment. This study aims to investigate the safety and the efficacy of immersive virtual reality in children affected by cerebral palsy. Methods: PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, RehabData, and Web of Science were screened up to February 2023 to identify eligible clinical studies. Results: Out of 788, we included 15 studies involving CP patients. There was high heterogeneity in the outcomes considered, and the results showed non-inferiority to conventional therapy and initial additional benefits in comparison with conventional rehabilitation. Conclusions: Immersive virtual reality emerges as a pivotal technological tool in rehabilitation, seamlessly integrating with conventional therapy within CP rehabilitation programs. Indeed, it not only enhances motivation but significantly increases children’s functional capacity and abilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collection Series: Neurorehabilitation Insights in 2024)
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14 pages, 410 KiB  
Article
Personality Functioning Improvement during Psychotherapy Is Associated with an Enhanced Capacity for Affect Regulation in Dreams: A Preliminary Study
by Simon Kempe, Werner Köpp and Lutz Wittmann
Brain Sci. 2024, 14(5), 489; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/brainsci14050489 - 11 May 2024
Viewed by 808
Abstract
Background: Clinical case illustrations of patients with an impairment of personality functioning (IPF) have repeatedly reported that progress during psychotherapy is reflected by alterations in dream content. However, quantitative studies based on samples of psychotherapy patients are scarce. As a core component of [...] Read more.
Background: Clinical case illustrations of patients with an impairment of personality functioning (IPF) have repeatedly reported that progress during psychotherapy is reflected by alterations in dream content. However, quantitative studies based on samples of psychotherapy patients are scarce. As a core component of both personality functioning and contemporary psychodynamic dream theory, the construct of affect regulation is of specific significance in this context. Aims: To test if improvement in personality functioning in the course of psychotherapy is associated with an increasing ability to regulate affects in dreams. Method: In a longitudinal design, affect regulation was compared in N = 94 unsolicited dream reports from the first vs. last third of long term psychotherapy of ten patients with initial IPF. Dream reports were transcribed from recordings of the sessions. Expert ratings of the level of personality functioning were obtained using the Scales of Psychological Capacities. The capacity for affect regulation was assessed using the Zurich Dream Process Coding System. Group differences were assessed using linear mixed models, controlling for dream length as well as the nested structure of this data set. Results: Patients demonstrated an increased capacity for affect regulation in dreams that was primarily evident in three core features: the complexity of dream elements (cf., e.g., parameter attributes, p = 0.024); the extent of affective involvement in the dream ego (cf., e.g., parameter subject feeling, p = 0.014); and the flexibility to regulate the dynamics of safety/involvement processes (p ≤ 0.001). This pattern was especially prominent in a subgroup (n = 7) of patients with more pronounced improvements in personality functioning. Conclusion: These findings support the hypotheses that decreasing IPF during psychotherapy is associated with increases in the capacity for affect regulation in dreams. Thus, researchers and therapists can utilize dream reports to illuminate the important aspects of treatment progress in clinical practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Dreaming and Sleep-Related Metacognitions)
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